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Undifferentiated Matrix

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Undifferentiated Matrix

Innate Predispositions and Capacities Leading to Ego

Heinz Hartmann, considered by some the "father" of ego psychology, called the original state of the infant the "undifferentiated matrix." This matrix is taken to contain, in an undifferentiated and undeveloped form, the innate predispositions and capacities which will in time develop into the ego with its sense of separate individuality.

Lack of Differentiation Between the Various Contents of the Matrix

The concept of the undifferentiated matrix is later enlarged to denote the lack of differentiation between, and the existence of, the constitutional factors that later differentiate into the ego, id, and superego. Thus the psychic structure exists only in potential form for the neonate. However, the emphasis is obviously on the absence of boundaries in the sense of absence of differentiation, i.e., differentiation is seen as the development of boundaries. The undifferentiated matrix is characterized by a lack of differentiation between its various contents: between inner and outer, pleasant and painful, mind and body, libido and aggression, self and other, and so on. The development of the psychic structure and hence of the self-image is seen as a process of structuralization of the mind. In fact, object relations theory is primarily an understanding of how this structure develops out of an undifferentiated state of the mind.

The Void, pg. 34

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