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The walls within: working with defenses against otherness

Online Conference 5-11 July 2021

THE OTHER in the Politics of Relatedness between Developing and Developed Nations

I have been thinking and writing about the politics of relatedness between Developing and Developed Nations since 1985. Until 1993, my hypotheses about this relatedness were based on my understanding of what Klein wrote about the mechanisms of splitting and projection, and Bions explanation of those two mechanisms in the context of the relationship between the individual and the group. According to Klein (1975), the presence of an 'other' is required for every individual in order to grow and develop. While the person is very young and weak, the ego also remains comparatively weak. As a result managing the process of receiving innumerable stimuli from the external world and dealing with those becomes very difficult. The little person cannot accept oneself as incomplete and full of weakness and aggression. The need then arises to rid oneself of those inner attributes that one cannot accept, i.e. cannot admit in to ones conscious, ones memory. Through the attempt at ridding to buy the rather temporary feeling of goodness, to temporarily rid oneself of inner tension, one splits those unacceptable attributes and the associated feelings from the wholeness of ones being and projects those on to one or more persons, who are the 'others'. This process becomes easier as the other is perceived as different, distant and alien. As a person becomes more and more mature, the intensity of this need goes down. However, once this unconscious process starts in infancy, it continues, like most other unconscious processes, in ones adult life as well. The nature and intensity changes contextually and varies from individual to individual, largely depending on their degree of psychic maturity. Bion (1961) explains how these processes operate when a person becomes part of a group. Coming together in a group creates a kind of regressed mental condition in which one identifies oneself with the group and feels secure. Some parts of the self then feels small and dependent, like when one was as a very young person. In the case of most, if not all, groups, individuals forming the group from time to time mentally regress, giving rise to what Bion calls the basic assumptions (ba). In the grip of a ba, the group operates on fantasies that threaten their togetherness, threaten their very existence, albeit in their mind.'