As a person with a fascination and awareness of the hidden undercurrents of relationships, relational conflicts, relational dynamics and our emotional climates, I have been following the recent case of Justin Lee Collins with interest.

As I have highlighted in past blogs, there are certain conditions of “Complex Traumatic Stress Disorder” that cause a part of the brain called the amygdala to autonomously react to emotional relationships and emotional vulnerabilities as if they pose a threat to survival, such diagnosis as Borderline Personality Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, etc. Contain this element as well as other neurobiologically influenced maladaptive behaviour symptoms.

I want to particularly focus on one symptom that is not often discussed or written about; paranoiac fantasies.

Jung wrote of Traumatic Complexes;

“A traumatic complex brings about dissociation of the psyche. The complex is not under control of the will and for this reason it possesses the quality of psychic autonomy. This autonomy consists in it’s power to manifest itself independently of the will and even in direct opposition to conscious tendencies; it forces itself tyrannically upon the conscious mind. The explosion of affect is a complete invasion of the individual; it pounces upon him/her like an enemy or a wild animal.”

I know nothing of Justin’s situation or the details of the relationship and trial other than what has been reported in the newspapers or TV, but the reported testimony of Justin’s ex wife, and her comments after the trial (“I think the verdict is ridiculous. I don’t believe it for one second”) makes me seriously question the verdict or any of his “ex girlfriend’s” accusations and claims. His ex wife, Karen, lived with this man for years without him displaying any of the behaviours that he appeared to display in his 7 month relationship with Anna Larke. So what happened?

What I propose is that Ms Larke may suffer from a particular symptom and pathological condition associated with dysregulation of the amygdala. A behaviour I have witnessed, myself, first hand. This symptom manifests as the projection of paranoiac aggressive fantasies. Those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, for instance, are known to pursue self destructive behaviours and fantasies. I believe it is possible that Ms Larke may display symptoms of similar fantasies with one particular difference; rather than self destructive behaviour, the symptoms here are the provocation of others in to destructive and violent urges against the self. It displays a core, subconscious, self hate and desire for self destruction, but rather than be the entity of self destruction, the partner is provoked in to being that entity.

The neuro-cognitive process that is occurring here is, as previously discussed, that the amygdala triggers a reaction to the relationship as a danger to survival based upon past autonomous emotional memories, other areas of the brain then interpret this danger signal from the amygdala and apply it to present circumstances and environment; they try and make the danger signals they are receiving fit in with what they are currently experiencing in their life. By default, if the relationship itself has caused the initial stress signal, the only rational conclusion the mind can come to is that the danger is the other person in the relationship. The other person then becomes transformed in to “the enemy”.

When you combine the above with the battle over a semiconscious awareness of one’s own faultiness and dysfunctionality, it transfers in to a subconscious self loathing, or self hate and self destructive impulses. Whereas the “Borderline” might then participate in self harming or even suicidal tendencies, an alternative is to adopt a destructive narcissistic position, where the individual may participate in unconsciously provoking destructive, violent impulses in the partner. The end goal is the same as the “Borderline”, self harm or self destruction, but in the destructive narcissistic position, the entity of destruction becomes the subconsciously perceived enemy; the partner, the person perceived or interpreted as the cause of the danger signal. They are then provoked in to violence in order to encourage self damage or self destruction at the hands of a third party. The cognitive part of this dysfunction might involve the dissonance caused by perceiving the partner as an enemy without any rational evidence or basis for that perception, so the evidence or basis needs to be manufactured or provoked in order to fit in with the subconscious’ need to substantiate and interpret the subconscious danger signal it is receiving from the amygdala as being caused by the partner (The enemy). A subconscious effort to make the paranoiac fantasies a reality.

Essentially, the real enemy is buried in the self, more traditionally identified as “The Ego”.