I recently attended a mid year dinner with a group of colleagues at a nice Chinese restaurant. Round table, great ambiance, the usual small talk, some big talk, marketing issues, and other stuff. Next day we discussed it some in supervision – my take on such processes, and my experience of bonding through such a group meet. This is an analysis of my own experiences of what it is to have a connection, to bond with others -with colleagues, friends, and family and yes, with clients. These are my experiences, and my writing is a form of rumination, a brain dump. I find it tedious, and formal, to refer back to books and academics and relate the writing to them, or find validity through quotes. They are my thoughts arising of my experiences, they are real, and hence their validity is unquestionable to me.
What is a connection? The Mirriam Dictionary has the following entry for the word connection :
Definition of CONNECTION
Examples of CONNECTION
- The state plans to improve roads that serve as connections between major highways.
- There is a fee for connection to the town’s water supply.
- All classrooms will be wired for connection to the Internet.
- connections between thought and language
- Investigators found no connection between the two fires.
- The school has no connection with the museum.
- Evidence suggests there’s a connection between the languages.
- I’m not sure I see the connection.
- Our family feels a deep connection to the land.
- the connection between smoking and lung cancer
Related to CONNECTION
The definitions are all particularly interesting. Almost all of them refer to communication. Connection just seems to arise from a need to communicate. And communication is often perceived to be associated with verbal abilities. And this is a stance that the Cognitive Behavioral Theorists have taken. In therapy, they teach the person, or the couple to talk to each other in a way that is acceptable to both, and is understood by each other.
I think a little differently. I believe that communication is a multi-dimensional process – the senses contributing to various aspects, various dimensions of what is being communicated. Each is as potent, even though we may ignore the content receieved and interpreted by them, and only concentrate on the verbal dimension of our interactions. And even with the verbal comminucation, we often misunderstand the process of communication, and hence either not understand, or misunderstand what is being conveyed.
The verbal aspect of communication actually refers to the ability to talk to oneself, to be able to understand oneself, and to be able to accept oneself. Communication refers to our ability to make conscious what is unconscious. Since our external reality mirrors our internal reality, therefore, thoughts and verbal communications are contemporaries on either side of the psyche. The communication skills that we seek are internal – the blurring of barriers between the conscious and the unconscious, the left and the right hemisphere. We seek a way to understand the language of the psyche, all that flows from the unconscious into the conscious. Unless we can interpret it in a way that is understood by pur conscious self, the information being conveyed by the unconscious has a potential to create havoc. For example, a person with psychosis is someone who cannot consciously understand what the unconscious is dumping into his consciousness. Or one can say that his unconscious isn’t as tightly sealed off, and stuff that presents itself in a language that is alien to consciousness, presents itself to consciousness. We are able to achieve this translation of information presented by the unconscious into a language understood by consciousness, through thoughts. Thoughts arise in the mind as outcomes of this translation activity, and are arranged by the psyche into word symbols that are driven to be discharged, aka Freud’s drive discharge. Language evolves automatically in the psyche. One does not need a therapist to tell them how to talk to their spouse, or parents, or friends and family. The ability to talk is like a suppressed or inhibited potential, it is innate, and only needs to be allowed an unfolding. Connection causes communication, and separation creates the drive, the need to communicate those thoughts.
Why is anything suppressed or ignored ? Because it is either perceived to be of no value to the process of survival, or it is too threatening for survival, and hence debilitating, beyond the ego’s ability to process and manage for survival, and hence has to be locked away in the dungeons of the unconscious.
What exactly is threatening and deblitating to the psyche? That which is beyond its comprension, beyond predictabilty, beyond understanding. The unknown, the unknowable which one cannot trust to be life enhancing. Hence the issue of trust is intractably linked to optimal communication. In the unconscious lie aspects of the world that cannot be trusted to assist in survival. They are unorganized, un-understood, disavowed parts of ourselves that are not our partners in crime, they are not dependable, or trustworthy. The process of establishing communication externally with anyone, is thus a process of establishing trust between these disparate parts of ourselves, and then projecting them outwards onto others who then become worthy of our trust. In establishing communication, we have unfolded our ability to trust the other. This part of the process is dancing to the rhythm of the verbal communication simultaneously.
How do other senses contribute to the process of communication? They contribute by enhancing that aspect of information that will enhance the trust, and by suppressing the portion that may inhibit the trust. Hence a good communication will involve open-ness. We either forget, or force ourselves to become vulnerable. We suppress all incoming info that would disallow any untrustworthy information to register meaningfully in our psyche. Hence when we are betrayed, we tend to say “but I trusted you !” meaning I communicated so well with you that I disallowed my senses to register the danger that you presented to me.
This leads to an interesting deduction – that the other is always essentially untrustworthy to some extent, and if we did not inhibit our information gathering equipment, we may have picked up on exactly why and when the person could be untrustworthy. And realistically speaking, we are all self driven at the very core of our existence, we are survival oriented, and that remains an existential fact. The animals never forget that, and are always in tune with their instincts. They manage an interpersonal closeness along with an interpersonal distance, but we humans are lulled into complacency and stifle our instincts in the process of domestication and civilization.
Which brings us to another interesting deduction. Since it is forced, and fabricated, and unnatural to our species, trust, then, must be a construct, and not an innate property of the human psyche. This is like a Pandora’s box, it unravels the basis and foundations of human relationships. But there is hope in the way we accept and interpret this fatal fact of life.
If trust is a construct, if it is not any real emotion, or entity, or state in the human psyche, but is just a perceived state, and it is deemed useful for human existence (since it allows predictability, that is so necessary for a sane existence), therefore it must be possible to construct it in a particular way, and reconstruct it again and again. The possibilities associated with the creation of this alleged state of mind are enormous.
Betrayal then becomes a human construction as well. And the pain of betrayal then is self inflicted by the mind. Isn’t that wonderful? Expectations that we have of each other become constructions, and fall from grace, or unrequited love – or any loss due to an expected outcome – is a construction as well. The possibilities are enormous. And communication – previously defined as transmission of data from the unconscious to the conscious – becomes possible. It seems that the conscious mind carries all these constructions that create possibilities, predictabilities, to make life easier. But they aren’t real, they’re all constructed versions of reality, ways andmeans by which the psyche creates predictve validity…so it can remain grounded.
What then is true communication – I asked myself. Would self realization be true communication? And would that lead to true communication between people? Perhaps that is so. If we know who we are, then we automatically understand the other person at a deeper level. They dont’ have to TELL us who they are, they don’t have to struggle to explain themselves. Our interactions will automatically create an awareness of what is going on between the two. Perhaps that is why when people are in love, they don’t need to talk, meeting of the eyes is enough. Some unconscious drive stirs up in the unconscious, making itself felt by the conscious mind. That is communication. that is a connection. And if the reasons behind the the connection are understood, it perhaps paves a way for an even deeper connection.
So next time someone tries to teach you how to talk to your spouse, I would suggest you ask them to teach you to “talk” to yourself, to get to know yourself. If you don’t know yourself, you can never know the other, and all the kings men cannot put the humpty dumpty of the relationship back on the wall again.
This, in my opinion, is the reason couples therapy has such a low rate of success. 80% of time the marital counseling efforts fail. I think its because the focus is on the external, and one can memorize how to talk, but the instincts, and the internal communication is held hostage by the psyche. Until awareness of the self is created, there can be no real awareness of the other.
This is such a vast topic, and I can write a book on how because communication is linked to trust, therefore communication is also linked to early relationships that one may have had as a child. In fact it is an empirically observed fact that the children with distrubed relationships in infancy, are deficit in language, and expresions. Autism, language deficiencies are usually problems of communication. They are consequences of disrupted bond with the mother, diminished trust.