Prof. Joseph Levine

Senior Psychiatrist




Conversation 34: More about internalization processes in general while focusing on the processes of internalizing characters into the "board of internalized characters" that builds the "social self"

By Prof. Levine & Dr. Salganik


We will once again remind those who join the blog that in the model we propose for the "self", one must first differentiate between the primary self, which is actually the basic biological core consisting of a number of innate structures and which is subject to development during life. and the secondary social self, which is a structure that develops during a person's exposure to social influence, and consists of internalization of figures significant to the person [we will call them secondary selves], originating either from external groups or from imaginary groups related, for example, in the form of a character from a story, from a myth, from a movie, etc. that had a considerable influence on the person.

We will note here that at birth there are innate patterns for most parts of the self such as the "social self" and its parts that are nuclei for a possible future development of these structures.

The "secondary selves" include:

1] the variety of representations of the "I" that originate from attitudes and feelings towards the self and its representations in different periods of life.

2] The representations of the internalized characters that usually originate from significant characters that the person was exposed to during his life, but as mentioned, there may also be imaginary characters represented in books, movies, etc. that had a considerable influence on the person.

3] The person’s representations of the "subculture" [subculture refers to social influences within the milieu [environment] in which the person lives and are not necessarily related to a specific person or group.

These secondary selves that build the social self usually demonstrate a hierarchy and there may be one or more internalized characters that are more dominant in the hierarchy and these dictate the person's positions and perceptions as well as impose censorship on contents and their internalization as well as the internalization of certain characters that do not fit and even contradict the positions of the dominant character or characters. For convenience we call the collection of internalized characters in the social self the "board of internalized characters" and some have called it the "internalized jury." The person is usually not aware of the composition of the social self, which consists of internalized significant figures that activate him in quasi "automatic" behavior patterns, unless he has undergone treatment that brought this to his awareness.

It is interesting that different brain structures have been suggested as being involved in the internalization of the characters.

Thus, several areas and systems in the brain are known to play a role in the process of internalization and attachment to characters:

Prefrontal cortex: This region, specifically the ventral middle prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), is involved in emotion processing and regulation. It plays a crucial role in evaluating social and emotional information, including the importance of close relationships.

Amygdala: This brain nucleus is responsible for processing emotional stimuli, including fear and feelings associated with internalized characters.

Hippocampus: The hippocampus is involved in memory formation and retrieval. It plays a role in storing and retrieving memories related to relationships with others.

The oxytocin system: The release of oxytocin, often called the "love hormone" or the "bonding hormone," is associated with social bonding and bonding with characters. The hypothalamus and the release of oxytocin in the brain are critical for creating and maintaining close relationships.

Mirror neuron system: This system, which includes areas such as the inferior parietal lobe, is involved in understanding and imitating the actions and emotions of others. It plays a role in empathy and social cohesion.

Anterior cingulate gyrus (ACC): The ACC is involved in monitoring and regulating social behaviors and conflicts within relationships. This area plays a role in maintaining a stable and healthy attachment.

Striatum: The striatum is involved in reward processing and reinforcement learning. This may play a role in the pleasure and reward associated with spending time with close significant others.

It is important to note that the process of connecting and representing close relationships in the brain is complex and includes interactions between these and other brain regions. In addition, individual differences, experiences and cultural factors can also affect how these processes are represented in the brain. Research in this area continues, and our understanding of the neural basis of attachment continues to evolve.

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In general, it seems that different types of relationships and experiences related to people can engage different systems and processes in the brain. Below we will detail here more about the brain systems involved:

The middle temporal lobe (especially the hippocampus):

◦ Critical for encoding and forming explicit memories, including personal experiences (episodic memories) with people.

◦ An unforgettable experience with a significant person (for example, a parent, spouse or close friend) will engage the hippocampus for the formation and consolidation of this memory.


◦ Plays a crucial role in processing emotions. If an experience with a person evokes strong emotions (eg, love, fear, anger), the amygdala will be involved.

◦ Emotionally charged memories, especially those related to influential people, can be recalled more vividly due to the amygdala's role in regulating memory formation.

Prefrontal cortex:

◦ Involved in higher-order cognitive functions, including processing complex social interactions, understanding others' perspectives, and making judgments.

◦ When assessing a person's influence, making decisions based on their advice, or evaluating their intentions, the prefrontal cortex is involved.

Fusiform facial area (FFA):

◦ Specializes in facial recognition. Recognizing faces of familiar people activates the FFA.

◦ While the FFA helps us identify people, it does not classify them based on the type of relationship.

Convolution of the frontal belt and the orbitofrontal cortex:

◦ Deals with evaluating rewards and social connections. They play roles in creating attachments, such as those with family, friends, or romantic partners.

Default mode network (including posterior cingulate, middle prefrontal cortex, and angular gyrus):

◦ It is active when people think about themselves, others or reflect on their experiences. This network may be involved when reminiscing or thinking about influential people and their impact on life.

Basal nuclei and cerebellum:

◦ While primarily involved in motor functions and procedural memory, these structures may also be activated in the context of learned behaviors or habits associated with certain individuals. For example, dancing with a partner or doing a joint routine with someone.

It is important to note that memories, relationships and social influences are multifaceted and often engage many areas of the brain at the same time. While certain areas may be more active during certain types of interactions or memories, the brain functions as an interconnected network, with many areas working together to process and integrate social information.

Also in the context of the brain representation of characters, we will mention the interesting article by Courtney and Mayer from 2020:

Courtney, A. L., & Meyer, M. L. (2020). Does subjective self-other closeness modulate similarity in mPFC responses to self and others? Journal of Neuroscience, 40(29), 5616-5627.

These authors examined how the brain reflects our attachment to other people. This study of theirs sheds light on the structure of the self-other representation in the social brain and how it reflects social relationships. The area of the brain associated with self-representation examined in this study is the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC).

The researchers examined social categories of the self, members of the social network (relative others and acquaintances) and celebrities. The study aimed to investigate how subjective closeness between self and other modulates neural responses to self and others in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and throughout the social brain. The researchers used a task that required the participants to rate how well a certain feature describes the person from one of several categories and then to rate the subjective closeness to him, similarity to him and familiarity with him. The researchers found that as the subjective closeness between the self and the other increases, the similarity in the neural responses between the self and the others in the middle prefrontal cortex and throughout the social brain increases.

As mentioned, it seems that there is a hierarchy of the internalized characters that often imitates the hierarchy in external reality.

Ferrera Fernandez and Pekka's article from 2012. discusses the brain representations of the external hierarchy that can be assumed to reflect the hierarchy representations of the internalized characters:

Ferreira-Fernandes, E., & Peça, J. (2022). Neural Circuit Architecture of Social Hierarchy. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 16, 874310.

These authors note that available evidence indicates that the prefrontal cortex is a cornerstone of the neural circuits that support the formation of social hierarchy. However, other brain regions up and down the neural pathways gradually emerge. Be reminded that studies of rodents and primates during hierarchy-related behaviors provide a growing list of candidate brain regions that regulate and/or are necessary for encoding, inferring, and expressing social status.

Although the rodent and primate findings do not overlap perfectly, there is substantial evidence for the existence of a critical network of neural substrates that support hierarchical behavior. Some of the candidate areas mentioned include the ventromedial hypothalamus, the lateral habenula, the anterior cingulate cortex, the medial preoptic area, and the mediodorsal thalamus.

Lee and colleagues in 2021 note that many brain imaging studies have investigated the neural mechanisms of two independent but interrelated cognitive processes that help humans navigate complex societies: 1] learning related to social hierarchy and 2] interaction related to social hierarchy. To integrate these heterogeneous results into a more accurate and reliable characterization of the neural basis of social hierarchy, the researchers combined coordinate-based meta-analyses with connectivity and functional decoding analyzes to understand the underlying neuropsychological mechanism of social hierarchy-related learning and social hierarchy-related interaction.

The researchers identified the anterior insula and temporal-parietal junction (recognition of dominance), the medial prefrontal cortex (information updating and calculation), and the intraparietal sulcus, amygdala, and hippocampus (representation of social hierarchy) as consistently active brain regions for learning related to social hierarchy, while the striatum, amygdala, and hippocampus are associated with reward processing for and interaction related to social hierarchy. The results provide an overview of the neural architecture of the neuropsychological processes that underlie the way in which social hierarchy and the contexts within it can be understood:

Li S, Krueger F, Camilleri JA, Eickhoff SB, Qu C. The neural signatures of social hierarchy-related learning and interaction: A coordinate- and connectivity-based meta-analysis. Neuroimage. 2021 Dec 15;245:118731

Ron and his colleagues in 2022 reported that assigning different people in our social network to subgroups is a powerful strategy in social cognition. They asked how this thing is managed by the mind? These authors provide evidence that different characters from different stories, representing similar roles in their corresponding narrative, evoke similar brain activation patterns, as revealed by functional MRI. Unlike previous studies of social categorization, these brain activations were similar to those resulting from social cognition rather than face processing, and included regions in the prefrontal, preparietal, and temporal-parietal cortex.

The detected brain network significantly overlapped the default mode network. These researchers proposed that social classification according to roles is fundamental to the cognitive system, relying on brain areas related to social cognition:

Ron Y, Dafni-Merom A, Saadon-Grosman N, Roseman M, Elias U, Arzy S. Brain System for Social Categorization by Narrative Roles. J Neurosci. 2022 Jun 29;42(26):5246-5253.

Meng and his colleagues in 2022 conducted a study designed to clarify the developmental course of overlap between the self and the other individual from mid-childhood to late adolescence. The results showed that the development of the self – others overlap varied between relationship types: while the overlap between the stranger and the self increased, the overlap with the mother, father, boyfriend, and classmate decreased, with the parents decreasing the most. Although there is no examination of the brain areas involved here, the things demonstrate the development of what we called "the directorate of internalized figures":

Meng X, Sedikides C, Luo YLL. The development of self-other overlap from childhood to adolescence. Psych J. 2022 Dec;11(6):968-970.

Wong and his colleagues in 2012 note that their recent work showed that close relationships result in shared cognitive and neural representations of the self and the mother in collectivist cultures such as those in East Asia for example (see also Zhu et al., 2007, Neuroimage, 34, 1310-7). However, it remains unknown whether close people, such as mother, father, and best friend, are differentially represented in collectivist brains. Here, using functional magnetic resonance imaging and a trait judgment task, they show evidence that while trait judgments of the self and the mother produced similar activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC) and anterior cingulate (ACC) of Chinese adults, trait judgments of the mother induced activity in the MPFC/ ACC is greater than trait judgments of the father and best friend.

The results indicated that while neural representations of self and mother overlap in the MPFC/ACC, close others such as father and best friend are unequally represented in the MPFC/ACC of collectivist brains:

Wang G, Mao L, Ma Y, Yang X, Cao J, Liu X, Wang J, Wang X, Han S. Neural representations of close others in collectivist brains. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2012 Feb;7(2):222-9.

In addition, we will mention here that in previous conversations we assumed that the facial recognition system, which includes the fusiform nucleus and other structures, serves as a nucleus for internalizing the characters [in sighted people, in blind people, this is different, as we reported in a previous conversation].

These and other works demonstrate that the representational system of internalized figures is distributed and includes many brain areas where the face of the character, the attitudes of the character and its values, the emotions associated with it, its occupations and its theory of mind and behaviors are represented in different areas both in the cerebral cortex and in the areas below the cerebral cortex. In addition, they demonstrate development starting from childhood and up to the end of adolescence and, in our opinion, even after that, mainly due to key events that are accompanied by strong emotions.

We will now move on to a brief review of the writing and psychological research about the various stages of internalization in the context of attachment and relationships. These have been studied and written extensively by various psychologists and researchers.

One of the prominent figures in attachment theory, who discusses extensively the stages of attachment and internalization, is John Bowlby.

Bowlby, a British psychologist, presented the attachment theory and described the stages of attachment development in children. He proposed that attachment develops through several stages, including:

Pre-attachment (birth to 6 weeks): Babies develop the ability to form social relationships, but they are not yet attached to specific caregivers.

Formative attachment (6 weeks to 6-8 months): Babies begin to show a preference for familiar caregivers, such as their primary caregiver (often the mother).

Clear attachment (6-8 months to 18-24 months): Children become more actively attached to their primary caregiver and show clear signs of attachment behaviors, such as seeking comfort and closeness.

Relationships (18-24 months and beyond): As children grow, they become more independent but continue to rely on their caregiver as a secure base. Possession becomes a two-way relationship.

ג'ון בולבי ותיאוריית ההתקשרות - על הספה - בלוג הפסיכולוגיה של ערן כץ

John Bowlby – British psychologist

John Bowlby's work on attachment theory laid the foundation for understanding how people form emotional bonds with significant others and internalize those relationships.

In addition, Mary Ainsworth, Bowlby's colleague, conducted influential research on attachment and developed the "Strange Situation" procedure, which studied attachment patterns in children and the stages of attachment development. These researchers, among others, made a significant contribution to the study of attachment and the internalization stages of close and meaningful relationships in individuals. Their work has influenced the understanding of the psychological and emotional processes involved in creating and maintaining attachment throughout life.

דפוסי ההתקשרות - על הספה - בלוג הפסיכולוגיה של ערן כץ

Mary Ainsworth – British psychologist

By the way, in contemporary psychology, internalization in general refers to the typical process by which children learn and absorb (internalized) knowledge and rules about the world from a social context, rather than through specific instruction. This is how children learn to change their behavior in response to the situation they are in (home, school, church, playground, etc.).

Experts see internalization as the deepest level of conformity because it means that a person changes their public behavior and private beliefs in what is usually a long-term change and often the result of informative social influence. For example, if a person is influenced by a group of Buddhists and converts to that faith, then his new religious lifestyle will continue without the presence of the group because he has internalized that faith.

John Finley Scott described internalization as a metaphor in which something (ie, an idea, concept, action) moves from outside the mind or personality to a place within it; The structure and happenings of society shape a person's inner self, but it can also be the other way around.

The internalization process begins with the person learning what the norms are, then goes through a process of understanding why they are valuable or why they make sense, until finally he accepts the norm as his own point of view. Internalized norms are supposed to be part of the individual's personality and may be reflected in his moral actions. However, there can also be a distinction between internal commitment to the norm and what the person exhibits externally.

George Meade illustrates, through the structures of the mind and the self, the way in which the internalization of the individual is affected by external norms. One thing that may influence what a person internalizes is role models. Role models often speed up the socialization process and encourage the speed of internalization because if someone one respects is seen to uphold a certain set of norms, one is more likely to be willing to accept, and thus internalize, those norms.

Lev Vygotsky, one of the pioneers of psychology studies, introduced the idea of internalization in his extensive studies on the study of child development. Vygotsky provides an alternative definition of internalization, an internal reconstruction of an external action. He indicates three stages of internalization:

  • An action that initially represents an external activity that is reproduced by the individual and begins to occur internally.
  • An interpersonal process (between people) that becomes an intrapersonal process (within the self).
  • The transformation of an interpersonal process into an intrapersonal process is the result of a long series of developmental events

לב ויגוצקי – ויקיפדיה

Lev Vygotsky, one of the pioneers of psychology studies

If we go back to the first stages of human life, one of the questions that can be asked is how is the mother (or alternative primary caregiver) internalized by the baby?

As mentioned, the process by which a child goes on a distance from his mother (or primary caregiver) is a key concept in the attachment theory, developed by psychologists John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth.

Attachment theory explains how babies and young children form emotional bonds with their caregivers, especially their mothers, and how these bonds affect their emotional and social development.

Below we will detail how this internalization process takes place:

Forming attachment: Attachment begins during the first months of life. Babies naturally seek closeness and comfort from their primary caregiver, usually their mother. This attachment behavior is an evolutionary survival mechanism, ensuring that the baby receives the necessary care and protection.

Secure base: The mother (or primary caregiver) serves as a secure base from which the baby can explore the world. When the baby feels safe and comfortable in the presence of its caregiver, it is more ready to go outside and explore its surroundings. This secure base provides a sense of security and safety.

Internal working model: Over time, as the baby repeatedly experiences responsive and loving care from its mother, it develops an "internal working model" of the world. This mental framework includes expectations about how relationships work and how they are expected to be treated by others. This model is strongly influenced by the caregiver's behavior.

Emotional regulation: the mother helps the baby learn to regulate his emotions. By responding to the baby's needs and providing comfort, the mother teaches the baby how to self-soothe and deal with stress. This emotional regulation skill is internalized and becomes part of the child's emotional toolbox.

Sense of self-worth: the way the mother communicates with the baby also contributes to the development of the child's sense of self-worth. A loving and responsive caregiver helps the child feel valued and important, which contributes to healthy self-esteem.

Exploration and independence: As the baby grows and develops, it gradually gains confidence to explore the world independently, knowing that it can return to its caregiver for support and comfort when needed. This cycle of inquiry and repetition is an essential aspect of attachment.

Long-term impact: internalizing the mother's caregiving style and the attachment relationship formed in infancy can have long-term effects on the child's emotional and social development. It can affect the child's future relationships, his ability to trust others and his general emotional well-being.

It is important to note that attachment relationships can also develop with other caregivers or family members. The quality of this early attachment can vary, leading to different attachment styles, such as secure, anxious or avoidant attachment, which can affect how people relate to others throughout their lives.

Interesting in this context is the approach of Melanie Klein, a psychoanalyst who contributed a lot to the field of child psychoanalysis. Her approach to understanding how babies internalize their mother and their early experiences differs from attachment theory and is rooted in her psychoanalytic theories, which include concepts such as object relations and the inner world.

מלאני קליין – ויקיפדיה

Melanie Klein, British psychoanalyst

Here is a brief overview of how Melanie Klein's theories can shed light on this process:

The inner world: Melanie Klein focused on the inner world of the baby and the early development of his soul. She believed that infants have a rich inner life, and their experiences with their mother or primary caregiver play a crucial role in shaping this inner world.

Objects and object relations: Klein introduced the concept of "objects" in psychoanalysis, which refer to people or aspects of the external world internalized by the infant. Mother is one of the main objects. Babies form complex relationships with these internalized objects, which influence their feelings, thoughts, and behaviors.

Splitting: One of Klein's central ideas is the concept of "splitting". She suggested that infants tend to perceive people and objects in extreme, all-or-nothing terms. In the early stages, babies may "split" the mother into a good mother and a bad mother. This splitting is a way for the baby to deal with the intensity of his emotions.

Projective identification: Klein also introduced the concept of "projective identification", in which the baby projects his feelings and thoughts onto the mother. In other words, the baby may attribute its feelings to the mother and feel that they come from her.

Anxiety and defense mechanisms: According to Klein, infants experience anxiety related to their internal objects. This anxiety can lead to various defense mechanisms, such as internalization (internalizing the mother's positive traits) and projection (attributing negative traits to the mother). These mechanisms play a role in shaping the inner world of the baby.

The development of the superego: Klein's work also contributes to our understanding of the development of the superego, which represents internalized moral and social standards. The quality of the baby's early relationship with its mother can affect the formation of its super-ego, affect its sense of good and bad.

Melanie Klein's approach focuses more on the inner workings of the baby's brain and the development of its psyche, often in complex and unconscious processes. It differs from attachment theory, which emphasizes observable behaviors and the therapist's role in providing a secure base. Both approaches offer important insights into how infants internalize their early experiences, but they use different theoretical frameworks and terminology to explain these processes.

We note that while Melanie Klein's psychoanalytic theories emphasize the role of unconscious processes and emotional dynamics in internalizing early experiences, cognitive psychology and cognitive development theories offer alternative perspectives on how internalization occurs. Below are several cognitive theories:

Piaget's Theory of Cognitive Development: Jean Piaget, a renowned cognitive psychologist, proposed that children actively construct their understanding of the world through cognitive processes.

According to Piaget, children go through different stages of cognitive development, and in these stages they acquire new cognitive structures that allow them to understand their experiences.

In terms of internalization, Piaget's theory suggests that infants and children gradually internalize their experiences by assimilating new information into existing cognitive structures (schemas) and adjusting their schemas to incorporate new information. For example, a baby may initially perceive a rattle only as a noise-producing object. However, through repeated interactions and cognitive processes, the baby may internalize the concept of "rattle" and identify it as an object that it can manipulate.

Social Cognitive Theory: Social cognitive theories, influenced by the work of Albert Bandura, emphasize the role of social interactions and observational learning in cognitive development. According to this concept, children internalize the behaviors, values and norms of their caregivers and the environment through processes such as observation, learning and imitation. These learned behaviors and beliefs become part of the child's cognitive framework.

For example, a child may internalize his mother's behavior by observing and imitating her actions. Over time, these behaviors become integrated into the child's repertoire, and he may apply them in similar situations.

מהי למידה? -

Zane Piazza, cognitive psychologist

Vygotsky's socio-cultural theory: Lev Vygotsky's socio-cultural theory assumes that cognitive development is largely influenced by social interactions and cultural context. According to this view, internalization involves the process of taking external social and cultural knowledge and making it your own. Vygotsky introduced the concept of the "Zone of Proximal Development" (ZPD), which represents the difference between what a child can do on its own and what it can do with guidance and support from a more knowledgeable person, such as a caregiver.

Internalization, in Vygotsky's framework, involves the child gradually internalizing the tools, knowledge and skills provided by the figures who take care of him and their cultural context through cooperative interactions and guided learning.

These cognitive explanations emphasize the active role of the child's cognitive processes, such as assimilation, imitation and guided learning, in internalizing experiences and knowledge. They provide a different perspective from psychoanalytic theories such as Melanie Klein's, which focus on unconscious processes and emotional dynamics in internalizing early experiences.

We will also note that one of the areas that has been studied a lot in the context of internalization is the internalization of moral values.

Thus, many theorists believe that the behavioral patterns internalized and implemented during early socialization are key factors in predicting the child's future moral character. Self-determination theory suggests a motivational continuum from extrinsic motivation to intrinsic motivation and autonomous self-regulation.

Some studies indicate that a child's moral self begins to develop around the age of three. These early years of socialization may be the foundation for moral development in later childhood. Proponents of this theory suggest that children whose self-concept is "good and moral" tend to have a developmental trajectory toward prosocial behavior and few signs of antisocial behavior.

In addition to these theories, there are also other theories that offer explanations for internalization such as:

Self-concept and identity formation: Theories related to self-concept and identity development, such as Erik Erikson's psychosocial theory, delve into how people internalize social roles and develop a sense of self based on interactions with others.

Social Identity Theory: Social identity theory, developed by Henri Tajpel and John Turner, focuses on how individuals internalize belonging to groups (eg, ethnicity, gender) and the impact of social classification on self-identity and behavior.

Emotional regulation and emotional intelligence: Theories related to emotional regulation and emotional intelligence explore how people learn to internalize and manage their emotions based on early social and family experiences.

Interpersonal theory: Interpersonal theories, such as Harry Stack Sullivan's theory, examine how people internalize interpersonal patterns, roles, and expectations of significant others, which shape their social interactions and relationships.

It is important to note that these theories often overlap and interact with each other, and different theories may be more applicable to different aspects of internalization or to specific developmental stages. In addition, the study of internalization is a rich and developing field in psychology, and researchers continue to refine and expand these theories to better understand the complexity of this process.

We asked artificial intelligence software like GPT CHAT

“How is the process of psychological internalization of a human figure carried out?” The software’s response was that it usually includes several steps, steps that can vary slightly depending on the theoretical perspective, but below are the generally recognized steps:

1. Perception: This stage involves perceiving and recognizing the presence of another person. This includes sensory experiences such as seeing, hearing and touching someone.

2. Identification: At this stage, the individual begins to recognize similarities between himself and the observed human figure, such as physical appearance, gender or age. Identification can also occur with characters from books, movies or other media.

3. Empathy: As identification deepens, people may begin to develop empathy for the observed human figure. It involves understanding and sharing the other person's emotional state or experiences.

4. Projection: Projection is when a person attributes certain personality traits, desires or feelings to the observed human figure. For example, someone might project their anger onto a character depicted as angry.

5. Internalization: At this stage, people internalize the values, beliefs, or behaviors of the observed human figure. They may adopt certain characteristics or ways of thinking, and integrate them into their identity.

6. Integration: The final stage involves integrating the internalized aspects with the individual's sense of self. This integration can be fluid and continuous throughout a person's development.

Is such an answer sufficient in your opinion? We doubt it.

We note that in a previous conversation we discussed the question of what are, in our opinion, the stages in the internalization of the characters and we suggested that:

A] At the core of internalization is a need [which is apparently innate] in connection with the significant other

B] This need uses the brain mechanism of human face recognition as a focus or nucleus for building the character [it is possible that even in developmentally high animals there is use of the face recognition mechanism of the species to which they belong and this may allow them to differentiate between their own species and another animal species]. It is different for persons with innate blindness, the possible physical feature serving as a core of the person’s internaliztion may be other person’s voice.

C] The figures are gradually built first as one flat [schematic] figure, usually the mother or the most nourishing and significant figure (by the way, here we enter into a debate with the views of theorists such as Melanie Klein who claims that the baby first has a perception of a partial object such as the mother's breast).

D] After that, two or more relatively flat [schematic] additional characters develop, apparently belonging to the family [or a replacement model thereof] still without a clear hierarchy between the characters that will develop later.

E] Later on, a situation arises where the few characters gain volume and become more complete [in the language of Margaret Mahler, an object relations theorist, this situation may correspond to the situation of "object constancy"] and the hierarchy between them [the differentiation or difference between them] is increasing and at the same time other characters are still not internalized but can to distinguish them as "not his or hers", [it is possible that the baby's fear of strangers that appears at around 5-7 months of age represents such situation]. With the increased cognitive ability and especially language development such character’s feature as its attitudes is internalized.

F] Other characters outside the family begin to be gradually internalized according to their meaning to the person [it is possible that the phase of decreasing the fear of strangers that appears in the baby at the age of one and a half to two years is a behavioral expression of this process].

G] The hierarchy takes shape and a situation of an influential figure [one or two] internalization [usually father and mother or acting in their positions] appears dominant.

H] This situation can later develop into a number of internalized dominant influential figures who are in dialogue with each other, which allows for greater flexibility in relating to oneself and the environment, thus developing a better ability to adapt.

We note that within the framework of the characters there may be a continuum of the relationship between real characters versus internalized imaginary characters. [This relationship probably depends on the mental needs of the person. For example, in a situation where the realistic characters do not satisfy the mental needs of the person, it is possible and this will develop more imaginary characters]

There may also be situations in which the representations of the subculture are more or less dominant [this probably depends on the dominance of the subculture in human life].

We will add that as mentioned above the representation of the characters is distributed in the brain as we saw above and undergoes development during the human life.

Since the creation of the internalized characters is represented in the subconscious and it can be assumed that an unconscious memory is more stable to change compared to a conscious memory, in order to create a change this directorate must be raised to the conscious [through therapy such as the one that deals specifically with the reference groups we discussed in previous conversations] and install a change in it while conveying to the person that because now that he is aware he has a choice whether to continue to be activated by the internalized characters or not, and if yes in what way exactly.

We will also add that if significant internalized dominant characters are created, they will determine [in a kind of censorship] which additional characters will be added to the internalized characters' directory in light of their positions and the behavior of the newly added internalized characters, all this while the person is not aware of the existence of the internalized characters' directory operating within him and recognizes his behavior and attitudes as coming from it, that is from his "I".

Finally, we will add that the way people influence our lives is encoded in our memory and is also affected by a combination of cognitive, emotional and neural processes, including:

Emotional meaning: Memories associated with strong emotions are more likely to be efficiently encoded and stored. The amygdala, an area of the brain associated with emotions, plays a significant role in this process. If a person has had emotionally charged experiences or interactions with influential people, these memories tend to be stronger and more easily recalled.

Repetition: Just like any other memory, the more often you remember or think about a certain influential person, the more likely you are to remember them. This process of reinforcement strengthens the neural pathways associated with that memory.

Elaborate coding: This process involves connecting new information to existing knowledge. When an influential person shares knowledge or insights that connect deeply with a person's existing beliefs, values, or experiences, those memories can become more deeply encoded.

Cognitive schemas and frameworks: Our brain organizes information based on schemas – structured clusters of related ideas. Influential people often fit into certain schemas based on the roles they have played in our lives (eg, mentor, role model). When we access these schemas, memories of the associated people can also be activated.

Narrative construction: Often, we create narratives or stories about our lives. Influential people may play key roles in these narratives. When we revisit or retell these stories, we strengthen the memories of these people.

Social sharing: Discussing influential people with others, especially shortly after an influential interaction, can improve memory encoding and consolidation.

In conclusion, the memory of influential people that forms our inner psyche is shaped by emotional intensity, frequency of recall, depth of encoding, contextual factors and various cognitive processes. The more significant the effect, the more neural and cognitive resources are typically allocated to these memories, making them more durable and accessible over time.

That's it for now


Dr. Igor Salganik and Prof. Joseph Levine

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