Identity is built upon the early interactions with caretakers through whom we internalize a felt-sense of what it means to be ourselves, including values and judgments that have been passed along the generations. Psychoanalytic theory and the attachment literature help us to understand some of the more subversive elements of that transmission process, ways in which unprocessed trauma and unresolved mourning provides a vehicle for passing along positive and negative aspects of personal, familial and cultural aspects of identity across the generations. Because that transmission process directly impacts ways in which oppression and marginalization skew meanings for future generations, it is important that we consciously recognize and work with the projective processes as they play out in our children and in ourselves. In this paper, I discuss ways in which projection and unprocessed shame can inhibit the type of active reflection required for ethical behavior and democratic process.
Identity forms in relation to the interpersonal narratives through which our histories are constructed. Psychoanalysis affords opportunities to reconsider important relationships from different vantage points and to recognise how these relationships have informed meanings and being. Entering psychoanalysis invites direct engagement with this universe of childhood, memory, meanings and also the gaps left by trauma and neglect. In this article, I consider ways in which those gaps have been active forces driving my journey towards a more competent, facilitative and generative mentoring than had been available to me. Revisioning my story entailed an exploration of the ways in which my mother’s absent presence haunted me almost invisibly, so that the threads were left to emerge and transform over time in relation to my own development. This transformation was made possible by psychoanalysis and self-analysis, and also through meeting my mother from the other side, so to speak, as I found myself at the maternal edge of the various developmental precipices she and I had traversed together. This process of re-envisioning has left its mark in ways that now call to others needing a type of validation that has not been easily forthcoming. I will discuss how a process of marked mirroring enabled one woman to find what she needed in me in ways that enhanced the development of each. That experience has informed my current ideas regarding pedagogy and the ways in which an embodied, aesthetically driven maternal perspective may enhance the largely paternalistic canon of psychoanalytic thought and pedagogy.