The Baby Loses Her Primary Self-Realization as She Begins to Experience Herself as an Object
Narcissism develops when the soul loses touch with its wholeness, especially as it loses touch with its true nature. The soul loses awareness of its wholeness through the loss of the immediacy of experience, which results from experiencing itself through past impressions. The loss of immediacy is identical with the loss of awareness of presence, and since presence is the “glue” that unifies all aspects of experience, wholeness is gone. The baby loses her primary self-realization (and her primary narcissism) as she begins to experience herself as an object. An increasing veil composed of memories (and reaction-induced results or consequences) intervenes between the subject—the self—and the object. This duality gradually transforms the infant’s experience in such a way that she ultimately loses her identification with the sense of presence. As the infant develops an identity situated in dimensions of experience superficial to her essential presence, she loses her capacity to simply be herself. In a sense, rather than actually losing this capacity, the infant simply forgets it as she gradually finds herself reacting to and manipulating her experience, and becoming increasingly alienated from her true nature. Thus, the loss of contact with her true identity involves the loss of the sense of the perfection and wholeness of the self.
The Point of Existence, pg. 41
The Infant's Experience at Least at Times of Rest and Satisfaction Must be that of Simply Being
Even though the self of the early infant must exist in a state of wholeness similar to that of self-realization, we do not assume that the infant’s experience is the same as that of the self-realized adult; in fact, this is most unlikely because, as we will discuss further, the infant has not gone through the developmental stages necessary for conceptual discrimination. However, it is safe to assume that the infant lives initially in a condition that we will term “primary self-realization,” since in the absence of significant disturbances there must be some awareness unmediated by memory, images, or ideas. We can assume that experience is not yet conceptualized, the self is not yet self-reflective, and the consciousness is not yet divided by defensiveness. Even if there is some contraction in the body or nervous system as a result of less than optimal conditions, or, say, a difficult birth, the infant’s experience—at least at times of rest and satisfaction—must be that of simply being. The actual self, the experiencing consciousness, must be abiding in its true nature, since it is simply and spontaneously being, with its innocence intact. We have seen that this wholeness is part of the condition of self-realization. We have also seen that self-realization is not a matter of intellectual understanding or even emotional maturity, but rather, a matter of spontaneously and naturally being—simply being, without conceptualizing oneself. And since the central element of self-realization is presence (which is free, pure, and devoid of mental elaborations), we must accept that at least one component of the infant’s experience must be presence. How else can it be?
The Point of Existence, pg. 37
The Infant's Initial Experience of Itself
Our concept of primary self-realization has elements of both the concept of primary narcissism and the idea of the undifferentiated matrix. The infant’s initial experience of itself appears to be a state of equilibrium of consciousness, characterized by a sense of perfection, wholeness, innocence, bliss, and purity of being. This is all easily acceptable to the ordinary observer, and also to the psychological observer; it is within the view of prevalent psychoanalytic theory. We add to these observations our own: The fabric of this consciousness is presence, which presents itself through continuously changing forms. Since the process of ego development involves construction of and identification with conceptual structures, it is reasonable to assume that the sense of wholeness and perfection is most complete in earliest infancy, but diminishes as the infant develops. The development of the body, along with the perceptual, cognitive, emotional, and psychical capacities of the self, engenders and coincides with a continuous transformation of the essential presence. The soul’s presence manifests new forms and qualities appropriate to this development. Although the ongoing substrate of the self continues to be presence, and the baby is a continuity of Being, a flow of presence, the self as a whole is in a constant state of development, maturation, and transformation.
The Point of Existence, pg. 40
When the Child Experiences the Presence of the Essential Identity
In the original condition of primary self-realization, which coincides with that of primary narcissism, the child does not possess enough discrimination to differentiate between his essential Presence and the various contents of the self. In the next stage, where the Essential Identity is his dominant presence, the child's capacity for discrimination has matured some. But he is identified so totally with the presence of the Essential Identity, at least when it is manifesting, that he is not able to perceive it. He is being it; he actually feels what it is like to be it, but is not able to objectify it because he is not self-reflective.