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No More In Between: A Psychoanalytic Perspective

11/14/2012 10:53 am ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014

My closest friend in the world believes that in the future the Republican Party will be moving to the center. The center is where they have to go in order to win.

I, on the other hand, believe they will move to the right. Not so much that I am so certain that I am "right."

Rather... my reasoning goes something like this:

I don't see any in-between for their most vehement positions. They are stuck in the either/or and can't get themselves to the both/and.

Pro-choice rights for women. You're either pro or con. There is nothing in-between.

The definition of a "person." You either believe human life begins at conception or you believe life begins when a child is born. There is no in-between.

Accepting not only that Barack Obama is our president but that the country just reelected him so he can continue to be our president. You either deny or accept this fact. There is nothing in between.

Recognizing (finally) that climate change is a happening thing. Denial can be a dangerous defense. You either see it or you don't. There is nothing in between.

Define "immigrant." We are all immigrants, are we not? Except for Native Americans, it seems to me, we are all immigrants. You either know that deep in your whole being or you remove yourself from "the Other" and consider it "them vs. us." Either/or. There is seemingly no in between.

The arts, public media, health care for all, excellent public education for all -- all these are dispensable in the name of money. You either believe they are dispensable or know they are not. There is no in between.

And more.

I see the Republican Party stuck in its own definition of reality which, for those of us psychologically minded and informed, we know is an early and valuable place to be in very few circumstances. Mainly it helps when we make choices. Ironically, yes, make choices. When we must decide, we need the function of what we call "the paranoid-schizoid position" (sorry everybody but that is really what Melanie Klein named it in 1946. Look it up). Developmentally speaking, this psychological function sets in for babies -- yes babies -- from birth to 4-6 months of age. Babies get to know the world early on as yes/no, black/white/, hungry/not hungry, all/nothing. It helps them negotiate all the unknowns. The big developmental leap after that is called the "depressive" position (again apologies -- it's what she called it). The depressive position implies an ability to integrate good and bad and thus tolerate ambivalence and conflict. Its color is gray. It is "depressive" because in order to achieve it we must give up the perfection of the split definable world of either/or, black/white, bad/good and by integrating come up with possibilities. Kind of like "thinking out of the box." Possibilities that, for example, each of us is both bad and good though we may not know it or intend it to be so. Then it's hard to think of others as "The Other."

I believe the Republicans are stuck in their own inability to move from absolutism to uncertainty and uncertainty is where we play, where we create, and from where we collaborate and compromise.

It is interesting to consider whether/how they will work this out amongst themselves and whether/how it will become manifest.

I personally hope they can mature into the depressive position and fear they'll only go deeper into the paranoid-schizoid.