Group Meetings on June 17, 2017

The Dating and Relationship Group:  Talk is Cheap! Speaking to Your Lover's Unconscious and the Concept of "Distillation"

Conventional wisdom argues that improving communication between romantic partners is the key to understanding each other, resolving conflict, and deepening the level of intimacy and closeness in the relationship.  Communication in this context refers to "conscious" communication, i.e., putting your thoughts and feelings into words that you share with your partner.

Couple therapy is often geared toward helping each partner in a distressed relationship express how the other makes him/her feel, in what situations, and why.  Psychotherapists often emphasize the necessity of exploring ongoing problems and dynamics, unpacking these in great detail in therapy sessions, and "dialoguing" about them, so that the partners become more fully aware of what is happening within and between them.

The assumption here seems to be: if we learn to communicate better, we will have a better relationship.

Surprisingly, this is rarely if ever the case!  I see client after client who strives to communicate to their significant other more directly and candidly, something that for many of them is often difficult to do.  But when they finally find the words, explaining to their partner how they really feel, it almost always produces nothing new or positive.  In fact, it often makes one's partner become more defensive, annoyed, and/or withdrawn, ultimately  making the problems in the relationship even more entrenched and resistant to change. 

The unfortunate truth is that conscious communication doesn't really help and usually makes things worse.  Talk is cheap!  We have gone overboard, I believe, on the idea that relationships will improve by attempts to become more aware of each other's feelings and to explore repetitive dynamics -- in essence, to live more "consciously."

In the next meeting of the Dating and Relationship Group on Saturday, June 17, 2017 (12:00 to 1:15 PM),  I will introduce the importance of unconscious communication in romantic love and in all relationships.  In my view, the ability to communicate unconsciously is the missing concept in most discussions of romantic love, attraction, sexual desire, and co-dependent/narcissistic dynamics.  The capacity to speak to another's unconscious initiates "distillation," the catalyst for desire, relatedness, and mutuality that is, ironically, hindered by more conscious, verbal communication efforts. 

The Men's Group:   The Shadow / The Dark Side

Carl Jung's concept of the "shadow" was a remarkable achievement in psychology, in part because it challenged Freud's notion of the unconscious in many important ways.  The shadow is generally viewed to refer to aspects of the self that are not aligned with one's persona, the preferred set of characteristics and attributes one attempts to manifest and be perceived as possessing.  

Jung realized that the human mind seeks to split or segregate itself, dividing oneself into a "good me" and a "bad me" -- thus edifying the persona.  Freud observed that this splitting was the primary cause of mental illness ("neurosis"), which for him revolved around the tension of the discrepancy between who one actually is vs. who one wished he/she could actually be.

The dialectic of shadow vs. light, bad vs. good, fallible vs. ideal, is in my estimation at the heart of the shame, regret and self-criticism that constitutes the emotional suffering so many people in the world today experience.  

In the next meeting of the Men's Group on Saturday, June 17, 2017 (10:45 AM to 12:00 PM),  we will explore Jung's understanding of the shadow and pay particular attention to the redeeming qualities he and others found in the shadow.  As it turns out, within the shadow is the potential for self-discovery, creativity, and more adaptive and fulfilling relationships.  We will also consider how the shadow has made its way into enhancing performance in the corporate workplace. 

**To register for the June 17th meetings of the Men's Group (10:45 AM to 12:00 PM) and/or the Dating and Relationship Group (12:00 to 1:15 PM):  If you would like to attend one or both of these groups on June 17, 2017, please RSVP ASAP to Dr. Tobin at 949-338-4388 or jt@jamestobinphd.com. There is a limit of 14 attendees for each group and registrants will be accommodated on a first-come/first-serve basis.  The fee is $25.00 and the location is The Water Garden Business Center, 23421 South Pointe Drive, Suite 130, Laguna Hills, CA, 92653.  Please note that these groups are educational in purpose, not therapeutic, and do not constitute psychotherapy or counseling.**

 
James Tobin, Ph.D., PSY 22074 | 949-338-4388 | jt@jamestobinphd.com