The Widening Gyre: Transformations of the Omnipotent Quest During Adolescence

In the seminal contribution, Silverberg (1949) delineated the role of the quest for omnipotence in neurosogensis and normal personality development. drawing upon the formulations of Freud (1911, 1909) and Ferenczi (1913), he traced the infant’s passage from a theoretical state of ‘unconditional omnipotence’–marked by the sense of total gratification at a time of actual maximum helplessness–to stages of ‘conditional omnipotence’ when, deprived of the moterh’s intervention, the child attempts to secure satisfaction and protection by hallucinatory wish-fulfillment, gestures and vocalizations that seem to prove its magical control over the object. As frustration mounts, the ineffectiveness of these modalities is increasingly recognized and the infant gradually learns that his own wishes are not paramount…there is a reality surrounding him that must be taken into account and manipulted in its own terms, if he is to achieve fulfillment of his wishes…(Silverberg, 1949, p. 387).

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