Paper presented at the ISPDI Conference held in the Trinity College of Dublin, July 2018.
«I am another»
«Perhaps the different cultures, carved in the different times and spaces of this planet, are not defined so much by the set of knowledge and knowledge that they produced, but by the concerns and questions that they allowed to formulate.»
- Crisis of the contemporary couple
- Dialectic of negation in the triangulation of the couple
- The non-couple
In my paper on the neurotic couple, presented at the 2016 Conference, I tried to carry out a reflection of the crises of the modern couple under the prism of a psychological approach, in the framework of PDI, whose interest is not in the interrelations between entities, a topic that is the only focus of attention of conventional therapy, but in the relation that the soul has with itself, the soul’s self-relation. Accordingly, I focused on the notion of couple as an existing concept, subject and object at the same time of a process of historical transformation, as well as the logic that informs its structure and the dialectic of its changes and conflicts, following the Giegerich (1) dictum
» The logos or syntax as the soul of and in the Real is everywhere, a daily reality».
I presented the thesis that the problems of the couple could be approached from the perspective of analyzing the idea of the couple that constitutes the nuclear notion in which members live and experience their conflicts. One of the topics that I analysed is that the suffering of the couple of our time expresses the logic of control that constitutes the central position of the modern ego and configures the battlefield where the majority of the conflicts in the couple arise and evolve (2). All problems related to control belong to the subject’s side. The old notion of control that was previously a function of destiny or gods, today, after the death of God announced by Nietzsche, has collapsed into the atomic individual who is required to control all aspects of life under an imperative that reflects the historical locus of modernity and its technological approach to reality. At the same time, the idealized devotion of this individual to the experience of romantic love is promoted, a subject that occupies a privileged place in the search for meaning and happiness that constitute the north of the subjectivity of the modern era.
In the present paper I continue focusing on the problems suffered by the contemporary couple. Some of these problems have to do with the experience of the interactions of everyday life, others threaten the existence or continuity of the couple. I follow the distinction proposed by Giegerich between two types of psychological psychopathology, the neurosis and «those in which new or excluded aspects of the soul make themselves felt and impose their way to consciousness» (3). Another related idea of the author refers to the distinction between specific neurosis and the general or structural neurosis, that do not necessarily imply the presence of classic neurotic symptoms. This approach, I argue, is not new since from the beginning of Psychology, it has been considered that the difference between normality and neurosis is of degree not of quality, there is no gap between both since there is a continuity, a structural unit that causes neurotic behaviour and «normal» behaviour to be perceived as «twin brothers», that is, structurally identical, their variation in their empirical expression, being only thought as variations of intensity.
I consider that certain ordinary phenomena and experiences that occur to contemporary couples in the context of their daily life that usually are considered as expressions of character and / or mediocre manifestations of human nature, merely psychic stuff, express and manifest the structure and logic of the neurotic split in which contemporary consciousness is based4. In other words, the couple in their crises may undergo levels of suffering comparable to those that neurotic symptoms produce, without necessarily presenting neurotic symptoms of any of its members.
Joe, a patient of mine, tells me that yesterday his partner, Sara, returned home, after having been temporarily separated from him, due to a sporadic drug abuse crisis. A ritualistic consumption that Joe performs once or twice a month, in which he is absent from home and does not return until the next day, after having used cocaine. Sara has arrived before him and has dedicated herself to doing housework, he arrives and notices that his wife has moved a sample of the colony he had in his dressing table. He feels an outburst of intense fury that comes from the thought: «She lacks respect, she should have asked me before». This time and due to the delicate situation they are living, Joe contains his fury and chooses to leave the house for a while to wait for it to pass. Upon returning he asks her the reasons for this action and Sara calmly replies that she thought the cologne bottle was empty, she simply threw it in the trash. A first analysis of this insignificant incident that aroused great fury in him, would lead us to think that this is the work of a complex, an affective lack. But, we know in PDI that therapists who try to understand the current misery of their clients only in terms of their personal childhood are losing the true meaning. When people face the need to live in intrinsically contradictory and unprecedented ways, it is misleading to focus exclusively on what happened as children in search of the roots of their problems. This is an example of how the everyday experience is chronically irritating in many couples. Disputes about who washes the dishes, and when it has to be done, who changes diapers, does the shopping and pushes the vacuum, who takes home the shopping, who decides to go outside and so on. Topics that convert everyday life a permanent focus of tension and irritation. In the consulting room, couples often complain of intense confrontations, that make them feel energetically exhausted and when they narrate them to the therapist they do not remember what motivated them. With or without anxiety, with or without violence, regardless of the objective significance of the issue in question, the disagreement is unsurmountable. Each member of the couple is convinced that the problem lies in the other. This situation engenders an endless logic of tension and confrontations in escalation, or its equivalent opposite, an increase in emotional distance and silences that takes over the life of the relationship. From my point of view, I consider that the crisis of the contemporary couple is not due to a poor adaptation to the needs or desires of its members, nor merely to unresolved psychic complexes, but a bad adaptation to the internal logic that constitutes the current notion of the couple, which through these crises is being denied, sublated, by a process of transformation of consciousness that I analyse below.
Crisis of the contemporary couple
We start from this premise: the crisis of couple relationships expresses the difficulty of the soul with itself that has to adapt and fully accept the historical transformation provoked by itself and that has similar phenomenology to what occurs in the formation of symptoms in the person afflicted by a neurosis. In our case, the relationship of the couple as a whole becomes in itself the symptom against which it has to be fought, analogous to how in life patients fight against their symptoms and thus enter into vicious circles that contradictorily feed back into them.
Recalling what Giegerich (5) says «[s]oul reality invades pragmatic reality in the form of neurosis (which demands the simultaneousness of two excluding truths reigning at the same time and concerning the same)», and remembering what I wrote in my previous paper, we see that the notion of the modern couple is based on the non-dialectical contradiction that exists between the two nuclear notions on which it is based:
1. The idea that the couple is constituted by the free and autonomous election made by two individuals. An individuality that constitutes the core of modern subjectivity and
2. The idea of union based on desire and love (romantic love) that implies a form of radical dependence resulting from a dissociation between the other empirical and the logical other, the Other as Absolute. The romantic couple seeks the Absolute in the literal other of the empirical relationship. The couple becomes the involuntary and objective carrier of the longing for a status of the soul which is already effectively sublated in the contemporary era. This concept implies an idea of union that structurally corresponds to that of unio naturalis(6), the logical form or syntax of our habitual mode of consciousness that we, in PDI, call the «child» (7).
Illouz (8) defines it succinctly,
«romantic love contains the two most important cultural revolutions of the twentieth century: the individualisation of lifestyles and the intensification of emotional life projects; and the economisation of social relationships, the pervasiveness of economic models to shape the self and its very emotions».
Individuality, freedom and autonomy
Giegerich (9) asserts that the historical emergence of the concept of the abstract individual, conceived fundamentally as an isolated and autonomous entity, is the condition of the possibility of neurosis,
«only because man has logically become an isolated individual and nothing more than a product of biological evolution, modernity has to preach intersubjectivity «interpersonal communication» and relationship as its highest values.»
The modern couple, whose notion historically emerges in parallel with the individualist proclamation, is born with an inherent contradiction, that Byung-Chul (10) defines as the «agony of Eros», the end of love precisely because of one’s freedom of choice. The coercion of the mandate that falls on the individuals to optimise their choices end up annulling the love experience, «not only the excess supply of others leads to the crisis of love, but also the erosion of the other, which takes place in all areas of life and goes together to an excessive narcissism of selfhood …» Likewise, the demand for freedom, this paradoxical imperative of «being free», precipitates both partners into a compulsive self-affirmation that expresses itself as a negative delimitation that stands between each other other, making them unable to recognize their alterity. The Other, whether perceived as a sexual object or as a complement to or ingredient for one’s happiness, loses the «original distance» that, according to Buber, constitutes the foundation of conscious and loving recognition.
The concept of union in the modern couple
Modernity has conceived the couple as two individuals brought together by the force of desire or romantic love, that choose to unite their lives under a promise of happiness and meaning. Psychoanalysis taught us that desire represents an individual experience that acts as a powerful pull that restlessly propels us towards, by definition unattainable goals. In spite of its personalistic conception, psychoanalytic desire involves certain forms of otherness, (as unconscious fantasy, as parental imagos, or, in Jungian psychology, as archetypes). Psychoanalytic desire also presupposes a questioning of the empirical Other, because according to the theory, we know that the empirical other is a carrier of an unconscious projection, a re-presentation of the phantom. In its later developments this individualistic concept of desire is questioned from the perspective of the social, the cultural and the economic, in the words of Deleuze, (11)
«There is a somewhat classical conception of desire as something individual, according to which the social is something that is built from that individual desire, by successive stages … that desire and subjectivity would be cantered on individuals and It would result from the interaction of individual facts on the collective level, starting from the idea of a collective economy, collective agency of desire and subjectivity … I would not speak of individual desire, it is the production of subjectivity that tends to individualise the wish.»
Guattari (12) also emphasises that,
«[d]esire crosses the social field, both in immediate practices and in more ambitious projects. In order not to confuse complicated definitions, I would propose to call desire all forms of will to live, to create, to love, the will to invent another society, another perception of the world, other value systems.»
For us in PDI, we conceive of desire as that movement that pushes off the soul towards new «forms or levels of itself» (13), like Action, to whom the desire to hunt culminates in its transformative dismemberment not only of his «hunting experience» but of his own subjectivity as a hunter. Giegerich (14) defines it in the following way:
The soul… satisfies itself with being fully human and with establishing itself in positive reality, an initiation or a real encounter of the soul with itself as its own other … In every legitimate sexual union, there are these two levels, the human empirical level and the level of inner meaning of the empirical events…
The desire, as it is experienced in modernity, is grounded in the unio naturalis stage, and its logical form, «the child» (15). In the formation of couples, this manifests itself with the strength and validity of ideas such as «blind trust», «eternal loyalty», «total commitment» and an expectation of permanent happiness, the expectation that my partner has to behave according to the guidelines and demands of the ideal. In addition Further required elements are the willpower and personal commitment where each member of the couple has to behave according to the implicit rules of the game. Being a normal couple is the motto, although within this normality the distinctive signs of being special are sometimes desperately sought out at the same time. Romantic love presupposes that a lasting emotional bond with the other can be established on the basis of intrinsic qualities of the desire, but its psychological structure is that of a logical dependence, which is the expression of a level of consciousness that retains and maintains the child status. Its phenomenological result is that of a desire turned into emotional dependence.
This difficulty is inherent in the notion of romantic love, which conceives an idea of union, that excludes its dialectical other, separation. Giegerich (16) noted this and expressed it this way,
«[a]s far as matrimony is concerned, the usual sequence in our time is: first marriage, then divorce. By psychologically a true relationship should from the outset be the logical unity of both. A marriage should be based on a (logical) divorce.»
Couples today have an almost necessary destiny in which the contradiction between union and separation is expressed in the timeline. In a first phase, the couple lives an union excluded of any notion of separation and a second phase they experience a literal separation that usually involves the extinction of the couple as such.
The crisis of the couple is the crisis of a non-dialectical notion of unity or love that expels from itself its dialectical pair, a self-denial of its own inner otherness. In the phenomenology of the life of a couple, we are faced with the almost universal fact that desire ends up disappearing from the relationship. After an initial and almost always passionate phase, a phase of languor of the desire appears. This phase usually subtly manifests itself under the disguise of a denied distance, because it is considered normal. Other times, under the algid of symptoms and sexual disorders, when for example an obligation, a «must» is felt to «fulfil the obligations of the life of a couple». In such cases, it has been forgotten that love requires intimacy but desire needs distance, so the inherent tension between the two notions when they are self-excluded from one another, begins, sooner or later, to generate conflicts that, in many cases, break through the path of a temptation to transgression.
The «triangulation» of the couple
One of the omnipresent manifestations of modernity is a phenomenon that increasingly appears in the consulting room, is the topic of the infidelity. Although this phenomenon has always existed, the frequency and the specific form in which it is presented today invites us to ask ourselves if the soul speaks through these. Adam Philips17 says in a disturbing way that,
«[t]he couple is a resistance to the intrusion of the third, but to last is essential to have enemies, that’s why monogamous can’t live without them, when we are two, we are together, to form a couple, we need to be three.»
And Esther Perel18, raises the motto «[a]t the boundary of every couple lives the third», a boundary inscribed in the concept of union above exposed that implies an identity of the couple that expels its own difference, and that ends up generating, in the empirical, a kind of fusion that becomes oppressive and suffocating, a situation that summons and that objectively needs the excluded third, of that otherness that usually appears in the form and the experiences linked to transgressive desire. We consider that the experience of modern infidelity is a phenomenon that challenges the couple, and expresses a problem of the logical structure of the relationship. It represents an event of soul (soul event) that invades the hitherto daily life of the couple, as a form of otherness that is a death threat for the couple.
The topic of infidelity is usually assumed in couple therapy as a triangulation, from the dyad to the triad, but from our point of view there is no such triad. We speak triangulation of the couple that is expressed at a factual empirical level but that formally supposes the dialectic of the sygyzy, the anima/animus encounter. Although empirically there are three people at stake, logically another encapsulated form of otherness is constituted. The couple as anima is questioned, besieged by the violent intrusion of its psychological counterpart the animus.
Transgressive desire19 that surrounds the lover propels the couple towards a self- dismemberment. From a psychological approach this crisis derives from the way of living the relationship by both members, although almost always it is attributed exclusively to the responsibility of the protagonist of the affair, while the member of the couple who suffers it, radically denying his or her responsibility, usually takes refuge in a victimising position. The intruder animus then appears under the disguise of the lover and threatens to kill the couple as a couple. This murder is most of the time, literal, meaning the end of the relationship. Jealousy and control attempts are a typical expression of this problem. In jealousy there is the fear that a third person will seduce the other and somehow snatch it away. We consider that this jealousy and the accompanying fear are both a reaction that obeys the logic of control and seeks to retain the couple and to maintain the state of innocence of the unio naturalis, and it contradictorily represents the first manifestation of a psychological transformation.
The usual strategies of couples to fight against the triangle (in the same way that patients fight against their symptoms) and try to overcome the crisis, pursue the goal that the third member, the intruder, disappears and therefore cancels its corrosive impact. These strategies usually adopt two configurations, both having in common the attempt to maintain the current status quo, that is, the idea of a couple in which they have lived until then.
The first strategy is a concealment of the affair, the member of the couple who is involved is entangled in a process of lies, avoidance and hypocrisy while in a dissociated way tries to live the triangle clandestinely and innocuously. It follows the logic of the «double life» developing a situation, which lasts until sooner or later, the secret is discovered, which usually causes the rupture of the relationship. In the second strategy , either the appearance of the possible lover provokes a seemingly moral conflict, or the conflict takes the form of conflict of interests where the calculating ego concludes that the negative consequences would surpass the positive ones. The person then negates the lover, and / or the feelings it generates, in a non-dialectical negation turns his back on the transgressive desire, and / or appealing to a wilful effort tries to avoid the conflict. The apparent result of this strategy seems to be of greater moral or ethical value, but both strategies are equally sterile from the psychological point of view. In both cases, the triangulation is lived and conceived as a matter of ego desires, and regardless of how the couple ends the love affair (together or separated), ensures that everything tends to remain the same, both in the realm of the psychic, as in that of the logic of the relationship, in the syntax that animates the notion of the couple.
In fact when we speak of love triangles we do not speak exclusively of the intrusion of another human subject in the relationship. The third factor can be a situation, work, family, child, drugs, a hobby, etc. And the lover par excellence that today stands before the couple and shakes its deepest foundations is the professional career and its associated idea of self-development. The centrality that the work today occupies in the cultural and social life supposes a colossal negation force of the couple, it is the asexual immaterial lover that emerges from the abyss that splits relationship and economic production. I develop these ideas below.
In the consulting room, I have sometimes witnessed a third strategy that opens the need to tune into «the wind of history» and that it is not merely a result of the ego’s intentions, its pathologies and / or its manipulations. A patient in couple therapy accused by his partner of having lied to her when she discovered a pill of viagra in his pocket, and after a while, some porn web addresses, ended up confessing in an individual session that he did not see anything wrong in occasionally going to «hunt». The very notion of hunting that he spontaneously referred to made me think obviously of the myth of Action and I found myself commenting on an improvised version of the myth that Giegerich20 offered us, in the following terms:
Just as the hunter ventures in search of his prey, «the couple» longs to hunt the desire that is the medium in which the union can be realised. But the search prompted by it occurs in the wilderness, it is the transgression that shows the soul in its «desire» to know the truth of itself. Maybe this desire to hunt is an inadvertent desire to discover the truth of your relationship, a truth beyond the fenced territory of the idea of the couple in which you live.
With this approach I try to make explicit the idea that their own notion of a couple is being questioned, it is going through an animus moment, an event of truth, moment and / or experience that is made possible when the «triangular» experience is neither repressed nor hidden, and this means to fully experience the affair without deceiving anyone. Obviously, that usually entails a stormy experience that shakes the foundations of the couple and makes the dark shadow elements appear to the scenarios explicitly. The lover represents the «pharmakon» that can heal and/or kill the couple. If the couple relationship does not die in the attempt and the strength of the relationship manages to overcome this storm, a dialectical result of negating the negation opens up, that makes possible that the notion of couple, as existing concept, that until now was present is dialectically overcome21. The violence of the crisis in its animus moment, if it is internalised, may favor the constitution of a new psychological form free of the «other» in its external form, in its extrojected, egoistic shadow form, characteristic of the dependent consciousness stage, the «child» and its literal and absolute otherness. The couple that after the decomposition and putrefaction experienced, survives such a «storm», is exposed to a negation of the negation, in which a new notion of couple may appear, in which the union and the separation are revealed as two dialectically necessary and always present moments, a type of union that has internalised in its own logical form is re-configured a form of otherness (22) open to the real love experience. As Giegerich (23) affirms,
«Love is what allows us to remain and embrace the shadow, to forgive the world or life and everything that is wrong in it, all its failures and deficiencies. Love is the force to see clearly what is wrong and still and so not fall into the spirit of accusation or depression. Love is «not the life that shrinks before death and remains untouched by devastation, but rather the life that resists and remains in it.»
I know couples that after the devastation of an affair lived at its fullest meaning their notion of couple is uplifted with a more interiorized notion of otherness and that is only possible when it is framed by a new level: a consciousness conscious of itself. The Other becomes an integral and inherent part of the definition of the self and the definition of the relationship. Love is a «scene of the Two». It interrupts the perspective of the one and raises the world from the point of view of the other or of difference. The negativity of a revolutionary transformation marks a path of love as experience and encounter: Byung-Chul Han (24) points to it with these words:
«It is clear that under the effect of a loving encounter, and if I really want to be faithful, I must recompose from top to bottom my ordinary way of» inhabiting «my situation.»
The «event» is a moment of «truth» that introduces a new way of being, completely different from the given, the habit of inhabiting, makes something happen that the situation can not account for, interrupts the equal in favor of the other, the essence of the event is the negativity of the rupture , which starts something entirely different.
Volatile times, the non-couple
One of the axioms of modernity is that one is the owner of oneself. The sovereign and autonomous individual must be able to delimit their own life and become a free agent in their relationship with others, but since the irruption of late modernity in its medial phase, there is a radical change in the very idea of subjectivity. The subject, parallel to what happens in the market where products are no longer offered but brands, feels the compulsion to imagine itself as a brand and offer itself to the world as such. The autonomous individual of the first phase of modernity today transform into, as Paula Sibila (25) affirms, a smooth surface in which the subject, suitably stylised, a product aimed at a changing market, multiple personality and exposed to radical visibility, a transparency that denies, phagocytes every glimpse of interiority undermining one of the pillars of modern subjectivity, the individuality that rests, nourishes and nourishes itself an inner life This externalised individuality and turned spectacle, and identified exclusively with the virtual appearance is even subjected to face transplants. The idea of the inalienable identity of each subject is diluted alchemically in aesthetic surgery, the screen and the value of appearance. The subject lives in permanent upgrades that through surgery, piercings, tattoos, Botrox, body shaping by gymnastics that pursue the obligation to be unique, as before but now denied in its visibility and global transparency that ends up exploding in which each subject can resort to different «identities pret-a-porter, disguises of the self that becomes ephemeral with a dizzying speed.
This new logical form leaves obsolete the previous need for love of the previous phase of modernism, a phase that recreated in itself an «inner» space where the true personality, the authentic self, was supposed to reside. In our consulting rooms, we see more and more:
1. Disorders and sufferings never experienced before, problems in a relationship that is lived contingent exclusively on the professional career of both members that is governed by the compulsive idea of success at all costs. In the current environments of fierce competition and constant innovations and in words of Andrew Grove (26)
«the only chance of success is to resort to constant paranoia: to have the permanent sensation of threat. Therefore, contemporary workers should plan their careers as entrepreneurs manage their businesses: detecting the functions that are disappearing and always looking for «the right moment to change».
2. Disorders due to the almost absolute dedication to the muscular body-machine dimension. The physical condition itself becomes a jealous lover. Illouz (27) speaks of a lifestyle
«1) in which people are hyper-conscious of their physical appearance, 2) in which the body is the main source of economic and social value, 3) in which they are compulsively competing with others through the body, and 4) in which, finally, the body and appearance are always on public display».
3. Disorders of people who come to the consulting room with the complaint that they feel emotionally isolated, live in a «forced» loneliness. Many couples complain about «empty sexuality» or no sexuality at all. Other couples, on the other hand, seem to focus on the relationship in overcoming the persecutory anxieties derived from the need to achieve performance ideals largely taken from the media, the Internet, or any other demonstration channel of superhuman sexual prowess. A disposition always present to sex, the obligation that it must be multiorgasmic, are some examples of the new forms of obligations and modes of affective appropriation, and the meaning of sexuality in human relationships, such as the emergence of subcultures like swingers, erotic chats, addicts to sex shops or pornography, etc.
This new phenomena of medial society constitutes the negative side, the non-dialectical denial of the problem of the intimate relationship that confirms Illouz’s (28) words,
«Suffering in contemporary intimate interpersonal relationships reflects the situation of the self in conditions of modernity, a suffering that threatens the integrity of the self».
They suggest a new mutation of the logic of the soul that goes on behind certain manifestations and ideas related to the construction of subjectivity and with it, the same notion of a couple which today is exposed, through a fermenting corruption of its previous structure, to experiences that constitute a laboratory in which the soul lives a transforming dialectic with itself experiencing radical changes while paying the price of immense suffering.
According to Sibila (29)
«the tendencies of exposure of privacy that proliferate today -not only on the Internet, but in all media and also in the daily spectacularization of everyday life- do not show a mere invasion of the old privacy, but a completely new phenomenon»
which we read as the logical process of the obsolescence of subjectivity as the notional foundation that have given support to the experience of the couple for the previous era (30).
In the first phase of modernity, the model of romantic love seemed to confer to the Absolute the perfect disguise to neurotically break into the relationship. In medial modernity the value or principle that seems to manifest itself with increasing intensity is that of the absolute impossibility of establishing a vis-à-vis with the other, not only in the sense of Martin Buber (31) -who established the difference between the I-Thou relation and the I-It relation, nowdays the pair I-You is diluted in a type of relationship that denies itself as such, an It-It relationship. The subject lacking subjectivity can’t imagine-think- represent-dialogue, because there is nothing to communicate (nothing but pseudo-empty texting from a subject that can’t even speak to itself). If at the beginning of modernity the Absolute appeared before the individual as a neurotic symptom and before the relationship as the demand for romantic love, today, it presents itself to both disguised in the plan of one’s life understood as a business project, an abstract absolute in which the subject becomes the object of himself and himself is reduced to merchandise, raw material to be exploited. We are in a historical stage in which the Hegelian dialectic of the master and the slave form a non-dialectical unit. Otherness has internalised itself and has acquired the status of form without content, an abstract form: one’s own life as a corporation, a project to maximise efficiency and benefits. The non-couple takes many forms all of them fluctuating, transient ,and devoid of substance, whose relationship is subject to the dictation of performance, converted into another object of consumption. You can not love the other because this other has been stripped of otherness, it can only be consumed, and in consumption there is not that «original distance» that for Buber constitutes the essential condition of otherness.
Dating services, where the algorithm becomes a severe judge, analyses and dictates which candidate is more suited to an abstract and hedonistic concept of compatibility, that requires that the relationship should be easy without complications or otherwise it is not worth it. «Illouz supposes, furthermore, that the increasing freedom of choice brings with it a «rationalization» of desire, that this is no longer determined by the unconscious, but by a conscious choice. The attention of the subject of desire is constantly drawn to «the possibility of choice and he is responsible for it, since he must formulate rational parameters of what is desirable in the other.» (32).
The concept of fidelity and continuity of the couple is being dissolved alchemically by the market logic: tireless exploration of the new; continuous replacement; horror to boredom and repetition, and continuous review of shopping habits by making the current provisional. Incessant consumption of only interesting new experiences, and the compulsive regeneration of desire by the compulsive change of its object, its contents. It’s what advertising sells: endless change, the cult of the intensity. It seems that it is not a transformation from one model or form of a couple to another, or from one model or family to another, but that the syntax of the couple is being dissolved as such. Many of the experiences that today are tested on finding and living new forms of relationship – including step families, polyamorous relationships, swingers, polyamory practitioners (love several people), «mono / no-mono experiences (the person who allows their partner to explore their desire usually shows little or no interest in sex, but understands the needs of the other)», bisexual experiences in what are called flexi-sexual, and so on Almost all of them are aimed only at changes in the semantic level, content, attempts that most of the time end in disaster. Despite the prevailing chaos, couples are exploring territories that cannot be applied to concepts inherited from modernity, and although and although it is true that, as Giegerich (33) affirms
«many of these exits to the crisis do not reach the status of psychological phenomena of the soul fall in which the category of what I call subtle phenomena, are occurrences in the modern market of search for meanings where anything works»,
and yet we see that the crisis of the couple opens up a previously unthinkable horizon of creative possibilities. I quote a brief example, a case that I am now conducting is that of a couple, both professionals, around 40 years old. He complains of a loss of desire and of experiencing certain obligations as a member of a couple that overwhelm him. In a recent crisis, her partner exclaims «we’re not a couple anymore, it’s over!». Initially, he experiences it as a break but strangely enough the couple, who is not a couple anymore, continue living in the same house and sleeping in the same bed, despite the initial embarrassment that this situation brings, they open up to a second phase in which he feels liberated and the desire returns. The result of it is that now they live and relate as a non-couple, which means a relationship without a name, a non-couple that allows each member and the relationship itself to free themselves from the cliches and open themselves to new vital options that might be herald of a new locus of conscience.
Giegerich (34) affirms: «The experience of union in the couple, lived mostly by the ego as a very personal experience, the feelings of intimacy and the expectations of a lifestyle associated with it make impossible the consciousness of the collective and impersonal character of these feelings, the individual realises that he or she is just an example or instantiation of something general in contrast to the exceptional development of the person towards a true individual interpersonal relationship».
The couple is absorbing the sublimated, evaporated result of this process of disintegration and emptying in the same definition or concept of itself, whose sublation points to an «Aquarian» transformation of its constitution, from two fixed entities that share biological, social and psychic realities to a type of relational consciousness that is not based on the individualities or their interrelations but in a fluid current of encounters and interactions, from a substantialist and individualist conception of the couple, a notion that the relationship preexists individuals emerges (35), in which each member is a function of the relationship. From the substantive logic of the copula to the logic of the function that follows it. A logic that presents new and disturbing challenges for our understanding but enables the awareness of the collective and impersonal nature of a true individual interpersonal relationship.
The battlefield of the soul today seems to have logically abandoned the individual and the couple, although both are active and passive participants of the opus of the soul. But as individuals we cannot separate ourselves from the task presented by this battlefield, having to listen to and learn the voice of our own truth, so that we are able to think of the pathologies that beset us as «the first immediacy of a new stage of development» (36) . Likewise and in the spirit of PDI, our thinking is interested in what these pathologies and their sufferings say about the soul, and what in these, the soul says about itself. When we are confronted with the other related to personal differences we can learn to accept this otherness, but when we are confronted with a historical transformation that questions our basic ontological presuppositions, as the actual crisis of the modern couple does, we have to try to understand it in terms of the work of the soul in its «empirical desire» to know the truth of itself. We are not dealing with ego-psychology. It is the soul that in search of itself always thinks.
1 Giegerich, W. (2012). p. 152.
2 This logic of control is inscribed in turn in the intrinsic dissociation of the subject / object position, heart of the Faustian / Christian project of technological domination of reality.
3 Giegerich, W. (2012). p. 166.
4 Giegerich says: «Neurosis and psychological problems are exclusively due to the soul’s mal- adaptation to itself, specifically to the discrepancy (dissociation) between its self-understanding, self-interpretation, self-stylization, its mental attitude on the one hand and the logical constitution or status that in fact happens to be on the other hand» Giegerich, W. (2010). p. 413-4.
5 Giegerich, W. (2013). p. 212.
6 «The empirical person is totally subsumed under the concept, absolutely identical, amalgamated with it» Giegerich, W. (2013). p. 302
7 Giegerich, G. (2008). p.7 y 9.
8 Illouz, Eva. (2012). p. 9.
9 Giegerich, W. (2013). p. 94 and 127.
10 Byung-Chul Han, (2014). p. 5.
11 Deleuze, G. y Suely R. (2006). p. 274.
12 Guattari, F. y Rolnik, S. (2006). p. 255.
13 Giegerich, W. (2012). p. 87.
14 Giegerich, W. (2005). pp.25-40.
15 «the principle of the logic of exteriority and otherness and therefore of logical positivity …. the logical form or syntax of our habitual daily consciousness». In Giegerich, G. (2008). p.7 y 9.
16 Giegerich, W. (2013). p. 419.
17 Adam Phillips in Monogamy, cited in Perel, Esther (2006). p. 188.
18 Perel, Esther. (2006). Mating in Captivity. Reconciling the Erotic and the Domestic. NY: Harper Collins. p. 187.
19 «Trouble looms when monogamy is no longer a free expression of loyalty but a form of enforced compliance. Excessive monitoring can set the stage for what Stephen Mitchell calls “acts of exuberant defiance.” When the third is denied, some people decide to negotiate it privately. Affairs, online encounters, strip clubs, and sex on business trips are common transgressions that establish psychological distance from an overbearing relationship. When the third is exiled to somewhere, only permitted outside the marriage, that is where he is sought» Perel, E. (2006). p. 190.
20 Giegerich W. (1998). The Soul Logical Life. Towards a Rigorous Notion of Psychology. Frankfurt and Main: Peter Lang. p. 210.
21 In the field of conventional couple therapy, most therapeutic attempts usually seek to preserve and reaffirm the unio naturalis, even if it is in favor of a divorce project, an empirical change is proposed but the level of consciousness in which the couple live is not questioned.
22 The other that was implicitly excluded in the phrase «our love is perfect», «we are a normal couple», «we have no problems» of the initial phase of the relationship of Belle Soul, in which Otherness is projected in the form of a radical exteriority, that sooner or later it becomes the pathos of the phase «my partner is to blame for my suffering», «my partner is destroying the relationship» in which the Other is frozen in a conflict that radically alienates each member of the couple. That’s why Giegerich affirms that «keeping the other out is a way of avoiding otherness». CEP vol 3 p. 8
23 Giegerich, W. (2012) ( CEP vol. 3, p. 18)
24 Byung-Chul Han. p. 35
25 Sibila, P. (2008). p. 295.
26 Grove, Andrew. (1997). 27 Illouz, E. (2007). p. 175.
28 Illouz, E. (2012). p. 16.
29 Sibila, P. (2008). p. 92.
30 The transforming dynamic of the soul is today in a phase in which individuality it is not needed, Barreto (2014) announces the emergence of the Mass-Man.
31 See Buber, M. (1970).
32 Citado en: Byung, Ch. (2012). La agonía del eros . p. 29
33 Giegerich, W. (2012). p. 208.
34 Giegerich, W. (2012). p. 200.
35 Gergen says: » I do not mean relationships between otherwise separate selves, but rather, a process of coordination that precedes the very concept of the self. My hope is to demonstrate that virtually all intelligible action is born, sustained, and/or extinguished within the ongoing process of relationship. From this standpoint there is no isolated self or fully private experience. Rather, we exist in a world of co-constitution. We are always already emerging from relationship; we cannot step out of relationship; even in our most private moments we are never alone.» Gergen, K. (2009). p. xv.
36 Giegerich, W. (2012). p. 42.
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- – Buber, M. (1970). I and Thou, translated by Walter Kaufmann. New York: Charles
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