Monday, July 21, 2008

“Triangles Help 'Blow the Cover' of Our Denial Systems” (a Dr. Stoop quote!)

Christians weighing in on Botkin Syndrome:

Excerpts from "Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves" by Drs. Stoop and Masteller.

From pages 131- 133:

[F]amily researchers have found that the best way to study what goes on in people's relationships is to look at what are called groups of three people, or triangles... But they soon began to find that the inner workings of a relationship were really unlocked when a third person was added to the picture...

Offset quoting of Harriet Lerner from page 151 of “The Dance of Intimacy”:

Two-person systems are inherently unstable. Anxiety and conflict will not stay contained between two parties for more than a short time. A third party will quickly be triangled in (or will triangle him- or herself in). This process operates automatically, like a law of physics, without conscious awareness or intent.

The third person in a triangle can also serve to uncover hidden dynamics in a relationship. Many husbands and wives, for example, grow accustomed to relating to each other according to established patterns, often with a number of secrets, myths, and unspoken rules in operation. When a third person comes along who either does not know the secrets, myths, and rules (or who knows of them and simply refuses to go along with them) the couple is suddenly forced to deal with realities that they are otherwise adept at ignoring or sidestepping. Triangles help “blow the cover” of our denial systems...

A note in passing. Usually when we speak of a triangle, we are dealing with a relationship among three flesh-and-blood people who actually interact together on a regular basis. Sometimes, though, the “third person” in a relationship can be more figurative, as when we say things like, “You're just like your mother,” or “You remind me so much of your father when you do that.” The spectre of an absent third party can be a very real presence in a relationship.

Excerpt from
Dr. David Stoop & Dr. James Masteller's
"Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves:
Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families"

Regal/Gospel Light, 1996 (Servant, 1991)