The Aggressive Pattern

There’s no safety anywhere.  It’s a jungle out there.

Here, the unmet need was the need to feel contained and protected by something larger and stronger. This child won the battle for autonomy and felt proud of his strength and will. But then, in what felt to him like a life or death situation, he discovered that what he loved and trusted was not there to protect him. So he faced his fear alone and survived by summoning all his internal resources and willing himself through it. He felt betrayed, and it was his trust in others that was shattered. The unfulfilled need was once again safety, but here the focus was on the interpersonal, emotional safety of being able to depend on others.

This feeling of being failed or betrayed by what he thought was protecting him can be created in several different ways. In the simplest scenario, the child simply has such a big energy that his parents are not able to energetically contain him. He wins all the battles, but discovers that he faces the world alone.

In another scenario, one parent seduces him into a coalition against the other. In doing this, the seducing parent is ignoring the child’s needs and using the child to meet his or her own needs. The seduction may include sexuality, but is often purely emotional. When he realizes that his love for the parent was used to manipulate him, the child concludes that loving is dangerous and that it opens the door to being used and betrayed. He closes his heart and unconsciously resolves, “You will never do that to me again.”

The child who develops the aggressive pattern has developed a cohesive sense of self, a strong will, and the ability to defend his own personal space, but he is always a little guarded. He finds it hard to trust or depend on others, or even to let them have their own space — space that he does not control. He still harbors a deep, unconscious terror that he will once again be used and betrayed. Dominating every situation becomes his only way of creating a sense of safety for himself. He does, however, become skillful at making things happen in the world, and this becomes one of the gifts of the aggressive pattern.

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