Archaic Organ erotic or Narcissistic Social
100,000,000 yr. Autoerotic 100,000 yr. 10,000 yr.
Some such classification of the periods of growth has been forced upon psychiatrists by the study of 'mental' ills, and is justified by embryology and an endless chain of empirical observations.
The first period represents the archaic period and is of the greatest antiquity. In it the past is roughly recapitulated from, let us say, the beginning of unicellular life to the anthropoid ape. At the fertilization of the egg the hereditary constitution is established, and during the gestation period all prenatal influences are laid down. The life of the baby before birth may be described as a vegetative existence of full indolence with all needs supplied by the mother's body.
At birth, the first 'struggle for existence' begins, the struggle for air, as symbolized by the first cry. At this epoch the baby already appears as a self-running organism with some s.r. His vegetative nervous system is integrated and functioning. He begins to 'feel'. Pleasure and pain begin to be significant semantic factors. This period is called the organ erotic or autoerotic, since, as with animals, its main interests are 'sense' gratifications. Many millions of 'sense' receptors suddenly have thrust upon them from the environment a mass of energy with which the organism has to deal somehow. At first there is a rivalry between different 'senses'. Later, co-ordination appears. Each group of receptors establishes its own semantic values for itself, depending upon its own cell growth. This period may be divided, schematically, from birth to seven years, and corresponds roughly to the evolution from the higher animals to primitive man. This period is extremely important from a semantic and educational point of view. At this stage in the human child the nervous system is not fully developed; and different environmental influences (language, doctrines included) may twist this development, so that irreparable harm can easily be done.
The narcissistic period is named after the Greek mythical figure, Narcissus, who, seeing his reflection in a pool of water, became so engrossed in self-adoration that he rejected the attentions of Venus and was killed. In another version of the myth his punishment was loss of sight. This period covers, more or less, from seven years to fourteen years. As the name indicates, it represents a semantic period of self-love.