chapter  8
12 Pages

True Body Self/False Body Self

Winnicott (1971) used the term false self to describe the defensive self­ organization formed by an individual as a result of inadequate caretak­ ing and failures in empathy, with the infant forced to accommodate to the conscious and unconscious needs of the caretaker on whom he or she is dependent. The false self begins as the infant's own needs are subju­ gated and continues as developmental needs are omitted or annexed to a parent. The false self is a construction of the individual beginning in earliest childhood when certain developmental needs are not met, such as mirroring experiences being inaccurate or inconsistent. As well, dis­ torted mirroring and toxic insertions may create perceptions and conclu­

sions of inadequacy and defectiveness as a core organizing assumption. This false self is then maintained, despite evidence to the contrary, regardless of repeatedly successful efforts at obtaining validation and affirmation. Achievement and success may be dismissed with remarks such as, "If they only knew the real me," or " I 'm fooling them." Success and other affirmations are relegated to the "pretend" mode (Fonagy, 1998), disavowed as inauthentic.