When we invoked bipolarity as a means of handling differentiation within society without foregoing some notion of common character structure, we considered only the possibility of simple bipolar differentiation. Certainly this pattern is very common in Western cultures; take, for instance, Republican-Democrat, political Right-Left, sex differentiation, God and the devil, and so on. These peoples even try to impose a binary pattern upon phenomena which are not dual in nature—youth versus age, labor versus capital, mind versus matter—and, in general, lack the organizational devices for handling triangular systems; the inception of any "third" party is always regarded, for example, as a threat to our political organization. This clear tendency toward dual systems ought not, however, to blind us to the occurrence of other patterns. 13
There is, for example, a very interesting tendency in English communities toward the formation of ternary systems, such as parents-nurse-child, king-ministers-people, officers-N.C.O.'s-privates.14 While the precise motifs of relationship in these ternary systems remain to be investigated, it is important to note that these systems, to which I refer as "ternary," are neither "simple hierarchies" nor "triangles." By a pure hierarchy, I should mean a serial system in which face-to-face relations do not occur between members when they are separated by some intervening member; in other words, systems in which the only communication between A and C passes through B. By a triangle I should mean a threefold system with no serial properties. The ternary system, parent-nurse-child, on the other hand, is very different from either of these other forms. It contains serial elements, but face-to-face contact does occur between the first and the third members. Essentially, the function of the middle member is to instruct and discipline the third member in the forms of behavior which he should adopt in his contacts with the first. The nurse teaches the child how to behave toward its parents, just as the N.C.O. teaches and disciplines the private in how he should behave toward officers. In psychoanalytic terminology, the process of introjection is done indirectly, not by direct impact of the parental personality upon the child. 15 The face-to-face contacts between the first and third members are, however, very important. We may refer, in this connection, to the vital daily ritual in the British Army, in which the officer of the day asks the assembled privates and N.C.O.'s whether there are any complaints.
Certainly, any full discussion of English character ought to allow for ternary, as well as bipolar patterns.
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