18. PersonificationBeginning in infancy and continuing throughout the various developmental stages, people acquire certain images of themselves and others. These images are called personifications.
They may be relatively accurate, or because they are colored by people’s needs and anxieties, they may be grossly distorted. Sullivan (1953b) described three basic personifications that develop during infancy—the bad-mother, the good mother, and the me. In addition, some children acquire an eidetic personification.
Bad-Mother, Good-MotherBad-mother personification, grows out of the infant’s experiences with the bad-nipple: (nipple that does not satisfy hunger needs).
Goodmother personification is based on the tender and cooperative behaviors of the mother.
Both combine to form a complex personification composed of contrasting qualities projected onto the same person.
Me PersonificationsMe personifications, acquired during mid-infancy form the building blocks of self-personification.
Bad-me personification is fashioned from experiences of punishment and disapproval that infants receive from their mothering one.
Good-me personification results from infants’ experiences with reward and approval.
Not-me personification results due to sudden severe anxiety.
Eidetic PersonificationsEidetic personifications: unrealistic traits or imaginary friends that many children invent in order to protect their self-esteem. Adults may see fictitious traits in other people.
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Theories of Personality, Jess Feist and Gregory Feist
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