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Bromberg, P.M. (1984). Getting Into Oneself and out of One's Self: On Schizoid Processes. Contemp. Psychoanal., 20:439-447.

(1984). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 20:439-447

Getting Into Oneself and out of One's Self: On Schizoid Processes

Philip M. Bromberg, Ph.D.

THE WORD "PRIMITIVE", APPLIED TO A SOCIETY or to the mental state of an individual, is linked to a context defined by the role of language. With regard to a society, a primitive culture is one that has not developed a written language. Written language is necessary when the members of a culture require a means of communicating their group identity as an objective social reality which extends beyond the here and now, and presupposes the ability to frame social reality by a process of consensual validation, as Harry Stack Sullivan (1950p. 214) termed it. It is taken as a sign that the individual members of the society have achieved a level of consensually defined self and object representation needed to schematize social reality beyond their own subjective needs, and that the process of communication uses language not only as a tool to get what one wants but also as a means of expressing who one is.

When the term "primitive" is used psychoanalytically (i.e., in relation to the psychological state of a person) the meaning is more ambiguous, but equally embedded in the context of language and how it is used. Freud (1913a) suggested that primitivity reflects a state of mind which is dominated by an unquestioning belief in the power of thought; a phenomenon which he also held to be the foundation of magic. The link between magical thinking and the

Copyright © 1984 W.

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