By Dr Samantha J. Brooks Ph.D.
The brain, according to psychoanalytic tradition, develops to harbour the unconscious phantasy of overpowering the father – an individual’s very first experience with competition. But as this motivation is impossible to satisfy in a child, the brain develops to internalise the values and characteristics of the powerful father. Both sons and daughters – according to psychoanalytic tradition – learn the meaning of power in the presence of the mother’s submission. Without internalising the power from the father, or without coming to terms with the anxiety of not being able to overpower the father, it is suggested by psychoanalytic theory that mental illness is a common outcome. Anxiety disorders and self-esteem issues may occur if the anxiety about one’s own powerlessness as a child is not accepted. And for those without a father figure to internalise during childhood, deviant anti-social behaviour in both males and females can occur. According to Don Pinnock – the famous author of the book Gang Town, this can be seen in the widespread gang culture of Cape Town’s Cape Flats, where many young boys have grown up without powerful father figures to internalise during their mental development. As a result, these young men have cognitive traits and behaviours that illuminate a hidden disregard for power within society. Most gangsters think that they are more powerful than the civil laws of society. Yet, gangsters will still look for guidance from the most powerful gang member in their community, until they become the leader and the most powerful themselves.