Psychological Self-Help

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741
Social-emotional needs and dependency
If we are willing to seriously hurt someone to please an authority
we will know for only an hour, one has to wonder how strong our
dependency is on parents, friends, and loved ones. Harry Harlow
(Harlow & Harlow, 1966) did an impressive series of studies
demonstrating that baby monkeys need mothering. Unless the
monkeys received some kind of love in the form of being held,
stroked, and played with, they developed abnormally, i.e. they became
scared, hostile, self-destructive, and sexually inept. Human infants
also need loving care; they may die without it (see chapter 6). Bowlby
(1969) found the infant's first attachment was to mother and then to
others. These early needs and emotional bonds are powerful and
possibly innate. Can it be that this same kind of desperate clinging
dependency persists as adults? 
In the movie, This is Your Life, two children, about 8 and 10, are asked by their single
mother: Would you rather have your Mom in the next room contemplating suicide for the
next week or have your Mom in ecstasy all alone in Hawaii? We all know the children's
answer.
Takeo Doi (1973), a Japanese psychoanalyst, describes a unique
Japanese word--amae--which refers to the longing of an infant at the
breast to have every whim attended to, to be enveloped in indulgent
love, to feel at one with the mother. Doi says such a feeling continues
into adulthood. It is being so dependent and needy that one is very
careful not to disrupt such a warm, giving relationship; thus, the
Japanese are dutifully apologetic. It means being so close to another
person that one can be self-indulgent without embarrassment. It
means seeking unconditional love, love you receive just by existing
(what Fromm called "Mother's love"). 
The Japanese are more aware of these dependency needs, partly
because they have the word (amae) and partly because their culture
does not emphasize (as much as ours does) individual freedom and
self-reliance. They are willing to stay close and subservient to their
parents; they are inclined to become attached to the company they
work for, giving conscientious work and expecting life-long support
from the company. 
In the last chapter, we discussed the conflicts between teenagers
and their parents. Both anger and dependency are involved. Later in
this chapter we will consider the lingering dependency ties with
parents even after we "grow up." 
Our need to be accepted
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