The nature of relationships

I have just read the most fascinating book by Stephen Cope called "Yoga and the Quest for the True Self", which has so many pages I would like to share with others, but this bit is particularly interesting.  Quite a few times recently I have found myself talking to people about relationships - are they here for a season, a reason or a lifetime?  Obviously there is far more to it than that, we are mirrors after all, and I like what Stephen writes about this...

"Freud's most brilliant work was in discovering how to bring observing ego to these areas of unconsciousness. Over the course of his career, he explored three different strategies to accomplish this. His first strategy was to work directly with memories of traumatic events that had been "forgotten" or repressed. he understood these "forgotten" areas to be pivotal to curing neurotic symptoms.  Freud found that he could, to some extent, open these areas of repression through the use of hypnosis, which bypassed the ordinary defences and brought the repressed material into awareness. This dramatic early psychoanalytic work of Freud is still locked into our contemporary cultural imagination, through a whole host of novels and films. Many of us are still think of psychotherapy as the process of searching for that one crucial memory that will unlock the puzzle of our lives. In fact Freud's thinking evolved far beyond this stereotype.

Freud soon found that the defensive structure of the self offered a formidable amount of resistance to his direct probing, and he moved on to explore other techniques for penetrating the unconscious. His next explorations were with the use of free association, dreams, and slips of the tongue, working with the very language through which the unconscious communicates. Instead of assaulting defences directly, through hypnosis, he found that he could wait for the unconscious to reveal itself.  This strategy proved to be extremely effective. It also, however, proved to have its limitations...

...There are certain aspects of our experience, then - usually the most painful and conflicted - that can only be seen within the field of relationship. Indeed, they don't exist only within us, but within the relational fields we create. When we carry a heavy load of repressed, hidden, and unintegrated experience, we are constantly seeking out relationships that will help us hold this experience, to reveal it in the actual dramas if our lives, and, hopefully, eventually to bring it to a more successful conclusion - to heal it. Much of our manoeuvring in and out of relationships is driven by these very needs - strivings for wholeness and completion that are for the most part completely out of our awareness.

Freud unwittingly made an important contribution to our contemporary understanding of witness consciousness. He saw that consciousness is sometimes a "third force", the creative product of two individual awarenesses working together to understand and integrate experience.

Matthew Arnold makes precisely the same point in his poem The Buried Life in which he attempts to wrestle with precisely those "hidden" incognito aspects of the self.  In Arnold's rendering, the voices of the "buried life" only reveal themselves with utmost clarity when opened to the consciousness of a loved other...

...It is a point that mariners and explorers of all kinds discovered: reality must be, in a sense, triangulated. It takes two sets of eyes, not just one, to accurately locate the third point in space. The "third", becomes a powerful still point, constructed out of the interaction of two minds and hearts.

This really does help to explain the nature of the "mirrored" aspect of relationships, and the comings and goings and the various encounters we have during our lives.  Really it is a rather fascinating world in which we live!


Ross DespresComment