Collusion (psychology)

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In social psychiatry and social psychology, collusion (from Latin colludere , 'to play together, to play together') is understood to mean a little reflected, often unconscious , mostly unacknowledged “ arrangement (role distribution, interaction pattern, “agreement”) of two by the actors involved or several participants. It often appears to outsiders as questionable , only superficially coordinated interaction and often has a detrimental effect on those involved. In the long run, the collusive behavior, as it turns out to be more and more of a wrong game and solidifies it, can also seriously damage those involved. Collusion is often based on questionable positions of power or personality constellations between the partners and sometimes violates social rules and norms. Collusive activities are partly induced and driven by unconscious psychological motives (see also: relationship motive ) or conflicts , partly also consciously and secretly established in order to strive for personal advantages; then it is colloquially referred to as piercing , in technical terminology as defense or as an arrangement. The outwardly congruent interests can later prove to be absurd, counterproductive or self-limiting.

Disturbed relationship pattern

In two-way relationships, Jürg Willi coined the term collusion for cases in which the neurotic dispositions of both partners like key and lock fit together. In these cases, certain central conflicts from earlier emotional development phases of both partners are not processed in their personality. Both sides are now living out opposing, but initially complementary "solution variants" of these internal conflicts. The partners unconsciously often play clichéd and stereotypical , mutually complementary complementary roles for one another in order to maintain the relationship. Is one of the partners z. B. very narcissistic , so if he wants to be admired, the other person often adjusts to it by admiring and idealizing him; With this he delegates his own unlived narcissism to the other through a kind of interpersonal defense mechanism , part of its grandiose reflection then falls on him too. When living together in such a collusive arrangement, the polarization of roles often increases over time, so that the constellation can become stressful for one or the other or both, for example as one partner becomes more and more dependent, the other more and more independent and dominant (see also: relationship motive ).

Psychology and sociology

Collusion, or at least collusion-like strategies, are not only found in couples and families, but also in larger social associations and groups . The concept is therefore not limited to couple and family therapy . For example, the critique of ideology also analyzes collusive strategies. The collusion in the legal sense is closely related to the in psychological context. Stavros Mentzos therefore extended the interpersonal concept of collusion to the defense mechanisms of institutions and coined the concept of psychosocial arrangement for this purpose .

The shimmering meaning of the collusion arises because the norms in the private and public areas diverge. A certain milieu requires an associated attitude (“provision”). Viewed from the lower social unit, one can understand the collusion , which occurs mainly in individual psychology , as a kind of private secret society that leads to a split personality , or vice versa, from the perspective of the higher social unit, as the source of an intrigue that affects the public.


In this specific case, collusion is difficult to separate conceptually and diagnostically from deception and deliberate manipulation . Since it is an unconscious mechanism, its goal is often largely or completely hidden from the people involved; an outsider usually understands its purpose better.

There are widespread mechanisms of a related nature in biology, see Mimicry and Adaptability .

See also


Jean Genet : Le balcon . Gallimard, Collection folio 1149, ISBN 9782070371495 and ISBN 2-07-037149-2 , 153 pages.


  1. In the play Le balcon by Jean Genet , the collusion and its dazzling contradictions are playfully expressed and with it the contradictions of the actors in an imaginary plot. The clearly recognizable "false game" on the stage, in which outstanding social positions such as those of the bishop, the judge and the general are depicted as scenes in a luxury brothel, contrasts with the shaking of the external order by the revolution raging in the city. The question of the internal contradiction of the external order is linked to the unspoken ideas that exist in our imagination. As fantasies and reality merge into a confusion as an expression of a beginning reflection on social contradictions or taboos , the personal point of view becomes clear as a place of refuge.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Ronald D. Laing : The Self and the Others . 3rd edition, Rowohlt Taschenbuchverlag Reinbek near Hamburg, December 1977, ISBN 3-499-17105-8 ; Pp. 63, 66, 84-98, 130 on “collusion”; Original edition Self and Others 1961 Tavistock, London.
  2. a b c Jürg Willi : The relationship between two people. Causes of tension / disturbance patterns / clarification processes / solution models - analysis of the unconscious interaction in partner choice and couple conflict: the collusion concept. 1975, 1999 Rowohlt, Reinbek bei Hamburg 3 1988, pp. 115-119, 190, 174, 216 and others
  3. a b Stavros Mentzos : Interpersonal and institutionalized defense . 1976, 1989 Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt / Main.
  4. Uwe Henrik Peters : Dictionary of Psychiatry and Medical Psychology . Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich 3 1984; S. 304 to Wb.-Lemma: "Collusion".
  5. Article on the collusion theory by J. Willi. IPSIS Institute for Psychotherapeutic Information .
  6. Relationship models: collusion concept. to:
  7. Tamara Elmer Manneh: Relationship patterns in couple relationships on the basis of schematic therapeutic concepts. Clinical Psychology, Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Master's thesis, May 2011, pp. 17–20.
  8. Stavros Mentzos : Neurotic Conflict Processing . Introduction to the psychoanalytic theory of neuroses, taking into account more recent perspectives. Fischer-Taschenbuch, Frankfurt 1992, ISBN 3-596-42239-6 ; P. 256 ff. On head . “Delegation, psychosocial arrangement”.
  9. ^ Carl Gustav Jung : Definitions . In: Collected Works. Walter-Verlag, Düsseldorf 1995, paperback, special edition, volume 6, Psychological types, ISBN 3-530-40081-5 , p. 496 f. , § 800 to district "Hausengel - Gassenteufel".