The Space

Sep 24, 2010

What is happening in the space between two people?

This is one of the psychological topics which fascinates me the most.  It is of interest to the field of psychology because as you can imagine, and likely have experienced, that space is where interactions occur and therein lies the material for all of our life experiences, where we find love, pain, happiness, sadness, where we project our fears and realize our dreams.  The “space” between me and another, or for that matter me and my dreams, is where life really happens.  And as such, this space has been marveled at long before the invention of psychology and many poets, composers, and visual artists can evoke a sense of it better than any psychology construct will ever decipher.

Yet, it still bears understanding in psychological terms.  One psychologist, D.W. Winnicott, called it Potential Space, so named because the first experience of that space is between mother and child and within it the child’s ‘potential’ can be realized.  Another, a Jungian Analyst named Nathan Schwartz-Salant, calls it the Interactive Field.

Schwartz-Salant said that between two people there can be a “union” that is “characterized by the creation of something new that is often only glimpsed” by the participants and experienced as a “fleeting” moment where one can feel that space and time have been “suspended” for the moment because a “sense of expansiveness had appeared.”  Wow!  What a place this potential space, or interactive field, is, where I can I find it?

The suggestion is then that an interactive field is borne each time there is space between one thing and another.  Mostly psychology studies the space between people; however, these fields occur between one’s conscious awareness and any “other” thing with which one can relate, such as an animal, Nature, an old photograph, even an internal thought.

The reason these interactive fields fascinate me so much is because of how perceptive one must be to be able to side-step one’s own conscious awareness of the interaction with another to also be observant of the interactive field where the interaction is occurring.  As you might imagine, this is relatively easier when relating to a store clerk by awaiting one’s change up to the very challenging interactions with one’s closest loved ones.  Nevertheless, there is always an interactive field occurring.

So, what happens when one person experiences the interaction one way and the other person a different way?  Well, in my opinion that is why the great tales of love lost and gained, and all other variations of colossal misunderstandings, will never wane from cultural interest- because that ALWAYS happens!  This is how the psychological industry was built, as well as the film industry.

And, perhaps even more interesting, how much is lost in this space that neither participant will ever be consciously made aware?  In a way this is sad to acknowledge.

As I said, artists seem to be well aware of this space; Dave Matthews even named a song The Space Between, of which the last lines are these:

“The Space Between
What’s wrong and right
Is where you’ll find me hiding, waiting for you
The Space Between
Your heart and mine
Is the space we’ll fill with time”

Interesting that Dave has alluded to some of the same concepts that Schwartz-Salant did.  But, if you know the song, then you know that earlier on there are hints of the miscommunications experienced as well:

“These fickle, fuddled words confuse me
Like ‘Will it rain today?’
Waste the hours with talking, talking
These twisted games we’re playing”

And here Dave has described exactly what I think is most confusing about the interactive field.  Very often when we are interacting with someone we talk about things that have absolutely no relevance to the interaction being experienced.  How strange!  But, also how normal.

How about you?  Have you marveled at the space between you and another?  And what are your thoughts?

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3 Responses so far | Have Your Say!

  1. Pam
    September 24th, 2010 at 10:38 pm #

    This is beautiful! Love it and so true!

  2. Pam
    September 24th, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    Great!!! I love it ;)

  3. Brenda
    September 24th, 2010 at 10:44 pm #

    Thanks Pam!! I appreciate you reading! :)