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If there is one generalisation to hazard about
maturity, it is that it involves neither profoundly

idealising, nor denigrating other people.
But let’s begin with babies. The pioneering

mid-20th century Viennese psychoanalyst Melanie
Klein famously drew attention to something

very dramatic that happens in the minds of
babies during feeding sessions with their

mothers. Image result for marie cassatt When
feeding goes well, the baby is blissfully

happy and sees mummy as ‘good’. But if,
for whatever reason, the feeding process is

difficult, the baby can’t grasp that it
is dealing with the same person it liked a

lot only a few hours or minutes ago. It is
simply filled with rage and hatred. In order

to tolerate this, the baby splits off from
the actual mother a second ‘bad’ version

– whom it deems to be a separate, hateful
individual, responsible for deliberately frustrating

its wishes, and in the process, protecting
the image of the good mother in its mind.

There are, in the baby’s mind, two people
at large, one entirely good, the other entirely

bad. Gradually, if things go well, there follows
a long and difficult process by which the

child integrates these two different people
and comes, sadly but realistically, to grasp

that there is no ideal, ‘perfect’ mummy
– just one person who is usually lovely

but can also be cross, busy, tired, who can
make mistakes, and be very interested in other

people. It may be a very long time since we
were being fed as babies. But the tendency

to ‘split’ those close to us is always
there; for we don’t ever fully outgrow our

childhood selves. In adult life, we may fall
deeply in love and split off an ideal version

of someone, in whom we see no imperfections
and whom we adore without limit. Yet we may

suddenly and violently turn against the partner
(or a celebrity or a politician) whose good

qualities once impressed us, the moment we
discover the slightest thing that disturbs

or frustrates us in them. We may conclude
that they cannot really be good since they

have made us suffer – and that the only
logical verdict is that they are appalling.

We may find it extremely hard to accept that
the same person might be very nice and good

in some ways and strikingly disappointing
in others. The bad version can appear to destroy

the good one, though (of course) in fact these
are really just different and connected aspects

of one complex person. It’s a huge psychological
achievement to accept other humans in their

bewildering mixture of good and bad, capacity
to assist us and to frustrate us, kindness

and meanness – and to see that, far more
than we’re inclined to imagine in our furious

or ecstatic moments, most people belong in
that slightly sobering, slightly hopeful grey

area that goes by the term ‘good enough.’
To cope with the conflict between hope and

reality, our culture should teach us good
integration skills, prompting us to accept

with a little more grace what is imperfect
in ourselves – and then, by extension, in

others. We should be gently reminded that
no one we can love will ever satisfy us completely

– but that this is never a reason to hate
them either. We should move away from the

naivety and cruelty of splitting people into
the camps of the awful and the wondrous, to

the mature wisdom of integrating them into
the large collective of the ‘good enough’.

Our collection of essays, "Why You Will Marry
the Wrong Person" proposes that we don't need

perfection to be happy, as long as we enter
our relationships in the right spirit. Find

out more by following the link on your screen
now.

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The Dangers of Loving or Hating Too Much

493 分類 收藏
Evangeline 發佈於 2018 年 6 月 12 日
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