Summarizing The Desire for Mutual Recognition

Chapter 2: The Denial of Desire, Fear of the Other, and Formation of the False Self

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While the previous chapter describes the desire for mutual recognition itself, this second chapter focuses on the social-cultural denial of that desire as this "denial of desire" takes place first in the family. The chapter begins by describing--through the example of "the newscaster"--the split that comes to exist between the adult's artificial outer persona and his or her true presence as a person seeking authentic relations with others. The chapter then turns to showing how that split is internalized in early childhood through the infant's encounter with the adults in his or her world, again using the example of the newscaster as an imaginary parent encountering the child born seeking authentic recognition and how parents or other surrounding adults (unconsciously, inadvertently) create in that child a false self that will become the "mould" of the child's future encounters with others. The chapter then shows that once the growing child has learned that artificiality is the very price of social membership, of what social recognition there in his or her world, he or she will come to reproduce that in his or her future relations with others and in future generations...although always also transcending the limitations of his or her alienated conditioning by also reaching out toward the hope of authentic connection with others that would realize his or her desire for mutual recognition through true mutuality of presence. In order to link the ideas in the book with important work of other theorists, the chapter concludes by analyzing how the ideas presented here compare and contrast with the thought of Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jacques Lacan, and psychoanalytic theory in general.

Peter GabelChomat HaLev