The Dyad – Accelerator of Relationships

We are-based beings: born into it, built into it, wounded from it and healed through it
Narration by Prof. Shlomo Mendelovic

A human being is born exposed and vulnerable. He can not take care of himself, and he needs a benevolent figure, a mother, who will breastfeed him, protect him and fill all his shortcomings. A close look will reveal that the human baby, who seems helpless, is equipped with one system that is powerful, developed and effective: the attachment system. This system allows him to produce, surprisingly quickly and accurately, a powerful connection with his environment. Within hours of emerging into the world, the baby knows how to recognize his mother’s scent and voice, and within a few weeks he begins to make an alert and active eye contact with her. This attachment ability is essential to how it grows. Through her the baby will know the world around him, and no less important – will realize his own existence in the world. 

Relationships accompany us all our lives: sometimes they are directed upwards (baby to his mother), sometimes to the sides (siblings or spouses), and sometimes they are directed downwards (parents of children). The benevolent relationships raise us, and the abusive ones hurt us. And relationships also heal us. They can allow us to experience the relationship not only as a wounded person, but also as a mediator, as an author, and as empowerers. In many ways, this is the power of therapy.

Being relationship-based therapy, it focuses on the powerful component that relationships have in our lives: it examines what meaning we give to different relationships, expands the same meaning and regulates the different relationships in which we are invested. But above all, the treatment itself is a connection. He was born in the first acquaintance between the patient and the therapist, he develops and intensifies, he disappoints and he heals. It allows the patient not only to observe and analyze relationships, but also to experience and refine them. 

The climax of a human connection is when, sometimes for a fraction of a second and sometimes for much longer periods, the two become one. In such situations, the states of “fusion”, the one and the other become (as it were) one being, acting out of itself, and not out of those who make it up. Think, for example, of a couple falling in love, feeling like they are in full fusion. Each of them loses “who he is”, and both, for a given period of time, become one. This fusion, between the two, also occurs in therapy. And just like any other human phenomenon, the merging action of the patient and the therapist in the treatment is characterized by its delicacy. It’s not as dramatic as a couple in love, but it does happen. A third entity is created in the room, which is not the patient (but it is also the patient), it is not the therapist (but it is also the therapist), but it is both together. It appears as “something that happens in the room, and is completely collaborative.” For example, if out of a great silence a feeling of laxity is created, this feeling, of laxity, of a decrease in tension, is neither of the patient nor of the therapist. She’s both of them together. None of them own it, none of them started it, but it was created in the encounter. And even if the patient actually feels tense, and the therapist actually feels alert, this feeling, of laxity, which belongs to both the patient and the therapist, is still there. It is the product of a very unique connection of the patient and the therapist. Maybe a bit like the connection between oxygen and hydrogen, two gases in cities, which creates water, a liquid that is not in the city, so is the slackness. It is unique, it is different from its components, and it belongs to both the patient and the therapist. 

One of the most powerful places where dyad can be seen is in the relationship between mother and baby. The question “Where does the mother end? And where does the baby begin?” When a mother is breastfeeding her baby sounds ridiculous for the simple reason: in this situation, of breastfeeding, there is especially the dyad. If reasonable answer this question (“Where do you end and where does the baby start? …”) in the negative and hesitate to ask the question emphatically: “I do not end and he does not start … it’s us together, all the time”. 

Indeed, the dyad is a very significant stage in human development. By living in the early mother-infant relationship, it allows the baby to feel secure, and begin his life out of a committed protection. In exactly the same way, dyad has tremendous significance in psychotherapy. It creates powerful conditions, which allow for a kind of therapeutic “flanking” in which the connection between the patient and the therapist (ie, the dyad) “bypasses” defenses, anxieties, and restraint. 

The formation of the dyad in treatment is not a simple operation. Despite the enormous benefits of entering it, for a significant proportion of patients the very act of entering dyad requires a great deal of courage. Those who have experienced “human connections” in the past as dangerous (for example, in situations of premature vulnerability) will be afraid of dying, and will do everything in their power to avoid finding themselves in an “air-conditioned” state, which naturally leaves them exposed. 

The Matrix, a tool used to analyze psychotherapy treatments, monitors the conduct of treatment hours. One of the parameters he follows is the dyad. Through a continuous coding of the sections in the treatment, he constantly examines “who the treatment is talking about”: the patient, the therapist or the connection between them (ie, the dyad). The continuous manner in which the Matrix examines the conduct of the hour invites the therapist to examine the accuracy of his work in the dyadic aspect. Is the patient due to enter dyadic condition? And if so, how long can he stay in this state? And if not, if the patient is unable, because of a past that has carved defenses and restraints, to enter a dyadic state, what is supposed to happen in order for this reality to change? Is all that is required is probing caution, and a gentle (but intensifying) touch on the dyadic component, until the patient feels confident enough to stay in it? And perhaps the way to allow the patient to be in dyad is precisely in the presence of a more prominent, and dominant, therapist? These questions are just a small part of the range of issues raised by the Matrix. The ability to be precise, through the matrix, the work on the dyad, may accelerate the treatment, and expand the range of the patient’s emotional movements in him, and in his life in general. 

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