Relational Homeopathy: The Transformative Power of Erotic Energy

“Wherever there is erotic energy, there is also the potential for transformation.” These are wise words said by a therapist I once knew. And she was right: What better crucible for personal growth than intimacy? There’s nothing like a relationship to get things cooking in your psyche’s kitchen. But where does the alchemical power of sexual attraction come from? It all starts in a very innocent place: childhood.


The first people we “fall in love” with are our parents. Our relationship to them programs us for future intimacies. The people we choose to be our lovers often come with the same qualities—helpful and unhelpful—that our parents brought to us. Enter the concept of relational homeopathy, a term introduced to me by the same insightful woman mentioned above.


In medicinal homeopathy, an extremely small amount of what causes an illness is administered to heal it. For instance, there is a homeopathic remedy made from onions (Allium cepa) that treats hay fever’s watery eyes and nose. (It’s not a complete analogy because onions don’t cause hay fever, but you get the picture.) Relational homeopathy happens when you find yourself engaged with someone who reminds you a little of Mom or Dad. Sometimes when you are relating to her or him you feel just like the hurt and powerless child you once were. However, this person’s behavior is not severe enough to cause more wounding or recreate an abusive environment. It’s just really irritating. One way to know that the stage is set for this kind of “homeopathic” healing is when you have a big reaction to a relatively small event. The magic happens when you shine your adult consciousness on the young part of you who feels so sad and angry.


Here is an example: You feel intensely rejected—like a hurt little girl—when your partner doesn’t say hello to you when he comes home. I’m willing to bet that the part of you that is feeling so dismissed is stuck in childhood. Maybe your Dad wasn’t very emotionally attuned to you, and one of the manifestations of his lack of presence was that he ignored you when he came home. But unlike your father, your partner is usually pretty emotionally responsive. However, when he’s stressed out, he does have a habit of not acknowledging you when he first steps in the door. It’s not a terribly harmful behavior, but nonetheless does trigger strong feelings related to an experience from the past. This is the optimal situation for “homeopathic” healing to occur.


And what would that healing look like? Well, it may mean that instead of lashing out at your partner, you have a kind word with your inner five-year-old. This young part of you probably thinks that your significant other’s current aloofness and your dad’s past unavailability is/was indicative of your lack of worth as a person. Now is the time to sit your sweet self down and tell yourself that that idea is a flat out lie!


Remind yourself that:


1) your parents’ inattention had nothing to do with you

2) your partners’ inattention has nothing to do with you

3) you are and always have been inherently worthwhile


Once you’ve eased your inner kid’s sense of rejection, you can respond to the situation at hand from the position of an adult, not a child.


It’s relational homeopathy. Your partner’s temporary inattention, approached with an eye towards self-awareness, functions like Allium cepa: It has the ingredients to make you weep, but it also carries the potential to help you access and resolve the true source of your tears—the childhood experience of feeling unworthy of affection. By using the feeling of rejection to love yourself more—not less—you take another step towards wholeness. Apply this “remedy” to all of the difficult situations in your life, and nothing can stop you from growing.





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Comment by Melissa Jane on January 4, 2011 at 4:28pm
Thank God you don't have to be fully individuated to love. There's hope for me! In what book were you reading about how suffering is part of the individuation process. Curious.
Comment by Ed Koffenberger on January 4, 2011 at 4:16pm

Just reading how suffering is part of the individuation process proposed by Jung.

I haven't read anything that states one must be fully individuated to be able to love (esp. since a fully individuated person is supposed to be hard to find - Hallmark cards would go out of business). It does beg the question, however. 

Comment by Melissa Jane on January 4, 2011 at 3:39pm
Thanks James!
Comment by James Burden on January 4, 2011 at 2:28pm

Awesome =)


Also, I very much like the idea in the comment below about 'suffering and love' good stuff!!!

Comment by Melissa Jane on December 21, 2010 at 1:13pm

Suffering & love! Now there's a topic for conversation! To what degree do we need suffering in order to fully take in and appreciate love? Does experiencing love of any kind beckon the balance of experiencing suffering? Is suffering simply another dimension of love?  As a mystic, I wonder how a conversation about suffering and love ultimately may lead to a conversation about identity.  I am aware that there are an infinite number of doors to walk through on the journey of figuring out what love is (and, I suppose, by turns what suffering is.)  I am imagine, as a therapist, that the understanding of suffering, and the relationship of suffering and love, comes to the fore often.

Yes, the great thing about Hinduism is that there are lot of animas and animuses for the unconscious to project onto. No shortage of material for integration.








Comment by Ed Koffenberger on December 21, 2010 at 12:31pm

India certainly has one great advantage in that each god/dess (as I remember) always had at least one consort of the opposite gender. As one who kept picking anima figures and romanticizing the relationship, I could be the "poster child" for this complex-filled relational dynamic. Sounds like love is what you are about...I'm interested in the relations between suffering and love (non-romanticized version).

Comment by Melissa Jane on December 21, 2010 at 11:58am

Ed, Thanks so much for your comments. I didn't even think of the multilayered metaphor of the onion when I was writing this! I am richer for you bringing that symbol to my attention.  And, yes, I wholeheartedly agree with you that the dynamics of parental relationships are often projected onto one's understanding of God--and onto love in general. That was something I realized when I was doing my BA in comparative religion (years ago). I think that people try to find God, one facet of which can be described as the experience of transcendent love, through romantic relationships. And this longing/expectation is a potent, if not disillusioning, catalyst for finding the divine within. In either "He" or "She" (can't remember which), Robert Johnson talks about this striving to find the divine in romantic love as a western cultural phenomenon. He notes that in Eastern cultures, such a India, such longings/expectations are contained within the pursuit of mystical experience.

Comment by Ed Koffenberger on December 21, 2010 at 11:33am

As an MFT, I enjoyed this post, especially the tie in with homeopathic remedies. I also have found as a spiritual director that people's relationship with whatever they consider God is also heavily  layered with early child-parent patterns. The multi-layered onion as metaphor was icing on the cake. Thanks, I'm richer now.

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