Development of the Basic Masochistic Substructure
What is this basic masochistic substructure? Let us, again, look at the trials and tribulations of the infant...
The passages below are taken from Bergler's Tensions Can Be Reduced to Nuisances (1960), p. 69 through 74:
The incredible fact is that the infant misunderstands all [the] simple [early] experiences, protests against them, and develops from them a fantastic sequence of fears. In chronological order, this septet of baby fears consists of the dread of being starved, devoured, poisoned, choked, chopped to pieces, drained, and castrated...These fears which then develop have no connection with the real actions of his real mother...
What the child really wants is continuation of the life of ease and luxury he had in the womb..." [But what he gets are frustrations, fears, angers, and other emotional difficulties which remain in the unconscious psyche throughout adult life: unless some understanding of what is happening; of what the dynamic is- is acquired.]
When the child leaves infancy behind, he modifies his [fantasies by] following a new formula of reproach: 'I've been refused and denied-- love, kindness, gifts, human warmth.'...The refusal... is the shattering of [the] illusion of omnopotence.
The whole problem hinges on one's relative success in overcoming the irrational apprehensions and irrational misconceptions of infancy.
[For example,] Two brothers, brought up by a neurotically aggressive mother, may take widely different paths as adults. One may marry a kind, friendly, loving wife, and in this way 'repair' his childhood disappointment. The other may marry an aggressive shrew, thus duplicating and pepetuating the masochistic pattern of childhood. Their choices would be the outcome of differing unconscious elaborations, for which their unhappy home situation provided only the starting point."
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