The rantings of a beautiful mind

On life, society, and computer technology.

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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Moving on to the Conscious Marriage

Scanning the first five chapters [Part I: The Unconscious Marriage], it would be easy to get the impression that the old brain [the brain stem and the limbic system] is the cause of most of our marriage problems. It’s the old brain that causes us to choose partners who resemble our caretakers. It’s the old brain that is the source of all our elaborate defenses – the projections, transferences, and introjections – that obscure the reality of ourselves and our partners. And it’s the old brain that is responsible for our infantile response to frustration, the “cry-or-criticize” response that only results in further alienation.

But the old brain also plays a positive role in marriage. Although some of the tactics of the old brain may be self-defeating, its fundamental drives are essential to our well-being. Our unconscious drive to repair the emotional damage of childhood is what allows us to realize our spiritual potential as human beings, to become complete and loving people capable of nurturing others. And even though our projections and transferences may temporarily blind us to our partner’s reality, they’re also what binds us to them, setting up the preconditions for future growth.

The problem with the old brain is that it’s unguided; it’s like a blind animal trying to find its way to the watering hole. To achieve the valid and important objectives of the old brain, we need to enlist the aid of the new brain [the cerebral cortex] – the part of us that makes choices, exerts will, knows that our partners are not our parents, that today is not always, and that yesterday is not today. We need to take the rational skills that we use in other parts of our lives and bring them to bear on our love relationships. Once we forge a working alliance between the powerful, instinctual drives of the old brain and the discriminating, cognitive powers of the new brain, we can begin to realize our unconscious goals. Through the marriage of old-brain instincts and new-brain savvy, we can gradually leave the frustrations of the power struggle behind us.

- Getting the Love You Want