Couple Experiential State Complex as Activated Threshold

This is a page I first posted in 2012. I am re-posting it to highlight a few details. More on those later.

In recognizing the presence of emotion as the indicator the unconscious is activating, and in appreciation of the understanding healing only occurs in the blur, we are ready to consider the possibility that getting one’s buttons pushed is just what the doctor ordered. How might we recognize psyche’s timing as an opportunity for spontaneous healing and embrace the opening?

A Couple Experiential State Complex activation brings to the here and now the direct experience of one’s core family of origin vulnerability. Infused with the emotion of the dream-time, this co-created complex sets the stage and provides the script and props essential to facilitating a re-enactment of the wounding. Without considerable effort to understand and keep connected to consciousness, once constellated, the couple experiential state complex is likely to defeat the individual and couple’s best ego-based intentions. While it might seem wise to learn how to extinguish the complex, this approach doesn’t take into account the important meaning and role of complexes.

“During early traumas, our emerging egos split-off and repress aspects of the psyche that parents, siblings, or society found unacceptable. These split-off aspects could be thoughts, feelings, images, or associations. Often they are valuable and worth recall. They may carry hidden talents, intuitions, abilities, or accurate feelings that would make our personalities wiser and more complete if we could integrate them. Until reintegration can occur, our psyches are like the pieces of a broken mirror, which hold in fragments what was once a complete reflection.” (Moore, Robert, and Gillette, Douglas, The King Within, pp.32 33.)

However valuable as they may be, when it comes to opening to suffering them through, it is understandable to resist such opportunities to incarnate these entities. By definition they are the missing connections to the most unbearable experiences of our childhood, specifically the highly charged split-off images and affects at the center of the complex. Acknowledging their existence let alone consciously attempting to experience them directly is counter intuitive to the ego’s self preservation instincts (Edinger on Mortificatio).

Recovering one’s wholeness necessitates that at some point we embrace unbearable split off trauma in the service of suffering it through. On a side note, my long term care consultations offered the opportunity to bear witness to the return of the repressed: if one lives long enough to become demented, that which one’s defenses have kept out of conscious awareness will begin to resurface. With cognitive faculties on the ropes, these storms of affect can wreck havoc on the now beleaguered mind. Suffering through that which could not be borne consciously at an earlier time is what is required to complete the initiation.

Donald Sander and John Beebe (1985) have observed:

“Working through any split requires not only dis-identification by the ego from the more familiar pole of the complex, but also affective recognition of the contrary pole. Such recognition requires immersion in the side that has been unconscious. There is an unconscious tendency toward wholeness and relief of tension that fosters the emergence, under accepting conditions such as analysis, of the repressed pole. The consequence is that at least temporary possession by unfamiliar contents is a regular part of the life and of the analytic process, an inevitable prelude to the integration of unconscious portions of the Self.” (Jungian Analysis, edited by Murray Stein, pp. 331-332.)

In other words, the experience of remembering that which was dismembering at the time of the original overwhelm requires the ego submit to “at least temporary possession by unfamiliar contents.” What seems unfamiliar to the ego is the experience of finding itself immersed in the historically split off image and affect. This is the blur. 

Staying conscious in the here and now experience of the blur, as a betwixt and between, waking dream infused state of consciousness, supports us in recognizing the blur as an activated threshold. From a psychological perspective, this encounter with the blur for me represents the ego’s experience of approaching the Self, with as much consciousness as it can bear. Remember, the ego is wired for something like 110 voltage, and the Self is wired for 220 on up to 10,000 volts. Considering Edinger’s observation the collective unconscious does transcend time and space, we can only imagine the ego’s challenges, as the “agent of the Self in time,” in attempting to peer into the unconscious; this is something like being afforded an opportunity to look into eternity.

In this aspect, the Couple Experiential State Complex, when activated, captures and embodies the breadth and depth of the ego’s here and now experience when infused by the archetypal, eternal realm of the Self. From this perspective, it symbolizes the universe of possible meanings and interpretations. In this moment, however, it provides the opportunity to enter into an encounter with that which is presenting for healing, here, now.


7 Comments on “Couple Experiential State Complex as Activated Threshold”

  1. […] not negative judgement. What can we learn about ourselves, each other? (see discussion on getting one’s buttons […]

  2. […] This dance is now in the service of the re-enactment of the wounding. When one can see the blur as a kind of threshold, the opportunity for deeper healing is at […]

  3. […] have been thinking about what happens when one gets one’s buttons pushed. We’ve all experienced cycles of emotional reactivity. I have been exploring these as […]

  4. […] we can sense when we are getting triggered. “Getting one’s buttons pushed” indicates the activation or constellation of a complex. Unless reflected upon, such an […]

  5. […] 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, […]

  6. […] were likely to have evoked archetypal layer resources. Jung’s complex theory suggests the nucleus of a complex is composed of two elements: the image of the scene of the wounding and it’s associated […]

  7. […] signal opportunities for spontaneous healing entering or erupting into the everyday space. In my Couple Experiential State Complex as Activated Threshold post I make the case getting triggered pulls us, in the here and now, into an altered and altering […]

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