Everybody tries to protect this vulnerable two three four five six seven eight year old inside and to acquire skills and aptitudes for dealing with the situations that threaten to overwhelm it... Usually, that child is a wretchedly isolated undeveloped little being. It’s been protected by the efficient armour, it’s never participated in life, it’s never been exposed to living and to managing the person’s affairs, it’s never been given responsibility for taking the brunt. And it’s never properly lived. That’s how it is in almost everybody. And that little creature is sitting there, behind the armour, peering through the slits. And in its own self, it is still unprotected, incapable, inexperienced...And in fact, that child is the only real thing in them. It’s their humanity, their real individuality, the one that can’t understand why it was born and that knows it will have to die, in no matter how crowded a place, quite on its own. That’s the carrier of all the living qualities. It’s the centre of all the possible magic and revelation. What doesn’t come out of that creature isn’t worth having, or it’s worth having only as a tool—for that creature to use and turn to account and make meaningful...And so, wherever life takes it by surprise and suddenly the artificial self of adaptations proves inadequate and fails to ward off the invasion of raw experience, that inner self is thrown into the front line—unprepared, with all its childhood terrors round its ears.And yet that’s the moment it wants. That’s where it comes alive—even if only to be overwhelmed and bewildered and hurt. And that’s where it calls up its own resources—not artificial aids, picked up outside, but real inner resources, real biological ability to cope and to turn to account and to enjoy.That’s the paradox: the only time most people feel alive is when they’re suffering, when something overwhelms their ordinary, careful armour and the naked child is flung out onto the world. That’s why the things that are worst to undergo are best to remember.But when that child gets buried away under their adaptive and protective shells—he becomes one of the walking dead, a monster. So when you realise you’ve gone a few weeks and haven’t felt that awful struggle of your childish self—struggling to lift itself out of its inadequacy and incompetence—you’ll know you’ve gone some weeks without meeting new challenge and without growing and that you’ve gone some weeks towards losing touch with yourself.
Ted Hughes
According to Melanie Klein, we develop moral responses in reaction to questions of survivability. My wager is that Klein is right about that, even as she thwarts her own insight by insisting that it is the ego's survivability that is finally at issue. Why the ego? After all, if my survivability depends on a relation to others, to a you or a set of yous without whom I cannot exist, then my existence is not mine alone, but is to be found outside myself, in this set of relations that precede and exceed the boundaries of who I am. If I have a boundary at all, or if a boundary can be said to belong to me, it is only because I have become separated from others and it is only on condition of this separation that I can relate to them at all. So the boundary is a function of the relation, a brokering of difference, a negotiation in which I am bound to you in my separateness. If I seek to preserve your life, it is not only because I seek to preserve my own, but because who I am is nothing without your life and life itself has to be rethought as this complex, passionate, antagonistic and necessary set of relations to others. I may lose this you and any number of particular others and I may well survive those losses. But that can happen only if I do not lose the possibility of any you at all. If I survive, it is only because my life is nothing without the life that exceeds me, that refers to some indexical you, without whom I cannot be.?
Judith Butler