The paternal mother postulates the early development of the human individual, just as the matriarchal crowd, in which the unconscious is paramount, and ego consciousness is still undeveloped and dominates the psychology of primitive cultures. After nine months within the womb, the human child needs another year to acquire the maturity that characterises most mammals’ young at birth ( still in embryonic age). The next phase of social growth occurs with the relationship with their mother, who gradually opens the child`s world to new experiences. The child’s development is moulded by human culture, the collective mind of language and values. The collective attitude towards its sex, individuality and development can be a matter of life or death.

When we throw light on the primal child/mother relationship, we explore the interconnection central to the child’s psychology, between the development of the ego and the total personality. The total personality and its direct centre, the self, exist before the ego takes from or develops as the centre of consciousness. The self establishes a derivative of itself, an authoring, the ego, whose role is to represent the interest of the totality over and against the denial of the inner world and environment.

In the individuation process and the second half of life, there is a shift from the accent of the ego to the self.

The earliest pre-ego phase of existence is accessible to the adult only in the borderline experience. The term “uroboric” symbolises this pre-ego state as the circular snake swallowing its own tail with its mouth, the appearance of unity in the psychic realm. In this early phase, the mother’s body is the world in which the child lives, not yet endowed with combating and perceiving consciousness; the body self is overlaid with the mother`s self, a primary sense of unity, where the inside and outside are identical to the child. The child rests in this secure unitary world where ant tension signals distress and screaming, which needs to be remedied and satisfied quickly as the child returns to sleep (unconscious).

As the ego develops, the child gradually differentiates its body image, as the world becomes clearer, as an object confronting the ego. Thus, the ego stands between the self and the world, developing the total personality dependent on attitudes towards inside and outside, with no opposition of tensions, as the mutual environment is one and all. The term “Autism” signifies a state in which the object is totally absent, where the child participates in a mystique with a psychic mother and everything is suspended. A place from which the opposing ego, self, subject and object, individual and world, are yet to be crystallised. No intrapsychic tensions exist between ego and self in this dual union—a mutual relatedness and dependency on eros. The child’s independence begins at the end of the embryonic phase, where the child becomes open to new relationships and ego individuality.

With the consolidation of the ego, the child gradually enters into the development of consciousness.

The loss of a mother can feel like the loss of life. However, a mother who supplied insufficient food is not as disastrous as an unloving mother who supplies plenty of nourishment. Within the participation mystique, the psyche is not yet incorporated in an individual body but is suspended in the field of a unitary reality with the mother. The mother constellates the archetypal field and image within the child’s psyche and describes the psychic interplay between psychic functions. She eventually moves from the “Great Mother” to a human mother. The function of containing, nourishing and protecting a mother is now humanised, experienced in the person of the mother, a subject whose object is their mother,

Ego-Self Relationship

As the ego becomes independent, quantities of libido are directed towards its development and maturity. The ego must gradually locate an ego of its own unique way and individual body. In the primary relationship, the experience of the child’s personality takes place largely on the body (somatic) level through the bodily interaction between mother and child, breathing, screaming, urinating, etc. The body’s surface, the erogenous zones, the psychic scene of the child’s experience, both of itself and others, within its own skin. These zones communicate pleasure as well as knowledge of reality. A nurturing mother provides a container and allows for the formation of positive poles between masculinity and femininity. A child is prepared for social life by its fundamental capacity for erotic relations, embedded and rooted in the relatedness and protection of the primary relationship. Only through the experience of confidence and security does the child acquire the ability to bear discomfort and make erotic-social sacrifices.

A defective primal relationship and development lead to weakness and a disturbed ego-self axis. A negative self-image and exaggerated ego defence mechanisms can lead to the disintegration of the personality and the illusion of unity, expressed by the archetypal terrible mother. A deficiency or loss of libido leads to anxiety and eventually death, where the unity of the womb is shattered. The world ceases to disintegrate into dead, isolated things, a struggle between hostile elements and forces.

Ego Disturbance

Through the maternal function of appeasement and compensation, the child invests in its ego a positive tendency, which the mother exemplifies and embeds through contact with the child. The security acquired enables the ego to integrate the drives originating in the natural phase of transpersonal development. Spoiling children can lead to many neurotic disorders due to the inordinate attachment of the mother. Deprived of other outlets, the mother floods the child with love and excessive attention, which hampers the child’s development. The mother, in effect, cannot release her attachment and devours her child in the process. These mothers’ own capacity for love is underdeveloped, poisoned or atrophied, and they compensate for their own negative fulfilment by clinging to their children. The children fill their own emptiness, and they live vicariously through them.

Such a poisonous love is always making a demand on the child, where she demands gratitude; her love requires payments of loyalty and becomes a means of pressure. She pushes the child toward her own emotions and desires, where the child is expected to fulfil her narcissistic needs. This renders the child impotent, rigid, unspontaneous and uncreative. The distressed ego bears the imprint of a hostile world, full of doom, a vision of hell attended by hunger, pain, emptiness, helplessness, loneliness and loss of security. The terrible mother becomes a witch, rejects, abandons, condemns her child to solitude and sickness, and torments them with hunger and thirst.

Aggression starts to appear, which may take the form of alarm, open hostility, or self-defence, with the child’s well-being disturbed by intrinsic pain. The great mother helps the child integrate their aggression by accepting their tantrums and hostility towards them. This makes the affirmation and assertion of the ego possible and heightens self-control and frustration tolerance. Feelings of aggression make their appearance as necessary weapons in the child’s struggle for independence. A negative ego can`t integrate aggression and narcissism forms; the child’s rage enforces their alienation and helplessness.

The feeling of not being loved accompanied by an insatiable longing to repair components in the primal relationship

With a weakened ego comes the dissolution of consciousness, where the ego becomes rigid and combats against the outside world. The pathological abandonment causes the eruption of rage with a sadistic desire to revive the mother. No human being can exist and develop human faculties in isolation; only through social interaction can archetypes form, expressing the relationship between human beings. A central symptom of a disturbed primal relationship is the feeling of guilt, not to feel blame for the world of others, but to feel guilty. Not being loved is the same as being a leper and being condemned. The terrible mother becomes an enemy of the child, brought into a place of chaos and nothingness, where the superego develops with moral aggression against itself. The superego forms during the separation of primal relationships and when the father dominates.

Before the masculine principle of the father confronts the child, the child experiences the masculine as an unconscious aspect of the mother—the masculine logos, spirit, morality and the world of the animus. Bringing in the separation of the unconscious and conscious, good and bad, rules and regulations, etc. The self’s ordering principle is the sole moral authority as long as the ego is contained within the mother`s self. When conflicts arise between the self and the ego, a conflict arises between different types of moral authorities within the personality in the differentiation process.

The Uroboros

In its lower aspects, the Uroboros take the form of a snake, bird, bull or ram. A demonic/divine spirit that bursts open a woman and fertilises her takes the form of wind, storm, thunder or lightning symbols. Its higher form manifests as supernatural music, intoxicating ecstasy and fulfilment of the senses—a conjunction where the woman is empowered. As a “Moon” spirit, a lower Chthonic masculine principle, the patriarchal Uroboros is a land of sexuality, drives, growth, and fertility. The upper form of ecstasy and a woman possessed. The masculine is not projected out yet as a bearer of spirit. The mother is still experienced as the mother of the father. Increasing independence means defenselessness and departure from security experienced as loneliness. The original identity is differentiated more and more. The two roles separate, conflict and alternate in consciousness. The development from matriarchal to patriarchal is symbolised by “weaning” and the cessation of “breastfeeding.” When in the matriarchal phase, the personality is largely unconscious and directed by its own totality, as by something superior and transpersonal

A break in the primal relationship leads to the loss of paradise and the castration complex.. where isolation and loneliness are perceived as despair and threatening. The loss of infantile feeling and seeing, accompanied by the loss of the mother’s body, has led Western man into a fascination with voyeurism, film, striptease, etc. The over-sexualisation of modern man, who yearns for contact, who believes it can only be fulfilled through sex. An increase in the artificial force of culture compensates for the loss of nature.

The 1st phase (phallic-chthonian) is passive and directed, bounded by the matriarchal power of nature, the unconscious. Next, the ego follows magical stages, a warlike ego that attempts to overcome its dependence on the mother and elicits the ensuing “Solar” phase. Next, the ego identifies with the father archetype, a patriarchal ego, which culminates in a relative freedom of will, a free cognitive ego. Finally, this ego is the great mother’s satellite, which still belongs to her and is directed by her.

Living like an infant in a unitary reality, participation mystique far removed the polarity of subject and object.

The infantile ego depends on the transpersonal, where the universal human governs its growth, guided by the great mother. The child begins to master the world by increasing scope and expansive drive, no longer clinging to the great mother. The ego must consolidate itself by assembling and systemising the contents of consciousness and experience itself at the centre of this consciousness. In the mandala of the psyche, the self forms the centre, whilst the ego is the centre of consciousness. The two circles belong together, for this is the basis of the upper ego-self-axis. The axis is the personality that is achieving its independence and frees itself from a unitary reality.

Analysis interprets this process as a withdrawal of primary object-bound libido into a secondary narcissism and starting point of objective reality. This new magical ego experiences its omnipotent power over the body, dominates the world, and experiences itself as the centre of the world. This ego is still subordinate to drives and emotions, irrational and partially unconscious, confronting the world with active intervention and impact. A youthful ego still clinging to the great mother, gaining power and strength to assume a central position of its own consciousness. Warlike masculinity is needed to liberate consciousness; only the heroic fighting ego can overcome the feminine/maternal realm. When the feminine impedes this masculine principle and drives towards independence, she becomes a terrible mother, a witch, a dragon, and a source of continued anxiety.

Anxiety arises within the transition from one archetype to another, as the ego is forced to abandon its previous position, assailed by intense fear. The medusa mother may try to cling and hold the ego captive, devouring any idea of progress. The father archetype confronts the ego as a negative dragon, where it does not overpower the ego. Anxiety is a sign of development and acquaints the ego with what needs to be feared, healed and conquered to move to a new orientation. A new quantity of libido becomes available to the ego to overcome this anxiety and increase its will to conquer. The magical rite in which the masculine transforms the human ego into the servant and executes a higher principle. This takes away the guilt of killing the man who kills the youthful ego. Man needs to strengthen his ego, which lifts him out of psychic unawareness and inertia as he enters the threshold of the patriarchal solar world.

An upper spiritual solar bond unites a new masculine totemic group.

Only this solar ego can oppose itself to the lower realms of the unconscious and feminine. Tensions between the poles of above and below, heaven and hell, conscious and unconscious, are fully constellated. Such tensions could not arise, nor could the infantile ego withstand such tension, if a transpersonal mechanism for this resistance was not embedded in the psyche itself. Consciousness must revive and identify with supreme values, abandon them and withdraw identification. Time and time again, the self incarnates itself and then becomes independent of the archetypal incarnation, which it first assumes, casts off and destroys.

The hostility of the solar ego to the lower feminine world of the mother goes hand in hand with the attachment to a higher spiritual world. In this patriarchal world, the male no longer feels conditioned and bound by the lower earthly power of instincts, as he becomes a living soul with divine breath within him. The superego is not like the self, an individual authority of the personality; it is a later introjection, a collective authority that imposes the father’s demands by violence. This leads to the apprehension of one’s own nature and the formation of the shadow and the persona. Patriarchal development ultimately leads to matricide, the greatest negation, exclusion, devaluation and repression of matriarchal elements. Once matricide has been carried out, the man must look for and find a new home, a place of origin that corresponds with his true nature.

Neumann, E.(2019) The Child: Structure and Dynamics of the Nascent Personality, Routledge; 1st edition