Glossary of Terms

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A list of my words
Al Work August 2004

  • A Good Idea – something you decide to do today, and next week you look back and think it was a Good Idea.
  • Agreement – 1) A mythical state that two people’s points of view are the same.  2) A decision by both people that their points of view seem similar or close enough so that proceeding to action seems a safe bet. 3) A dysfunctional state in one person that silence of those around implies they agree.
  • Anger – a general term I use for one of the two survival emotions and one of the four prime emotions in humans, characterized by an increase of nor-epinephrine in the bloodstream.  While it may be stronger or less strong, it is usually indicated by the presence of Fighting behavior, and is often accompanied by the emotion of Fear and Fleeing, Freezing and Submitting behaviors.   Its general function is to raise general energy levels to assist in pushing through frustrating blocks. 
  • Argument– 1) The act of two people using Military Think, each trying to persuade the other into conformity with their point of view.  A situation where two people are trying to be Master at the same time and both are using a Punishment system to coerce the other into silence and the appearance of agreement.  The act of two “bullies.”  The verbal form of physical fighting or  “verbal” battery.  An indicator of an unstable Master/Slave relationship. 2) A belief system put forth or shared for the benefit of all present.
  • Autonomy – The state of humans that their actions are a result of both external input and internal reflection.  All human action begins inside the human.  Our actions and reactions are our choices.  The comfortable awareness of this condition.  This is a conscious characteristic of Dialogical Thinking. 
  • BCR – Short for Behavior Change Request.  A verbalized request for some act(s) by your partner that are intended to contribute to the healing of your repeatedly surfacing fears and wounds.
  • Biological Dream – A summary of the collected drives that characterize all human yearning.  Awakened at birth, reawakened in Romantic Love, frustrated in the Power Struggles of relationships, and realized in Vintage Love. 
  • Boundary – a virtual line between that which belongs to one person or that which belongs to another.
  • Boundary Invasion – the other person’s behavior that triggers “upset” in the responding person.
  • Boundary Skills – the ability to clearly define and defend your boundaries.  All boundary skills are defensive.
  • Bully – A person who wants their way and when they don’t get their way, they make other people unhappy.
  • Caring Behavior – Any behavior that successfully communicates the presence of Safety to your partner’s Lizard.  Alternately any behavior that “makes them” feel loved or cared for – nurtured.
  • Communologue – The facilitated practice of dialogue in a group of people.
  • Couple’s Dialogue (Intentional Dialogue) – a skill training tool, part of Imago Relationships training, designed to  help couples privately practice and eventually develop the habits of being Dialogical.   It consists of three steps called “Mirroring”, “Validation”, and “Empathy”.   Imago training has definitions for these terms that are different from mine.
  • Dialogical – sharing points of view peacefully. 
  • Dialogical Thinking – the habit of thinking that there is no specific correct view of reality.  The awareness that each person perceives reality differently, from a differing point of view, revises and improves that point of view continuously, acts consistently with that point of view, and can either share or keep their point of view hidden from others. 
  • Dialogue – a symptom of Dialogical Thinking.  1) Any sentence that implies the existence of multiple points of view of reality.  2) A conversation in which both are comfortably sharing their differing ways of seeing and appreciating the world.
  • Dialogical Resilience – A durable skill and habit of remaining in, and maintaining, dialogical space even when others revert to non-dialogical speaking or behavior.
  • Diversity – The state of humans to experience reality uniquely and the comfortable awareness of this characteristic.  People act, think, and speak based on their experience.   This is a conscious characteristic of Dialogical Thinking.  
  • Dysfunctional – something that you are doing that is leading away from your goal.
  • Emotion – An event in the body that includes time duration, intensity, the factor of awareness, accurate or inaccurate labeling, and social values of “good” or “bad.”  As distinct from cognition, emotions occur simultaneously with thinking and are part of each person’s experience.
  • Empathy – The ability to relate to and understand the inner world of another as different from your inner world.
  • Fair – A situation where two people or more believe that things are fair.  It is never fair when one person thinks it fair and the other does not.  Fairness takes two “yes” votes.
  • Fear – a general term I use of one of the two survival behaviors and one of the prime emotions in humans, characterized by increased adrenaline in the blood.  While it may be stronger or less strong, it is usually indicated by Fleeing, Freezing or Submitting behavior, and is frequently present in Fighting behavior.  Its general function of to alert the individual and to respond to threats to survival.
  • Fleeing – A survival behavior initiated by The Lizard and characterized by visibly moving away or limiting contact.
  • Freezing – A survival behavior initiated by The Lizard and characterized by invisibility – “laying low.”  It is often accompanied by ceasing movement, including the halting of normal breathing.
  • Grief – a general term I use for one of the prime emotions in humans, characterized by an increased flow of Prolactin in the brain.  Its general function is to adjust a human to the experience of loss. 
  • Guilt – a silly kind of fear that someone is going to punish you for being human and for learning.  Guilt is based on time travel.  It is putting today’s wisdom into yesterday’s event.  “ Yesterday, I should have known what I have now learned.”  I suggest you celebrate the new learning and discard the fear.
  • Healing –Any action that has the effect of completing a Wound – finishing the deficit condition and removing the survival habits that often surround the Wound.
  • Invalidation – Any experience of feeling misunderstood.   I use this word sometimes to describe the behavior that triggers the feeling.
  • Joy – a general term I use for one of the prime emotions in humans, characterized by an increased flow of endorphins in the brain.  Its general function is as a reward for functional purposeful behaviors.
  • Listening – putting energy into the conscious hearing of another person’s verbal and non-verbal communication.
  • Lie – To knowing leave someone in a state of misunderstanding about something you believe is important to them.  Active lying: to say that which is not so.  Passive lying: to leave unsaid that which is important to someone.
  • Making Sense – the awareness that people’s actions are always congruent with their sense – congruent with the always present, even if unrecognized, combined factors that result in their action(s).
  • Master Position – The tendency to try to maintain control in relationships by defining reality and coercing silence from others.  This is a boundary-less arrangement. I believe this is functional when Property, an Emergency and Practical need to achieve group goals is involved. I believe it dysfunctional in all other situations.
  • Master/Slave – a posture of relating to others that assumes the primacy of one point of view over another.  This includes two skills: the Truth System and the Punishment System.  This posture is functional when a) the task at hand requires it, b) property ownership is involved, c) in a group emergency.  This posture is dysfunctional in all other situations.
  • MasterTalk – a symptom of Military Thinking.  Any sentence that implies that there exists only one correct view of reality and that sends an implied threat to those who do not agree or who are not willing to conform.   “It is warm.”
  • Military Think – a habit of thinking as if there is only one correct view of reality.  Seeking for the “correct” view of reality.  The tendency to try to get others to agree or to conform, and to persuade them to keep other points of view hidden.  
  • Mirroring – a skill training tool, most often verbal, of the skills (over 52) that make others feel heard.
  • Other-Esteem – a somewhat fragile tendency to like yourself or admire yourself if others like or admire you.
  • Panic – A physical state of tension characterized by reactivity initiated by the brain’s survival mechanism – the Lizard.  I often refer to “My Lizard’s gone wild.”  This state is visible and measurable. It is often characterized by fleeing and withdrawing, silence, distraction and inattention, submitting and placating, or aggressive pushing and fighting.  People move away from and avoid where they feel Panic and tend to stay away.
  • Passive Master – A person who wants control and who does not want responsibility.  A person who uses passive punishment when they do not get their way, but do not share what it is that they want.
  • Patience – An adult skill of being relaxed and comfortable when events do not happen at the rate that you want.
  • Persuasion – An act of pre-invalidation where one person is attempting to pressure another into changing their view.
  • Power Struggle – A temporary period in a relationship characterized by increasing frustration and distress, and brought about by fruitless attempts to “recover a beautiful relationship” by using skills that not only do not work, but which increase distress.  A time when couples use traditional relating skills in an attempt to achieve a Biological Dream-type relationship.  This period occurs in all intimate relationships and is meant to end.  For each couple the question is when to end it and whether to end it by a) learning new skills, b) giving up the dream, c) splitting apart or divorcing.
  • PreValidate – 1) the attitude of the awareness that people make sense before they open their mouths to tell about it.  2) the action of displaying the attitude of that awareness to another.  A pre-judgement, expressed in actions, that people always make sense in their way of looking at the world.
  • Pulling – Any act that communicates an invitation to say more and to share more deeply.  A Straight Pull communicates a simple invitation.  (e.g. “Go on.”) A Deepening Pull communicates an invitation along with an area of interest to the pulling person.  (e.g. “Please share more what you mean by that word.”  “Please share more what led you to do that.”)
  • Punishment System – A method of using threat of degradation or dismissal to extend the benefits of conformity.   A normal feature of a Master/Slave relationship.
  • Purpose – The internal, probably pre-birth, drive that lies in all humans to accomplish a specific productive task in life. 
  • Relational Maturity (RM) – The skilled use of all the skills of the Biological Dream.  The process of improving in the use of those skills.  Skilled maintaining of people’s needs for Safety, Reliable Membership, Diversity, Autonomy, and Purpose.
  • Reliable Membership – A need for community that is part of the biological drive of all mammals and humans but its level is unique in each.  It is characterized by an upper and lower limit of contact with others.  The need is for “adequate, and reliable but not excessive” connection and is different in all humans.  This need is visible.   Excessive, unreliable or inadequate connection triggers two types of Panic.  The Panic behaviors related to unreliable or inadequate connection involve clinging, pursuing, interrogating, and stalking.  The Panic behaviors related to excessive connection involve avoiding, withdrawing, isolating and the building of interpersonal walls.
  • Resentment – The memory of past invalidation.  A collection of such memories. 
  • Romantic Love – A temporary state of awakened connection, often called infatuation or limerance, that is primarily an experience of deep yearning of the Biological Dream.  It may occur when connecting to a partner, a family, a community, an association.
  • Safe – A physical state of relaxation characterized by inactivity of the brain’s survival mechanism – the Lizard.  I often refer to “My Lizard’s sleeping.”  This state is visible and measurable.  It is often characterized by play and fun, playful mating, nurturing loving and caring behaviors, or creative activities.  People move toward  and seek for where they feel safe and tend to stay there.  
  • Self-Esteem – a durable tendency to like and admire yourself for what you do, for what you are, even when others actively dislike you. 
  • Sense – the combined factors within a person’s being that results in/leads to their action(s).   Their congruency.
  • Skill – an action you do that takes practice to make easy.  The first time you do it is difficult.  The 50th time you do it the action is easier.  The 500th time you do it the action has become pretty automatic. 
  • Slave Position – The tendency to submission, yielding control and responsibility to others, and acting irresponsibly. This is a boundary-less arrangement.
  • Stupid – That friendly and thoughtful state  you were in before you learned something new.  Knowledge is “terminal”. Once you’ve learned something, you can’t go back to being stupid again.
  • Submitting – A survival behavior initiated by The Lizard and characterized by two steps.  Step One is giving in, following other’s orders, conforming, or letting the other think they are winning.   Step Two is called the backlash or revenge and is the expression of resentment built during Step One.
  • The Imago – A relatively durable, unique image inside each person of those who are familiar to us when we are children – our caretakers.  This image is formed usually between the ages of 3 and 7.   The image represents a deep sense of familiarity and is the common basis for partner selection in romantic relationships.   The Imago contains both traits that one considers as positive and desirable as well as those that are considered negative and problematical.   It is this latter that brings about the unique difficult growth challenges experienced by married couples.  
  • The Lizard – I use this to refer to the primitive reptilian part of brains.   It functions to guarantee a person’s survival and independently and often crudely initiates reactive behavior.   Because of it’s dominating position, I find it useful to make it comfortable before doing anything else.
  • Truth – A “something that is going on” which all humans experience differently. Immediate contact with reality.
  • Truth System – A method of determining the correct point of view by referring to or substituting the point of view of unique person while ignoring others.   A normal feature of a Master/Slave relationship.
  • Tyrant Factor – The tendency to slip into Master behavior when confronted by the passive form of MasterTalk or with Slave behavior.
  • Understand – to see another person, or your own, sense.  To recognize enough of the factors leading to someone’s actions, to have a felt sense of startle, “Oh, that’s why they do that!”   I think it is like hearing the sound of puzzle pieces fitting together.
  • Upset – a general term I use referring to the presence of either or both emotions of Fear and Anger.  Occasionally I use it to also refer to a state of Grieving.
  • Validate – to make a person feel understood.  The visible, usually verbal, act of bearing witness to their sense. “Ah, I see your sense.  You did that because of a.. and b.. and c..”  This includes awareness of both thinking and emotional factors that contributed to the person’s behavior.
  • Victimicity – The tendency to gain power, or at least comfort, by passing responsibility for your actions and decisions onto another. This behavior I believe is normal and healthy in a child under say the age of 8.  I believe this is dysfunctional after that age.
  • Vintage Love – A relatively permanent state of relating and connected characterized by competence with Biological Dream skills, low stress and a high sense of self and joint satisfaction. 
  • Win-Lose – A relationship event where one or both believe the other is the only one getting their needs met.
  • Win-Win – A relationship event where both participants believe they are getting their needs met at the same time – cooperatively.
  • Working – doing things you are not inclined to do.  Learning new skills.
  • Wound – A repeated deficit condition, usually originating in childhood and still continuing in adulthood.  Wounds are usually characterized by “upset”, reactivity often with blaming behavior, and expressions indicating needs.  I generally think of a Wound as an old “unfinished” condition for which a person is currently seeking completion.
  • Wus Factor – The tendency to slide into the Slave position when confronted with Master behavior.


Glossary of Terms — 2 Comments

  1. Deal Al,
    I last wrote to you back in July 2015, under the heading ‘Noticing the lizard …”. I’m still reading and re-reading your articles and I still think that they are very useful, for any kind of relationship. The reason I have landed on this page and that I’m writing here is that It seems to me, I have never really read the Glossary, which I find extremely helpful, because it enables me to recapture in a very short time the concepts and ideas underlying your relationship advice.
    I still have not given up on my husband, who has been, for reasons of his economic situation, mostly abroad, far away on the other side of the globe, hoping to be able to get a permanent job when he is back again. I’m sure that this is also a kind of refuge – from all the problems he had here. And my daughter shares this view.
    By the way, my daughter, who was in therapy (and occasionally attends sessions)and who used to laugh at my attempts at practicing “Mirroring” at the time, never did that again. Only yesterday I told her about Prevalidation and Validation, the Lizard concept (and the underlying concept of our tri-une brains, as part of a neurobiological approach to human behavior in general and specifically in relationships) already being part of how she reflects on her own behavior. I hope that, although a total lay”woman”, I have correctly repeated those concepts/ideas.
    And this is where again my husband comes in. Now a person who has also worked with a therapist understands what I’m talking about, So, for example when I’m talking about “reactive behavior” or “triggering” , she no longer thinks this is just psycho babble. I mentioned, too, that one of my favorite sources of knowledge is “that Al Turtle site” (she knows about my writing here, I told her soon after that).
    Now SHE understands and shares my view that people who have seen a therapist will never totally return to old behavior patterns, although the danger is great, but the awareness, once awakened, will be transformed forever and, hopefully, lead to more and more personal growth. But someone who has not gone that way simply does NOT understand any of that (or refuses to think about it).
    Because, for example, some people who I told about us being responsible for our feelings flatly refuse to take ownership of their reactions.

    So, to return to the Glossary, I found the hint in your most recent comments in “What to do when he/she leaves”. And I think it is great that you, although retired, are still active on your site. There, I also found your comment that “friendly demeanor” is something many readers would gladly welcome, and that this does not necessarily mean “no moving” at all. This is exactly my situation, which is also affected by the lack of appropriate communication due to the great distance.
    What I mean is that often experiences resemble each other in some respects and that reading contributions of readers seeking help and your comments are also a kind of “lecture” in your “college”.
    Kind regards and best wishes, Margaret.

    • Thanks so much for your sharing, Margaret. I feel fondly about the time I developed my Glossary and am glad you find it a useful reminder.

      As I learned that “words don’t have meanings/people have meaning and use words to try to share”, it became clear that when I spoke I used my meanings and when you spoke you used your’s. I wanted to remember that and decided to help people by sharing “my meanings and my definitions of my words.” Thus that Glossary.

      Over the years I’ve found it a nice place to drop a new word. I’ve certainly coined some new meanings and even some new words. I heard today that lots of Imago Therapists teach the word PreValidate to all their clients. Interesting.

      In response to your note, I moved the Glossary to the front page (top) of my website, and I added a new word, one I use often: stupid. It has nothing to do with you, of course, but was handing around in my mind a lot recently. It’s a positive term, as I use it. And gad I used to be pretty stupid.

      Thanks again.

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