Note: This Map for Healing the Sense of Self is best used as a summary after some study of the Holistic Psychological Theory, as it requires a certain level of familiarity with and ability to handle the specific terminology.
The items in Red refer to the key concepts of this Holistic Psychological Theory. Red is the color of emergency and the state of being dependent on a Substitute Sense of Self is an ongoing psycho-emotional state of emergency. You may come across some inconsistencies in this pattern as the pages on Natural Sense of Self are also shaded in red as well as the pages on Restored Sense of Self (this note for the keen observer!)
Blue items refer to pathological aspects and elements in life: (Substitute Sense of Self-related fear and anxiety, disease all sorts, and dysfunction on a variety of levels. (Blue as in ‘feeling blue or as in’having ‘high blood pressure.’)
The items in Green refer to roughly everything that has to do with the Motivation Theory. Green gives a sense of reassurance, things being OK, of naturalness and authenticity.
Note 1: The ‘balloon’ of ‘Inadequate Mirroring’ is yellow as well as the one of ‘ Lack of Sense of Self’. The color yellow is used to distinguish the items from other sections but isn’t symbolic for a section by itself.
Note 2: I have been consistent with using these colors throughout the website: the pages on the Sense of Self are red; the ones on Motivation are green; the pages on Pathology are blue. The introduction Section is in a cream color and on the Site Map indicated in yellow, without that having a symbolic meaning though. It was just the only color left.
Balloons with green diagonal lines through them are meant to convey the absence of that item at that point in a person’s process: No Lack of Sense of Self (that is, having a Natural or a Restored Sense of Self), no Ego-References, no Rage, no Depression, etc.
At first glance the Map for Healing the Sense of Self looks quite crowded so I split it into 7different views, reflecting the stages in which it was built, for the purpose of understanding how it got that way.
This illustration is the full Map. Please look at it, take it in. It is a great map as it maps out the relationships between the various concepts. Below we will go into a detailed explanation.
Stage 2 is the simplest version because it shows only the source that lies at the root of the many aspects of human suffering: the Inadequate/Distorted Mirroring of the developing toddler/child by the caregiver.
The result is the child’s inability to develop a healthy Natural Sense of Self so they have a Lack of Sense of Self. Those are the yellow items.
This particular situation is the set-up for Nature to fill the resulting Black Hole with a Substitute-Sense-of-Self-oriented System. That structure provides the closest to a Self-experience a person without a (Natural or Restored) Sense of Self (who therefore has a Lack of Sense of Self) can get. It is totally conditional: the Ego-References form the ‘conditions’ the child subconsciously decides he needs to fulfill Note: those particular conditions differ for each individual.
So the Lack of Sense of Self leads to the formation of Ego-References (the first red balloon) which enable – whenever successfully achieved – the person to get to the ‘feel-good-about-Self’ which is the Substitute Sense of Self (the second red balloon).
The arrows here represent a force of Nature: if this happens than automatically a flow between the empty space and the next best thing is coming into existence: I am not being acknowledged as an independent and autonomous person (inadequate mirroring) – I have no Sense of your Self (Lack of Sense of Self) – I need some sort of self-structure to be able to function Substitute Sense of Self)– the next best thing is to make the caregiver happy so I get some good feedback (Ego-References).
The arrows here represent a sequence of development dictated by Nature and which therefore takes place as a (or one might say, with the) force of nature. If the inadequate mirroring happens, that naturally creates a Black Hole in the child’s psyche. The Nature-intended development of a Natural Sense of Self from the proper kind of mirroring isn’t happening. Nature then creates a flow between that intolerable and terrifying empty space in the psyche and the next-best thing to the Natural Sense of Self that isn’t happening. That next-best thing is the development of Ego-References, conditions that the child believes they need to fulfill to get a substitute for proper regard: being approved and feeling-good-about-myself because of being approved.
The child subconsciously thinks: ‘I am not being acknowledged as an independent and autonomous person (inadequate mirroring) – I have no (Sense of-) Self (Lack of Sense of Self) – I need some sort of self-structure to be able to function as a human being (Substitute Sense of Self)– the next best thing is to make the caregiver happy so I get some good feedback (Ego-References)’.
The child’s ultimate goal is to (by fulfilling the Ego-Reference conditions) (first red balloon) get the real (or, later in life when the parent is internalized) virtual approval/acceptance of the caregiver that causes a feel good about self‘ that functions as a Substitute Sense of Self. (second red balloon)
The red circle of arrows between the two red balloons refers to the endless repetition (compulsiveness) of this pattern, which is inevitable because the Substitute Sense of Self is a very momentary experience, needing to be renewed over and over again.
In this illustration we have added the fear that is generated by the person’s dependency on this Substitute-Sense–of-Self-oriented System. There are several anxiety-provoking situations at work here to create an enormous amount of stress:
1. First there is the (normal) everyday Quality of Life-level of fear which even healthy people experience from time to time, as success in their endeavors is often not assured or predictable. (Green rectangle)
2. Then there is the unhealthy fear of Annihilation that comes forth from not being acknowledged as a separate person from the caregiver and that lies at the root of the development of the Substitute Sense of Self-oriented System. (Beginning of the red arrow going into the red rectangle) This is the root fear underlying and leading to all the Substitute Sense of Self-related fears. (Red rectangle)
3. There are the Substitute Sense of Self-related fears (Red rectangle) and they are multiple of which common Failure Fear is one. ‘Not succeeding’ in the endeavors of the Ego-References is not an option as it means there will be ‘no Substitute Sense of Self (‘Feel-good-about-Self’) which equals a sense of Annihilation’.
4. Anxiety is a form of fear that is vague and its origin is not identifiable in general but is likely to reside precisely in the dependency on a Substitute Sense of Self for your Self-experience.
Those fears generate untold kinds of stress, on top of the stress of trying to function in life with a poor, weak, pathological substitute for a real ‘spine’ of a real Sense of Self. That stress is exactly why a Lack of Sense of Self is, in this Theory, regarded as the root cause of so many seemingly-unrelated diseases and dysfunctional aspects of individuals and thus of society. Due to the extreme level of continuous stress, multiple pathological symptoms tend to develop sooner or later in a person’s life (Blue rectangle.)
This segment shows what happens if an attempt to reach the Substitute Sense of Self is thwarted. The immediate result is RAGE. (Lower blue oval balloon) If, for whatever reason, the person has, in that situation, given up (or is forced to give up) trying to realize their ‘Holy Grail’ (Substitute Sense of Self , ‘Feel-good-about-self’ , (symbolized by the jagged yellow line between the red balloon of Ego-References and the blue oval of Depression) then – because they have a Lack of Sense of Self and are thus dependent on the outcome of their actions for their Substitute Sense of Self – Depression is the result. (Lower blue oval balloon on the right) They are de-activated, they lose any inspiration, they ‘deflate’ so to speak, if they perceive never being able to get done what they perceive matters most in life (approval/virtual approval/Substitute Sense of Self).
In this version of the Map, Stages 2, 3 and 4 are combined in one illustration.
In this bottom-most horizontal sequence, we are looking at what the map would be in case of a healthy Sense of your Self. (Second green oval balloon). The tiny balloons with diagonal lines through them indicate what items are (fortunately) missing from the person’s life, which were present for the person suffering the consequences of inadequate mirroring. To have a healthy (Natural or Restored) Sense of Self means a gigantic reduction of stressors and stress-related symptoms.
The root cause of a Natural Sense of Self is ‘adequate mirroring’ LINK of the infant/child: acknowledgment for its independent and autonomous existence as a separate person. (First/left hand green oval balloon) The root cause of a Restored Sense of Self is going through the Recovery process; there is no balloon indicating that root cause.
Of course in both cases, (Natural or Restored Sense of Self) Quality of Life-level stress is present; it is a normal part of life. We should have added in the line to the Quality of Life-Fear as you see it in the full Map.
Stage 7 shows again the complete map, only now you have a better understanding and you can better identify the separate items on it.
The only thing on it that we haven’t addressed yet is the little green rectangle on the left side that says: HolisPsych Exercises. It’s between the yellow balloon of ‘Inadequate Mirror’ and the green one that says: ‘Presence of a Sense of Self.’ Note that it says also: Natural or Restored!
This is where HolisPsych’s Healing Exercises come in for helping you Heal your Sense of Self and eliminate all the pathological aspects from your life. Healing/Restoring your Sense of Self, when done with dedication and commitment, can bring a tremendous improvement to your quality of life.
At various points in your journey through this website, refer back to this map and notice how much better you understand it!