The evolution of the mother-infant bond

Sex is intermittent with a beginning, middle and end. Sex first transformed into the continuous state of attachment in the mother-infant bond.  In this process, the sexuality of mating was toned down, stripped of its aspect of consummation, and, thereby, the pleasure of increasing closeness was “stretched out” in time into a constant “feeling state.”  The sexuality of this bonding shifted from the genitals to the newborn’s mouth and nourishment, but also progressively globalized into pleasure resulting from contact through all sensory modalities. 

             Under the influence of the creative process to build this bond, the flight response, also intermittent, was similarly stretched out in time into the feeling we call anxiety, and, in an extraordinary and decisive evolutionary process, it was, in addition,  turned “inside out.”  Instead of fear motivating retreat from danger, diminishing with distance from its source, this stretched out fear of anxiety reversed this gradient and increased with separation from the mother. 

             The possessive inclination to protect food resources from another individual with rage is an ancient instinct.  With the advent of sexuality, the bond between the infant offspring and its mother became the resource to be protected.  Each became a resource for the other, thus the snarling destructive aim of protecting food was blunted and diverted into the angry reestablishment of the sexuality of attachment. An unaltered aspect of the possessive instinct is that the intensity of anger at the rupture of the bond is greatest when the connection is intense and close resulting in vigorous reattachment, the reverse of separation anxiety, which increases when distance threatens safety of the protective bond.

             We are stuck with a legacy of stigmatic names for these newly created emotions of attachment.  The term, narcissism, is the worst of these because it connotes selfishness from our lofty human perch.  Nevertheless, keep in mind; we are just beginning this story. The emotional substance of our more distant progenitors amounted to brief intervals of fear or rage to which was added the occasional hiccough of sex.  Out from this staccato life, the narcissistic self, comprised of a broad flow of the lasting sexuality of attachment, formed the foundation of our future temple which was to be riveted together with the force of narcissistic rage.  As for separation anxiety, it would forever remain the guardian sentinel at the periphery of future civilizations, whose familiar dread would toll the straggler back within the bosom of the group.

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