Conflict as a Driver of Evolution and Intimacy

Dr. Keith WittDefenses, Editor's Picks, Emotional, Interpersonal, Love & Intimacy, Perspectives, Video, Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith 2 Comments

[dzs_video source=”″ config=”IntegralLife1″ width=”100%” height=”675″ responsive_ratio=”detect” extra_classes_player=”with-bottom-shadow”]

Log in for the full 1.5 hour episode.

In this episode of Witt and Wisdom, Dr. Keith and Corey explore the central role that conflict plays in the ongoing evolutionary process from the Big Bang to today, and in our intimate relationships in particular — where conflict can either create more distance and resentment, or it can be an opportunity to create more intimacy and deeper connection.

Evolutionarily, conflict is a prime driver.

At every level, conflict challenges individuals and groups to create progressively more effective, complex, and less violent alternatives to conflict resolution — thus driving biological evolution, social evolution, and the evolution of consciousness (phylogenetically in the human genome, and ontogenetically in our individual self-directed, personal and relational evolution).

Pain and conflict guide psychotherapy.

Little bits of conflict or pain guide therapists towards the fractal boundaries within and between people — areas causing distress but potential sources of integration and growth. Therapists hover at the fractal boundaries of these conflicts, creating containers which encourage clients to cultivate love and compassion to transmute the distress into growth, love, and health.

The deeper the intimacy, the more likely we are to enter regressed defensive states.

Perhaps the most challenging conflict resolution is between intimates in service of maintaining and growing their intimacy. This is also one of the most complex forms of conflict resolution, though it often appears to be the most simple.

Couples that grow develop conflict resolution patterns that are more self-aware, collaborative, respectful, loving, and organized around getting back to love. This often includes major self regulation combined with increasing skills in repairing injuries or ruptures (conflicts) in the intersubjectivity.

Since defensive states always involve regressions and resistances to self-awareness, identifying, acknowledging, and regulating defensive states with increasing compassion and depth of consciousness is sin qua non of personal and relational evolution.

Conflict and sexuality

Since no two lovers are perfectly matched, and everyone has some forms of internalized sexual conflicts, sexual conflicts are inevitable between lovers. These conflicts arise and form fractal boundaries that can escalate into chaos and separation, or dissociative avoidance and separation. If nourished into greater complexity, they bring partners back to love and deep contact.

Because of the high emotional charges involved in sex drives and taboos, it’s easy to exceed emotional windows of tolerance and enter shame/humiliation/rage tinged defensive states which evoke separating chaos or dissociation. 2nd tier intimates can tolerate such reactions and expand their windows of tolerance to have progressive capacities for radical acceptance of themselves and each other. Radical acceptance tends to create opportunities for growth, intimacy, and passion.

Second tier conflict resolution often doesn’t even look like conflict

A couple recognizing resentment, fear, frustration, or distrust and almost instantaneously shifting into dialectical conflict resolution often doesn’t seem to be a conflict at all. Such communication appears ordinary and effortless from the outside — two people talking with interest about a disagreement or misunderstanding and returning quickly to mutual love and trust. Such conflict resolution actually reflects high levels of complexity on both their parts, requiring self-awareness, self-regulation, and abilities to stay grounded in leading edge values in the face of primitive defensive regressive reactions. It is an evolutionary achievement.

written by Dr. Keith Witt

Previous  Episodes  of  Witt  &  Wisdom
The Art of Integral Conversation: How to Have a Turquoise Dialectic

The Art of Integral Conversation: How to Have a Turquoise Dialectic

Cognitive Defenses Emotional Interpersonal Intrapersonal Leadership Psychology Self-Identity Video Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith
Dr. Keith Witt and Corey deVos explore the concept of "turquoise dialectic" - a sophisticated form of integral discourse that...
Watch Now
CANCELLED: The Battle for Free Speech in the Integral Age

CANCELLED: The Battle for Free Speech in the Integral Age

Cognitive Defenses Emotional How should we relate to the social justice movement? Moral Psychology Video Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith
Keith Witt and Corey delve into the complex and contentious issue of cancel culture, examining its implications for free speech,...
Watch Now
The Psychology of Splitting

The Psychology of Splitting

Cognitive Defenses Emotional Interpersonal Intrapersonal Psychology Witt & Wisdom: Live with Dr. Keith
Watch as Dr. Keith and Corey explore the psychological process of splitting, revealing how awareness and regulation of these processes...
Watch Now
+View All

Learn How to Love More Completely

Loving Completely is a new book by Dr. Keith Witt, published by Integral Life Press, and is an absolutely essential addition to your integral library. Get your copy today!

Order now!
Dr. Keith Witt

About Keith Witt

Dr. Keith Witt is a Licensed Psychologist, teacher, and author who has lived and worked in Santa Barbara, CA. for over forty years. Dr. Witt is also the founder of The School of Love.

Corey deVos

About Corey deVos

Corey W. deVos is editor and producer of Integral Life. He has worked for Integral Institute/Integal Life since Spring of 2003, and has been a student of integral theory and practice since 1996. Corey is also a professional woodworker, and many of his artworks can be found in his VisionLogix art gallery.