Validation of Perception with Paranoia

I came across something interesting this morning.

[W]e offer a conceptualization of psychotic states [...] With emphasis on failures of archaic self object ties in the specific function of validation of perception. [1]

This quote is from a book by psychoanalysts outside the Lacanian orientation (which is the orientation I use). There are a few things about it, I find fascinating.

(1) It focuses on psychotic states, which is something that Lacanians have been extremely interested in for some time.

(2) The authors point to the failures of archaic self object ties as a causal factor in creating psychotic structures. The authors are suggesting if the people who take care of us in infancy and early childhood do a good job, we are less likely to develop a psychotic structure.

  • Archaic self objects would be our earliest caregivers.
  • Ties would be the level of attuned relatedness (i.e., responsiveness).

(3) The third, and to me, most intriguing point, is the validation of perception. The authors are saying that having our perception validated is vital.

I've bolded the word perception because mental health people frequently engage in validating patients in various ways, but I don't think they usually validate their patient's perceptions.

Application to Paranoia:

I believe this is what Lacanian psychoanalysis gets right in its treatment of paranoid psychosis. Generally, Lacanians don't challenge a paranoid psychotic delusion. This is because Lacanians have realized that the psychotic perceives themselves as the object of persecution, and any attempt to propose otherwise reinforces the perception of persecution and thus increases the hold of the psychotic delusion.

To rephrase what has been said in the quote above in a more Lacanian way and apply it to child development:

Children behave in ways that would be considered psychotic if an adolescent or an adult behaved in the same way.

However, people will often validate the child's perception, they will play along with the child's strange ideas and behaviors. When an adult plays along with the child's psychotic fantasy, they integrate themselves into the child's perception (i.e., fantasy, delusion) of reality rather than challenging it or forcing the child to modify it.  

In theory, if kids get more of this sort of adults going along with it play, the less likely it is that the kid will be "messed up" later in life.

Here's the thing...

What works with kids -integrating oneself into their play/perceptions as opposed to challenging them– might also work with paranoid adult psychotics.

I think that is an interesting idea.

1.Stolorow, R.D, Brandchaft, B, & Atwood, G.E. (2000). Psychoanalytic Treatment: An Intersubjective Approach. Routledge. p. 4.

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