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Internalization

 

Disciplines > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Internalization

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

Internalization occurs when objects are 'installed' into the ego, such that they are both integral to sense of self and also experienced as separate and concrete internal objects.

In this way, the external world is brought into the internal world and incorporated with it. When fully internalized, an item is fully 'owned' and considered as normal.

This is the process whereby the personality is created.

Of the various notions of how we take in the internal world, internalization is one of the highest-level concepts. incorporation, introjection and identification are three more detailed methods.

Discussion

When internalized, objects may feel that they are physically located within the body. Melanie Klein related this to early experiences and phantasies of introjection.

These objects may be considered as being good or bad.

These objects may have active relations with one another, for example attacking and rescuing one another.

Internalization implies a transformation of object cathexis (the investment of libidinal energy in the object) into narcissistic cathexis (investment of energy in the self ), and hence generating intrapsychic coherence and integration.

Internalization effectively turns object into personal subject, converting separate into self.

This bringing into the self resonates with the neonatal phase and its integrated wholeness.

With the resolution of the Oedipal complex, the ego ‘assimilates’ it to itself rather than repressing or turning away from the complex and confusing outer world.

Historically, the original idea of internalization has been attributed to Shakespeare. More recently, Nietzsche, in his Genealogy of Morals ([1887] 1956: 217) said ‘All instincts that do not discharge outwardly turn inward. This is what I call man’s internalization; with it begins to grow in man what later is called his “soul”.’

See also

Klein, Freud, Introjection, Identification, Incorporation, Object Relations Theory

 

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