Anger and Relationships

Alaine De Botton on anger:

Not sure if this really Seneca’s take on Anger. It interesting though. The essential take on anger is that it is the result of holding unrealistic expectations and that more pessimism will help calm you down.

Anger is a philosophical problem with a philosophical solution. Perhaps a bit like CBT?

My philosophical response is that it is not sufficient. Unrealistic expectations can equally lead to sadness and then it is usually framed as disappointment. However there is something to this philosophical take. Our thoughts not the other persons behaviour are at the root of anger.

A fuller take on this idea from Marshall Rosenberg:

In short: Anger is the way we get a signal that there is an unmet need. I think he uses the example of the “check engine light”.

I’m aware of another form of anger that is not really either of the above. Anger at injustice. this is from wikipedia: “Socialism is the flame of anger against injustice.” I think of this being tied in with our fight response, adrenalin rushing to survive against onslaught. This not just in the eye of the beholder as some might say. Inequality, sexism, racism, exploitation and oppression really do exist. There is a good fight. Anger at violation of human rights surely is a good thing.

There are a couple of traps here though. Take this site:

Question: “How can I know for sure that my anger is righteous indignation?”

Answer: We can know for sure that our anger or indignation is righteous when it is directed toward what angers God Himself. Righteous anger and indignation are justly expressed when we are confronted with sin. Good examples would be anger toward child abuse, pornography, racism, homosexual activity, abortion, and the like.

Makes sense if you think God is against gay rights and women’s right to choose. But it does not make sense in the real world. Investigation is the key to knowing waht is real.

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Anger and Psychotherapy

I’ve heard this a lot in my profession:

“Anger is a socially suppressed emotion and people – especially women – need a safe place to get in touch with their anger. Expression of anger leads to discovering the emotions under the anger, being assertive and getting needs met. Anger is not the same as violence.”

The trouble with this is that it does not work like that if the person comes home and thinks it is a good idea to be angry with their partner. In some way anger can easily lead to violence verbal, emotional and physical. Marshall Rosenberg’s principle that other people are not the cause of our anger needs to be taken into the picture more fully than it often is.

It is easy for a therapist to side with the person in front of them. To see their side of the story. Much harder to concretise the “other” in the room with the other perspective.

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Angry Couples

In psychotherapy with couples the question about the nature of anger is important. It is held by many couple therapists that people who choose to be together in an intimate relationship are in a “horizontal relationship”. The tenet is that as therapists we should not take sides, but be a catalyst to the healing potential in the relationship. From an Imago website:

Romantic love is the door to a committed relationship and/or marriage and is nature’s way of connecting us with the perfect partner for our eventual healing.

In my work with couples I can hold that trust that the couples are equally wounded and that the power struggle can be nasty and that they have equal responsibility to get out of it. Each partner can take full responsibility for the relationship.

Talk so the other will listen.
Listen so the other will talk.

Even when there seems to be abuse of power, it usually does not take long to get to the fear, hurt, powerlessness and vulnerability under the surface. All problems in the relationship are co-created. i.e. the way one partner talks leads to the way the other listens – learn to talk without blaming shaming and criticism. Learn to listen so the other will talk. Even social inequalities can be addressed with this principle. I’m amazed how far I can take that principle in my work with couples. I’m amazed because I don’t think society is an even playing field.

Male Privilege

Look at the list here “160+ Examples of Male Privilege in All Areas of Life”. This social inequality seeps deeply onto marriage and committed relationships.

Michael White years ago drew my attention to a Gregory Bateson idea: there are “restraints of feedback and restraints of redundancy” The feed back ones are created on the level playing field.

The other restraint is due to the social values that are the ruin of a relationship.

Therapist’s Values

William Doherty is very good at seeing and responding to the social forces that mess up relationships. His book Take Back Your Marriage, Second Edition: Sticking Together in a World That Pulls Us Apart is excellent. All about the restraints of redundancy to use Bateson’s impossible jargon.

In the psychotherapy Networker he advocates:

The biggest problem in couples therapy, beyond the raw incompetence that sadly abounds, is the myth of therapist neutrality, which keeps us from talking about our values with one another and our clients. If you think you’re neutral, you can’t frame clinical decisions in moral terms, let alone make your values known to your clients. That’s partly why stepfamilies and fragile couples get such bad treatment from even good therapists. Stepfamily life is like a morality play with conflicting claims for justice, loyalty, and preferential treatment. You can’t work with remarried couples without a moral compass. Fragile couples are caught in a moral crucible, trying to discern whether their personal suffering is enough to cancel their lifetime commitment, and whether their dreams for a better life outweigh their children’s needs for a stable family. The therapist’s moral values are writ large on these clinical landscapes, but we can’t talk about them without violating the neutrality taboo. And for clients, there’s the scary fact that what therapists can’t talk about may be decisive in the process and outcome of their therapy.

I think this is tricky terrain. I think it best to focus on the co-creation of the relationship rather than the unequal society it is born from. That is a value I have because there is a lot a couple can do to address these issues in their relationship IF they can connect.

Still I am pleased to have the “permission” to have values, to weave them in in such a way that I am not seen as taking sides, because I am not.

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Guide to blog posts about encounter

Here are links some blog posts on encounter, including relationships, dialogue and the relational paradigm. I’ll keep adding to the list, there are plenty more not yet summed up. The idea is that I can see a brief summation, not avilable in the usual searches. They are in chronological order (latest on top).

Creativity Encounter June 27, 2009 – Added material Sunday, 6 December 2015
This is worth emphasising: relationships produce creativity. I added a bit today about the purpose of dialogues – when what is indicated. This can be distilled for the encounter manual (work in progress).

Doubling, Spontaneity, Creativity and Encounter December 1, 2015
This has a link to a short article I wrote – here is the link again: Article in docx format

Evolution and human behaviour and culture. December 21, 2014
This is the one with the long list of books to read, many relating to love & marriage. It has the hypothesis on evolution.

★★★★ Zerka Moreno on Doubling and Tele September 10, 2011, with updates on Saturday, 6 October, 2012 and
Sunday, 29 November 2015

This is the post I was looking for when creating this guide. It is not from Moreno but Zerka. “the space between people, that is the foundation of his and our work.” Quite a summation! It is also the one on difference between empathy and doubling.

History of the Relational Paradigm October 12, 2012
It is really a few thoughts and quotes about Jung’s participation mystique.

Creativity Encounter June 27, 2009 – Added material Sunday, 6 December 2015
This is worth emphasising. I added a bit today about the purpose of dialogues – when what is indicated. This can be distilled for the encounter manual.

Coevolution, invention, creation of the psyche – the relational paradigm October 7, 2012
Coevolution is a profound idea, and I quote a few sources on this.

★★★★The Locus of Therapy – Moreno April 18, 2009
Ah this is the one I was looking for – confirms the Zerka post above, I was looking for both of them! Long Moreno quote – excellent on relational paradigm.

Hippocratic oath will have to be reformulated

In a particular group a subject may be used as an instrument to diagnose and as a therapeutic agent to treat the other subjects. The doctor and healer as the final source of mental therapeusis has fallen.

Encounter, Buber & Moreno April 11, 2009
A couple of paragraphs quoting Marineau

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Varieties of Encounter

Facilitating interaction was the dictum I used for the first couple therapy I did. I recall, as an untrained social worker in a hospital being asked to work with a couple who had difficulties. The night before I read a gestalt based book on couple therapy and facilitate interaction was the central practical guide I took away. I could have done worse.

I have written on dialogue and encounter in the AANZPA Journal more recently: The Imago Affair. Let me quote a relevant chunck from that paper as I wish to further reflect on encounter.

Encounter

At their heart, both Moreno’s and Hendrix’s work go beyond technique and are an invitation to a profound experience. The aim of a dialogue is not a specific outcome, nor is it reliant on one method. Here is the section of Moreno’s well known poem that encapsulates the idea of encounter.

A meeting of two: eye to eye, face to face.
And when you are near I will tear your eyes out
and place them instead of mine,
and you will tear my eyes out
and will place them instead of yours,
then I will look at you with your eyes
and you will look at me with mine.
Moreno

Harville Hendrix introduced the validation step into the Imago structure with an eye to facilitating just such an experience. It is often taught as understanding or making sense. The lead-in line goes like this: “You make sense. And one thing that makes sense is…” The listener is invited to cross a bridge into the world of the other, and to see what they see, and feel what they feel in that world. Note the similarity to Moreno in Hendrix’s idea.

Buber clarified for me that a “Thou” relationship with others required honouring their “otherness” as an “I” distinct from me and any concepts I might have of them. This required a willingness to look at the world of another through his or her eyes.
Hendrix

Linger on the moments of connection described here:

I will look at you with your eyes (Moreno)

look at the world of another through his or her eyes (Hendrix)

Are they the same?

Both Imago and in the work of Moreno there is the idea of a special meeting. Not just any meeting, but something profound, where you become the other…

How to facilitate, or operationalise encounter is different in the psychodramatic sphere than in the I Imago sphere. They use different contexts for their techniques as well, psychodrama: the stage. Imago: the couple in dialogue and Hedy Schleifer has a variation:  Host / Visitor to the other’s world.

There are techniques/concepts in these modalities that are sometimes akin, but differently nuanced, and sometimes unique to the method. There are other modalities and have techniques for interaction, of importance is the variation of Imago developed by Hedy Schleifer and her husband, and the work of Dan Wile.

My friend and colleague Dan Randow and I are working on describing the varieties of techniques for encounter. Here is a beginning.

Here is a list of techniques/concepts:

Doubling: in Psychodrama

Mirroring — Psychodrama

Role reversal — Psychodrama

Doubling in Imago:  Related to the use of lead-lines

Doubling in Dan Wile’s CRT

Mirroring in Imago

Validating,  Imago

Empathy as used in Imago

Dialogue (Imago)

Host, Visitor (Hedy Schleifer)

 

Notes:

How does role reversal relate to encounter? In role reversal and in doubling you become the other to the best of your ability. You take the physical position of the other, quite literally in role reversal and by being alongside and slightly behind the other when doubling.

Is it useful to distinguish the inter-psyche from the intra-psyche; what goes on in our subjective world and what goes on between us?  Maybe sometimes, all these encounter processes aim at improving the relationship and healing and growth of the individuals at the same time.

 

 

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“Relational” TA and psychoanalysis, psychodrama and the relational paradigm 

I have been looking up anything to do with the relational paradigm  and keep bumping into relational psychoanalysis and relational T.A.

They seem fine. I’m surprised these branches of the tree are even needed – I would have thought that psychoanalysis and T.A. Were already “relational” in this way, i.e. Valuing of the relationship between the therapist and the client. Understanding attachment and early relationships as primary. Apparently not.

However I realise I’m in a different school altogether. One that see the relationship as the therapy, but not only the relationship with the therapist but the relationship people have with each other out there in the world. The marriage or committed loving relationship is the dominant one. I’ve come to understand that, especially in individual therapy, the relationship with the therapist can undermine the potential of the committed loving relationship with a partner. If there is no such relationship then the relationship with the therapist can be a surrogate, or if possible a way of facilitating the search for a mate. The rest of the time the therapist is there to facilitate the consciousness that will enable a committed loving relationship to be therapeutic. They are not naturally so – though they have a natural propensity to be so.

With this relational paradigm  more and more fully grasped of late I see that psychodrama has something of this philosophy well developed. Moreno speaks a lot of “in situ”. I think of that as working with the actual here and now relationships in a group.

Psychodrama does not require a theatrical setting, a frequent misunderstanding; it is done in situ – that is, wherever the subject is found.

Who Shall Survive? (1978) P86

However Moreno is not clear on this – Later in the same book he speaks again of therapy in situ

… it can take an immediate form, in situ, that is, in the course of all activities in which the individuals are en- gaged, in the home, in school, at work, for instance the handicraft shop, steam laundry, carpentry shop, department store, etc . The situations of living and working are at the same time used as therapeutic settings. We have found, however, that the analytic and activistic forms of group psychotherapy are not applicable to the deepest disturbances of the individual and the group; they require the application of deep action methods in the form of psychodrama. But they are applicable to social problems of the group in a setting in which, during the treatment, the group is artificially cut off from the community as if the rest of the community were non-existent and as if the influence coming from it could be disregarded.

He comes close to a relational paradigm, and then moves away for “the deepest disturbances of the individual and the group” to theatre where psychodrama clearly becomes treatment of or via a protagonist. Yet he stays close, because as we know, … the protagonist is a protagonist for the group. (ref?)

The idea that the relationship itself can be the source and vehicle for growth and healing, is not explicit in psychodrama – it is there in most psychotherapy, but only in the relationship between the client and the therapist. Yet this idea that the protagonist is working for the group can be translated to the protagonist working for the relationship. That helps!

The relational paradigm  is still to have its major impact, like any paradigm shift it is hard to get from the perspective of the old space.

Imago dialogue is one technique for activating relational healing, one that is easy to teach to clients. However I think T.A. Has the potential for that, Marshall Rosenberg NVC, and psychodrama does as well… Concretisation, role reversal, mirroring and doubling are potent methods. Psychodrama is not so easy without a director. How make the method easily accessible is what I’m working on all the time.

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The Soft Edge — Paul Levinson

This book is on my list because I’m exploring the relational paradigm. Archetypes of Relational Space? What comes up is that marriage is a medium. This might be relevant?

The Soft Edge

Screenshot

I can get the paper version here for 1c But I want a digital one… And that is here on Google

~

There is a lovely video of Paul Levinson on Amazon

~

While on the journey I downloaded a sample of another book, this one looks like fun. The Plot to Save Socrates

(Thanks Brian for pointers)

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Differentiation is a birth

I wrote up a lot of the talk Harville Hendrix gave in march. Here is a bit of that in more detail, in its own post, as I’ve been reflecting on it.

Move from imagined connection to participating in felt connection.

Getting to this togetherness can be terrifying and you have to surrender. To abandon the world you have imagined is terrifying.

You can’t connect with a person you are merged with. Differentiation is a sort of birth for each. The self emerges not by saying “I am me!” It is done by releasing the other, and this is where my birth happens as I am the remainder, what is left as I surrender. Learning to tolerate the differentiated other. It is a sort of birth. Imago is a process of giving birth to the other person. I’m the mother of their birth.

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Locus of therapy… locus of communication

I posted about the Locus of Psychotherapy here. Today it occurred to me that the whole notion of Psyberspace is about the locus of communication.

I write about relationships, forms of communication, the therapeutic frame, the shape of the seating arrangement, and the difference between a typewriter and PC. All these things matter to me. The space creates the psyche.

And in that sense the psyche evolves, and manifests in various ways in different places. Religion and therapy have strong hold on the word soul or psyche because they are so focussed on spaces. Then Marshall McLuhan comes along with the huge exploration of the impact of communication on the psyche. Medium is the message, global village via electronic communication. beautiful insights. Then in the sixties, the importance of set and setting on the impact of hallucinogens becomes understood (and severely misunderstood as they create an impossible set and setting called war on drugs).

This thinking I am sketching here is highly systemic. It means context is integral to the meaning. I’ve been very insistent that in my psychotherapy online I use only email. This is to keep the constancy of set and setting and medium. Is that important? In the earthquake here I see how it tests our metal as the contexts are focibly changed, new rooms, new modes, I’ve for the first time conceded to phone sessions in addition to f2f work. Its ok, but id sooner stick to the one context.

The original ‘locus’ discussion was to distinguish between two very systemic approaches, both of which value set and setting; Psychodrama and Imago Relationship therapy. When it comes to that discussion I am well beyond the question of the need for valuing context, medium etc. Now it is a case of which medium is good for what sort of communication? There are two modes, group and dyad. Not mutually exclusive, there can be dyads within a group.

I’m not sure if a group, or a dyad is a medium? Perhaps the actual distinction here is between a social atom and an imago. These categories of the psych are such slipery things. We only know them backup being with them, in them, as they are ‘virtual’ in some sense. Of course there are real people in real actions, but the social atom or cultural atom is the pattern that exists in that realm. the Imago is much the same, these are patterns of the soul we can be with, attend to, but they come up, arise in certain contexts. OK maybe that is the question then, what is the set and setting required to evoke the Imago? What is the set and setting to evoke the Original Social Atom? Conversely we may ask does the set and setting of the Freudian couch evoke?

What is this blogging doing? I am typing on a PC (in XP if that matters?) in a blog (WordPress) that is hosted on a server (DreamHost), and apart from one or two people I don’t know who reads it. About 30 hits a day probably people googling (the wrong) stuff. For all that it is one to many. It is also possibly going to be around for a long time, so somebody some Time may find these musings of interest.

I’ve been thinking of cross posting to an online community I am in. There it would feel very different. The locus would immediately transform. Blog posts, entries like this in the context of this Psyberspace blog are not the same in the context of a connected community. This blog is not a community, though some may be.

I’ve written it here. I could quote it elsewhere, I could use it in an essay (as I did with the original post, which led to a section in this Paper, I could use it in a book or podcast. Perhaps there is an optimum place, perhaps one unique space in the world where it grows and builds and yields fruit. I can ask this as is see one-to-one psychotherapy as totally the wrong place for relationship psychotherapy, it is detrimental to it. Group work might be too. Both could be adapted, but with out the benefit of an Imago style relational paradigm they are counter productive. Could there be a parallel here? Is this idea I’m returning to time after time better places elsewhere? Sometime I yearn for a department in a university where they would love this stuff and I could expound all day and it (I) would be part of some sort of community of practitioners pounding this stuff together.

Specific media are needed for specific tasks. Where in the landscapes of the psyche is there the right psyberspace for psyberspace discussions.

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Harville Hendrix workshop

More reports and reflections on the Harville Hendrix workshop for Imago practitioners in Auckland on 20 March 2011. Most of what he said was not new to me, and what I will note here is mostly what I heard him say. What was unexpected was the power of his ability to do, be in the moment with us what he was talking about. Present, connected, empathic, and making eye contact in such a way that if let at times he was talking just to me, in fact he was, totally there with me in those moments.

The Importance of Theory.
The theory allows the practitioner to know what to do beyond the application of techniques. H also mentioned the importance of research. Brian mentioned there was a swag of research quoted in Wikipedia Imago entry.

Relational Paradigm
The main theory he presented for most of the day was the relational paradigm. Summed up thus: being as relationship. Thus placing this as a shift in consciousness going beyond the philosophers of being such as Heidegger and Sartre and also Ken Wilbur, who has a heirachy of consciousness that is about individual beings.

“Being as relation, that is a revolution in thinking.”

Did Harville say Ken was stuck in the past? I think that he is as this relational thinking is deep and profound, and changes everything. This became really evident to me later in the day as H spoke about self. Self is a negative or remainder once all projection and judgment is withdrawn.

Relationship is a spiritual practice one can do any time when there is another.

“Empathy without judgment is my spiritual practice. Everyone offers you an opportunity.”

See the other as Thou

Observer Effect
H referred to quantum physics. I heard a new angle on this, not just that the observer changes that which is observed, but that the thinking the observer brings to the observed, the intention and attitude will change the situation. What power we have, for good or ill!

The medical model is challenged with this understanding. If we see people as sick, then they can’t get well. It might work with physical illness but not in the psychological world.

“It is important how we see people who come to see us.”

Empathy
How to be with people, we can’t be other than how we are. The essence of being in relationship is to be in empathy.

“Empathy is felt connection.”

When a group member suggested that Maori were a people who were in a connected state H noted that this was an earlier level of connection, more like fusion of the tribe. The empathy he spoke of was connection from a differentiated self.

“Move from the imagined connection to the felt connection and there is participation in that. Getting otherness is terrifying, you have to surrender. To abandon the world you have imagined is terrifying.”

The other person “experiences you experiencing them”. Or even further … They then experience you experiencing them experiencing you… the empathic stance:

“I’m experiencing you experiencing me having my experience. ”

Why people come to us…

“Something has punctured their ability to be connected. They are scared. Some are really scared.”

Thus we make a safe place and there is a transference to the space. ‘This is the place we feel safe, you won’t let us fight.’

“How we hold them in our mind is how they respond to us.”

“We can hold them if we are not anxious”

You can’t connect with a person you are merged with. Differentiation is a sort of birth for each. The self emerges not by saying “I am me!” It is by releasing the other, tolerating the differentiated other. Imago is a process of giving birth to the other person. I’m the mother of their birth. and this is where my birth happens as I am the remainder, what is left as I surrender.

How to be non-judgmental with violence. (( missed a lot of this discussion))
Thou.

“You are as dangerous to them as they are to you.”

“You are the co-creator of the transaction.”

Vicarious introspection

I understood this as seeing through the violence to the wounded child and reflecting that back to the person. I think of doubling as we use it in psychodrama.

The talking cure is the listening cure.

Book: Biology of Belief, Spontaneous Evolution (Bruce Lipton) – culture is the petrie dish of the cell.

Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a Way to Get There from Here) – Kindle edition by Bruce Lipton. Politics & Social Sciences Kindle eBooks

“all negativity causes chaos”

I am nudging, nudge nudge, nudge. It is facilitation not therapy.

Phrases Harville used in a dialogue:

Make eye contact. Feel your eyeballs and relax so your pup is will increase in size and that will relax her. Deepen your pupils by taking a deep breath.

Breathe together, set up a resonance.

Look when that happens you see a glow on her face.

Stay with the terror till it passes.

Lead lines

Am I getting a good sense of that now?

When I feel this frustration in the future I’ll …

… and the gift to our relationship is that …

Reference

Lipton, Bruce (2009), Spontaneous Evolution: Our Positive Future (and a Way to Get There from Here) – Kindle edition. Hay House. Amazon

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Harville Hendrix 3 questions

I just read Maya’s three questions she asks before commencing relationship therapy.

How do they compare with Harville Hendrix’s ones we just heard in the Auckland workshop?

1. What do you want in this relationship when you finish with me?

2. What have you done to prevent this from happening? (You, not the other partner)

3. What has to be taken out? What has to be put in? What will you take out, put in?

If you have the power to make it this bad, you have the power to make it good.

This couple could be creative and take self responsibility”

Just compared them and you can see who taught her!!

Maya’s three questions : http://psyberspace.walterlogeman.com/2009/three-relationship-questions/

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Helen LaKelly Hunt

Radio New Zealand National : Programmes A-Z : Saturday Morning with Kim Hill : 2011 03 12:

Helen LaKelly Hunt Author and activist, and founder of Women Moving Millions, an initiative for the advancement of women’s lives through a massive change in giving to girls and women. She also co-founded the Institute for Imago Relationship Therapy and has co-authored several bestsellers with her husband, Harville Hendrix. (duration: 34′59″) Download: Ogg Vorbis MP3

Interesting, and interesting how well she puts the idea in my previous post on relationships being the healing force. (Of course I learnt it via Imago… but it is not just an idea, we have expereiice in common about this stuff)

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