Whew! Read some of the messages here - very exciting conversation. I am a student of relational theory as it is being developed by the faculty and members of the Stone Center. I find affect theory to be complementary to relational theory and the development of a being in relationship. The importance of resonance of affect in the relationship seems to be the basis for the ideas of mutual empathy. The difference being the idea of walls within the self or between others. The belief that involvement in growth enhancing relationships, in engagement as primary makes incredible sense when I really listen to the women I see. They talk clearly of the need to be connected to others and of their struggles to remain connected despite the pain in the relationship (whether it is childhood abuse, domestic violence, or other traumas). Is the wall you speak of similar to the idea of withholding aspects of the self in order to continue to be in the relationship? I was profoundly moved by working with a woman who eventually admitted her experience of MPD - parts of her were very aware of her mother is a primary abuser (the horror) and yet parts of her called her Mother long distance every day to check in... now this is an extreme example but the sheer power of this desire for connection is amazing. I hear similar things from other women, though less extreme... I am very interested in discussion on the interrelation of relational and affect theory. I realize that there are some powerful differences in basic conceptions and wonder what others believe/experience. I am assuming some knowledge of relational theory - can try to explain concepts or refer anyone interested to resources. Thanks.