Friday, May 03, 2013

Conflicts (Internal/External) and Mental Constraints, Part 2: Dissociation and Enactment

After I wrote the first part of this series [Internal Conflicts and Mental Constraints: Part 1], I realized the importance of external conflicts [External Conflicts] and then I picked up the D.B. Stern Book, Partners in Thought, again [Off the Wagon ... What?], almost accidentally. It was quite unsettling when I realized how close is the theme and discussions of the book to what I have been discovering almost independently!

Here are some quotes that are directly related to my chain of thoughts on internal and external conflicts as seen by the author:
  1. Enacted experience, and thus dissociated states as well, cannot be symbolized and therefore do not exist in any other explicit form than enactment itself. Enacted experience is unformulated experience.
  2. Dissociated states, because they are unsymbolized, do not and cannot bear a conflictual relationship to the states of mind safe enough for us to identify as ``me'' and inhabit in a consciously appreciable way.
  3. Enactment is the interpersonalization of dissociation: the conflict that cannot be experienced within one mind is experienced between two minds. The state dissociated by the patient is explicitly experienced by the analyst, and the state explicitly experienced by the patient is dissociated in the analyst's mind. Each participant therefore has only a partial appreciation of what is transpiring.
  4. Enactment, then, is not the expression of internal conflict. Enactment is the absence of internal conflict, though the external conflict, the conflict between the two people in enactment, may be intense.
  5. Enactment ends in the achievement of internal conflict, which occurs when the two dissociated states, one belonging to each participant in the enactment, can be formulated inside the consciousness of one or the other of the two psychoanalytic participants. --- p.86, Partners in Thought
If I want to incorporate these insights into my framework, I would say the following. Mental constraints, the unconscious/conscious structure that we impose on ourselves, is the deep source of conflicts. When the constraints are deep in the unconscious, specially when they form dissociated states, they appear mostly as external conflicts and most notably enactment.
We can use different practices (meditation. mindfulness, asking/following what we want, ...) and therapy to bring awareness of the mental constraints and dissociated states. As the result, the previously external conflicts become/appear more and more as internal conflicts.
At this point, we can use other practices (mostly aimed at promoting conversation between parts of psyche involved in the internal conflict?) to resolve the internal conflict or to make it less detrimental.

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