God and the Self-Object as Sources of Comfort

One would like to think that God cares about them. This is a great comfort. The psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut talked about what he called a Self-Object. This is a concept in mind that is comforting. It comes from the mother, the original comforting object or concept. Then, Transitional Objects like Teddy Bears and blankets give comfort as the mother had. Ideally, with good enough parenting, this comforting process or object gets internalized. That is, one can comfort themselves.

Thinking of a loving god is very much like thinking of the self-object, a residue of love received reliably in infancy, and beyond in marriages and friendships. What is the difference between God Comfort and Self-Object Comfort? Well, the god idea has universal implications. God is imagined to be everywhere. On the other hand, a Self-Object is just that, an idea that is mostly about one’s self.

The idea of God includes the state of the wider universe, presumably created by God and not your mother. God is a is a more complex kind of comfort than Self-Object comfort. It is what you need when you are in a really awful situation such as after a spouse dies. Getting comfort in such extreme times of misery seems beyond the realm of psychology and the rest of what is called reality. People who consider themselves spiritual are especially concerned with the idea of big, universal comfort. They might not imagine a god is responsible for taking care of us, but something like god is involved in spirituality. Somehow, self comfort and god comfort are related. Aren’t they?

4 thoughts on “God and the Self-Object as Sources of Comfort

    • Good point. Who do you look to besides yourself if there is no god? Hadn’t thought of that myself. It really expands the dialectic. Thanks.

  • I told the rabbi that quantum physics is gods language of the miracle of creation and evolution is god’s language for the miraculous of life I am on a self isolating backpack in the Evolution Basin

    • When I read the word ‘self-isolating’ in your note, I thought it said ‘self-loathing’. How does self-isolation
      and maybe,self-loathing work? What is it’s aim? How does‘self-isolation work to help one achieve the desired goal or goals.

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