Being in Love Therapeutic Pathways through Psychological Obstacles to Love

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Being in Love Therapeutic Pathways through Psychological Obstacles to Love

A presentation by Judith Pickering

Friday, September 4, 2009 7.30pm - 9.30pm
Venue: St Mary’s Parish House, Cn Merviale and Peel St
Admission: Members & Concession: $10 • Non-members: $15

Individuation, the quest to find and become one’s true self, takes place within a profoundly transformative relationship: ‘For two personalities to meet is like two different chemical substances: if there is any combination at all, both are transformed’ (Jung, CW 16, para 163). Yet individuation is often conceived as a solitary journey aiming for self-realization for one’s own sake. Intimate personal relationships are not seen as intrinsic to this endeavour, perhaps even being viewed as a distraction, if not a hindrance. Yet as Freud wrote to Jung, the cure is effected by love. The aim of analysis, for Freud, is to enhance the capacity to work and to love.

Relational and intersubjective analytic approaches challenge such intrapsychic and individualistic views of analysis, arguing that core psychic processes are inseparable from a relational matrix. Yet it is not enough to say we are inherently relational. If that is the case then the search for realization is also a relational activity. Finding fulfilment of our deepest potentialities takes place within the fabric of loving relationships, albeit of a special and rare kind. Love is the energetic force, the pneuma, the breath inspiring that quest. It is a via amoris.

This talk re-envisions individuation as about healing the false divisions we have created between ourselves and others, opening ourselves out to the world of others through genuine altruistic appreciation of others as they are, rather than expecting them to conform to our fantasies, projections, images and expectations, delighting in, not fearing our differences, welcoming the unpredictability of a real relationship rather than continually trying to control the agenda and make it conform to our fantasies and ideas. I will show that authentic and true love is much richer, more exciting and fulfilling by far than any fantasy relationship we concoct in our limited imaginations.

Becoming who we are is a becoming in and through love. We uncover our truest nature and become most authentically real through the difficult and fearful, yet transformative intersubjective crucibles of our intimate relationships.

Relationships may be notoriously difficult, confusing, disillusioning, but they also have the potential to make us face up to ourselves in alarmingly challenging ways. They may help liberate us from defensive psychological doldrums into new realms of discovery of who we might be and become under all the deceits and disguises we use to cover our own nature and that of our beloved.

The path of true love does not always run smoothly, but goes off course with alarming regularity. Its achievement is never once and for all but requires continual renewal, and is dependent upon how well any two lovers can understand, work through and disentangle the webs of mutual projections and false imputations imposed upon each other. We bring, like ‘a malignant dowry’ (Pickering, 2005), defensive patterns of relating based on traumatic childhood experience which we superimpose upon a new relationship, giving rise to entangled unconscious interlocking scenes. Here both individual analysis and couple therapy can inspire and enhance the capacity to love well and to become fully ourselves in a process of transformation in love.

A workshop exploring these themes in greater detail, and based on her book, Being in Love: Therapeutic Pathways through Psychological Obstacles to Love, will be held on Saturday 5 September 2009.

Judith Pickering, PhD, is a psychoanalytic couple therapist, Jungian analyst and psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice in East Sydney. She is Vice President of The Australian and New Zealand Association of Jungian Analysts and a member of the International Association for Analytical Psychology. She is a senior supervisor on the training faculty of the Australia and New Zealand Association of Psychotherapy. She holds tertiary qualifications in Humanities, Asian Studies, Musicology, Music Education, Psychotherapy, Analytical Psychology and Psychology and lectures widely in the area of couple therapy and psychoanalysis. She is giving a talk entitled Container/contained and the Couple at the Bion in Boston conference in Boston in July 2009.