The use of transitional space in psychotherapy with the existential concerns of borderline experience

Автор: Rudolph Bauer

Журнал: Revista Científica Arbitrada de la Fundación MenteClara @fundacionmenteclara

Статья в выпуске: 1, Vol. 5, 2020 года.

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This paper describes experiencing the state of transitional awareness that facilitates the ongoing psychotherapy process within borderline states of concern. The paper focuses on the utilization of the transitional states of awareness so that a person's existential experience of the borderline situation can be transformed. The particular ego-self deficits of the borderline situation are elaborated from an existential self -object relations viewpoint. The borderline concern is profoundly existential and ontological. The transitional space of awareness is the doorway into our embodiment of the field of Being which is the field of Self.


Tantra, experience, limit, transitional space, anguish, existential, self-liberation, borderline, psychotherapy

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IDR: 170163675   |   DOI: 10.32351/rca.v5.133

Фрагмент статьи The use of transitional space in psychotherapy with the existential concerns of borderline experience


This paper articulates the use of the Transitional Space of Awareness in the psychotherapy of persons who are experiencing the existential situation that is often described as the borderline situation and borderline experience. I do not speak about the borderline patient but the borderline experience or situation as this experience is foundational within human existence. Psychoanalytic investigations based on the work of object relation theorists such as Guntrip (1969), Winnicott (1965), Mahler (1971), and Kernberg (1967) suggest that this borderline experience reflects a developmental fixation in ego development which initially occurs during the early childhood stage of separation/individuation. A number of factors: genetic, environmental, and traumatic interpersonal may interfere with the child's progression from a symbiotic relationship with their mother to a position of relative separateness. This difficulty is suggested to occur following self-object differentiation, but prior to the development of object constancy and corresponding self-constancy.

Structural impairment during this period results in the pathological continuance of splitting as a defense, both in terms of self and object; "I am either all good or all bad--you are either all good or all bad". This continuous use of being split results in limited reality testing, limited ability to tolerate anxiety, frustrations and limited ability to sustain a stable and integrated sense of ongoing continuity of self. This continuity of self is the sense of ongoing continuity of Being-ness.

The structural framing I have described here may be experientially accurate but none the less may over emphasize the developmental frame and under emphasize the role of acute and cumulative trauma in the creating of this terrible experience of annihilation anxiety and of falling into being-less life and empty existence. The borderline experience and situation is the horrible experience of Existing without the sense of our embodied Being which is our sense of vital embodied self. Our sense of Being and our sense of self are intimately intertwined. We human beings are onto-ontological beings.

Phenomenologically and experientially, there is an existential terror that is expressed in the dialectic and polarity of the relational fear of being abandoned and/or the of being completely absorbed by another. The person’s inner experience of sense of self is at times empty and vacuous. And at times there arises within the person a driven-ness of compulsive behaviors which are desperate attempts to avoid the experience of unbearable ontological annihilation anxiety and the experiential sense of being-less selfless non -embodiment. Living within a dissociative state of being is living within a sense of being-less-ness. Non embodiment implies a fragmented and disintegrating sense of embodied self and embodied being-less-ness.

Phenomenological Experiencing

This form of phenomenological experiencing reflects the drama which is so pervasive through many forms of clinical diagnosis and is profoundly existential and truly a part of our existential human experience. So in this paper, I am not discussing a psycho-diagnostic category but rather this human existential dilemma that may arise in time for everyone and anyone. This fragmenting event may arise for some people as they enter into a new developmental life phase. You can think of Erik Erikson’s life cycle, and the bewilderment that may arise as a person makes the transition from one phase of life into another existential developmental phase -with new and challenging developmental tasks- (Erickson, 1975). The experiencing of transitional of awareness and being in the transitional state of relatedness facilitates the ongoing existential psychotherapy process of healing the lack of ongoing continuity of Being, as well lack of ongoing continuity of self. By entering into the unfolding process of becoming aware of awareness there is a direct entering into the transitional state of spacious awareness. By being in transitional awareness we can directly know and experience Being. By living within this field of transitional awareness we can directly experience the field of our own embodied Being and the field of Being of others. Not only do we know and directly experience Being by living within the field of awareness, but by living within the field of awareness, we experience the embodiment of Being. Sometimes people confuse the simplistic focusing of attention as being in the field of primordial awareness. The drama of focusing our attention is a function of mind or an ego function. This is a psychological or mind form of awareness. Transitional awareness is an awareness that reflects our Being and the knowingness of Being. Our mind knows form and our awareness knows Being. The knowing of our Being is the knowing of awareness.

Ontological Anxiety And Disintegration of Sense of Self

The transitional state of awareness can provide direct support in the transforming of a person's experience of the ontological anxiety and disintegration of sense of self into an ongoing continuous sense of primordial embodied base of Being, and sense of continuous stability of ongoing continuity of sense of inner self.

The intrinsic field of our inner most awareness becomes our existential base of self and no longer is the base of our sense of self which is our fragmented and fragmenting mind. The mind does not know Being. Our mind is not our self and neither is our mind the base of our self. Our mind does not know the presence of Being. The feeling of our ongoing continuity of Being and ongoing continuity of self can be ruptured by our internalized states of traumatic negation.

In both borderline and schizoid states of experience, our sense of person is often located in our mind alone and we have become dissociated and split off from our basic state of embodied awareness and our embodied sense of Being. Our most basic human dissociation is the dissociation between our mind and our embodied field of innate awareness.

Direct Knowingness of Being

Our capacity to become aware of our awareness is our opening into our becoming the embodied Being of awareness. Heidegger ‘s wonderfully describes the nature of our Awareness as Da Sein. Da sein is the openness of human awareness to the Being-ness of Being. This is important. Da sein is the openness of human awareness to the experiential knowing of the Being-ness of Being. In becoming aware of our awareness we enter the openness of our awareness into the experience of the field of Being-ness, and the continuity of our sense of vital embodied Being-ness. Our sense of self and our sense of Being are intertwined (Heidegger, 1966).

Two Ways of Knowing: Mind knowing Form and Awareness Knowing Being

We have two ways of knowing. We are the knowing of mind and we are the knowing of awareness. Our mind knows form and our mind knows duality and our mind knows difference. Our mind knows things and our mind knows separateness. Our awareness knows Being and our awareness knows the oneness of Being and our awareness knows the presence of Being. Our mind knows the form of beings and our awareness directly knows the Being of beings. Our awareness knows the presence of Being as presence of self.

Our mind often misrecognizes our mind as self and our mind considers mind as the basis of self. Our awareness knows Being and our awareness knows the Being of awareness as our self. In mind alone the sense of self is related the functions of mind. The mind itself is Being-less. In becoming of aware of our own awareness the sense of self is related to the experience of our ongoing continuity of Being. In phenomenology, Awareness is Da Sein which is our opening of our awareness to Being. Awareness is our opening to the Being of our own Being and our opening to the Being of others. Awareness is our opening to the Being of the world.

When we integrate our mind within our field of awareness then we can experience the Being of form and the forms of Being simultaneously. We can experience the Being of our own form and we can experience the Being of the forms of others. We can experience the form of the world and the Being of the world simultaneously. With the integration of our mind into our awareness field, we can experience our sense of Being of our own embodied sense of self. We can experience living in a field of Being. We can experience Being in the world as Being in the Field of Being.

Becoming Aware of Awareness

Winnicott introduced his understanding and experience of transitional space as a metaphor describing the process and personal experience of becoming aware of our own innermost awareness which has the quality of spaciousness, the quality of vital energy and the quality of the self- illumination and the quality of play. Transitional awareness is not an affect, nor thought, nor phantasy, nor sensation. Transitional awareness is an in-between state or place of Being. Transitional awareness is an intermediate area of experience. This knowing spaciousness provides a ontological sense of self in this sea of Being. Transitional awareness is not located within our mind. There is our mind knowing form and our awareness knowing Being. We can integrate our mind within our awareness; and experience our knowing of mind and our knowing of awareness simultaneously.


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