• David M. Allen
Part of the Critical Issues in Psychiatry book series (CIPS)


The dialectic between altruism, enmeshment, and togetherness versus selfishness, self-assertion, and self-preservation is built into all facets of human experience. As Kerr and Bowen have speculated (1988), this internal contradiction may not only be programmed by our genes but may somehow be intrinsic to protoplasm itself. Perhaps it is even an essential feature of the most basic building blocks of matter and energy; we can only speculate. It seems to drive the forces of evolution. The emergence of a new synthesis from this thesis and antithesis is unstoppable. No matter what we do, we can not impede this new evolution of the self from an undifferentiated part of the collective to a free-standing unconnected eptity. We may fool ourselves through mortification and invent new and more effective ways to devalue individuality, but evolve we will. A therapist may be able to assist individuals, temporarily, to shoehorn themselves into some pigeonhole fashioned by a social group, but cannot really send them backwards and cannot prevent the forces of evolution from continuing to tear them away from their moorings. We can only hope to ease the pain and the fear that accompany this process of separation and individuation and help our clients to accept who they really are without causing them to become totally isolated from their social system.


Basic Building Block Khmer Rouge Wealthy Nation Sexual Promiscuity Guerrilla Group 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • David M. Allen
    • 1
  1. 1.BurbankUSA

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