Triangulation as splitting in the service of ambivalence

Samuel Juni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ambivalence mastery is postulated as a primary dynamic in triangulation, by appealing to splitting and other defense mechanism strategies in synthesizing incompatible affect. The rationale of admissible triangles in balance theory is critically evaluated, and is elaborated in terms of directional vectors and the interpretation of the triangle as a transformed variant of the double bind. Using an illustrative case presentation where an adolescent was instrumental in forming a coalition with his father against an uncle, a theoretical model is developed reconceptualizing various family systems tenets and addressing inconsistencies in hypothesized mechanisms. Ambivalence is analyzed in terms of transference and as a prerequisite of triangulation, the role of the triangulated in relational stability is examined, and the dyad/triad evolution is elaborated. The model is then related to the basic theoretical positions in family systems literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-111
Number of pages21
JournalCurrent Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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