Relationship Model - Origin

Part 1: The Model

The Intentional Language Relationship Model focuses on a segment of the psyche that remains disguised deep in our unconscious, yet is present in every communication we have with others.  Everyone we meet shows it to us in their facial muscles, their tone of voice, the words used, gestures made, and in their choice of friends, spouses, and careers.  Our bodies and emotions feel the impact of this hidden part of our psyche, yet we are unable to point to its location within.  We see and communicate with it everyday, but like a center line on the highway, it is soon replaced by another and then another, until we can no longer keep up with the speed at which the lines shift their shape before our eyes.

The Intentional Language Relationship Model points to and describes the shape shifting tendency of our psyche’s.  One aspect I will call The Golem.  Everyday the Golem grows in strength, though we are unaware of it’s size and power to control of lives.  It has been in control of our feelings and behavior for so long we can no longer identify it as separate from who we think we are.  It is like an alien living inside our bodies and minds, about which we have become indifferent.  Yet, we created The Golem and it’s passive, needy counterpart, The Survival Child, by splitting our psyche in two at a very young age.  We spilt our psyche in order to become the child that our caregivers found acceptable.  We became the children who would toe the family’s line and disguise the family secrets in appropriate family behavior.  From the psyche’s point of view, it was better to become less than whole in order to survive.

The Intentional Language Relationship Model will show how and why The Golem and The Survival Child were created during early childhood development and where it manifests in our personal and professional communications.  Then, in detail we will walk through the process that transforms the split into a set of powerful relationship and communication tools that become our model.  To understand this model and use these tools will change the way your relationships develop, how children are raised and how work groups communicate.  The skill set will allow each person to be seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued as a worthy partner and contributor.

Then we will introduce two feelings that need to be felt at the same time. One from The Golem and one from The Survival Child.  Two feelings felt, without rejecting either, when communicating with other people.  One feeling is the reactive feeling related to The Survival Child and controlled by The Golem.  This feeling is amplified whenever we see or hear trigger-behaviors in others.  Trigger-behaviors are emotional reactions to a set of behaviors that we are personally hypersensitive to when seen or heard in others. 

The second feeling is the responsive feeling of being connected.  This feeling is present when we have communicated in a way that allows both people to be seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued.  This responsive connection is expressed well in the common Swahili equivalent for hello, “I see you” and in the mirrored response; “I am here.”

Finally we will describe in detail The Intentional Language Relationship Model and how it can be used at home, in the community, while working with other employees and in any other fellow human beings we find ourselves interacting with in the future.

So, hold on to your vulnerability with both hands, keep one eye on your fears, and open your mind to the real possibility of relationships beyond your wildest dreams.

Robert Bly hints at the survival child and the golem by referring to them as the "third body" that the couples obey.

A Man And A Woman Sit Near Each Other
by Robert Bly

"A man and a woman sit near each other,

and they do not long at this moment to be older, or younger,

nor born in any other nation, or time, or place.

They are content to be where they are, talking or not-talking.

Their breaths together feed someone whom we do not know.

The man sees the way his fingers move;

he sees her hands close around a book she hands to him.

They obey a third body that they share in common.

They have made a promise to love that body.

Age may come, parting may come, death will come.

A man and a woman sit near each other;

as they breathe they feed someone we do not know,

someone we know of, whom we have never seen."

This third body is the key to understanding and using Intentional Language. It is a language the third body longs to hear from a lover, a friend, a family member or co-worker. It is a language that you have sometimes heard, but far to infrequently from significant others. When Intentional Language is spoken we feel seen, understood, accepted, chosen and valued. This section explains how our relationship model was created and how it became what it is today. 

In short we were all given our parent's model for how to be in relationship. The model included strict rules for what to feel, what not to feel, how and when to communicate. The model contains mandates for what to believe, what to think of ourself, who can be trusted and if you have value or not. The model is hardwired in our psyche. This hardwired model for relationship cannot be changed, re-molded or distroyed. Only language and intention can speak to directly to it, thus allowing for a change in behavior.

It is important to remember three points as you continue on:

  • Our parents and caretakers are not to blame, however they are responsible for the model, thus responsible for your relationship experience.
  • Parents gave you the best they had from what they inherited. 
  • For better or worse the model for relationship is passed down from generation to generation. This model becomes our hardwiring.

Part 2: How The Model Was Learned

In the diagram above are the five stages of early childhood conditioning and a sixth stage representing a fully hardwired adult. During the first four stages we learn

  • what to feel, 
  • how to be in relationship and 
  • when to communicate with others. 

This conditioning becomes the default model for feelings, relationships & communications during the rest of our lives. The fifth stage, the ritual split, is a time when we compared our family’s relationship model to other family models we experience.

As an introduction let me define what a healthy relationship model is in light of our discussion about the genesis of behaviors and beliefs.

A Healthy Model:
Has the beliefs, behaviors and communication skills to be

  • seen, 
  • understood, 
  • accepted, 
  • chosen and 
  • valued by others and 

to have the beliefs, behaviors and communication skills to 

  • see, 
  • understand, 
  • accept, 
  • choose and 
  • value others in daily life.


Before birth, internal and external forces were already conditioning our psyche. Sounds, moods and environmental stimuli influenced our mother. Add to this mix our genetic inheritance and we have fertile ground for the creation of our personality, future possibilities and limitations. 

In the infant years our parent’s beliefs and behavior molded our relationship and communication model. We had no choice in this process. The two development stages that surface when parents’ talk about the difficult stages of child rearing are the terrible 2’s and the troublesome teen years. We will cover the 2’s here and the teen years a little further along. 

The “terrible two’s” are a product of natural development. It is not because we were ill mannered or evil at that age! The facts are that as two year olds we were finally physically and cognitively mature enough to react to our caregiver’s relationship & communication model. Even at 2-3 we were instinctively aware of what is missing, unfair or hurtful in our parents behavior and we reacted. We tested our parent’s communication-relationship skills, tried out various behaviors to get attention and began to feel the powerful effects of triggering their emotions. We have to remember that our parent’s hardwiring was ridged and confidence lacking. They reacted to our behaviors according to their “normal” beliefs, feelings and behaviors. They reacted to our behavior from what was missing in their inherited model.

If we were raised in a family where our 2 to 3 year old behavior was seen as natural, and our parents had a healthy relationship model to embrace them, our acting out would just be another phase of childhood. Instead, it is often a period of trial and frustration as the parents fight with their own hardwired demons.

Original Split: 

Within the next development stage, two to five years of age, the natural psychic tension that has been building up comes to a head. The tension is between our inner, independent SELF and our outward, dependent BEHAVIOR. The degree of tension is increased when our parents default patterns of thinking, acting, communicating and getting attention are faulty. As time went by, our caregivers enforced these faulty norms to the exclusion of our independent, inner Self – our personal feelings. 
Their communication-relationship model conditions our relationships for the rest of our lives.

At the same time, 2 - 6 years, two wounds were created. First - the RED DOT above - represents a natural wound resulting from the conditioning received from caregivers. These conditioning wounds left us with physical and emotional scars that say, “I am not ok the way I am. I must act in a way that is acceptable according to caregivers expectations.” These scars are with us for life. They come forth under stress.

Examples: Natural Wound

“Don’t run into the street!”
“Do not play with knives!”
“Do not touch that!”
“Don’t paint on the walls!”
“Don’t eat that “

The second wound - the GREEN CONCENTRIC CIRCLES above - represents normal wounds resulting from strong feelings we had that were contrary to our parents feelings of ‘right’ & ‘normal.’ We might feel, “My feelings are not the right feelings. I must bury my feelings and pretend to feel like my parents to survive. I must not express my feelings if I want to stay safe.” These scars are also with us for the rest of our life and come forth under stress.

Examples: Normal Wound

“There is nothing to cry about!”
“We don't do that in our family!”
“You should feel ashamed of yourself!”
“You are so selfish!”
“You should be more respectful like your cousin!”

Eventually, because of the tension between the Self and the behavior expected by caretakers, the psyche must split to remain safe and co-exist with caregivers. This is a natural result of the psyche under extreme stress or pressure. The mind creates splits or compartments in the unconscious to hide threatening experience. This result in two separate personalities: The Survival Child and the Golem.

First split is the Survival Child. (This is a common description for this unconscius aspect of humans) To simplify, the Survival Child's job is to get attention at any price. It is not always logical, consistent, empathetic, polite or necessarily honest. Yet, at times it may be all of these if survival is threatened. The Survival Child does not mature with time as we become adults. The Survival Child will remain the age at which it split off from the psyche. For most of us this is between one and three years of age. An obvious example in adult life that the Survival Child exists is when you become enraged and act like your two.  Why too much emotion for the circumstance; i.e., spilled milk.

Examples: Survival Child acting out as an adult

"If I have told you once I have told you a thousand times . . ."
"Your all idiots! Get back to work before I fire you all."
"You better learn to respect all that I do for you! I will not take your back talk."
"Please get out of my office before I lose my temper!"

The second survival split is the Golem* or Enforcer. It's job it is to learn, record and enforce the "normal" beliefs and behaviors of the caregivers whenever conditions are stressful. This is important to understand. The Golems enforcement is dogmatic and repetitive. It matters not if results are achieved, as long as “normal” beliefs and behaviors are maintained in the family. We may be unhappy, but feel justified in our behavior. Survival is the primary drive for the Enforcer to control behavior when around adults. 

Examples: Enforcer controling behavior as an adult

If someone raises their voice you freeze.
If a homeless person asks for money you avert your eyes and retreat inside yourself.
If your parent calls you get stomach pains.
If a police office pulls behind you with lights and siren you distressed.

Remember, neither the Survival Child or Enforcer personalities are simply evil or virtuous. They are a mixture of the two. Based on our unique conditioning, they make us act out habitually during times of stress. We do the same survival behavior over and over, even when we know it does not work. 

The Survival Child & Enforcer helped us survive childhood. This continues into adulthood, even when a perceived threat is unfounded. We are nervious around certain types of people, in dark rooms or forests, reactionary when someone speaks a in a tone we don't like.

There are many positive qualities also associated with the Survival Child or Enforcer reactiveness. For example they automatically answer the phone when it rings, help us drive through heavy traffic or bad weather, automatically making any needed adjustments without us having to think about the situation. They help us attract friends and partners. They can act as coaches in sport competitions or childbirth. They are highly competent in any repetitive or habitual task. As part of our hardwiring the Survival Child and Enforcer can be a blessing or curse.

In this stage of early childhood development we begin to discern between bad, good, better and best. We are no longer parroting what others tell us. We know that smoking has harmful effects, eating too much will make you sick and stealing has consequences. Conditioning becomes hardwired and default reactions more pronounced in our relationships with family and friends.

Between ages 10 through 13, we venture outside the family hardwiring and relationship model. We visit and stay at friend’s houses and see different models for behavior and different types of beliefs. A comparison of communication & relationship models, and home environments, starts a process of conflict within or refinement of the our version of the famalies hardwiring. If the home environment is open to learning about the many different ways of being, there will be a healthy dialogue with parents and little conflict will occur when we make new friends. If parents are threatened by difference, explorations into other systems, our personalities will be crushed and feelings sent to the unconscious. 

Contributing to this is a rush of hormones passing through our pre-teen bodies as puberty takes over. This comparison of models and the effects of puberty can make the teen years troublesome. However, if parents have adequate skills to continue dialogues with offspring, conflict can be minimized.

Ritual Split
The ritual split differs from the original split (natural) in several ways. The original split is a fact of nature. No matter the skill level of the caregivers, parents must socialize children. They cannot remain animals working from instinct. Some form of conditioning must take place, thus a split must occur. 

Socialization is a natural step in conditioning-splitting. However it is extreamily important to understand that the original split, the splitting process, can vary in degree from highly functional to dysfunctional. This is totally dependent on the parent's own conditioning, their own model for relationships handed down from their parents. 

As an adult, we can look at something as simple as our
preferences for signs of hardwiring. We can have others give us feedback on our behavior when they observe us in relationships with co-workers, friends, siblings, parents, authority figures, store clerks and waitpersons. From this feedback, patterns will emerge that suggest our personal or professional style of relating. This style works fine for the majority of our communications. However, there are important relationships that require communication skills that can move the conversation beyond hardwired styles to the core intentions of the people involved. This is where Core Intentional Language belongs. 

*Golem (Enforcer) - The word golem derives from the Hebrew golem, meaning ‘shapeless man’ or 'unformed material'. In Jewish folklore, a golem resembles a human being yet is an artificial figure, a robot-like being, often created from clay or mud, and endowed with life through the use of magical language (Truth–Death). Artificially brought to life the golem is capable of threatening its creator. Though endowed with almost all human faculties, the Golem is mute and cannot speak. His function is to hear and to execute the commands of his master, which he does without either will or reason. The Golem is invariably represented as a protector when humans are in despair of divine or dependable aid.  

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© Scott Taylor 2020