The Importance of Getting Triggered

Posted September 15, 2018 by chuck bender
Categories: Complexes and More, Connecting the Dots Series, Conscious Enactment, Initiation, Poems, Transference and Countertransference

Thinking about my conceptual frame Couple Experiential State Complex as Activated Threshold, I have been struck this week by the importance of focusing on tracking when we, self and others, get emotionally triggered.

By using the word triggered, I am hoping to tap into our collective, universal sense of knowing we are getting hijacked by something intensely emotional. As in getting one’s button(s) pushed.

A classic extreme example referenced in the early diagnostic manual for PTSD is if you were raped in an elevator, just seeing an elevator can evoke or trigger intense emotional and physiological reactions.

I have been making the case a spike in emotional intensity is the simplest indication we are activating/activated, announcing to all who can perceive, the presence of the blur.

From this perspective, if/when a microfracture in communication pulls us into a blur state, how can we recognize the conflict as meaningful? Might this really be an unbidden, spontaneous opportunity for healing? What if there is no such thing as fighting over little stuff?

Fred Kaufman has a post on LinkedIn Every Emotion Is A Love Story. I find this to be a great opener. If we can trust the emotion is right, but our consciousness of context and setting may be confused, we can turn our energies towards trying to drop into the deeper story. As Rumi advises in A Night Full of Talking: Everything has to do with loving and not loving. If we try on making the case the emotion is correct, how can we access the trauma complex driving the blur? Under what circumstances is this present overwhelming emotion appropriate?

Preparing oneself to enter into such a healing moment includes learning to see the power struggle as a co-created complex. From this perspective, the ritualistic elements reflect what we think of as repetition compulsions or re-enactments of the wounding. In alignment with Bromberg’s description of co-created dissociative enactments, these serve to bring the essence of the original wounding, with it’s associated transference and countertransference dance, palpably into the present moment.

In his discussion of the complexes, in their favorable aspect, John Perry observes: “The repetition compulsion, as has been pointed out so often, provides the ego the occasion again and again to encounter these rejected components of development in order finally to assimilate them in some happy moments….” My sense of what he means by “rejected components of development” is simply the recognition the absence of an elder presence allowed the violation to overwhelm the vulnerable child or adult, necessitating the activation of archetypal layer defenses, ie: a trauma complex. What was needed at the time to understand and work through the emotional overwhelm is still needed. I have played with this in thinking about the function  complexes serve in my Musing on Metamorphosis: the Complex as Chrysalis post. I have to confess for me, teleology is a big word! But, I believe it works!

In closing, I have included the graphic above to highlight the Participation Mystique &/or Trauma Portal detail.  We are all involved all of the time with some deeper level of consciousness, a multiplicity of self-states if you will, which wants to inform us about what more is going on. Because I tend to think about getting hijacked into negative emotion enactments, I find the idea getting triggered serves the blur’s function in opening a portal into the associated trauma. The repetitive couple complex enactments do seem to provide a portal into our most painful relationship failings.

Clearly, we need each other to approach going there. What is needed may be as simple, and as difficult, as dropping into the original scene, so that we may feel all of it, within relationship, bear witness together, and get the story told. (See Sandner and Beebe for an articulation of what it takes to heal a split.) This reflects the conceptual notion traumas, until they can be suffered consciously in the service of re-integration, are incomplete initiatory experiences. Creating the conditions, essentially accessing a consciousness that can bear to suffer the wounding without splitting, is the work.

If we can only hold onto the here and now, this world enactment – what you/he/she/they did or did not do to uphold our loving – we are doomed to continue with our co-created dissociated enactments.

Why not make a dedicated effort to sit with our deeper selves? We have to find a way to get to what was my part in initiating or participating in the dissociation just now? Can we strive to bear to feel as vulnerable as we may be feeling? To be continued…

 

 

When “…sexual attraction is … used by the unconscious to represent the urge toward reconciliation with split-away parts of ourselves”

Posted July 18, 2018 by chuck bender
Categories: Transference and Countertransference

Processing a dissociated relational enactment this morning, the following observations on the transference from Ann Ulanov came to mind:

Ann B. Ulanov: “Jung remarks that the sexual attraction is always used by the unconscious to represent the urge toward reconciliation with split-away parts of ourselves (1976, p.173). The sexual transference, then, is a spontaneous way by which the psyche seeks to bridge a gulf between the patient’s ego-identity and the contra sexual contents projected upon the analyst (von Franz, VI, pp. 3-4). What would otherwise be a humiliating fixation upon the analyst is redeemed by its hidden purpose – to bring light into the patient’s relation to the anima or animus,… Patients in this position need not then just go on feeling foolish for desiring someone they cannot have, and indulging in childish sulks, mopings, or resentments when refused gratification. Instead, such patients see the task set them by this welling up of emotion, impulse, and aspiration, and the sense of soul with which they cloak the analyst figure. When patients long for the analyst, it is their first direct experience of their strong longing to be reconnected to a missing part of themselves, to some aspect of their own souls (p. 73-74). Jungian Analysis (my bold)

For me, not a certified psychoanalyst, it can be helpful to think about this dynamic as potentially at play if ever/whenever we sense there is a bewitching element present in an attraction or infatuation. I included this source quote in a collection from Jung’s Psychology of the Transference.

 

Dream: When life is a parade!

Posted July 11, 2018 by chuck bender
Categories: Dream, Poems

Sunday, 5 AM: Dream Setting, my office in the Academy, with my couch against a wall, when all of a sudden the couch started to seemingly push itself away from the wall, revealing a hidden door, opening, with someone coming through the door into my office. And it was, he was, the first in a procession of an increasing number of circus like performers, mostly wearing red, who colorfully, exuberantly, take over the space, singing songs, putting on a show; quite a musical actually, reminiscent of the Music Man…

Waking reflections: I was struck with how it was like a musical production, and the fact that historically I have not been a fan of musicals. While writing the dream down, I associated the emergence of the singer/dancer, as if out of the woodwork with the Rilke image of “…that which steps, festively clothed, out of the great darkness.” (from his essay on Love and Other Difficulties.)

Comments: With all the  heaviness in the country, and in each of us, this was a fun, magical, refreshing interlude, reminding me of the existence of resources in psyche which can come in when needed. This dream felt a bit like my delight in reading the Rilke image:

“Therefore this too must be the standard for rejection or choice: whether one is willing to stand guard over the solitude of a person and whether one is inclined to set this same person at the gate of one’s own solitude, of which he learns only through that which steps, festively clothed, out of the great darkness.” (my italics)

Secondarily, I did recently enjoy watching the movie The Greatest Showman which was amazing and likely helped populate my dream images. I watched West Side Story earlier this year and found it very powerful – and still highly relevant.

In terms of family of origin, as a family we did love to sing. I did grow up in Mason City, Iowa, birthplace of Meredith Wilson, best known for his play/movie The Music Man.

 

Psychoanalysis … Always looks for the egg … In a basket … That has been lost*

Posted July 9, 2018 by chuck bender
Categories: Conscious Enactment, Transference and Countertransference

This aphorism referenced by Philip Bromberg on the last page of his book, The Shadow of the Tsunami, sets the stage for a paragraph discussion which I do find remarkable in it’s capturing of the process which I picture as the meaning behind the importance of waking up within the blur:

“For over 100 years, psychoanalysts were trained to talk to their patients about an inferred basket–an inferred unconscious–through associations and interpretations. Discovering the “egg,” which analysts have chosen to term unconscious fantasy, has been the endeavor said to demonstrate that even though what is unconscious is lost to direct observation its contents can be pieced together. At this point in the evolution of psychoanalysis, however, it is increasingly recognized that the “egg” can manifestly be brought into palpable existence by accepting that the “egg” is not buried content but the symbolization of a dissociated relational process that is not unearthed, but mutually cocreated through enactment.”

I want to quote a bit more below, but right now, I am pondering the image “…it is increasingly recognized that the “egg” can manifestly be brought into palpable existence by accepting that the “egg” is not buried content but the symbolization of a dissociated relational process that is not unearthed, but mutually cocreated through enactment.” I appreciate this frame in it’s suggestion that what needs our attention is palpably present in “the symbolization of a dissociated relational process … mutually cocreated through enactment.” From a cocreated system perspective, for me, this is the blur. It seems what’s needed is for us to work together to increase our tolerance of being in the dissociative soup together.

Philip Bromberg on Self – States

Posted June 19, 2018 by chuck bender
Categories: Complexes and More, Connecting the Dots Series, Conscious Enactment, Transference and Countertransference, Uncategorized

Source quote plus comment:

“If an analyst is listening carefully he will often be aware that a sudden change in ‘topic’ is accompanied by a change in self-presentation, including affect but by no means limited to it. From my frame of reference, what is taking place is defined neither by the change in topic nor the change in affect but a switch in self – states and in the respective realities that organize them. One’s clinical ear hears the voice of another part of self and has the opportunity to invite it into relationship by accepting it in its own terms rather than talking about it as though the part that has just emerged is simply a change in mood. For those who are not yet totally at home with how the concept of self – state is different from a shift in affect or mood, let me offer a one sentence clarification: Self – states are highly individualized modules of being, each configured by its own organization of cognitions, beliefs, dominant affect and mood, access to memory, skills, behaviors, values, actions, and regulatory physiology. (Chuck’s bold)

When all has gone well developmentally, each self – state is compatible enough with the modes of being that are held by other self – states, to allow overarching coherence across self – states, which in turn creates the capacity for sustaining the experience of internal conflict. In treatment, however, when proactively protective dissociation is operating, self – state shifts are most likely to reach the analyst’s perceptual awareness if he is able to freely engage his patient with the stance of participant – observer. Or so I contend. Why should this be the case? Because the shifts may be discerned initially not as something in the patient, but as a destabilization of the analyst’s own mental processes, an awareness of discomfort that he does not immediately recognize is a discomfort that is linking him to his patient through a dissociative enactment that is taking place while they are participating at a verbal level.” Page 72-73.

Comment: I will be creating a separate page for this source quote at some point. For now, I wanted to get it posted in anticipation of commenting on it from the perspective of more language and theory about others, entities, agents, archetypes, components making up experiential state scenes, figures populating the nuclei of complexes, and the images and affects associated with invarient organizing principles. My interest in the blur reflects my tracking of the importance of finding a way to embrace these less conscious beings that keep trying to show up in the service of winning back as much of our lost selves as humanly possible.

Reading that last line above and my choice in using the language “less conscious beings” I am struck with the need to clarify “from who’s perspective?” The challenge is recognizing that these beings have their own consciousness. It’s more of a question of how much awareness, on a continuum, might we have in a given moment of their presence or influence. Something like that. 

Philip Bromberg, The Shadow of the Tsunami and the Growth of the Relational Mind. 2011.

A Conversation…

Posted May 30, 2018 by chuck bender
Categories: Uncategorized

Every now and again I’m reminded that somehow this “blog“ adventure needs to move into a conversation. Granted, it starts with my wanting to engage with community around stuff that comes to mind for me out of my sitting with patients. I have these, to me, juicy thoughts about stuff that I want to write about and I’m not at a point where I can take the time to research it well enough to I call it an opinion paper or essay. I want to practice being more spontaneous about it, posting it, and letting it go without obsessing about what it could be with more effort and editing. That’s it for this brief entry!

Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity (Robert Moore)

Posted January 30, 2018 by chuck bender
Categories: Uncategorized

I recently came across a couple of Robert Moore audio presentations entitled: The Dragon of Grandiosity and Facing the Dragon.

This link will take you to the Minnesota Men’s Conferences website.

His insights, offered to a men’s gathering, are previews of his book Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity.