Secret Intelligence Service



 Seminar Notes (I)

from; Conversations. Room 15 and New Mind War




Defences; Evolve throughout the years so to augment success in human society and relationships. The use of these defences enhances pleasure and feelings of control. These defences help to integrate conflicting emotions and thoughts, whilst still remaining effective. Those who use these mechanisms are usually considered virtuous. Mature defences include :

Respect: Willingness to show consideration or appreciation. Respect can be a specific feeling of regard for the actual qualities of a person or feeling being and also specific actions and conduct representative of that esteem. Relationships and contacts that are built without the presence of respect are seldom long term or sustainable. The lack of respect is at the very heart of most conflict in families, communities, and nations.

Moderation: The process of eliminating or lessening extremes and staying within reasonable limits. It necessitates self-restraint which is imposed by oneself on one’s own feelings, desires etc.

Patience: The level of endurance under difficult circumstances (delay, provocation, criticism, attack etc.) one can take before negativity. Patience is a recognized virtue in many religions.

Courage: The mental ability and willingness to confront conflicts, fear, pain, danger, uncertainty, despair, obstacles, vicissitudes or intimidation. Physical courage often extends lives, while moral courage preserves the ideals of justice and fairness.

Humility: A mechanism by which a person, considering their own defects, has a humble self-opinion. Humility is intelligent self-respect which keeps one from thinking too highly or too meanly of oneself.

Mindfulness: Adopting a particular orientation toward one’s experiences in the present moment, an orientation that is characterised by curiosity, openness, and acceptance.

Acceptance: A person’s assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a difficult or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit. Religions and psychological treatments often suggest the path of acceptance when a situation is both disliked and unchangeable, or when change may be possible only at great cost or risk.

Gratitude: A feeling of thankfulness or appreciation involving appreciation of a wide range of people and events. Gratitude is likely to bring higher levels of happiness, and lower levels of depression and stress. Throughout history, gratitude has been given a central position in religious and philosophical theories.

Altruism: Constructive service to others that brings pleasure and personal satisfaction.

Tolerance: The practice of deliberately allowing or permitting a thing of which one disapproves.

Mercy: Compassionate behaviour on the part of those in power.

Forgiveness: Cessation of resentment, indignation or anger as a result of a perceived offence, disagreement, or mistake, or ceasing to demand retribution or restitution.

Anticipation: Realistic planning for future discomfort.

Humour: Overt expression of ideas and feelings (especially those that are unpleasant to focus on or too terrible to talk about directly) that gives pleasure to others. The thoughts retain a portion of their innate distress, but they are “skirted around” by witticism, for example self-deprecation.

Identification: The unconscious modelling of one’s self upon another person’s character and behaviour.

Sublimation: Transformation of unhelpful emotions or instincts into healthy actions, behaviours, or emotions, for example, playing a heavy contact sport such as football or rugby can transform aggression into a game.

Suppression: The conscious decision to delay paying attention to an emotion or need in order to cope with the present reality; making it possible to later access uncomfortable or distressing emotions whilst accepting them.

Emotional self-regulation: The ability to respond to the ongoing demands of experience with the range of emotions in a manner that is socially tolerable. Emotional self-regulation refers to the processes people use to modify the type, intensity, duration, or expression of various emotions.

Emotional self-sufficiency: Not being dependent on the validation (approval or disapproval) of others.

One positive coping strategy, anticipating a problem, is known as proactive coping. Anticipation is when one reduces the stress of some difficult challenge by anticipating what it will be like and preparing for how one is going to cope with it.

Two other coping strategies are; msocial coping, such as seeking social support from others, and meaning-focused coping, in which the person concentrates on deriving meaning from the stressful experience. Yet another way of coping is avoiding thoughts or circumstances that cause stress.

Adequate nutrition, exercise, sleep contribute to stress mmanagement, as do physical fitness and relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation.

One of the most positive methods people use to cope with painful situations is humour. You feel things to the full but you master them by turning it all into pleasure and fun.

Social sharing of emotions can be defined as an “interpersonal process” wherein, after an emotional event, “individuals will initiate interpersonal behaviours in which discussing this event and their reactions to it is central”. In other words, the social sharing of emotions is the process of reactivating the emotion at a more symbolic level, all taking place as part of ensuing interpersonal interactions.

Furthermore, there are two said defining characteristics of the phenomenon :

(i) That the emotion is recalled in a ‘socially shared language’.

(ii) That this recall is shared with an addressee (even if the addressee is symbolic)

Bonding—so to become closer to others and reduces feelings of loneliness

Empathy—so to emotionally arouse or touch the listener

Drawing of attention—so to receive attention from others, possibly to impress others

Entertaining —so to engage others and facilitate social interactions 

Response of the recipient

Through a recent series of studies, a classification of the recipient’s general behaviours and responses during social sharing of emotions has been created. Five general classes of behaviours have been identified:

(i) Social support: attempts at comforting, expressing unconditional support, showing empathy and understanding

(ii) Physical gestures: non-verbal comfort or consolation, such as hugging, kissing, or touching

(iii) Concrete actions: talking about or attempting to do something outside of the emotional situation (i.e. distraction)

(iv) De-dramatisation: putting the situation in perspective, telling the person that it happens to other people, that it is not so bad, etc.

(v) Questioning: asking more information or clarifying things about the experience

The symbolic universe–socially shared knowledge

Human beings possess an inherent ensemble of basic beliefs regarding themselves, others, the world, etc. Such ‘naive theories’ are what constitute the symbolic universe. One’s symbolic universe is part of a socially shared knowledge, transmitted principally as a result of education and social communication, with a large emphasis on the process of attachment through which parents impart their visions of the world, their symbolic universes, to their children. Such symbolic universes guide how human beings make sense of the world, and are composed of a relatively stable network of ideologies. Therefore, if one of these beliefs is compromised, the stability of the entire network could be jeopardised. It is very important to maintain a sense of stability within such a system of beliefs, so there is a natural psychological motivation to try to protect these beliefs. Because such beliefs have a fundamentally social origin, their revalidation can only be legitimised through a social consensus. Along these lines, aforementioned social rituals have emerged, so to be used as a more structured way of re-substantiating beliefs that have been invalidated as a result of an emotional event.


Interpersonal relationships are dynamic systems that change continuously during their existence. Like living organisms, relationships have a beginning, a lifespan, and an end. They tend to grow and improve gradually, as people get to know each other and become closer emotionally, or they gradually deteriorate as people drift apart, move on with their lives and form new relationships with others. One of the most influential models of relationship development (Levinger, G. date?) describes heterosexual, adult romantic relationships, and has been applied to other kinds of interpersonal relation sin addition

According to the model, the natural development of a relationship follows,via the stages:

(i) Acquaintance and acquaintanceship – Becoming acquainted depends on previous relationships, physical proximity, first impressions, and a variety of other factors. If two people begin to like each other, continued interactions may lead to the next stage, but acquaintance can continue indefinitely. Another example is association.

(ii) Build up –During this stage, people begin to trust and care about each other. The need for intimacy, compatibility and such filtering agents as common background and goals will influence whether or not interaction continues.

(iii) Continuation –This stage follows a mutual commitment to quite a strong and close long-term friendships, romantic relationship, or even marriage. It is generally a long, relative stable period. Nevertheless, continued growth and development will occur during this time. Mutual trust is important for sustaining the relationship.

A list of interpersonal skills:

Verbal communication – What we say and how we say it.

Nonverbal communication – What we communicate without words, body language is an example.

Listening skills – How we interpret both the verbal and non-verbal messages sent by others. 

Negotiation – Working with others to find a mutually agreeable outcome.

Problem solving – Working with others to identify, define and solve problems.

Decision making – Exploring and analysing options to make sound decisions.

Assertiveness – Communicating our values, ideas, beliefs, opinions, needs and wants freely.

What is Romantic love?

Romantic love: The capacity for love provides depth to human relationships, love brings people closer to each other both physically and emotionally, and it inspires enthusiastic thinking regarding oneself and the world. The stages of romantic interpersonal relationships can also be characterised more generally by the following:





Attraction–Premeditated or automatic, attraction can occur between acquaintances, coworkers, lovers, and so on, be based on sexual arousal, intellectual stimulation, or respect. Studies have shown that attraction can be susceptible to influence based on context and externally induced arousal, with the stipulation that participants be unaware of the source of their arousal

Initiation–There are several catalysts in the initiation of a new relationship. One commonly studied factor is physical proximity (also known as propinquity). The MIT Westgate studies famously showed that greater physical proximity between incoming students in a university residential hall led to greater relationship initiation. More specifically, only 10% of those living on opposite ends of Westgate West considered each other friends while more than 40% of those living in adjacent apartments considered each other friends. The theory behind this effect is that proximity facilitates chance encounters, which lead to initiation of new relationships. This is closely related to the mere exposure effect, which states that the more an individual is exposed to a person or object, the more s/he likes it. Another important factor in the initiation of new relationships is similarity. Put simply, individuals tend to be attracted to and start new relationships with those who are similar to them. These similarities can include beliefs, rules, interests, culture, education, etc. Individuals seek relationships with like others because like others are most likely to validate shared beliefs and perspectives, thus facilitating interactions that are positive, rewarding and without conflict.

Development–Development of interpersonal relationships can be further split into committed versus non-committed romantic relationships, which have different behavioural characteristics. In a study by Miguel & Buss (2011), men and women were found to differ in a variety of mate-retention strategies depending on whether their romantic relationships were committed or not. More committed relationships by both genders were characterised by greater resource display, appearance enhancement, love and care, and verbal signs of possession. In contrast, less committed relationships by both genders were characterised by greater jealousy induction. In terms of gender differences, men used greater resource display than women, who used more appearance enhancement as a mate-retention strategy than men.

Sustaining vs. terminating–After a relationship has had time to develop, it enters into a phase where it will be sustained if it is not otherwise terminated. Some important qualities of strong, enduring relationships include emotional understanding and effective communication between partners. Research has also shown that idealisation of one’s partner is linked to stronger interpersonal bonds.

Idealisation is the pattern of overestimating a romantic partner’s positive virtues or underestimating a partner’s negative faults in comparison to the partner’s own self-evaluation. In general, individuals who idealise their romantic partners tend to report higher levels of relationship satisfaction. Other research has examined the impact of joint activity on relationship quality. In particular, studies have shown that romantic partners that engage in a novel and exciting physical activity together are more likely to report higher levels of relationship satisfaction than partners that complete a mundane activity.

What is Intimacy?

Intimacy generally refers to the sensation of being in a close personal association and belonging together. It is a familiar and very close affective connection with another as a result of a bond that is formed through knowledge and experience of the other. Genuine intimacy in human relationships requires dialogue, transparency, vulnerability, and reciprocity. The verb ‘intimate’ means ‘to state or make known’. The activity of intimating (making known) underpins the meanings of ‘intimate’ when used as a noun and adjective. The noun ‘intimate’ means a person with whom one has a particularly close relationship. This was clarified by Dalton (1959) who discusses how anthropologists and ethnographic researchers access ‘inside information’ from within a particular cultural setting by establishing networks of intimates capable (and willing) to provide information unobtainable through formal channels. The adjective ‘intimate’ indicates detailed knowledge of a thing or person (e.g., ‘an intimate knowledge of engineering’ and ‘an intimate relationship between two people’).

In human relationships, the meaning and level of intimacy varies within and between relationships. In anthropological research, intimacy is considered the product of a successful seduction, a process of rapport building that enables parties to confidently disclose previously hidden thoughts and feelings. Intimate conversations become the basis for ‘confidences’ (secret knowledge) that bind people together. To sustain intimacy for any length of time requires well-developed emotional and interpersonal awareness. Intimacy requires an ability to be both separate and together participants in an intimate relationship. Murray Bowen called this ‘self-differentiation’. It results in a connection in which there is an emotional range involving both robust conflict, and intense loyalty. Lacking the ability to differentiate oneself from the other is a form of symbiosis, a state that is different from intimacy, even if feelings of closeness are similar

What might be the types of intimacy?

It is possible to distinguish between four different forms of intimacy:





Physical intimacy is sensual proximity or touching, examples include being inside someone’s personal space, holding hands, hugging, kissing, petting and other sexual activity.

Emotional intimacy, particularly in sexual relationships, typically develops after a certain level of trust has been reached and personal bonds have been established.

The emotional connection of ‘falling in love’, however, has both a biochemical dimension, driven through reactions in the body stimulated by sexual attraction (PEA, phenylethylamine),and a social dimension driven by ‘talk’ that follows from regular physical closeness or sexual union.

Cognitive or intellectual intimacy takes place when two people exchange thoughts, share ideas and enjoy similarities and differences between their opinions. If they can do this in an open and comfortable way, they can become quite intimate in an intellectual area.

Experiential intimacy is when two people get together to actively involve themselves with each other, probably saying very little to each other, not sharing any thoughts or many feelings, but being involved in mutual activities with one another. Imagine observing two house painters whose brushstrokes seemed to be playing out a duet on the side of the house. They may be shocked to think that they were engaged in an intimate activity with each other, however from an experiential point of view, they would be very intimately involved.

What is ‘projective identification’–the rock star / Christ/’man in the sky’, fantasy lover-syndrome?

Projective identification is a psychological process that is simultaneously a type of defence, a means of communication, a primitive form of object relationship, and a pathway for psychological change. As a defence, projective identification serves to construct a sense of psychological distance from unwanted (often frightening) aspects of the self. As a mode of communication, projective identification is a process by which feelings congruent with one’s own are induced in another person, thereby creating a sense of being understood by, or of being at one with the other person.

As a type of ‘object relationship’ Projective identification establishes a way of being with and relating to a partially separate object. As a pathway for psychological change; projective identification is a process by which feelings such as those that a person is struggling with are psychologically processed by another person and made available for re-internalization in an altered form. Each of these functions of projective identification evolves in the context of the infant’s early attempts to perceive, organise, and manage his/her internal and external experience and to communicate with her/his environment. You can think of projective identification as an unconscious fantasy of lovinga nd of hateful feelings being evacuated into the internal and external object. This process can then lead to the fantasy of re-internalising an injured object, causing depression and fear, or of re-internalising a now hostile and dangerous object, causing persecutory anxieties. Projective identification represents a very primitive means of communication somewhat pathological, but seemingly all-pervasive acrosssocieties. Projective identification is a form of adaptation, communication, defence, and creative expression

On Aristotle

Aristotle contemplated on interpersonal relationships. ‘One person is a friend to another if he is friendly to the other and the other is friendly to him in return’ (Aristotle, 330 BC, trans. 1991, pp. 72–73).

Aristotle believed that by nature humans are social beings.

Aristotle also suggested that relationships were based on three different ideas: utility, pleasure, and virtue. People are attracted to relationships that provide utility because of the assistance and sense of belonging that they provide. In relationships based on pleasure, people are attracted to the feelings of pleasantness when the parties engage. However, relationships based on utility and pleasure were said to be short-lived if the benefits provided by one of the partners was not reciprocated.

Relationships based on virtue are built on an attraction to the others’ virtuous character. Aristotle also suggested that relationships based on virtue would be the longest lasting and that virtue-based relationships were the only type of relationship in which each partner was liked for themselves. The philosophical analysis used by Aristotle dominated the analysis of intimate relationships until the late 1880s.

A virtue is a positive trait or quality deemed to be morally good and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting collective and individual greatness. The opposite of virtue is vice.

As Aristotle, in the Nicomachean Ethics: “at the right times, about the right things, towards the right people, for the right end, and in the right way, is the intermediate and best condition, and this is proper to virtue.

This is not simply splitting the difference between two extremes. For example, generosity is a virtue between the two extrema of miserliness and being profligate. Further examples include: courage between cowardice and foolhardiness and confidence between self-deprecation and vanity. In Aristotle’s sense, virtue is excellence at being human. The primary Roman virtues, both public and private, are:

Auctoritas – spiritual authority –the sense of one’s social standing, built up through experience, Pietas, and Industria. This was considered to be essential for a magistrate’s ability to enforce law and order.

Comitas – humour – ease of manner, courtesy, openness, and friendliness.

Constantia – perseverance – military stamina, as well as general mental and physical endurance in the face of hardship.

Clementia – mercy – mildness and gentleness, and the ability to set aside previous transgressions.

Dignitas – dignity – a sense of self-worth, personal self-respect and self-esteem.

Disciplina – discipline – considered essential to military excellence; also connotes adherence to the legal system, and upholding the duties of citizenship.

Firmitas – tenacity – strength of mind, and the ability to stick to one’s purpose at hand without wavering.

Frugalitas – frugality – economy and simplicity in lifestyle, without being miserly.

Gravitas – gravity – a sense of the importance of the matter at hand; responsibility, and being earnest.

Honestas – respectability – the image that one presents as a respectable member of society.

Humanitas – humanity – refinement, civilisation, learning, and generally being cultured.

Industria – industriousness – hard work.

Iustitia – justice – sense of moral worth to an action; personified by the goddess Iustitia, the Roman counterpart to the Greek Themis.

Pietas – dutifulness – more than religious piety; a respect for the natural order: socially, politically, and religiously. Includes ideas of patriotism, fulfillment of pious obligation to the gods, and honoring other human beings, especially in terms of the patron and client relationship, considered essential to an orderly society.

Prudentia – prudence – foresight, wisdom, and personal discretion.

Salubritas –wholesomeness – general health and cleanliness, personified in the deity Salus.

Severitas –sternness – self-control, considered to be tied directly to the virtue of gravitas.

Veritas – truthfulness – honesty in dealing with others, personified by the goddess Veritas.

Veritas, being the mother of Virtus, was considered the root of all virtue; a person living an honest life was bound to be virtuous.

Virtus – manliness – valour, excellence, courage, character, and worth. ‘Vir’ is Latin for ‘man’.

Regarding Aristotle’s opinion that happiness depends on the goods of fortune, Descartes does not deny that these goods contribute to happiness, but remarks that they are in great proportion outside one’s own control, whereas one’s mind is under one’s complete control.

Useful Refs – not restricted to :

Bion W: Attacks on linking. International Journal of Psychoanalysis. 1959

Freud S: Further recommendations in the technique of psychoanalysis: recollection, repetition, and working through (1914), in Collected Papers, volume2. New York, Basic Books, 1959

Grotstein J: Splitting and Projective Identification. Northvale, NJ, Jason Aronson, 1985

Klein M: Notes on some schizoid mechanisms. International Journal of Psychoanalysis.1946

Segal H: Introduction to the Work of Melanie Klein. New York, Basic Books, 1974

Pick IB: Working through in the countertransference. International Journal of Psychoanalysis1985

Racker H: Transference and Counter-transference. Madison, CT, International Universities Press, 1968

Ogden T: On projective identification. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 1979

Rosenfeld H: Transference-phenomena and transference-analysis in an acute catatonic schizophrenic patient. International Journal of Psychoanalysis 1952

Heimann P: On counter-transference (1949), in About Children and Children-No-Longer: Collected Papers 1942–80, edited by Tonnesmann M. London, Routledge, 1989

Sandler J: Counter-transference and role responsiveness. International Review of Psychoanalysis 1976


Go to Notes (II)

Seminar Notes (I). MMXIX

(C-I) Unit. Harrogate

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