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Updated on May 6, 2011


The ways of love are strange,

As those who have followed them well know,

For, unexpectedly, She withdraws her consolation.

He whom love touches

Can enjoy no stability.

And he will taste

Many a nameless hour.

Sometimes burning and sometimes cold,

Sometimes timid and sometimes bold,

The whims of Love are manifold.

She reminds us all

Of our great debt

To Her lofty power

Which draws us to Herself alone.

Sometimes gracious and sometimes cruel,

Sometimes far and sometimes near,

He who grasps Her in faithful love

Reaches jubilation.

Oh, how love

With one sole act

Both strikes and embraces!

Sometimes humble, sometimes haughty,

Sometimes hidden and sometimes revealed;

To be finally overwhelmed by Love,

Great adventures must be risked

Before one can reach

The place where is tasted

The nature of Love.

Sometimes light, sometimes heavy,

Sometimes somber and sometimes bright,

In freeing consolation, in stifling anguish,

In taking and giving,

Thus live the spirits,

Who wonder here below,

Along the paths of Love.

13th Century Mystic Hadewijch of Antwerp (as quoted by Zum Brunn & Epiney-Burgard, 1989, pg. 113-114; as cited in Olthuis, 2006, pg. 76).

New research suggests that emotions are made up of building blocks of primitive core affect states (Lindquist & Barrett, 2008). “Core affect is an ongoing, ever-changing, psychologically primitive state that has both hedonic (pleasant/unpleasant) and arousal-based (activate/neutral) properties (see Barrett 2004, 2006c; Russell, 2003; Barrett & Russell, 1999; as cited in Lindquist & Barrett, 2008, pg. 898). It requires cognitive conceptions of both the self and the world to match with a core affect before one becomes able to articulate a sensation as an emotion. “The lived body, as a bearer of thought, feelings, experiences and bodily expressions is activated in the learning process” (Ekebergh, 2009, pg. 57). The primary purpose of depth psychology is that of relating the conscious to the unconscious; it thus continuously crosses the boundary between these two neighboring modes of psychic life.

Whether it be Freud’s primary process (associated with the instinctual “life” of the id) and secondary process (connected with the domain of the ego), or Jung’s similar notions of non-directed and directed thinking, depth psychology attends to that which unites and separates these spheres of psychic life, repeatedly crossing the threshold between them, advocating their intermingling” (Lamborn, 2007, pg. 521). Sex and aggression are central aspects of what it is to be human and core forces that mediate the threshold of "being" (Watson, 2007). Character as a foundation for healthy personality requires love to form and navigate a sense of being and a capacity for feeling “loved” in the negotiation and management of the drives of human nature.

Religious ideologies often make it difficult for us to be honest about the human experiences of “real needs/motivation/drives around sex and aggression” (Strawn, 2007, pg. 11). The lack of a sense of feeling lovable produces a harsh superego that tries to protect the ego through suppressing the ego (Covington, 2000). When the need for love is unacknowledged or suppressed from the ego, sex and aggression are not able to be used by the ego in a loving way. The ego then suppresses expressions of the true self which again in turn keeps the ego from the ability to think symbolically and therefore relationally. The ego is kept a prisoner through the inhibition of the reality of expressions of true love in relationships.

The ego is the vehicle or “persona” with which we relate to the world. The maturity of the ego is a progression from unconscious relating to conscious awareness of how we relate. The maturing of the ego allows more room for intentional relating verses reactive relating. Maturity is a move from experiencing the “self as an object, as an entity that is determined by circumstances or by somebody else’s will” to an empowered “I” (Hadar, 2010, pg. 306). Mental conditions that facilitate wholeness require agency or empowerment of both the self as subjective identity and the self as an object able to move about in the world.

Expectations can influence the unconscious through “all sorts of values, assumptions, methods, and conclusions” (Renik, 2000, pg. 4). Augmentation is the Jungian process of presenting new thoughts for both the unconscious and the conscious; in contrast, to the discovery of repressed thought. Psychoanalysis is built upon the symbolic premise of the child, the mother, and the father as a core dynamic for intrapsychic and interpersonal relationships throughout life (Hadar, 2010). Lacanian psychoanalysis specifically addresses the cultural implications of these symbolic structures. “The child occupies the first-person position (I), the mother occupies the second-person position (you), and the father the third-person position (she or he) (Hadar, 2010, pg. 300).

In therapeutic settings the analyst is regarded with a certain reverence and respect dictated through the social designation of this specific accredidation or role. This expert position facilitates therapy with a patient through the dynamics of the patient (child symbolism) relationship with the therapist as an authority figure (parent symbolism). The basic structure of an individual person in the world is the person as “subject” and the person’s interactions in the world with “objects”. The mother figure facilitates the subjective identity with the self and the father figure facilitates the objective identity with the world. "The father interfaces family and society, the one who represents rules and regularities” (Hadar, 2010, pg. 310).

In order to promote self-development the individual must participate actively in the building of the self (Summers, 2005). The individual develops this space for building the self creatively through working through automatic habits, repressions, defenses, and limiting schema’s. “Self psychologists have enumerated a variety of self-object needs, such as labeling and integrating affects, assertiveness, and others, that if not met in childhood will lead to defects in the structure of the self” (e.g., Bacal & Newman, 1990; Kohut & Wolf, 1978; as cited in Summers, 2005, pg. 346). Creative space is built through the learning of self-nurturing skill and the ability to “play” with new ideas and experiences.

In Christian psychoanalysis the concepts of the Trinity and the analytical third  of psychoanalysis (the space of creativity) share similar attributes (Lamborn, 2007). “The Trinity offers a vision of life fully shared at the heart of all being where duality is continually subverted into multiplicity and reestablished in unity. Such is the central point of convergence between Trinitarian theology and it’s neighbouring “third” –the pervasive dialectic of unity with multiplicity and difference” (Lamborn, 2007, pg. 523). The Trinity offers additional mediation to the area or space considered in the normal functioning to be made up of the culture and language of the collective unconscious.

Instead of relationship where the most powerful individual subjectivity dominates, “the ‘third’ can emerge as a ‘metacommunication’ which allows the intersubjective dyad to move from a rigid, binary power struggle to mutuality and recognition” (Aron, 2006, pg. 351; as cited in Lamborn, 2007, pg. 524). Individual sexuality has its basis in early family dynamics and forms the basis of the desire to relate to "others". The individual psyche hopes and longs for “that one day, perhaps, there will be enough space for them if they adapt sufficiently and blend with the family atmosphere”, which forms a model of energy in relationships then carried over into the outside world (Gostecnik, 2007, pg. 583).  Shame develops in the inability to negotiate a sufficient space for expressing the self.  Shame tends to require a rigid shell of protection in order to stay grounded within the hiearchichal structures of the world. The healing of shame allows the self to have more room to remain itself and maintain a sense of place and purpose. Varieties of shame are often indicators of the level of development of consciousness. Healing from shame creates emotional healing (autonomy), providing more life energy.

Cognitive science research in recent years has corroborated the long-time psychoanalytic emphasis on the importance of the unconscious (Gilhooley, 2008). The challenge for psychoanalysis is that this research has also found that even psychoanalysis overrates the healing benefits of the conscious strategies, such as those most utilized in psychoanalytic treatment, of insight and interpretation. “Current cognitive science research suggests that psychological problems are created and resolved in the unconscious and that the results of this resolution become consciously observed after the fact” (Gilhooley, 2008, pg. 111). The factors that are healing are the revelation of insights in regards to personal meaning-making and expectation.  A space of safety and love, along with the support of an "other" in the investigation of self needs and motivation provide an atmosphere for revelation or augmentation of connecting insight.

Psychoanalysis teaches a path to overcome the resistances to love in the experience of individual subjectivity. Control is an imposter of love that makes itself apparent through “conflicts of dominance-submission, abandonment-engulfment, attachment-separation, and dependence-independence that play some part in every loving relationship” (Young-Eisendrath, 2007, pg. 312). Love is the glue that holds together or at least brings back together again our daily experience of our multiple self-states that fluctuate according to mood and environment. The normal variety experience of multiple self-states is grounded in the experience also of this “tension with a sense of a continuous self who is the author and agent in our life-story” (Cataldo, 2008, pg. 47).

We can develop the ability to maintain empowerment or our own sense of agency in our relationship with others. Again, love is the glue that brings us back to a sense of self amid relationships with others and our responsibilities in the world. “In all of our human affectional bonds, love rides the bus with desire, romance, idealization, attachment and other needs, but love has to be sustained when these others fail or are threatened” (Young-Eisendrath, 2007, pg. 315).  Even the energy of anxiety can be changed into “creative and constructive engagements with experience in the moment” (Cataldo, 2008, pg. 49). Anxiety can be changed into desire and play.

In the therapeutic relationship emotional regulation is developed through empathic resonance, interpretations, and attributions of meaning (Miller, 2008). “Mutative change occurs first in the emotional procedures that organize self-experience and one’s relations to others. It is against this change in emotional context that the concepts and beliefs that meaningfully interpret lived experience are compared and contrasted. Old beliefs are evaluated and revised only in terms of new emotional experience. Change is primarily experiential in nature" (Miller, 2008, pg. 271-272). It is in the context of the analyst’s or a "loving other's" emotional engagement of the patient/self that change can occur in the procedures and beliefs that organize the experiences of personhood. 


Cataldo, L. (2008). Multiple Selves, Multiple Gods? Functional Polytheism and the Postmodern Religious Patient. Pastoral Psychology, 57(1/2), 45-58. doi:10.1007/s11089-008-0152-z.

Covington, C. (2000). Opening the mind to reality. The Journal of Analytical Psychology, 45(1), 21-37. doi:10.1111/1465-5922.00133.

Ekebergh, M. (2009). Developing a didactic method that emphasizes lifeworld as a basis for learning. Reflective Practice, 10(1), 51-63. doi:10.1080/14623940802652789.

Gilhooley, D. (2008). Psychoanalysis and the "Cognitive Unconscious": Implications for Clinical Technique. Modern Psychoanalysis, 33(1), 91-127. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

Gostecnik, C. (2007). Sexuality and the Longing for Salvation. Journal of Religion & Health, 46(4), 580-590. doi:10.1007/s10943-007-9114-5.

Hadar, U. (2010). A three-person perspective on transference. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 27(3), 296-318. doi:10.1037/a0020531.

Lindquist, K., & Barrett, L. (2008). Constructing Emotion: The Experience of Fear as a Conceptual Act. Psychological Science (Wiley-Blackwell), 19(9), 898-903. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02174.x.

Lamborn, A. (2007). Beyond Co-Existence to Mutual Influence: An Interdisciplinary Method for Psychoanalysis and Religion. Journal of Religion & Health, 46(4), 516-526. doi:10.1007/s10943-007-9124-3.

Miller, M. (2008). The emotionally engaged analyst II: How emotions impact analytic process as illuminated by dynamic systems theory. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 25(2), 257-279. doi:10.1037/0736-9735.25.2.257.

Olthuis, J. (2006). With-ing: a psychotherapy of love. Journal of Psychology & Theology, 34(1), 66-77. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

Renik, O. (2000). Subjectivity and unconsciousness. Journal of Analytical Psychology, 45(1), 3. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

Summers, F. (2005). The Self and Analytic Technique. Psychoanalytic Psychology, 22(3), 341-356. doi:10.1037/0736-9735.22.3.341

Strawn, B. (2007). Slouching toward integration: psychoanalysis and religion in dialogue. Journal of Psychology & Theology, 35(1), 3-13. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

Young-Eisendrath, P. (2007). Learning About Love Through the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 27(3), 310-325. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.

Watson, R. (2007). Ready or not, here I come: surrender, recogniton, and mutuality in psychotherapy. Journal of Psychology & Theology, 35(1), 65-73. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.


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