The third genetic temperamental attribute is Active/Passive in the writing of our ‘play’ of consciousness. We have already seen the influences of “Internalizer/Externalizer” and “Extrovert/Introvert” on the fielding of maternal “Nurture”. Active/Passive orients the impact of the protective experience of the mother on her child. An individual with an ‘Active’ temperament naturally operates as the possessor of aggression and primarily identifies with the Protector persona. An individual with a ‘Passive’ temperament does not operate as the possessor of aggression and primarily identifies as a Protectee persona.
One can readily tell whether a child is Active or Passive. Active children sit and walk and climb early in childhood. They take off at the beach. The Active child is naturally physical, physically expressive, and action-oriented. He is oriented to active, muscular, good aggression. In the context of good-enough loving, the Active child, identifying with his active strength, operates as a take-charge doer. The Passive child is not oriented by muscular, good aggression. In basic orientation, he is more absorbed elsewhere. He, in the context of good enough loving tends to be off daydreaming and contemplating the world around him. He locates the Protector strength and capacity outside of himself. The Passive child depends more on someone else to provide shelter from the storm. He identifies as the recipient of action rather than as a doer.
With a Passive temperament, one does not identify as possessing and dishing out aggression. Aggression is located in the other person. How does a passive temperament operate in the context of maternal abuse? This child does not identify as the possessor of aggression, but as the helpless one who is the object of Mother’s aggression. The Protector persona in his inner play is too minimally mapped to protect from the steady state of sadistic attacks, which are too powerful and overwhelming anyway. This leaves him in the position of identifying as the distressed and exposed Protectee, anticipating external attacks, with no possibility of protection. As the recipient of attacks, in this context, he is inclined toward masochism.
In addition, a Passive temperament, in the context of a sadomasochistic play, defines the circumstances that generate anxiety. Anxiety results from the anticipation of, and the experience of, ongoing attacks without the ability to protect oneself in the context of a passive temperament. It derives from sadistic attack directed by the Abuser toward the Abused-Protectee, with insufficient and failed protection. And this position will express itself as anxiety later in life as a teenager and into adulthood. Anxiety is the inevitable expression of sadomasochistic attacks of the ‘play’ via a passive temperamental orientation.
If a person is Active rather than Passive in the context of a sadomasochistic play, he would generate an opposite scenario. He would identify with the active position of dishing it out, with the potential for sadism. He would be predisposed to become a bully, and make someone else anxious, as the unprotected object of attack.
And finally, the next post will address the last attribute of temperament in the Nature-Nurture question – Participant/Observer.