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collusion

Collusion [Latin com-, together + ludere, to play] is an unconscious and unavowed acting or playing together by two partners in an attempt to master their fears and conflicts. In order to deal with conflicts that stem from personal biography, partners delegate each other to embody one aspect of an ambivalence that otherwise would be unbearable for the individual concerned. Hence, the concept of collusion is an attempt to understand the dynamics of couple and marital conflicts both in the light of psychoanalysis and its concentration on individual biographies, and of systems theory and its preoccupation with functional mutuality.
Credit

Definition extracted with permission from Simon, Fritz, et al, Family Process, Inc.: Language of Family Therapy: A Systemic Vocabulary and Source Book (Family Process Press Series)