Existential Phenomenological Psychotherapy: “Working With Internalizations” 1
Rudolph Bauer Ph.D., Author
So we’re all working to know the difference from our awareness and our mind, and to feel the spaciousness, energy, clarity. How many of you have read Winnicott’s book, Playing and Reality? More of you should read that book. He opens the door for some of this thinking in terms of psychotherapy; remarkably so, in terms of transitional space, potential space and the self not being a representation. How many have read the book written by the Polsters, Gestalt Therapy Integrated? You all should read that; it is not about classical Gestalt Therapy. It is an aberration. Some would say a big aberration! Irv and Miriam Polster wrote the book and it is a very classical book on Gestalt Therapy. It is much better than any of Fritz Perl’s books which are always about himself. I actually saw him one time at a convention in Washington, in 1967. He gave a demonstration with the man who developed Psychodrama, Joseph L. Moreno. They got into a big fight. Of course this is exactly what everyone loved. The audience was so happy because they were fighting! Perl says to Moreno, you are a puppeteer! Then he said, no, you’re not the puppeteer; your wife is the puppeteer! Then Moreno says, how can you say this? We’re all working together! Then Perl says, those who want to learn with me, I’m going to another room. There was supposed to be two people putting on the show. So he says, come with me! I have reserved a private room! This was a typical grandiose moment for those two. Irv and Miriam Polster were fantastic therapists. They wrote about what psychoanalytic thinking is getting to today, some 30 years later. Things like contact, non-neutrality, the importance of experience, that we actually learn through experience, that the healing process is somewhat of a mutual creation, that the therapists affects on experience, contribute or don’t contribute to what is happening. They taught that the present is where it takes place, even if it’s about the past and that resonance is essential. Another book I have suggested you read, The Present Moment in Psychotherapy and Everyday Life by Daniel Stern, was written 30 years later, but is as hot as the old stuff. You see these different traditions emerging, ones that see the therapy hat as a floating hat, not ontological. Therapy is very situational. It can be passed around in a group. Thought influenced by field phenomenology. Kurt Leuven Wertheimer, Koehler and the phenomenologists were saying the same thing I’m saying. I’m just saying it a little bit differently. The reality is that beings are fields, even though they think they are entities.
So let’s hold awareness, becoming aware of awareness itself. Sometimes, to do that you have to practice suspension, you have to learn what the phenomenologists called theepoche. You want to suspend your “a priori thinking”. You want to suspend, for a moment, your opinions. You want to not be located in your thinking function. Most of us don’t think I am thinking or we are in thinking. However, when we are located in the thinking function a lot of the other resources are not available and not useable. Our view can become very narrow and stuck in a thought form or pattern, or in a belief. So we want to shift and suspend the mind just for a moment. You want to suspend the mind so that you can pull your awareness, which floats, from the thinking function and turn it within. Turn the awareness within; bring it into its own self. Parts of awareness actually disassociate and go into other functions. Then awareness gets lost. You need to pull it back into home base. That’s why when you become aware of awareness, you feel, ah, I’m at home. You pull it into its own self or have it look at its own self. The part of awareness that has been hyper-located is pulled into the immediate, intrinsic field of awareness itself. Then you situate yourself in it. You have to bypass distractions as you go into it. There will be little bits of subtle thoughts, and subtle impressions.
First, suspension of the mind is the epoche. The second is the reduction. The reduction means the turning within. As you start to enter that awareness you may see nothingness or emptiness or void or black space. It may be boring. It may not be much fun. Stay with it a little bit. Go deeper. Contact it. Then you will see yourself entering into it like getting into a pool of water. Then you will be in it. Once you are in it, you will feel spaciousness. You will feel that this space is alive. It vibrates, it pulsates. You are going to feel more aliveness in you. When the field is foreclosed, we don’t feel very alive and actually it’s painful. Once you enter into it you can feel some clarity and openness. But it may be contained so you want to extend it through your body. You want to have a completely embodied experience. It may look like we are embodied, but really and truly we are in little parts of the body. Some people are in their anuses! Some are in their hearts. So you want to extend it to the whole body. This is not a passive experience. You extend through your body; you extend slowly but surely, planting the flag. After you are in the body you can feel it. You are going to feel a felt difference, an experientially felt difference. You can also extend to the immediacy of your situation. This will actually have the field come through your body boundaries. Then you will feel a bit more of it around your body. Extending to the immediacy of your situation feels more supportive. You have to practice extension. If you are just waiting to extend when you are working with a person, you may not get enough practice. People aren’t going to know you are extending the field to them, but they will feel a bit more connection with you.
Now, what’s really contacting the situation? Extending the field is extending awareness. It’s reading the situation. It’s not without knowingness. You are not extending a thing, a stick. You are extending the nature of your own awareness. You are gaining intuition; not the guessing sort of intuition, but more feel for situations. What’s happening now? And then you can rest in it. If you follow these instructions, you will be successful. Perhaps not the first day, but within 3 months you will feel the difference between your awareness and your mind. Once you have awareness of your awareness field and you are established in it, you can almost immediately start integrating. Like right now, you might be hearing through the field! Then you can be speaking through the field, thinking through the field. It’s not like sometimes when we have to stop and think outside of the awareness state and then go back into it. In that example you stop, you go into your mind, you read it from your mind, and then you come back into it, right? A lot of therapy is that. A person is in awareness, they stop, they go into their associative mind, they do a reading, and then they come back. A lot is lost in that interchange. The immediacy of experience, the information of immediate experience, the capacity to language in immediate experience is lost. Therefore, when a person goes into their associative mind, they are mind reading! They are mind reading their own experiences. They are starting to read it from the very same assumptions they are trying to leave. I can guarantee you this. When a person can speak and stay in their experience transformation is possible. When a person leaves their experience, goes back into their mind to make a comment about their experience from the associative mind, they are back in their primary assumptions that they came in with. That which they are trying to change is now doing the readings. I have been to psychics like that. So there is experience, that is the direct information, that is live theater, you are in it. When you distance from it you go into the associative mind. There is a good book calledLearning from Experience by Wilfred Bion which is a great book on this topic. Rather than learning from experience; one is making interpretations from their basic assumptions which are often from their earlier historical experience, as interpreted. That is the fundamental aspect of understanding change. Two other great resources on this topic are written by Eugene Gendlin, Experiencing and Focusing. He used to work with Carl Rogers. He also worked at the University of Chicago. If you can be in the field you want to stay in the field so you can integrate your experience immediately. So right now, if you are going out of the field to hear me, you are not integrating. It’s not a sin, but you are not experiencing what you can in a direct form. The yogis are always pre-occupied with gnosis. All gnosis means is direct perception. You could open your eyes right now and integrate sight.
So we’ve been talking about everything being method and that there are infinite ways of working within the field, especially with internalizations, working with memory made present. So put simply, one must integrate memory into the field of awareness, just like integrating the representations that you can live in and be in and integrating them into the awareness field. If it’s just in the awareness state, it’s much harder. A lot of Gestalt therapy was done in the awareness state, but if you can open up the awareness state where the field phenomena is felt, it’s bigger, stronger, more dynamic than the awareness state. When you become aware, the first reduction is in your mind, the second reduction is in being in awareness. When you become aware of awareness itself, the field phenomena opens up. I can be in awareness, or mindfulness, or Gestalt awareness, but I’m not in awareness of awareness. It is that second reduction where the field phenomenon opens up for people. In Gestalt therapy, when people do not do the reduction of entering into awareness, the field is a theory like in organization psychology. A lot of organization psychology is a theory of fields, but they do not experience the fields. A lot of Gestalt therapy and psychology is about fields. It’s when you make the second reduction, when you actually attempt to become aware of awareness itself, then you integrate and then you will be in field phenomena with all of those benefits.
(An inaudible question comes through)
I can say this to you, sometimes awareness is located in the thinking, in the functions, and one gets located in thinking, in the analytic mind. One makes a shift, and at that point one becomes aware of objects – thought objects, feeling objects, sensing objects. That is a shift but it is not the second reduction. A lot of the phenomenologists and many yogis make a second shift. That is where they become aware of awareness itself, where the object of awareness is its own self. In doing that, awareness shows its colors, it opens its door and you can enter into it and feel the field. I tell you, one is you are looking at the ocean from afar, you are not even looking, you are thinking of the ocean, a lot of H2O, I love H2O, I like drinking in it, bathing in it, floating in it; then a little memory there. I wish I was in H2O right now, a little fantasy. Then, I’m looking at the water. I can see it. I can smell it – water. It looks so good, it feels good, smells good, and tastes good. Its water, I’m at the beach. I’m going in… I’m going down deep…. That’s the difference. That is the metaphor. You can think about it, you can touch it, being aware of objects is more immediate, more direct, better than nothing, but with awareness itself, you are in the sea. Winnicott always used to quote a great Sufi poet, “On the edge of the shoreless sea children play,” as an induction into a transitional space. His books begin with that. So you take the second reduction. Why do the second reduction? Because it has more power to it, more dissolving ability.
So one must integrate memory… (We’re back to internalizations and we’re trying to integrate memory). So first I’m thinking about memory, second I’m experiencing memory, third I’m experiencing it in a bigger sea. (Another question, inaudible…) Okay… Let’s just say in the therapeutic game some people want to talk about H2O. I may even have a memory of it. I can even think about it, but it’s a level of abstraction. There is only so much information and experience there. I can be at the shore and I’m looking at the water. I’m looking at the sea. I touch it with my hand. I even see a fish! This is mindfulness. I am aware of the objects. I’m talking about object relationship, which is the sea. I can see it, I can smell it, I can see reflections. I take off my outfit and I enter the water and I go swimming under the water. That is being in the field…
“How do you jump in?”
You have to leave the shore… You have to leave objects. You have to suspend the objects. That is not always easy. If objects of the mind have been a primary source of security and if you have tried to figure everything out completely, it’s hard to leave the objects. That is why usually, forms of loss can force people into the field of awareness. Loss is always a dramatic moment for possibly entering into the deeper aspects of one’s own awareness. So you release the objects, you suspend the objects of your mind that are your favorite. In the suspension, there is no object. You will enter deeply into a transitional space. Winnicott called it transitional space and found that is where the self appears. It’s not mindfulness. It was the release of objects. Now, this is a little ambiguous in this world because it is so hard to release objects so we invent the transitional object. That is real and not real. Yogis invent mantras. It’s real and not real. I’m going to go in and my therapist is sitting right next to me. I feel a little connection to that person. Going in is not easy. You do a normative curve on people, one fourth is going to do it fantastically, the next forth can do it somewhat, one fourth can sort of do it with the right support and one fourth cannot do it at all. For some It is just too much because either they can’t let go of the objects, or if they are they will they experience catastrophic anxiety, disintegration states, or they are going to feel swallowed up by the abyss of the field of being. So, like most good things, it’s not for everybody! The better get better, the richer get richer, the healthy get healthier, the creative get more creative. This is definitely not a fair world. If this is the only technique you know, you are up shit’s creek! This isn’t like psycho-analysis where you only have one frame of therapy you are operating from. And I was reading an article on psycho-analysis recently which stated people are not going to psycho-analysts anymore. It’s driving them crazy, so they aren’t going 4 days a week anymore!
Some of our developmental stories influence how we enter awareness. This is not, like some people think, that spirituality is something you do and if you don’t do it you have bad will. That is a deluded state, moralistic to the core. Holding awareness is not easy. But, it can be done. Suspending the mind is not easy. (Question comes in, inaudible…)
Try death… I’m serious. Try death. Death, loss - that is why when people experience loss they begin to experience the field of awareness. Here is another way of talking about this. In yoga they bring in the anima through the Dakini, through the feminine. Often the feminine is where the anima comes in, so yogis have gods and goddesses. They know they aren’t real, like entities walking around, but you start relating to those images, to that dimension and the issue of love arises and with love arising comes death. All the goddesses look very sumptuous and sensuous but they have skulls and they sit in their own pools of blood because love and death are so close. Whenever you love, what arises is the possibility of death. A lot of the object relationship theory is on this issue. Schizoid states have to do with the possible loss of the object out of death or disappearance. To cope one starts walling oneself in a narrow container. Death and loss are natural ways that people fall into awareness. But at first glance, what does awareness feel like? It is void, emptiness, its nothingness. Can that be depressing? Yes! It’s dark, there is no light element in it, and there is no energy in it. That is existential depression; you can really feel bad about yourself. Then you are going to have another form of depression arise and your body is now going to do what bodies do when they get depressed. So the existential depression arises. That is the primordial self opening. That is the self. When people come to change and dissolve some of the internalizations, what arises in front of them is void, emptiness and nothingness. So what do we do? We run back to the internalizations. The void is out there and part of change is dissolving states of mind. But, with that alone, you know what is going to happen…nothing. Something else has to take place. We dissolve something but in the dissolving of it -- a lot of relationships have to do with this… “I’m going to leave, that’s it!” Leaving that object… what’s out there? Void and emptiness… Awareness is not in you, it’s in front of us. It’s the unmapped territory of the next step. Unless you have capacity of awareness, it will be very hard to re-formulate and re-create a new representation. That is why awareness is really good. After you dissolve an internalization, things don’t automatically happen, “That’s it, I’m free”. That is why it’s so much fun to talk about our internalizations, forever and ever. It becomes an addictive state because in that addiction state, you feel the effort of doing something even though nothing is happening. All this stuff has to do with payoff. There is a certain way you touch it, work it, which is very valuable and then it becomes habitual. I think I’m leaving this internalization, but really I’m now sitting in it and talking about it for the next ten years, with a very interested person. I think! It’s very tricky, all of this. Consciousness is tricky.
Things are first existential, and then they become neurotic.
Woman #1 “At the risk of drawing this back to where we were, when I heard the other questions there still seemed to be this question of the second reduction being the key, but when you learn meditation techniques they give you mantra or breathing as a tool and I think it might be useful to articulate that then, so that it’s this leap that you know that you are there and you are not in a previous state.”
IF you are holding awareness with people who are holding awareness and you are in a mindful state, you will go into awareness of awareness. That is why this is relational. It is much better to meditate with people who are in awareness with this understanding. If you are in awareness of awareness and you are a mindful person and you are with people who are at the level of people who are in awareness that will pull you in. It takes one to know one – the relational component. Or, also, you read stuff written by people who are in awareness, by masters and it will come through with their use of metaphors. When you read great authors, you are meeting the mind of the author. But everything is method; loss or pleasure is method but a bit of an understanding really helps a lot. How do you go into awareness of awareness?
“The reason I’m articulating it is because it still seems to be lingering as a question. For me, I’m very aware that it’s easy for me to jump in the pool when the others are there. I’m thinking that the challenge for us shouldn’t be that, but we should be able to give that opportunity to others, so they can jump in our pool, so in that role, in a sense the first one is important to know when am I there, when am I not there. That is what I’m trying to see, how you know, from the first reduction.”
Space, the feeling of energy, the feeling of aliveness, the electricity, the heat, the movement, the pressure of feeling your body pushed and expanded, the sense of the elongation, plumpness. You feel like you are plumping up. You want to notice it and know it – that sense of more radiance, presence, fullness, beauty. Things are always more beautiful, even if they are terrible. Beauty comes through. Therapy only deals with natural stuff. Therapists like to think it is unique to them. It’s an aberration of life. They like to think the self object function is only there, or awareness of awareness function is only there. When a person falls in love with a person and therefore falls in love with love, you know what they are in? Awareness of awareness – falling in love with love, one just feels love, that is awareness. That is the feminine expression of awareness. By feminine I don’t mean ladies.
“I don’t want to be irritating, but I was thinking that sometimes the hard thing is when it’s not coming to you. When it comes, it’s easy, OH I’m here! At times you have to work at it because the situation is not favorable, and it takes a little effort. For me, when I try to find tools like the mantra or breathing, what works is trying to breath in sync with the other person, which helps with resonance. And also, not fake it, but intentionally focus on the good in that person and extending myself fully to them is like a semi mantra for me.”
Those are all excellent relational methods. Seeing what is good in a person means seeing the potential in that person. If you can feel what is potential with that person, you are feeling the self in that person. If you can feel the potential in the person, you will feel that arising in you. If you can feel, even using syncing your breathing, if you can remember when you felt that state. Memory can bring in bad experiences; memory can also bring in attuned experiences. In my life I always think about my self objects. Irv and Miriam Polster are self objects for me. They are behind me right now. I have a reference to them more often than not. Sometimes I make things explicit, but they are behind me or other people who I’ve had the experience of awareness with, many people, this is not a religious thing, not a spiritual thing, moments in your life you’ve been in awareness of awareness, this is not unique.
Woman #2 “This is less about using this therapeutically, but what about people who are psychotic, how does this relate to people in that state?”
You know, I have read something by Winnicott on this, the story of Marion somebody, on not being be able to paint. She was an artist, a psychoanalyst and she was psychotic. Winnicott would go sit with her and would not relate to her psychosis. He would hold her hands and she would feel, as she said, through the liquid-like feeling of the energy, an energetic connection to him from deep inside. He felt he sensed that in her. That gave her the courage to continue to exist inside and not disappear completely. Medication is great, but existing or not existing; dissolving forever into non-beingness is always the possibility for all of us, not just when we die. She wanted to get back to being an artist and in a psychotic state she lost her capacity to be an artist.
“Can people who are say, borderline or schizoid, can they also enter the field?”
They can enter the field of awareness, see we are doing this very directly, but I will tell you a story. A long time ago… I used to be at Devereaux at one time. It was a wonderful place, a residential treatment center for children. They had lots of money and lots of people got lots of therapy. You could see people 5 to 10 times a week. I remember seeing one person, a boy in his teens who would only sit looking at a wall. He wouldn’t go to therapy. I went to see him. This is a mortal sin in some circles. So I went and joined him sitting there. I found it intensely boring. I’d go sit there and bring out a book. I would start reading. I also knew that he would read too. So he would pull out his book and we’d read. I was enjoying. It would feel lively… He was reading… we had a lot of time. One day he says, you are a literary man. I said, why yes I am. What are you reading? He showed me the book. So we would discuss books. I’m the literary man, but he was a literary student. I was maintaining the asymmetrical-ness. To become too equal too soon would have smashed the whole thing. So we started talking and then I said, sometimes I write, I write stories. He said, I like to write stories. So we started writing stories. I listened to his stories, I didn’t read him mine, couldn’t read the hand writing. He’d tell me the story; I’d make comments on it, sometimes critical. If I was too nice, this would not go over. Sometimes being compassionate is not being empathetic. Nothing can drive us crazier than too much empathy. Then eventually, we finally got the story. It was the captain and a cabin boy. In a psychotic way it was being very explicit. I said - let’s act out this story in a dramatic way. So we started a drama. The drama starts off I’m a captain, just like I was the literary man, and he’s the cabin boy. We’re in a ship. I would often check what was taking place in his real life. As we progressed, he slowly began entering the world on his own. We starting changing the things around in the cabin, eventually he graduated to a third mate he had other jobs to do. Eventually he could sit at the table, and I’d bring candy in or something. We ended at this point in a mutual state, hierarchically different, but there was a relational life coming through which had generalization to us outside… I never spoke about the real with him. We then moved to photography. Since I wasn’t a photographer, I didn’t do it, but he did. Then he went outside, and then he was in the world. He would take pictures, enter contests. This was a long period, but this was a period of joining the other person in an implicitly relational way and always sensing him in the dialogue. I never thought about him as a nut. I never thought about him in a diagnostic category. I would not do that. To impose that would have configured the field between myself and him and squished out potential space. I love that story and I always think about him and what is happening to him. There was a field between us. I knew he could actually enter it from the tight location that he was in, but actually we are all in tight locations, and the question is how to enter that through the use of metaphor and story. I did not care about the psycho-dynamics. I was interested in contact, in connectedness in our own way. Okay, let’s take a break…
Next track starts with someone speaking…
Woman #3 “A lot of these kids are from low income families, physical abuse, domestic violence… One of the things I’ve been doing with them is yoga so they actually come into my room. It was really an experiment because I just wanted to play with space and because they are from such rigid environments anyway, I wanted to see if there was some way of opening up the space. It’s been incredible. They absolutely love it, they take to it and now they are coming in, pulling out the mats and it’s been a real way both for them and for me to keep that whole space open and that movement there, to offer them that opening and see their bodies open. I also see their radiance come out and it’s quite lovely.”
You feel the field in that situation? “Yes.”
Let’s proceed ahead here; we’ll enter awareness again… Awareness and loss are very close because awareness is nothingness, it is space. When we have loss, we’re in awareness. Sometimes we collapse in that loss so awareness itself collapses. These paradoxical tensions. So, let’s continue on here…
Back to representations: We’re trying to integrate the mind’s representations within the field of awareness, so one frame, not the whole story, is being in the awareness state, but more powerful than that is being in the awareness field. We’re trying to integrate the representations into this field in order to work within the field with that. You can think of a memory being analytic or a representation being analytically known or entering into it experientially where you feel it. And like a psycho drama or experiential drama, you think of a representation where you are in awareness of awareness and you are experiencing in the field. That should be somewhat clear. All internalizations are useful. Sometimes just analytically looking at it helps clarify. Sometimes you bring internalization into the field too soon, you might lose clarity. The question of working with internalizations and corresponding object relations, meaning person relations, is not a search into the past trying to find the missing link. But rather these representations are in the present, they organize the present. In the here and now, we are manifesting these relational contact points, the nexus points. Internalizations and their corresponding object relations, meaning people relations, are often ascriptions that are being lived through the now. They are not truly in the past at all, but we are living through these ascriptions in the present. They reflect organizational configurations within our experience that pulls us out of the truly present state of the relational field of awareness - history being protracted and not the true voice of the subject. You can tell when you have your true voice, you feel back as your self again. Often when we enter these internalized states of the family field internalized, you feel a loss of subjectivity, you don’t quite feel yourself. More often than not these organizations, representations of the mind can be substitutions for a true sense of self. So my particular organization can be so powerful that I hang my hat on that and the inner awareness - field disappear and the transitional space is foreclosed and that is a substitution for a true sense of self. It can be very powerful, and have true rewards. Sometime we have successful representations that foreclose. One doesn’t have their own idiom. Christopher Bollaswrites about these people who are so successful that the representations themselves foreclose the more transitional space or more resonance to the level of self in his book, The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis of the Unthought Known.
Question, inaudible, inferring says someone asked how you recognize when a client has this kind of internalization…
You recognize it because you don’t feel true. You don’t feel your self. One thing, you might not feel any resonance between yourself and that person. Your body will feel closed and encapsulated in that state of mind and there won’t be much flexibility. You will feel organized by that. Narcissism is not always at the representational. Object relationships and the narcissistic component are not on the same dimension, but it is also true there.
These internalizations are often experienced as pre-occupations in the here and now. Some of these pre-occupations can be with an unavailable object, or the exciting, frustrating object, or the tormented object, or experiencing no relational object whatsoever… no subjectivity whatsoever. I know I’m using object relationship language but it does talk to it. Truly, internalizations are excessive objectifications of the experiencer, objectifications of the experience and the object of one’s own experience. So there’s a concealment of the field. The paradox is that the more I’m in an internalization, the more… say I’m in a victim/victimizer state, I’m paranoid, then the more the field disappears. I’m really caught in that paranoid state and that is the only information I’m in. My life is like a court scene, I’m trying to find out what the real truth is. If I’m in couples work, the whole thing is juridical - always being organized by who is right, who is wrong. These are not pathologies, they can be, but these are very natural ways of getting into the juridical life, trying to find the legal truth – who is right who is wrong and it becomes confessional. But confession does not transform anything. People always want forgiveness for past events in couples work. They are always looking for forgiveness. But really forgiveness, maybe people really do forgive for past stuff, but the action of forgiving is what takes place in the present. It’s really by doing it differently. There is a lot of debate on forgiveness and it’s relevance in psychotherapy today. But forgiveness, I’d like you to consider that forgiveness is never about the past. It’s a function of what is taking place in the present and the difference in the presence.
Therapy is best considered, from this frame of reference, a literary undertaking. You can think, from your job, whether it’s organizational work or whatever the education, you are taking it as a literary undertaking – the reworking of a story. We might consider that the story is a story that organizes much of a person’s experience until, and I’m not talking about in a reified, determined, unfree way, until the power of the inner field of awareness, which is so multi-dimensional, so big in its horizons, begins to come through. I can be in a tiny little story, even if it’s a good story, it can be so tiny, or it can be a horrible story, but so tiny, but I start to open it through the power of awareness itself. Awareness has that power to open up. Just like she was describing the children and their bodies being opened up, you can feel this openness. The word sunyata, or space, means openness. It opens the story. There is more possibility of it. It’s like in statistics; you have more degrees opening up in it. One experiencing the spaciousness of the field expands the interiority beyond the family frame. That example I gave, a sense of interiority was opening between my self and that boy. Experiencing clarity also illuminates experience. Illumination of experience can come through as a concept or an insight, but the deeper illumination is when you have an understanding. Understanding is not intellectual insight, like getting an idea in your mind. That is an idea. Understanding is the field illuminating experience. There is a phenomenological difference between getting an idea and feeling the understanding of it. You know? What is water? You have a picture in your mind, then suddenly I’m scuba diving. I’m 50 feet under the sea. There is a profound difference of understanding. The sublte energy that is contained in a story, in every object relation there is a containment of energy. There is a powerful containment of energy. That energy is contained in the story, even a brief story. A person’s father dies and this person was not able to be there at the father’s death. They were very, very close. So she has guilt about it, she has pain about it and this is working and also so many things were going on in her life with her own family, she couldn’t sit shivah. She couldn’t do that when she wanted to do that. She couldn’t carry through the mourning process. For one whole year this person is a bit of a wreck over the loss, over not completing how she wanted to complete. So a lot of energetic containment was present. On the eleventh month before the year, one year,( in the Jewish calendar the eleventh month is when the soul actually leaves), the night of that day she has a dream. In that dream her father is dying and she is holding him. He points to his body and says it hurts so much. It’s a big dream, very vivid. He says, I’m going to leave. She’s holding him. She mourns the whole night. She cries and cries. In the morning when she is up she feels a profound sense of relief. The body is now starting to be re-organized. She looks different; she’s back into her own embodiment. So around the story this person was not mourning like she wanted to, completing her father’s death. Through this dream, which was a field phenomenon for her, there is an opening and the energy is released. So there is an energetic release. Stories are powerful fields of energy that organize us, that determine us. There is always a release; that is why working with things energetically, with movement, or symbols, is also powerful. There is often an unleashing of energy and one starts to feel more in their perceptual field than the conceptual field of their mind. One’s actually having more direct perception than being simply locked in mental awareness.
As we know, choices around friends and lovers can often be influenced by historical relations. So the early internalizations can be repeated in contemporary object choice. Again, activating the field can influence object choice because the self object function becomes field related and not mentally related. The self object function, the mirroring function becomes field related and not mentally related. For instance, say I go to therapy. But there is a certain way that the mirroring process, sometimes you have to start where people are at, the mirroring process which is really trying to count the self object function between the couple as healing. The therapist is not the only person. Tthat is what people do for each other in couples and friendship, so they use that mirroring function. But what happens is that the mirroring function can go bad in real life or in therapy, where the mirroring becomes, “well now I see you are scratching your head,” you say something and the person parrots it back to you. What happens is that the resonance is on a motor level, which is initially useful, but doesn’t shift into a deeper resonance or mirroring. You might ask, where the self object choice is. That is all those people I have around me. What do they mirror? Sometimes people mirror the internalization and sometimes they mirror the potential space, they mirror the self. Who does this? I do it. You are a function of my choice. You are what I do to myself, so rather than blaming the self object, look at your object choice and what aspect of the mirroring. So the internalization can request mirroring. We’re in a victim/victimizer internalization – you are a little paranoid. We all are. You find yourself shifting to a paranoid/schizoid state once in a while. So you choose - all your friends reflect that. They are interesting but they can victimize you. It’s an edgy life. So they are actually mirroring an actual internalization of you, but the story is very repetitious. You are in a gang say, or working for a certain type of corporation. That is not the mirroring of the resonance of the field. Your internalization is an unavailable object. You choose unavailable objects. You choose the exciting/frustrating… That is repeated. So object choice -- the mirroring function can reflect our internalizations. They are completely familiar. That is the essential thing, so there is a certain way one has to start re-discovering the inner self, so at a deep level the field phenomenon and object choice can start to be re-configured.
In terms of working with internalizations, we did some of that. The amplification and articulation of the different dimensions of an internalization, is one method of integrating that particular drama into the field of awareness. Out of the amplification of the dialogue, some form of integration may emerge. The goal is simply to own the dissociated part of the internalization. So you want to own it. Owning the internalization, owning… if I always see myself as the victim, I have to own the victimizer… If I’m always the masochist, I must own the sadistic part of my experience whether I do it through empty chair work, which we don’t really use much. But that is the unowned part of the dialogue, of the drama. Or a person can play both sides out. When the person is playing the relationship with their father or friend, I’m not caring about the content as much, I’m really watching the action and one owns both sides of the polarity. If I always find myself with unavailable life, it’s the dearth of everything. It is the unavailable object that I also am. You are trying to own the pairs of opposites. For really bad people it is very hard to own goodness. Goodness is bad to them. For good people, badness is bad to them. So you try to have people… and often it is amplified… we tend to identify with one side of the polarity, so when we are playing this out, we’re doing it in psychodrama ways, or the therapist can play one side or the patient can play both sides, or you play the patient, you can have people switch back and forth and doing that in the field is more powerful. There is a dissolving element. When you are in the field, the density is infused with more porous-like states. First of all you want to create a field container. Like she is in the field with those kids and they are working in the field in a bodily sort of way, there is more space for a while. The parental internalization of the family system is not present in that room. That is the seed of organization in their minds. That can be there the rest of one’s life. It’s very contained. To try to do other work prematurely is not going to be useful for those kids. It’s powerful just being in the field because their little bodies are embodying that dimension. Her face, hair, how she dresses, a little picture in the mind will actually be an icon that helps open that up. Certain contexts may not support the working on the actual internalizations of one’s life.
Is it just enough for the therapist in the field? Without the therapist being in the field, the client will not be in the field. It is enough for only the therapist to be in the field. If the therapist is in the field, then the communication at some level will be in the field. One of the assumptions I have is that when you are in the field, most things are communicated. If I’m in an internalization, it may be communicated to you whether you or I like it or not. You might not know it. Those kids don’t know it but they enter the field, depending how ensconced the objectification is.
So the goal is to own the disowned part of the internalization. The action of the internalization linguistically, or through action or affect or the energetic dimension – so one can work it linguistically, certain parts will say this. I always feel this, I always feel, or you are that, you can use the language. You can use the affect; you just pick up the affect on either side. There is pleasure in tormenting you. Or owning the energy, what is the energy like? So you work at different levels. Some people are very linguistic. You can work there. You are in the field and it is opened up linguistically. Some people are enormously metaphorical… Tape cuts off….