Emergent Relatedness


My story of this conference involved a lot of dialogue without words. Communicating, making contact with my hands, a wall, trees, crystals, clay,.. Moving with other people, engaging, experimenting…

And some people really spoke to me! …to that part that has no words and that was tentatively emerging. I felt touched, moved, in pain at times or full of longings or sadness.

I was drawn to workshops that helped me to be more in touch with that part, relate with and from that part.. allow it to be.

When I looked at my piece of clay after allowing my hands to flow with that part, it looked like a nice, solid, protective dome – not quite ready to take shape, but something was slowly emerging. And I could choose to be open or closed.

According to Daniel Stern (1985, The Intersubjective World of the Infant) emergent relatedness is the first domain of relatedness which develops from birth to 2 months old, when the infant takes in and begins to organise sensory experience.

In our process group, I remembered my history as well as that of my parents’. My parents are children of the war, born in 1943 in Germany. What must it be like for a baby to be born and “emerge” into a world of terror, chaos, deprivation and constant fear of survival? Maybe already absorbing angst and anguish in the womb?

My father escaped from what is now Poland when he was 2 years old with his mother and sister – no father anymore and no home. This is pretty much all that I know as it was hardly talked about. Not talked about and yet I feel I am beginning to understand as I give those parts of me that have no voice a chance of expression and relating.

Bettina Lehmann