Working the Threshold
This chapter presents the work of Antonio Damasio, particularly his work on Spinoza’s proposal that we overcome the negative power of emotion with a stronger positive emotion.
In Jung’s focus on the “tension of opposites” and the “Transcendent Function”, he argued that one needs to hold the tension between opposites in order that something entirely new, the new third, can manifest.
The therapist acts as auxiliary neocortex in expanding the client’s capacity to tolerate strong emotion by educating the client in the effects of trauma on the nervous system through both top-down and bottom-up regulation.
The dream image has the potential to effect changes in the original wiring of the brain and create new synapses and orientation. We develop the practice of dual awareness–inner and outer attunement to titrate overwhelming feelings and gradually expand our capacity to experience something new. The regulatory relationship between the sensing body (Gendlin) and psyche forges the capability to receive the new impulse arising from the dream or from the somatic unconscious in movement, image or gesture. I present transcripts of two clients’ sessions, pendulating between the opposite cycles of activation and deactivation, sympathetic and parasympathetic systems of the ANS. In the titration of overwhelming affect we see evidence of Fechner’s principle that a little difference makes all the difference in establishing a new orientation or attitude.