Since we came from a connecting universe (in the quantum world), we have a memory of that stored away unconsciously. It is stored away along with the circumstances and folks responsible for the loss of it.
Here is what the authors have to say about the brain and memory.
Brain and Memory
“Not only do we have a memory of the original condition (of being connected), we also have a memory of the people and circumstances responsible for our loss of it. Since having it and the loss of it are connected to the same cast of characters in our childhood, it makes sense that our unconscious would look for them or a reasonable facsimile. That brings us to the Imago, the central aspect of our clinical theory, and the hope for the recovery of joy, wonder, and full aliveness.” (pp.122-123)
They go on to say:
“Since the brain has no template nor content but the past, our experience of living in the present is an illusion. Each time we reflect on a moment, it is gone. The bridge from the experienced past to the experienced present is memory, which is existentially, but unconsciously, uploaded into the present as ‘reality’. Thus the present is the past reporting on itself. This all has to do with how the Imago Process works.
The Imago as Memory Configuration
“As a memory configuration, the Imago is more-or-less an internal photo chronology of the years of our childhood, featuring a collage of pictures of our younger self as we were being held, guided, loved, scolded, ignored, rejected, or in other ways powerfully affected by the most important people who will ever enter our life. Collectively, these pictures tell a detailed story about the people who reared us, how they made us feel, and what we felt about them as we progressed through the developmental stages.
If the story is positive and exciting, it will repeat itself in the future with no need for editing because it serves the survival directive. If it is stressful, painful, or traumatic, it will offer itself to the present for revision, because survival is at stake. This constellation of memories propounds itself to the present in search of an alternative future.
The aim of the repetitive cycle is not to repeat the past, as Freud hypothesized, but to change it in the service of a new future.” (p.124) (italics added)
The Aim of the Repetitive Cycle
That last sentence is really important. The aim of the repetitive cycle is not to repeat the past but to change it. To change it in the service of a new future; is about survival. From an Imago perspective: “we fall in love, with the agenda of transforming the past, moving to our next stage of development, and ushering the human race forward to its next developmental stage, which from the Imago perspective, is considered to be a relational civilization.” (p.126)
Blame: Loss of Connecting
Remember, this is not about blaming our parents or early caretakers for our loss of connecting. All parents do the best they can do. We just haven’t learned yet how to meet all of our children’s needs all the time. So as I tell my clients, we are all bent out of shape a bit (obviously, some more than others).
“The form in which the need presents itself for a specific person is stage-specific. Whenever the need of a specific developmental stage was not met, progression through that stage was stalled, and that impacted progress in all subsequent stages, and the resumption of the developmental flow requires the satisfaction, in adulthood, of the generic need in the stage-specific form in which it presents itself.
That is where the Imago gets activated. It is the filter that lets the right person into our lives. However, that person is similar to the one who was not present at a distinct developmental stage. This is the stage in which a need was not met. That is the conundrum of the selection process and the challenge of the |Imago therapist.” (p.125)
“Our Imago is an unconscious homing device that guides us toward the ‘right’ kind of partner – that is, a partner who matches or fits our internalized image of our caretakers.” (p.126) The problem, of course, is that just as our early caretakers couldn’t meet all of our needs along the developmental path, neither can our Imago match. When this reality stays unconscious, it is a recipe for disaster (see the 40% divorce rate in Canada). However, if couples can become more conscious, more aware, and reframe this reality, they in fact have married their healer.
Ask Yourself 2 Questions
I know this is pretty heavy sledding but here are two questions you might ask yourself. These may shed some light on the theory.
1) Why are you with the person you are with? Most men will have met many women by the time they are looking for an intimate relationship. This is just as most women will have met many men. So why the one you are with? Not a bad question really. Why am I with my partner; why is anyone with anyone?
2) Can you remember when you first met your partner? Everyone I ask that question to can. I can’t remember what I did yesterday but I can remember 50 years ago when I first met my wife. So what is going on? I can’t prove it, but I think, unconsciously, we recognize someone who is familiar.
In the romantic love phase of the relationship, it is the positive qualities that attract, but inevitably negative traits show up as well, and if it stays unconscious 40% of marriages end in divorce and of the other 60%, many are in hot marriages where there is a lot of fighting or a cold relationship where the passion is gone.
“Imago offers another option: to transform the unconscious relationship into a conscious partnership in which partners collaborate and co-create a relationship that transforms the memories of the past with our caretakers into a dream relationship with our partner.” (pp. 125/26)