by Daniel Hutt, C.S.W.
Separation individuation is a cornerstone for good emotional health. Many psychological struggles experienced by people are directly related to this. The purpose of the article is to illustrate its scope and dimension. The interplay between past life and current circumstances will be explored theoretically and in a case study.
I am a traditionally trained psychotherapist who now utilizes past-life regression as part of my practice. It has occurred to me that many of the past-life connections clients experience in the regressed state are related to separation issues. Indeed, much of the work I do with regressive therapy appears to mirror the analytic concept of separation individuation.
The personality theorists define separation individuation as a developmental task a child goes through enabling him/her to part from the mother without fear of loss, abandonment, or annihilation. According to Margaret Mahler (1968), during the first month of life the infant is in a state of “normal autism” characterized by primitive hallucinatory disorientation. During the second month of life there begins a normal symbiosis where the mother and child function as if they are one. There is no differentiation at this point. At four to five months, the second symbiotic phase occurs with the beginning of the self. If all goes well, by the end of the first year of the child’s life, separation individuation begins.