Pure Motivation

A weblog about the importance of a Sense of
Self for Health, Happiness and World Peace!

Motivation Theory


It may be of interest to know that I have developed my views during the last decade. My website, in which I have initially organized the concepts and idiom I use, dates from 1999. The site is in Dutch and although I planned to, I never got to make an English version: .

Life interrupted my work on this “New of Holistic Psychology,” and it hasn’t been untill moving to the Seattle area in November of 2004, that I started to seriously study psychology at Bellevue Community College. Before that moment I had not the slightest notion of psychology and my findings are entirely based on self-analysis. Therefore it is quite interesting that large parts of my theory do actually fit in quite well into the already existing theories. Although in many ways I reinvented the wheel, there are still concepts that I haven’t come across during my two courses and that I think are of interest. In a way I feel like a Kokoschka of Psychology, practicing the art without any formal education. I do hope the reader finds quality in the underlying theory, and that the concepts are a valuable addition to the description of behavior and mental processes.

I want to point out that if I speak of people, I mean people of my time and my area, which used to be the Netherlands, Portugal and since about 12 years the USA.

My theory regarding what motivates people during their every day lives.

People would live their lives much more in harmony with nature and be less opposed to the order of things and time, if during the years of early childhood till young adulthood there wasn’t so much damage done to their potential. Many people have to spend much of their adulthood figuring out what went wrong, or compensating for what went wrong. It is my honest opinion that a lot of the world’s fate lies in the hands of the mothers. If mothers would have the capacity to free themselves from preconceived cultural notions, be balanced persons themselves and as such available for the child with unconditional love, the child would have no need to sought out things or compensate for missing aspects. In this case the human being would pretty much live like Adam and Eve in the garden of existence. They would be a lot less goal oriented and more appreciative of life itself.

This ideal world doesn’t exist and that is due to the imperfection of the mother. Because of the compensation tendencies towards selfishness, narcisism, confusion, ambition, lust for power, need for acceptance and other conditions of imperfection, the mother creates a next generation that lacks a certain to all percentile of Sense Of Self (SOS). A vicious circle keeps itself going here.

The nature of motivation

In order to understand the drives of people one has to first make the distinction between people who have this clear SOS and those who don’t. People with a clear SOS are psychologically healthy; those who don’t are psychologically ailing.

A clear Sense of Self

How is a clear SOS instilled in a person?

A child is born a blank slate. Nature provides its temperament and hereditary abilities or disabilities, and dispositions that may or may not be developed later on in life, due to social and historical circumstances and environment. A agree with Freud, who states that a person’s life is determined within the first 5 years; however I agree also with most other psychologists that people’s personality is formed or at least formable during the course of the whole life span. This may naturally occur by the events in life, but is much harder and more rarely undertaken as an active and conscious process.


It is clear that at birth, the child hasn’t drawn any conclusions yet about how it can influence the order of things in its advantage. This process starts unconsciously the moment the child experiences certain needs and finds out that those needs aren’t automatically met anymore, like they were while it was in the womb. The way the needs of the child are met and the way the child’s presence in general is being reflected back to him or her (mirrorring) is of crucial importance. The effect that a baby’s-toddler’s presence or existence has on the mother and father (or other educators) translates itself in certain behavior of the parents towards that child. It is the nature of this behavior of the educators that constitutes the first steps in the child’s process of distilling a sense of self. This process is an ongoing and increasing process based on the epigenetic principle as referred to in Erikson’s 8 stages.

Distinction: SOS-plus and SOS-deficiency

I would like to make a distinction between individuals who come out of their early childhood with the buildingblocks for a good and clear SOS internalized in their being (the SOS-plussers of healthy persons) and those who don’t (SOS-deficiency or ps.em. disturbed persons). To follow the path of those who do have a clear SOS would certainly be an interesting process, but in the course of this theory I will concentrate on those who don’t and are therefore considered psychologically unhealthy.

Little scientists

There is a process going on from the very beginning in the child and that is “adjustment to the provider.”  As the child learns that its needs aren’t so easily satisfied as before, one could say that the child is like a little scientist: it observes the effects of its own behavior and draws conclusions as to which behavior is the best one to obtain satisfaction of the needs. This process is based on his/her particular temperament.

Distortions in growth

The development of a child is comparable with the direction of the growth of a tree. Under ideal circumstances, that is positively mirrored by the mother/father/caregiver, a SOS builds up in a natural way. If the child has to bend and crawl in order to get its needs met and/or some positive feedback, its emotional and psychological pattern will litterally grow crooked. What is more and very interesting, I think even physically (spine deviation).

The person with a clear SOS is mostly succesful in life, as he/she doesn’t have to spend energy to worrying about what is missing in his life. The person can focus on the things to do. Those things, that are being given direct attention, and that are connected in a direct way to the essence of the person, have a lot of chance to florish. What this person does is about the things he does, about the content of the things.

To those, lacking the clear SOS, life is a different story. The need for a SOS is a very basic one, it is comparable to the spine of a person. When that need is not satisfied, the attention of the person, his/her motivation has to flow that way (theory of drive reduction). The person is primarily focused on the satisfaction of the need to create a SOS. This is the way he/she creates a Substitute SOS.

Psycho-Emotional Ego (PEE)

To battle anxiety and to feed the hope that once the needs of love and trust will be met, the person develops what I call a PEE. It is the fictional concept of Self that is based on the internalized parental wishes of how the child would be acceptable for them and eligible for their love. The PEE is in charge to create a Substitute SOS.

The PEE is comparable with Horney’s Ideal Self Image or even Rogers’s Ideal Self. Although especially in Rogers’s concept the ideal Self is considered to be based on absolute, more or less ethical standards in stead of on internalized parental wishes, compared to my PEE.   


The various aspects that the PEE is made of are the Ego-references. They complie all sorts of things, depending of what kind of life the person has, what their ambitions are, which ways the person uses to repair the damage of the past, that caused the need in the first place. This whole process is based on the conclusions of the person him or herself, aided by the epigenetic principle.


Ego-references often clash, are conflictuous among each other, which leads to a heightened state of anxiety. My personal experience is that this leads to physical symptoms as well: buzzing of the nervous system, increased tinnitus and above all insomnia.


On the other hand a so called “ almost achieved Ego-Reference” causes a violent protection of the circumstances that brought it about. The person becomes furious when some hindrances come in between. Sleeping is out of the question: one cannot let go of the perceived glory and needs to stay in control.


When a person is unable to work on the realization of his/her Ego-references because of certain unfavorable circumstances, a person feels totally depleated. The survival strategy has failed and because of the identification of the Self with the results on the scale of the achievement factor of the Ego-references, a person is paralyzed and has lost all motivation. It is necessary to note that not being able to score in the sector of the Ego-references equals a fear comparable to fear-for-death as it equals a Loss-of-Self (LOS).

Other symptoms

An immanent LOS, due to the impossibility to realize one or more Ego-eferences causes a lot of behavior related problems, such as: anger, rage, irritability, violence, suicide, addictions, compulsions, obsessions, reward-addiction.

Hidden Goal

People with SOS-deficiency base all their decisions on the hope that once their needs will be met and the damage repaired. This is an unconscious process that is based on the drive reduction theory. A need, be it physiological, psychological or emotional creates an aroused state that drives the organism to reduce that need, by trying to fulfill it. This is the hidden goal and it is the substantiating of the hope that the need will be met one day. This is the actual goal for what those people do. The actual content of the activity is no more than a vehicle to reach this hidden goal. Although for the outside world and for themselves they are busy doing the activity, they actuall are focussed on attaining the hidden goal. This is one a not recognized reason for failing and failure fear!

Motivation: intrinsic or extrinsic.

In people without or with little SOS we find almost no intrinsic motivation. Everything they do or avoid is based on their hidden goal

Edvard Deci and Richard Ryan ((1985-2000) have done research on motivation. They distinguish the well known concepts of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. However what I miss in their approach is room for what I call the improper* intrinsic motivation, being the impure nature of the motifs. The motivation isn’t geared towards what it pretends: the fulfilment of a certain task or the development of a certain process. It is geared to fulfill the psycho-emotional need through the performance of an activity. The activity can be anything, from performing music, to raising children, from seeming to be generous to being the opposite.

The improper* intrinsic motivation so far hasn’t been distinguishable from the proper* intrinsic motivation, being the real innate desire based on interest and pure motivation. It is only after training and awareness of bodily symptoms, that a person can learn to recognize the nature of his or her intrinsic motivations.

Failure Fear

Failure fear mostly indicates psycho-emotional disorder as described above. What generates this fear is threefold:

  1. On the one hand the person doesn’t have the SOS , necessary to feel secure in one self. The clear sense of identity of what and who one is, of what one can and what one can’t do.
  2. On the other hand the person uses the action or activity in reallity to fulfill a hidden goal. With this hidden goal he hopes to come closer to fulfilling his long term need, that drives him with an untameble drive. The person isn’t in fact busy with the action or activity itself, with the content of that activity. He only uses that as a vehicle to fulfill his ego-reference and through that action he attempts to satisfy his need (of identity, self-love, SOS). His focus isn’t on the contents but on his need. His intent is geared towards  him or herself. No wonder he feels insecure.
  3. A basic sense of insecurity (inferiority complex), which causes this behavior in the first place, adds to his failure fear.

Real-Self is unknown

The drama in this setting is certainly that the PEE is so overwhelming and has caused the crooked growth or the person, that even when becoming aware of the problem, there is no knowledge, no recognizing  of the Real-Self. There is no falling back on something that is there, next to the deviation. The Real Self has stopped development the moment PEE has taken over. This means that the person, in order to have a chance to heal, has to start from scratch with the Self. That means, start as a baby and grow up to be a toddler. Become a child and an adolescent, find an identity and become a young adult. A very challenging process and way of healing. It works; I have done it.

Therapy: Motivation Check

Through guided awareness, the client can learn to recognize certain bodily and mental symptoms. We all know ourselves the best so self-knowledge is one tool; another tool is utmost honesty and integrety towards ourselves.

Among the relevant bodily symptoms the following are most obvious: insomnia, sweating, heartbeat – palpitation; hyperventilation, stress in its many forms, irritation – anger – violence etc.

    *1) proper and improper intrinsic motivation. Not being a native speaker I have a hard time to find the right translation form the Dutch “eigenlijke en oneigenlijke motivatie.” I haven’t been in psychology circles long enough to be able to ask well informed people for their opinion on this. Another option was: pure and impure intrinsic motivation.