At first, a person suffering emotionally does not understand the cause of his symptoms. Each person can only observe the conscious factors in relating to others. Each is unaware of the unconscious elements causing self-misperception, misperception of others and misperceptions of the situations they share together. Thus, all relationships become strained and complicated by the collective unconscious processes of the people involved. Our relationships defy understanding when only their surface features are scrutinized.

A difficulty in writing about relationships is describing processes that are outside conscious awareness. You, as the reader, may need frequently to remind yourself that the material discussed in this blog refers to these unconscious determinants.

There are reasons that the unconscious is hidden. Early life experiences crucial to forming each person’s personality occur very early in childhood. These events precede memory and leave profound effects without any recollection. These early experiences center around each child’s early education in the conduct of relating to others. Each young child lacks knowledge in how to relate with others. Each young child lacks knowledge in how to evaluate the treatment he receives. He has no basis for comparison. He participates with his parents/caretakers in the family’s manner of conducting relationships long before he communicates verbally. The way the child and his parent(s) relate becomes the child’s standard. All of the child’s future relationships will bear the imprint of these standards both for dealing with self and others. The child will judge others as normal or not based on his learned standard. The family standard, continuously reiterated and reinforced in the child’s early years, becomes incorporated into the child’s personality development. No matter how aberrant or bizarre this standard becomes the child’s norm for the rest of his life. It is integrated so thoroughly into each person’s persona that it is no longer in conscious awareness. It cannot be observed by the person except through the assistance of a trained psychotherapist.