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Sea love and its shadows copy: text of Emmy van Deurzen's presentation to SEA25th anniversary conference 2013


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this is the framework of my talk to the Society for Existential Analysis 25th anniversary conference. …

this is the framework of my talk to the Society for Existential Analysis 25th anniversary conference.
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  • 1. Love and its Shadows Emmy van Deurzen, Society for Existential Analysis, 25th Anniversary Conference, 2013
  • 2. Facebook and LinkedIn: Existential Therapy
  • 3. Emmy van Deurzen PhD, MPhil, MPsych, CPsychol, FBPsS, UKCPF, FBACP, ECP, HPC reg •Visiting Professor Middlesex University -UK •Director Dilemma Consultancy •Director Existential Academy •Principal New School of Psychotherapy and Counselling - London
  • 4. 13 Books
  • 5. • Edited with Susan Iacovou Existential Perspectives on Relationship Therapy
  • 6. Living with love and its shadows • • • • • What is love? Why does it matter? How do we make love happen? What are its drawbacks and shadows? How to live with love?
  • 7. What is Love? intent on knowing, respecting • To be they actually are and can be and valuing an other for what and live • Letting them beheart, as as fully and freely as possible, keeping their welfare at our own, in a dedicated, attentive and uncompromising way . I-Thou. Cherishing. Challenging.
  • 8. Love is not just a feeling • It is an action, an attitude, an intention, a movement, a way of being • Love is the movement towards the other in the spirit of care, affection, commitment, loyalty, generosity, kindness, intimacy, tenderness, attachment, trust and truth.
  • 9. Love is a particular kind of intentionality • The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable: through the embracing of one of its beings. (Buber) • Scheler: humanitarian feelings are always accompanied by a hatred of the world. Humanity is loved in general in order to avoid having to love anybody in particular. • Albert Camus, The Rebel, A. Bower, trans. (1956), p. 18 • There is not enough love in the world to squander it on anything but human beings.
  • 10. Shadows and drawbacks • • True loverequires mutuality We cannot truly love unless we love ourselvesfirst • Risks inherent in loving: it is a very absorbing activity which takes much energy • Our good will and availability are taken advantage of • Our heartsmay be broken • We will neglect others we do not love
  • 11. People are confused about love • • • • • • • Re-establish communication Mutual respect-support Friendship and love Understanding Alterity Collaboratio Mutuality
  • 12. Role of Existential Couple Therapist: work in synergy Partner B Partner A Therapist
  • 13. Balancing pros and cons after structural analysis Pros Cons
  • 14. The quieter you become the more you are able to hear Rumi • Re-establish peace, calm and willingness to listen
  • 15. Existential Couple Work: aims • Focus on shared meaning and human and life issues • Values of couple and how they provoke tension and conflict • See conflict and daily conflict resolution as a basis of relationship • Dialogue, understanding and respect as the objective: creating a good space in the world • Mutuality and reciprocity as a way of overcoming isolation
  • 16. Idealized images of romantic love
  • 17. Christian Love
  • 18. Love as an altar of self-sacrifice
  • 19. Jaspers’ Loving Struggle
  • 20. Existential couple work • Teach dialogue and listening • Allow each partner access to what the other partner feels, dreads and hopes for in private • Create a safe space where partners are able to speak freely and with the confidence of being respected, listened to and understood. • Provide translation when they do not hear each other.
  • 21. Love’s executioner or Love’s ally? • Ally of love • Executioner of infatuation
  • 22. To understand love is to understand life in all its paradoxes • • • • • Conflict, opposition and change are core forces You can let it destroy you or let it teach you Relationships are about tension: fission or fusion Conflicts are not just with others but with ourselves Conflict does not have to lead to combat
  • 23. The cycle of change • Change happens naturally • It is inevitable for renewal • We try to prevent it to create stability and certainty • This is against nature: dams up the flow of life • Leads to fermentation and festering • Rediscover change as a natural cycle
  • 24. Evolution and development: larva, caterpillar, chrysalis, butterfly
  • 25. Relationships and people change • Loss and transition are about breakdown of the old: • Instead of breaking down, push through the block to the next level: breakthrough • In the process we become stronger • Relationships are tested: rupture or consolidate
  • 26. Couples try to change each other by: 1. 2. 3. 4. Secretly wishing for change Getting angry and protesting Getting upset, even suicidal Demanding or imposing change by bullying or seducing 5. Setting ultimata 6. Reasoning and trying to persuade 7. Arguing a personal case 8. Withdrawing and enduring 9. Getting support from others 10. Giving up
  • 27. Female evolution has shifted power balance • Women are stronger and do not tolerate the same submissiveness and obedience.
  • 28. Disappointment about change • Men don’t realize they need to change as much as women.
  • 29. Negativity in depicting men
  • 30. Not patriarchy or matriarchy: equality and mutuality • Fairness is most important
  • 31. Fairness and equality, not oppression and exploitation
  • 32. Jean Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir: a different view of relationship a dangerous liaison, Seymour-Jones
  • 33. Necessary and contingent loves "to maintain throughout all deviations from the main path a 'certain fidelity’, de Beauvoir.
  • 34. Sartre’s lack. • The existence of desire as a human fact is sufficient to prove that human reality is a lack. (Sartre, Being and Nothingness:87) • We are nothing trying to be something.
  • 35. The Look: Sartre’s Other • The Other looks at me and as such he holds the secret of my being, he knows what I am. Thus the profound meaning of my being is outside of me, imprisoned in an absence. The Other has the advantage over me. • (Sartre, Being and Nothingness:363)
  • 36. Sartre’s possession • Thus the lover does not desire to possess the beloved as one possesses a thing; he demands a special type of appropriation. He wants to possess a freedom as a
  • 37. Competitive relationships • Domination: sadism. • Submission: masochism. • Withdrawal: indifference.
  • 38. Cooperative relationships • Mutuality: reciprocity-equality • Generosity: giving of oneself • Collaboration: working together (sparring partners)
  • 39. Relationship is essential to freedom • “A man alone in the world would be paralyzed by...the vanity of all of his goals. But man is not alone in the world” (Pyrrhus and Cinéas, 42), • The other, as free, is immune to my power • Common commitment to a shared goal • I can only be truly free to pursue my cause if I can persuade others to join it.
  • 40. Simone de Beauvoir the second sex, the woman in love identifies • The supreme goal of human love, as of mystical love, is identification with the loved one. The measure of values, the truth of the world are in his consciousness: hence it is not enough to serve him. The woman in love tries to see with his eyes.
  • 41. Couples may have different views of love and life • We need to bring them together
  • 42. What does it mean to live as a couple?
  • 43. Space in the relationship Physical space Spiritual space Social space Personal space
  • 44. Four dimensions and couples • Physical: how do we divide physical space? How do our bodies relate to each other? Sex? Cuddles? Comfort? Possessions? Nature? Cosmos? • Social: how do we relate to other people together? How are we situated in public life? Cultural pursuits? Friends? Family? • Personal: how do we define ourselves in relation to each other? Do our private worlds connect? Intimacy? Loyalty? • Spiritual: what are the values we adhere to as a couple? Personal beliefs? Religion? What ideas are important? Can we challenge each other?
  • 45. Rules for good relationships • • • • • • • • • • • • • Respect each other’s authority & responsibility Make as many demands as contributions Give as much appreciation as criticism Agree on how time and money are spent Be fair to self and other Agree on values and objectives for future Let conflict and controversy be your guide Teach and learn from each other Be loyal and make relating a priority Have good physical connection Communicate regularly Be yourself as well as together Have a joint narrative and ideal
  • 46. Loving your Life • Loving your fate and destiny in all its manifestations • (Nietzsche’s Amor Fati)
  • 47. How to create value in life? • Through committed and engaged action • Step by step • Diligently proceeding no matter what challenges come on your path • Steady progress comes from undaunted focus on your project • Flexibility and finding joy in the process rather than aiming for success or happiness
  • 48. Existential therapy is about a different way of life A psychology for life, not just for pathology or happiness Existential couple therapy: how to live together to make life worthwhile
  • 49. What is Love? • We need to think about it
  • 50. Childhood • Yum • Yuck • We like what feels of value, pretty, pleasant, interesting and good • We dislike what feels wrong, dangerous, unpleasant and bad
  • 51. Different types of love and their shadows • • • • • • • • • Narcissism (self love) : solipsism Need love (child/physical need) : addiction Infatuation (obsessive): blindness Erotic love (Eros/sensual love): objectification Romantic love/emotional love: possessiveness Companionship/community (Philia): betrayal Neighbourly/hospitality (Xenia): hubris Maternal/parental love(Storge): smothering Divine/Mystical/Unconditional love (Agape) :sacrifice
  • 52. Helen Fisher’s stages • Lust : mating (1.5-3 years) pheromones/amphetamines: pleasure centre. • Attraction: specific focus of mate • Attachment: bonding: oxytocin/vasopressin
  • 53. Robert Sternberg’s triangular theory • Intimacy: bonding • Commitment: permanence • Passion: sexual attraction and romance • • • • Rubin: Attachment, Caring Intimacy.
  • 54. Sternberg’s overview
  • 55. Existential Love • • • • Love is an action (Fromm) Not just a feeling We need to work at it It demands commitment, dedication, devotion, caring, loyalty, understanding, freedom • Seeing and knowing the other and letting be • I/Thou rather than I/It
  • 56. Absorption: Stop all the clocks W.H.Auden • He was my North, my South, • my East and West, • My working week and my Sunday rest.
  • 57. Victor Hugo: Les Misérables • “To love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.”
  • 58. Flaubert: Madame Bovary • Love, she thought, was something that must come suddenly, with a great display of thunder and lightning, descending on one's life like a tempest from above, turning it topsy-turvy, whirling away one's resolutions like leaves and bearing one onward, heart and soul, towards the abyss.
  • 59. Love is like light Tolstoy: Anna Karenin • “He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.”
  • 60. Love, like light, throws shadows • These are important.
  • 61. , • “There is strong shadow where there is much light.”
  • 62. • Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
  • 63. Love is like oxygen
  • 64. True love: still leads to loss George Eliot: Adam Bede • "What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life-to strengthen each other in all labour, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?"
  • 65. Erich Fromm The Art of Loving
  • 66. Lao Tzu. • Being loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone gives you courage.
  • 67. What is the other side of love? • We daren’t think
  • 68. Elie Wiesel • “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference..”
  • 69. Impingement, smothering, suffocation • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • smoth·er (smr) v.smoth·ered, smoth·er·ing, smoth·ers 1. a. To suffocate (another). b. To deprive (a fire) of the oxygen necessary for combustion. 2. To conceal, suppress, or hide: Management smothered the true facts of the case. We smothered our indignation and pressed onward. 3. To cover thickly: smother chicken in sauce. 4. To lavish a surfeit of a given emotion on (someone): The grandparents smothered the child with affection. v.intr. 1. a. To suffocate. b. To be extinguished. 2. To be concealed or suppressed. 3. To be surfeited with an emotion.
  • 70. WE HAVE TO COMMIT TO LOVE TO MAKE IT GROW OR SEE IT DWINDLE Nietzsche in Daybreak: The most dangerous kind of unlearning: One begins by unlearning how to love others and ends by no longer finding anything loveable in oneself
  • 71. • “Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
  • 72. We have to open up to love • Open our hearts
  • 73. C.S.Lewis The Four Loves • “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
  • 74. Onto-dynamics Learning to live in line with the laws of life Paradox, conflict, difficulty and dilemmas are our daily companions When crisis comes we need to have the courage to descend to rock bottom From there we can build something better
  • 75. The art of living is to be equal to all our emotions and experiences rather than to select and cultivate only the safe or pleasant ones There are many opposites of love: Indifference, hate, suffocation, and most of all: fear
  • 76. Four kinds of ways of being conscious • Gain value • Threat to value approach freeze • Aspire to value fight flight • Loss of value
  • 77. Compass of emotions Happiness High pride joy jealousy love hopedesire angerdespair fear envy Anxiety Excitement Engagement shame sorrow Sadness Low evd 10 Depression Disappointment Disengagement
  • 78. Overview of conflicts, challenges and paradoxes on four dimensions World Umwelt : where? Mitwelt : how? Eigenwelt: who? Uberwelt: why? Physical: survival Nature: Life/ Death Things: Pleasure/ Pain Body: Health/ Illness Cosmos: Harmony/ Chaos Social: affiliation Society: Love/ Hate Others: Dominance/Sub mission Ego: Acceptance/ Rejection Culture: Belonging/ Isolation Personal: identity Person: Identity/Freedom Me: Perfection/ Imperfection Self: Integrity/ Disintegration Consciousness: Confidence/ Confusion Spiritual: meaning Infinite: Good/ Evil Ideas: Truth/ Untruth Spirit: Meaning/ Futility Conscience: Right/ Wrong
  • 79. Paradoxes of human existence Deurzen and Adams challenge gain loss Physical Death and pain Life to the full Unlived life or constant fear Social Loneliness and rejection Understand and be understood Bullying or being bullied Personal Weakness and failure Strength and stamina Narcissism or self destruction Spiritual MeaningLessness and futility Finding an ethics to live by Fanaticism or apathy
  • 80. To love requires work and imagination to go beyond your inclination • “Men think that it is impossible for a human being to love his enemies, for enemies are hardly able to endure the sight of one another. Well, then, shut your eyes--and your enemy looks just like your neighbor.”
  • 81. Love is learnt • Nietzsche in Joyful Wisdom: • One must learn to love. This is our experience in music: we must first learn to hear, to hear fully and to distinguish a theme for a melody, we have to isolate and limit it as a life by itself; then we need to exercise effort and good will in order to endure it in spite of its strangeness…
  • 82. • “Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all the time, made new.”
  • 83. To love is not to be blind (being in love is blind) but to learn to see someone or something as they actually are.. • This takes time and attention
  • 84. Too much hard work? • To cheat oneself out of love is the most terrible deception; it is an eternal loss for which there is no reparation, either in time or in eternity. • Love is the expression of the one who loves, not of the one who is loved. Those who think they can love only the people they prefer do not love at all. Love discovers truths about individuals that others cannot see
  • 85. Love transforms us When one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world — no matter how imperfect — becomes rich and beautiful, it consists solely of opportunities for love. Kierkegaard, Søren. Works of Love. 1847.
  • 86. • “Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
  • 87. Resilience Physical: safety, sleep, food, comfort, survival, healing, repair, recovery Spiritual: review values, new vision, trust, transcendence, dialectic, Social: strong relationships, allow and understand emotions, belonging, caring, sharing, support stronger beliefs, meaning, purpose Psychological: clear thinking, making sense, analysis, understanding, new perspective, taking charge, responsibility, character building
  • 88. Work with a couple with Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) • Cathy and Cliff married for fifty plus years, (73,78) • Ten years previously split up for a year because Cathy had become suicidal • She could not stand living with Cliff any longer, feeling he was sufficient unto himself and critical rather than loving of her • They had three children and Cathy felt they were critical of her for splitting up • The couple got back together after Cliff was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome and Cathy realized she too had some autistic traits • She became elated at having found a reason for why the marriage had been so difficult and could not stop talking about this • Cliff was wary of this but glad they got back together • They came to see me to try and mend the relationship
  • 89. Complaints from ASD partners • I never seem to get things right • I have high standards (for tidiness, for sameness, for timekeeping or other things) but these are not respecte • I often feel exhausted and over-stressed, but no account is taken of this • She uses sex/ he uses money to pay me back or to control me • I’m frightened that he/she will give up on me • I want to be close, and yet when we are together I feel all my routines are upset
  • 90. Cathy and Cliff’s relationship at start of therapy • Both were unhappy about the marital problems • They were not used to resolving problems by effective communication • Cliff came across as angry and scathing and unable to bridge the gap • Cathy came across as desperate and often had suicidal thoughts
  • 91. Cliff’s world • Cliff was most self-sufficient, content with his routines and enjoyment in various hobbies, reading, watching cowboy films etc. • His world was physically well regulated • He had been a librarian before retirement • Was socially undemanding and kept others at a distance by cynical and witty humor.
  • 92. Cathy • Highly intelligent but frustrated in feeling no longer as effective in her work as before partial retirement • Her world was physically marred by high sensitivity, social isolation, lack of confidence • Felt judged and rejected by her children, several of whom had autistic traits as well • Felt unloved by Cliff who did not have the knack for giving her the reassurance so needed
  • 93. Cathy and Cliff: renewal • Cliff needed to understand that Cathy was sensitive and fretted greatly over his non verbal communication, glaring at her: making ‘that face’. He meant nothing by it, but was unaware that he came across as sarcastically putting her down and condemning her. •He accepted very easily that Cathy needed support from him and that his love was crucial to her. •He understood that he needed to make her physical and social world safe and in some way protect her. He rose to this challenge very rapidly.
  • 94. Cathy’s learning •Cathy needed to believe that Cliff really did not know what his impact was and once she began to do so became able to see that her disapproval of him was devastating to him. She was in the habit of making strongly critical remarks about his behavior and was unaware that this had made him ever more defensive and private. •She had long known Cliff had AS, but realized that she herself had a female version of this which made her particularly vulnerable to misinterpreting his non verbal communication •She accepted very easily that she was entitled to being understood and supported and learnt to ask for what she needed from him, in the sessions.
  • 95. Cathy and Cliff’s worlds •His world was physically well regulated, socially contained by isolation and cynical distance when with others, personally content, spiritually aspiring to a quiet life with clear routines. •Her world was physically marred by high sensitivity, social anxiety, a personal world full of dread and doubt about the effect of the relationship on her as a person and a spiritual world full of guilt over having failed both with her husband and children, who she perceived as against her. •First five sessions (hour and half each) spent in collecting information about their experiences, their fears, their hopes, their aspirations, their love for each other, their worries and despair. •Listening to each for twenty minutes to half an hour, then translating what I heard to the other, helping them understand each other’s experience.
  • 96. Outcome •Once they had agreed to make it work together they were keen to use the sessions to explain their experience to the other, with the help of the ‘interpreter’ or ‘referee’, who could remind them of what the other had intended. •They became better at finding words to overcome the negative body language and non verbal communication that had trapped them in a negative spiral for so long • They began to work as a team and to take on dealing with communication with the children and third parties, together, as a couple, learning to stand together and support each other.
  • 97. Cathy’s journey: • Series of pictures drawn in a session without Cliff present • First picture of how Cathy was before she met Cliff • Bubbles of thought, spikes on her: inhibitions and lack of ability to get on with people • No mouth: not sure what to say or not to say
  • 98. Second picture • First meeting with Cliff • Neither has a mouth: didn’t know how to talk to each other: were talking over each other’s shoulder • Spikes are now going in rather than out, thought bubbles have gone • He is getting to her and becomes more like him
  • 99. Cathy and Cliff with their kids • Cathy is now bigger than Cliff as the children need her more than him • The two boys have thought bubbles and are sensitive like her, the girl is more like dad • Half circle under the children is the safety net: it had plenty of holes in it through which the kids could fall • She cut herself off from the children in order not to provoke Cliff into vengeance for her being too close to them
  • 100. next Picture • Cathy and Cliff at their worst: too much going on in Cathy’s head • Red arrows from Cliff invading her • She feared he enjoyed invading her space • Worry-lines on forehead • But because of worries she now has a mouth and has to learn to express herself.
  • 101. Cliff’s pic of Cathy pulling at him.
  • 102. Cathy and Cliff Now • They are whole people now rather than just heads • There are lots of people in the background as they have joined groups • But Cliff too close to his screens: telly and computer • She has her plants and books • She is glad he is now polite and tries to show affection for her
  • 103. Cathy and Cliff in an ideal world • Children are more of a presence • Cathy and Cliff more substantial • In contact, though not holding hands, companions • Independence remains important for them both
  • 104. Cathy as she is now • • • • Shoulders straight: a new pride in herself Lots of mouths, for lots of moods Can’t be smiley all the time The thoughts are still there, but more under control and varied • Asks questions and that is good • Feminine pleasure in her necklace
  • 105. Outcome •Once they had agreed to make it work together they were keen to use the sessions to explain their experience to the other, with the help of the ‘interpreter’ or ‘referee’, who could remind them of what the other had intended. •They became good at finding words to overcome the negative body language and non verbal communication that had trapped them in a negative spiral for so long • They began to work as a team and to take on dealing with communication with the children and third parties, together, as a couple, learning to stand together and support each other.
  • 106. Cliff’s pic of them now.
  • 107. We affect others and are affected by each other • The Interbrain: the connections of the chain gang: Tantam 2009 • Butterfly effect: each action causes re-action, each emotion has an impact on the other
  • 108. Learning to be acouple: • Is learning about life, each other and ourselves; we learn to be, by living and overcoming our mistakes and pay attention to each other and ourselves.
  • 109. We are never but an aspect, an element, a part of a wider context. Relationship is essential to our very survival and inspires everything we do. (Deurzen, 1997: 95)
  • 110. Kierkegaard • Most people are subjective toward themselves and objective toward all others, frightfully objective sometimes – but the task is precisely to be objective toward oneself and subjective toward all others. • (Kierkegaard, 1998: 72)
  • 111. Jaspers (1941:17) The individual cannot become human by himself. Self-being is only real in communication with another self-being. Alone, I sink into gloomy isolation – only in community with others can I be revealed in the act of mutual discovery. My own freedom can only exist if the other is also free.
  • 112. remember to face up to life together: • It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages. • (Nietzsche, 1844–1900)
  • 113. If you are serious about your life Give love a chance Don’t be afraid of the shadows it casts
  • 114. PLAY with the shadows
  • 115. Shadows provide depth and reality
  • 116. Don’t cling, don’t be casual
  • 117. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter: Existential Therapy