The Continuum Concept.

Jean Liedloff wrote a great book called, ‘The Continuum Concept’. She describes in detail the process by which we lose our connection to Nature.

The Continuum, based on instinct and rooted in the body, has been interrupted.

Babies are born with inherant expectations.

top of the list….

that the mother/baby continuum is sacred…

but it ain’t… no mo’

”When the expected does not take place, corrective or compensatory tendencies make an effort to restore balance.”

Like Gilgamesh building de Mother’s bones into him walls….

which just makes things worse because those compensatory gestures have to run forever in order to maintain equilibrium..

which mean that…

”deprivation… will be maintained indiscriminantly as part of development. Instictive forces do not reason. They assume that it will serve the individual to be stabilised according to initial experience.”

that not a good thing…

Not if baby’s experience is that access to mother is restricted…

By her ‘avin no place of honour.

”…a mindless terror of silence. The motionlessness. He screams. Afire from head to foot with want, with desire, with intolerable impatience… He listens.. he opens and closes his fist. He rolls his head from side to side. Nothing helps, it is unbearable.”

Could we compare the experiences of the infant state, Israel?

Being lost in the Desert….

crying into the wilderness…   rending  garments and gnashing teath…with tears and lamentations and ‘wherefore art thou…..?’

For the first time people want borders on their land and start to fight over it, not because there’s not enough to go around but because a defuse panic of disenfranchisment is sweeping consciousness with the absence of Mum. The land is now a part-object, the down graded receptacle for the experience of the divine feminine, and land-to-have rather than Nature-who-provides.

Suddenly there’s a limit on plenty.

If  the Principle of Relatedness is repressed, all kinds of ontological insecurities will rush to the surface. And though, ostensibly, the person has become perhaps more competent and single minded, underneath they are clingy, vulnerable and controlling. The need for ownership it generates and the use of people as a means to an end can never be sated because the maw it is being used to fill is not of this world.

And the danger is not simply that I immediatly make war on my neighbour. That is the least of my worries. No, it’s that I’m liable to go to war with myself.

Capacity to hold together in times of stress -reduced.

Capacity for inner conflict resolution -reduced.

Capacity to use reason -reduced.

Compassion for self -reduced.

Of course we’re anxious. The inner facets of our psyches are actually less well hinged together than they might be. We need therapists like no other culture. Western Civilization is ontologically riven in its foundations. A fault line that gives rise to the eternal nameless anxiety of our age. Something isn’t quite right. A vague apprehension of having lost… something. An emptiness.

The perennial issues bought to the consulting room, though each is unique in its content, all have the grey tolling of self-estrangement, the anxiety of being un-held by the universe, the unnamed longing and creeping depression that was never supposed to be part of priviledge.

What we’re suffering from is a kind of divine homesickness, of redeeming the dark brother and revaluing the Mother, of really feeling in its proper context what we’re missing…

so that it can be different……

But we don’t because then we’d see who we are and have to act accordingly.

Which is tough..

and so we pretend its not a big deal.

back inna soup.

”The most common form of despair is not being who you are.” S. Kierkegaard.

Not knowing who you are is a lesser demon, one that can almost be house trained by comparison.

We can try to shore up not being who we are, but it takes increasing effort, lashings of co-dependence and covert agreement to a sado-masochistic arrangement thereafter….

which can be useful.

excuse me…?

If a person can’t be clear about who they are, if the temenos created by the Great Mother in which autonomy can safely be explored without loss is then cracked, and I can’t talk to me very well without turning into bits on the kitchen floor..

then definite roles and rules are life-savers.

Hurting and being hurt is predicated on someone-hurting and someone-else-being-hurt….. so the collusive blancmange of  the Mutual Admiration Society needn’t swallow you up.

Everyone knows where they are…

Me Tarzan on steroids

… you Jane on valium, and a little love is allowed into play..


Sure, when everyone is really clear about their roles, as limiting as they might be then anxiety is quelled because everyone knows what the rules are. And when anxiety is quelled a little love might be allowed. Its constricted somewhat but still a creative solution to the problem of how to be together without getting devoured.

I’m not into allat kinky stuff man.

S/M is rarely found at the flamboyant end of the scale. It has a mundane cousin far more common or garden. Circles of domestic spite, dumping and guilt tripping, that serve without fail to create difference and sharply defined identities. Doesn’t really matter what it is , so long as you’re being can be reconfirmed for the umpteenth time.. and if relatedness has to be sacrificed on the altar of ontological security…..

You wonder why the masochist stays, forgetting how much identity and emotion there is in being done to with a clean conscience.




Published by


Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, 'Going Mad to Stay Sane', a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition. Soon to be printed for the first time, 'Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery', described by activist Satish Kumar as, ' A Tao of the Soul'. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way. In the meantime..... Narcissisim is the issue of our age. This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

4 thoughts on “The Continuum Concept.”

  1. Thank you for your dense response. If only I walked out in rage just once:))..Transference is a sort of temporary madness I am unluckily aware of and I cringe with horror each time I see this part of self I had carefully buried for decades- I am 46. Thank you for your encouragement and your trust in the process.

Leave a Reply