Man is a social animal by nature, so much so that a person’s quality of life is also measured through the relationships he/she is able to establish and maintain, and which constitute his/her emotional and social network. What is established between patient and therapist is a particular type of relationship that constitutes a fundamental ingredient to promote change. But how is it treated through the relationship or a relationship become curative in itself?
Contrary to what one might think, the benefits of relationships are based on scientific evidence, so much so that the infant research and the neurosciences have devoted a large part of their studies to demonstrating it through objective data. If in the past it was believed that the newborn was lacking in any interactive capacity, today we know that, on the contrary, it is born already predisposed to the relationship with the other, indeed, in part it already establishes it in the prenatal era through the stimuli of the external world that can penetrate into the uterine environment.
It is now established that the child recognizes the mother’s voice, as well as her smell, as soon as she came into the world; it even distinguishes its beat and is influenced by its emotional states. If the relationship is an exchange, isn’t this a full-fledged relationship?
As the newborn grows up becoming an infant and then a child, it establishes relationships with the primary caregivers who will constitute the matrix on which its future relationships in adult age will also be based. The more these relations will be able to provide psychic nourishment to the child, the more he/she will be an adult capable of establishing satisfying relationships for themself and for others.
So, each of us is marked by a mold from which it cannot break free and which cannot change? Will each child be the adult that he/she was, based on the parents he/she had? In part yes, undeniable! But, in fact, only in part, precisely because even future relationships can be transformative, primarily therapeutic.
The relationship that is built between therapist and patient is a very special relationship. It represents an opportunity in which the person has the opportunity to relive an effective care giving relationship: one cannot certainly think of rewriting history, but a “good enough” therapist can make the patient feel able to receive the psychic nourishment that he died during childhood.
The discovery that the unborn child and the newborn are not isolated but already immersed in a relational network first focused attention on how much negative or deficient primary care could predispose them to future mental illness. But dwelling exclusively on this aspect is demonizing and blaming the parents and leaves no room for change.
It is very important to tackle the issue from another point of view: shifting the focus to the fact that positive primordial relations are the basis on which the well-being of the individual is based, we can admit and work on the present and future relationships of the person convinced of the capacities curative reports.