As always, work with a patient has made me want to refine and sharpen my theories on social ontology.
Although I had previously erred on the side of making the volar stage the encounter with Otherness, it has been some time since I changed this.
The auto-erotic relation is to one's own body in phantasy. Patients have expressed phantasies of astral travelling or leaving their bodies to guard them when they sleep. However, when a person is in their body then the body has a relation to other bodies. This is the basic encounter with Otherness.
On the side of altruism, in auto-erotic defusion there are feelings of being less than real. Others in general appear more whole than you.
This brings to mind the ending of Being John Malkovich comes to mind in which the main character is trapped inside of John Malkovich's body but is just conscious of what the body sees and can't control the body at all. This also seems tied to the concept of a certain form of envy in which I've heard patients wish that they were someone else, but I doubt envy could arise so early and it must be in confluence with this from a later stage.
At the volar stage it's one's needs and this base relation to Others with their own needs. I've conceptualized this as the relation to humanity in general. Here the altruist can feel less than humanity and that his or her needs don't matter.
I can't remember if I've written that what is striking about tensions of conceit at this stage is that they even concern children (literally all of humanity). The volar altruist can't say no to anyone.
On the side of egoism I've been impressed by what appears to be the defused form in the person having to know everything. The person may lie and make up an answer for what they don't know and this just seems as a matter of course that they should be omniscient. They lying is, of course, from a higher stage of development but the person ego ideal tension to know is all pervasive. It's possible that this is actually projective identification and the person has assumed the parental imago, because the patient doesn't seem to have a drive to want to acquire new knowledge at all.
This returns me to Klein's epistmophilic instinct being so early in development. It makes sense to think that at the auto-erotic level one has the choice between choosing perceptions that are found out in the world or choosing perceptions in the memory or in phantasy/day dreams. To choose against the outer world for the inner world seems to be the choice against learning. In a previous post I discussed Nietzsche's nihilism as the horror of change. This isn't to say someone is literally incapable of learning. I am not talking about ego functions, but desire/drives and what is or is not of interest to the person based upon their libidinal economy.
Another interesting thing lately has been the proliferation of patients who are defused in the volar stage against Time and seem to have one hobby or interest they live for. These patients don't plan, don't save money, aren't thinking about what could go right or wrong in the future, and live for the day or at most for the weekend. They are functioning enough that they are working but they aren't invested in their jobs and for the most part the jobs are far beneath their potential. However, some interest, like collecting motorbikes, searching for jewels/panning for gold, studying a favorite subject, etc. is the only pursuit they really care for. They don't care for their relationships very much, but only to obtain this 'holy grail'. This of course makes me think of the Lord of the Rings and what I've written before on the transitional object. I've waffled back and forth on whether the home was a feminine symbol or shared with the masculine... I'm still not sure. I've thought before that maybe transitional object was an achievement of the trito stage but now I'm not sure, now I think that it seems like the object of the masculine volar castration complex... I need more data.