Friday, November 11, 2005

Clarification: More on the Inner Critic

In the last post, Part Two of Learning to Respect the Blue vMeme, I mistakenly conflated the Freudian superego and the inner critic. While speaking with Maude Foster, a therapist in Sante Fe, NM, she clarified for me that the superego is a natural structure that begins developing very early in the child's life. On the other hand, the inner critic is an introject that comes from parental and cultural rules and expectations. It develops as a way to avoid punishment and ridicule. The inner critic, like all subpersonalities, emerges as a way to protect us from external criticism. By internalizing the criticisms, we can "head off" external criticism by beating ourselves up first--at least that's what the critic will try to tell you.

I hope that clears up any confusion I created.

One other note: the Blue vMeme makes for a perfect inner critic because of its reliance on rules and structure. However, it is the dominant vMeme of the parents that determine the tone of the inner critic.

For example, my father also had a strong and unhealthy Orange meme, so he despised emotions as a form of weakness and praised reason and rational thought. I internalized that as part of my critic.

If the dominant parent has a strong Green vMeme, the child might develop a critic that denies value structures, favors inner exploration over science, and can't function very well independently. This child might crave group experience and feel anxious or depressed when faced with doing something alone. The child might also refuse to place value judgments on things and feel very uncomfortable having to choose which friends to invite for a sleepover.

An angry and abusive parent might create a strongly Red inner critic, and so on. The point is that the parental style determines the voice of the inner critic. Not everyone has a loud critic, but everyone has a critic.

I hope to explore how each of the vMemes might manifest as an inner critic. If anyone would like to share their experience with me, please leave a comment or email me directly at Integral Options for Life.

UPDATE: Since I originally posted this, I have heard from a woman (my wise and lovely girlfriend) who had a dominantly Green mother. These are her observations on how her mother shaped her inner critic:

I didn't relate to most of what you said about a green inner critic, but here are two things from my experience that really stand out:
1. Getting the message that being with others is preferable to being alone -- the impulse to be alone is pathologized -- it's not that I can't/couldn't do it -- it's that it was always judged.
2. Getting the message that the only way for my life to be worthwhile is to be doing good in the world.
I DID get the message about denying value structures -- no one way is better, more aware, more evolved, etc., than any other way.

I haven't had a chance to speak with her about this, but I will try to get her to post (or give me further insights) on the topic. My guess is that there are a lot of children of boomers, ages 25 to 40, who may have had this type of parent, and therefore might be dealing with a Green version of the inner critic.

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