This post is birthed out of a recent experience I’ve had with living out a personal introject. In my house, the phrase “’I want’ is a bad word” would resound each birthday, Christmas, or trip to the Sweet Factory. And, since I procees best externally, I’ll share my findings…If you’re not into the academic side of my blog…skip this one. It’ll be lighter tomorrow, I promise.
The development of assimilating an introjection into the life of an individual follows the proverbial illustration of a cow in the meadow, chewing cud. Cud is regurgitated grass, which has been brought up from the cow’s first stomach. The cow masticates the cud once again and the cud proceeds through the rest of the cow’s digestive system. This process occurs repetitively during digestion within the cow.
An introject is an un-chewed or undigested thought, idea, theory, word, act, feeling or piece of data. Applying the aforementioned illustration of a cow chewing cud, after chewing the introject, one can choose to digest it or spit it out and reject it. If the introject is swallowed completely and not assimilated into the individual’s personality, the introject will act as an obstruction and impede digestion, and the result is an impaired ability to think and act individually (Stevenson, 2002).
The development of an introjection may transpire over a long period or it may happen immediately. The initial consumption of the messages occurs throughout an entire lifetime, during early childhood, in the course of the adolescent years and throughout adulthood. The messengers may be parents, role models, friends, mentors, teachers, or co-workers; even the media plays a large role in sending these messages. The messenger(s) consciously or inadvertently send messages. The conceived message(s), when sent by the messenger and understood as fact by the receiver, without room for negotiation, birth into introjections in the life of the individual. With introjections, self-awareness is not even necessary; one can feel free to hit autopilot and live on introjections from the messengers rather than experience life abundantly and relate well to others.
After locating and identifying the introjection, one may proceed with caution to become aware of the introjection and begin to chew, that is, to unravel the introjection cognitively in order to accept it or reject it. Stevenson summarizes this process saying, “In short, to undo an introject, we need to learn to identify, own, and accept experience as it occurs” (Stevenson, p. 3).
This process, much like the cow in the meadow chewing cud, can become second nature. It is healthy for the cow to digest in this manner, much like the health rewards of undoing introjections. Such rewards are the development of the ability to accept the consequences of not living up to the expectations of others and the ability to simply be happy as a creature of God.
Stevenson, T. Herbert. (2002). Unpublished Article: Introjects.