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Psychology in teaching scuba diving for a child-Part3

1/ Symbol of water


Water is the expression of the unconscious, its own truth, place of the secret and unknown motivations…

Water, original element, before the language, allows descending and reaching the things of the lower level, place of the founding images.

Water, source of any life, eternal feminine, good and awful mother, feeder and protective, threatening and destroying, reserve of all energies and capacities of creation. 

Advertisement knows it well, which uses countlessly our unconscious link with water, big trap symbols. Just like considerable amount of popular expressions express without ambiguity its psychological substance: to be in hot water (to be in trouble), in deep water (to be in bad situation), keep your head above water (to keep going despite the fact you are in trouble), water over the dam (something went wrong and you cannot go back), to hold water (if your argument can hold water, it is strong and does not have any holes. If it does not hold water, then it is weak and not worth debating), like a fish in water (to be at ease underwater), throwing cold water (to make a negative comment on an idea), etc  


2/ Winnicott theories, the aquatic most psychoanalysts  


From the individual psychological point of view, we can compare the scuba diving activity to diving from conscious into unconscious. Winnicott is a founder of the very first stages of the human development, this slow, painful and difficult differentiation oneself/not-oneself, ego/non-ego, illusion/disillusion, inner/outer reality, which should be maintained at the same time separated and connected one to the other. 

In other words, let us consider that the individual admits like a seed of life what we call the "self", without which the individual cannot exist. This "self" is built during the first six months of the life, far ahead from the creation of a complete ego. This is a personality foundation that will make it possible to face the paradox between a subjective internal life and an objective external reality. Handling and holding are necessary concepts to build a "self". The mother exists for the baby through the care that she gives him. At the beginning, the infant and the care are united.  We know that this care (handling and holding), when they are failing, may create “the primitive agony”. This need for the mother and the fear of losing it, which always haunts the core of our psyches, are reactivated in water, generally in a positive form, i.e. soothing. By its carrying and its touch, water plays for us this mother always there when we need it, which resists our destroying affects, which can be drunk without being destroyed, which does not require nothing in exchange.

Water makes us regress at former stages of development that are connected at stages of an ego not yet differentiated. The most used assumption is a reminiscence of the intra-uterine existence, during which we were only one with our universe and really floating in the amniotic liquid without having hardly weight to carry. The child in uterus would be mixed with the mother. Together, they are only one at this origin.  Eventually this assumption became a kind of truth as the time is passing by.  Thus the symbol of water is only mentioned in reference to this intra-uterine life and the phylogenesis which says that any life is born from water. It is not any more symbolism, but about the purest materialism, a simple principle of cause-effect relationships that is used for a great number of therapeutic practices, in particular the practices of rebirthing or holotropic breathing (breathing technique to explore deeper your consciousness). 

A more noticeable factor of regression is the relaxation feeling, decreasing level of the muscle tone due to the immersion, especially if water is warm. This substance is soft, enveloping, protective, which surrounds us entirely, invades us intimately and which goes, almost without our awareness, to slacken our defensive contractions, to let emerge fears and the internal conflicts which they dissimulated. Water operates like a revealing system of our relation. All that is hidden elsewhere becomes obvious in water.

This virtue of water has been recognized and used for decades by groups named wrongly “swimming babies”. In these groups, it is more a question of establishing new relations between parents and children. The bath becomes an important time for playing and meeting where the parents learn how to carry the baby without grabbing him, to support him without holding it, to follow him without directing it. 

What water proposes to us is to rebuild a mutual confidence.

Docteur Christine BONNAT for WorldDivingReview.
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