Excerpt About Separateness

Creation of the Sense of Separateness

It would be a mistake to assume that the mere perception of having physical contours creates the sense of separateness. The sense of separateness is created by the formation and maintenance of ego structures, which are cathected; i.e., held onto with emotional (libidinal) energy. This can be clearly seen in the many cases in which there is a distortion in the body image, indicating that the image is a mental structure and not an objective perception. [For more on this subject see our book The Void.] Without these structures there is no sense of separateness. Some aspects of
Being involve perception of body contours without those contours bounding the sense of presence ego boundaries are experienced as a film or thickness around the body, because their reflection in the body is a surface tension. This subtle contraction, which is characteristic of all identification systems due to the presence of the defensive element, is experienced in different states of hardness, or thickness, depending on the degree of tension, like any other physical tension. It becomes particularly hard or thick or rigid when there is anxiety regarding it. This happens particularly when one becomes aware of the possibility of its dissolution. The extreme anxiety about loss of boundaries causes the surface tension to increase, which makes it easier to perceive. To believe that one’s boundaries coincide with the external contours of the body indicates that one has not only cathected the body, but also has decathected Being. Belief in ego boundaries involves the conception that one is primarily the body.

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