Announcing Retirement from Direct Patient Care

Posted August 6, 2022 by chuck bender
Categories: Author

Dear Esteemed Clients,

As most of you know from our ongoing discussions, I am retiring from clinical practice on August 31, 2022. This timing marks my 50th year anniversary of clinical work, and it feels like the right time to step back from direct clinical service. It has been a privilege to work with each of you over these decades. I want to express my deep gratitude for the times and ways we traveled together. From my heart, thank you!

My work life balance will decidedly shift in the direction of life and play! However, I am not retiring from psyche and soul. After a four-month sabbatical, I expect to embark on special projects and some consultation hours. Details will be announced on my website here.

For follow-up billing questions or any other post retirement administrative requests, please contact my practice manager, Amy via email: office@amyvukovic.com.

For more personal communications, please contact me directly through the website or my email: counseling@chuckbenderms.com. If I don’t get back to you soon, I may be out soaking up the sun or traveling – so please be patient.

In gratitude,

Chuck Bender

A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,

Going far ahead of the road I have begun

So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;

It has its inner light, even from a distance –

And changes us, even if we do not reach it,

Into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are;

A gesture waves us on, answering our own wave . . .

But what we feel is the wind in our faces.

–Rainer Maria Rilke

Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke – A Translation from the German and Commentary by Robert Bly

Full letter and Resources

Co-Created, Dissociation Enabled Enactments

Posted February 7, 2020 by chuck bender
Categories: Author, blur, Complexes and More, Connecting the Dots Series, Conscious Enactment, Learning to Think and Work Symbolically, Uncategorized

Tags: , , ,

I am bringing the post below to the top of the posting page to refresh/review some of the key concepts:

I’ve been working on integrating Philip Bromberg’s psychoanalytic based theory and practice into my symbol system, the heart of which is captured in the observation: healing only occurs within the blur.

To the extent this is true, we want to prepare ourselves to take advantage of emotional activations, as they signal opportunities for spontaneous healing entering or erupting into the everyday space. In my Couple Experiential State Complex as Activated Threshold post I make the case getting triggered pulls us, in the here and now, into an altered and altering state. Our shared blur experience, enabled by our co-created, dissociative defenses, facilitates a re-enactment of a wounding. We want to wake up in this moment together, and see if we can identify the elements of the self/other original experiential state scenes which are behind us getting triggered. Recall as long as they remain split off from and not fully inventoried by consciousness, these highly charged episodic memory based scenes are not diminished by time and space. These wounds of overwhelm experiences inform our invariant organizing principles and are stored in psyche’s black box so to speak, in their image and affect formats.

From the Bromberg/Bucci teachings, we want to begin to identify our ways of being. It seems the essential try on here is to be on the look out for enactments: emotional states and actions which, when examined, can be seen as manifestations of the subsymbolic mode of being. The critical point of this detail is what is stored in our bodies, split off from consciousness with the help of encapsulation defenses, can only find it’s way back into consciousness via unconscious, compulsive, emotionally laden actions. Such actions, however habitual and familiar to both parties, reflect, in the words of Alice Miller, our bodies presenting their bill: “The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Out intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, our perceptions confused, and our bodies tricked with medication. But some day the body will present its bill, for it is as incorruptible as a child who, still whole in spirit, will accept no compromises or excuses, and it will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth.” Note this is a different sound bite on Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score offering.

Enactments are typically organized at the level of body experience and make their presence known affectively. These are actions which are not entirely conscious at best; when observed and noted over time, one can see the core emotional patterns. For me, these are the experiential state complexes driving our co-created, dissociation enabled blur experiences. My image for this sphere of engagement is:

Co-created Tangle of Complexes: Yours and Mine

I believe Bomberg is clear about our need to engage with the subsymbolic mode, as the way to help bring it’s teachings, needs, into the symbolic mode, enabling conscious connection and reflection; finding words together for those experiences for which we had no words.

The concept of blur states recognizes our natural tendencies to want to put our best foot forward. It’s just that something gets triggered, putting us on a slippery slope, and we’re left with figuring out what just happened, is happening.

Jung used the concept of participation mystique to describe those experiences in a relationship experience reflecting a mutual level of unconsciousness.

For more on what psyche may be hoping to accomplish through blur enactments, see Observation: Healing Only Occurs within the Blur.

Retirement Letter with Resources

Posted August 6, 2022 by chuck bender
Categories: Uncategorized

Dear Esteemed Clients,

As most of you know from our ongoing discussions, I am retiring from clinical practice on August 31, 2022. This timing marks my 50th year anniversary of clinical work, and it feels like the right time to step back from direct clinical service. It has been a privilege to work with each of you over these decades. I want to express my deep gratitude for the times and ways we traveled together. From my heart, thank you!

My work life balance will decidedly shift in the direction of life and play! However, I am not retiring from psyche and soul. After a four-month sabbatical, I expect to embark on special projects and some consultation hours. Details will be announced on my website.

For follow-up billing questions or any other post retirement administrative requests, please contact my practice manager, Amy via email: office@amyvukovic.com.

For more personal communications, please contact me directly through my website or my secure email address: counseling@chuckbenderms.com. If I don’t get back to you soon, I may be out soaking up the sun or traveling – so please be patient.

For those wanting to continue with psychotherapy, I highly suggest reaching out now to locate a new therapist. It is very challenging to find openings at this time. If you are using your insurance, I would reach out to your carrier for a list of in-network providers and start there.

I will gladly provide a phone consultation to your new therapist at no fee. I have also included some psychotherapy and mental health resources with this letter.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions. Those who have worked with me over the years sometimes let me know about significant developments or achievements in their lives. I welcome such communications.

In gratitude,

Chuck Bender

A Walk

My eyes already touch the sunny hill,

Going far ahead of the road I have begun

So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;

It has its inner light, even from a distance –

And changes us, even if we do not reach it,

Into something else, which, hardly sensing it, we already are;

A gesture waves us on, answering our own wave . . .

But what we feel is the wind in our faces.

–Rainer Maria Rilke

Resources

For referrals, your insurance provider can provide a list of therapists in your network. Insurance care managers may have the most up to date information on which providers are accepting new patients.

An Internet search will bring up associations and therapists, including information on therapy approaches and issues. Two resources that may be helpful are:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/wa/vancouver

https://www.goodtherapy.org/

Teletherapy could be an option if you cannot easily find someone local and are open to a secure video call. Searching “psychotherapist wa state” results in multiple listings. Talk with your insurance provider to determine coverage options.

If you find yourself or a loved one in crisis and need help right away, the contact information for the crisis line is:

https://clark.wa.gov/community-services/clark-county-crisis-services. The 24/7 phone number is (800) 626-8137. Someone requiring an immediate on-scene response in an emergency is advised to dial 911. Also, hospital emergency rooms can address me

Images of Self: Dream Time Encounters with Robert Bly

Posted January 7, 2022 by chuck bender
Categories: Active Imagination, Author, Communications from the Dream Time, Dream, Images of the Self, Individuation, Initiation, Learning to Think and Work Symbolically, Soul, Waking Reflections

Tags: , ,

In recognition of Robert’s passing late last year, I will be posting a series of big dreams from my work with Robert and the mytho-poetic gatherings of men he inspired and fed so well. For me, these dreams helped bring me into a more conscious relationship with the Self (see Edinger on the ego-Self axis). In recognition of the Jung’s spirited and courageous engagement with the unconscious through his Black Book journals, I will also be posting some of my active imagination transcripts (AI). This is in alignment with my belief that sharing these dream + AI offerings, straight up without interpretation, has value. I would welcome the opportunity to post some of your Robert Bly dreams here. The most recent of the manifestly (as in Robert shows up as a recognizable figure) Robert Bly dreams came the week before I was to begin a six session series of Embodied Dreaming group sessions conducted by Kimberly Christensen as part of her doctoral work. Here is the dream:

Dream 10.12.19 5:47 AM Timeless Robert Bly & Flying/Arriving

“Lengthy dream sequence ended with me catching up with my wife waiting for me at an outside table at a small restaurant on the ground floor, inner courtyard space of multiple storied, huge, sophisticated department store-like building in New York, or? We had become separated working our way down from the upper floors (4th?) when I took flight, without really giving her notice, literally stepping out into space and slowly flying, exploring, descending in this huge open space, which allowed me to see vast amounts as I dropped down.

Just before, having landed in a different corner of the complex, a black, grey, slightly shadowy corner with a lovely water/nature feature by a descending stairway, I encountered a very old but exceedingly spry, slow moving man, who was walking towards me, having just come down the stairs from a balcony; he was wearing greys and light and deep purples, elegant clothing, sophisticated, timeless, wild hair barely shorn, aristocratic, and, like himself, Robert Bly, with a rock star touch of Rod Stewart; and he looked at me and had this impish smile, and we both slowly passed each other; and I said “not bad!” in a low key, trickster way of acknowledging the impact of his startling presence and his carrying something quite amazing and special. He smiled back at me; we kept walking, and then both slowly turned back for second looks, and I was thinking, ‘No, you/I didn’t need to say “It’s me, Chuck.” We both know who we are. We go way back; how delightful to find him so alive and well, so vital, here, in a cultural/business center.

As I continued up the stairs, a procession of people, all much younger, were slowly coming down the stairs. This seemed to be his group; they were breaking for lunch or something like that; they seemed bright, interested, interesting; men and women; I paused on a short section, against the railing just outside of the opening, and one woman came nearer, stopped; we looked at each other intently, softly; she was very attractive to me; her gaze held me; I sensed she was/would be a very lovely person/lover. Tracking their arrival, coming down the stairs, I put Robert with this group; he, the elder. I had the thought “Oh, this is where Robert has been spending his time; sitting with, being available to this group of next generation creative types; as in, the work goes on, even when unseen; this is where he has been working away, out of the limelight.”

Realizing this corner of the lower level was not where Karyl was, I turned to flying again and negotiated a slow, swooping crossing of the large atrium, dropping down to the ground floor of the atrium, and I spotted her at the restaurant; I walked over to her, coming up behind her, and I could see she seemed a bit upset, and I assumed it was because I had lost track of her, become separated unintentionally, in choosing to glide down/explore. The chair next to her, my place, had a beautiful, circle of large whole tomatoes and vegetable salad plate; her plate, right next to mine, was different but equally elegant; I sensed she was sad, tearful, hurt about me having my disappearance/vanishing?; I said something like “Oh, there/here you are! How lovely, and you ordered for me…as I took my seat. I was aware, and surprised, at my having avoided acknowledging her upset directly.

Before all of that, several other scenes within the same huge interior space, with lots of levels and all kinds of shops, stuff going on; I had been walking along an upper level sidewalk with a man I happened to meet, happily, a patient I felt close to in his interest in bringing his soulful life review to our meetings; we both had experienced psychotic mothers and not helpful enough fathers. We had a bit of a twinship transference going around appreciating each other’s choices in comfortable, classic clothing. His round of work was a meeting with many tears, together, over a number of years.”

I often note any waking reflections (WR) that come to me as I capture/record a dream. I didn’t record any at the time, but I remember immediately connecting with feeling delighted that such a vivid dream would show up at just such a time when I was looking for the dream I would bring to the embodied dream group experience; thinking, this is it; wow.

My next journal entry at 8:57 PM, on the same day, opens with “Time for re-entry and dialogue.” I will post this active imagination experience separate from the dream itself.

And, I must say, it is really difficult to not try to offer some additional information about the dream. In recognition of the category of dream-time-encounters-with-Self, the dream embodiment group process provided a wonderful opportunity to re-enter the moment, in the dream, when Robert and I turned back for second looks. This is the image I want to track through a number of dreams. There is also the compelling experience of how flying works for me in my dreams…

But for now, I want to get more dream material on the table.

Donald Kalsched: on …”When the relational environment … fails … to provide “good enough” attunement and empathic responsiveness for the growing baby”

Posted November 9, 2021 by chuck bender
Categories: Complexes and More, Connecting the Dots Series, Individuation, Initiation, Learning to Think and Work Symbolically

Tags: , , , , ,

It has been a while since I’ve posted any of my musings! Here is one more source quote with a few very important ideas and conceptualizations. Enjoy.

“Object-relations theory and interpersonal theory provide the best understanding of how trauma develops but, missing a grasp of the self-curative capacities of the psyche’s inner world, they do not adequately envision the healing of trauma that comes about through other than personal resources. The self-care system comes about as a result of acute or chronic failure by the relational environment to provide “good enough” attunement and empathic responsiveness for the growing baby. Trauma occurs when this “failure” falls outside what Winnicott calls the “area of omnipotence,” by which he means experience the baby can make sense of or “metabolize” within its own tolerance-limits or its own nascent symbolic capacity. Events that fall outside this area are “unbearable” or “unspeakable” and constitute nothing short of “madness,” by which Winnicott means literally a “breakdown” of infancy that cannot be remembered and around which the growing child (with the aid of primitive defenses) must erect a false self, like a tree growing around an absent center hollowed out by a lightning strike.

This sobering and compelling story about the effects of early trauma represents a partial truth, but it is not the whole story. There is something essential that Winnicott leaves out of his completely interpersonal metapsychology, namely, the “nonhuman environment” outwardly (Searles, 1960), and the “prehuman environment” inwardly, in other words, the archetypal layer of the psyche (Jung). The child is not just in relationship to the mother, but to the “world” beyond and the “world” within—poised, as it were, between two great, beautiful and terrible mysteries. It is the mother’s job to help mediate these Titanic realities. Without the mother’s “good enough” mediation, the child will be exposed to these inner and outer beauties/terrors and this will inevitably lead to traumatic symptoms in relationship, for example, unresolved omnipotence and grandiosity, insecure/disorganized attachment, and so forth.

But the child will not necessarily be “mad.” The Self Care System (SCS) will come to its rescue, and this system will recruit the archetypal powers of inner and outer Nature in its “effort” to save the child’s spirit – its core of health. The many myths that retell the story of children being abandoned and exposed but rescued by transpersonal powers or wild animals record the “saving” miracle by the SCS (Otto Rank). True, without an adequate human relationship to mediate “psyche and the world” the traumatized child will have life-long difficulties in intimacy with others. Born of broken attachment bonds, its SCS will not allow it to trust a process of reattachment with others for fear of retraumatization. But the self that grows around these limitations will not necessarily be a “false” self and may in fact be more creative than mad, perhaps with a rich inner world, a privileged access to “non-ordinary reality,” a deep cultural life, and a huge passion for a capacity for life. In the language of Jerome Bernstein, these individuals will occupy a “Borderland” between the worlds rather than be “Borderline” personality disorders (Bernstein, 2005).”

“Working with Trauma in Analysis,” by Donald E. Kalsched, PP. 281-295, from Jungian Psychoanalysis: Working In The Spirit of C.G. Jung, Edited by Murray Stein

Torment and Atonement?

Posted April 14, 2021 by chuck bender
Categories: Connecting the Dots Series, Individuation

Tags: , , ,

We have so much going on right now in the world, and, we are all vulnerable to getting triggered, or from a trauma complex perspective, activated. I wanted to bring forward a couple of paragraphs from a source quote which may answer some questions we have not consciously formulated. My source quotes collection, see bottom right of page, are simply some of my favorite quotes, without anything from me. Enjoy!

From Images of the Journey in Dante’s Divine Comedy, Charles H. Taylor & Patricia Finley, 1997

“On Torment and Atonement – Two kinds of suffering: (pp. 158-160)

“There is profound psychological meaning in the sometimes excruciating pain of purgatorial suffering: the crushing stones borne by the proud, the choking smoke enveloping the wrathful, the fire hotter than molten glass searing the lustful. Those who are saved are not sinless – far from it. Rather, they are those who have come in time to know and take responsibility for the shadow qualities that split their personalities and cause them to act destructively toward themselves and others.

The secret of salvation in Dante’s world … is insight into the nature of who one is, how one injures, what it feels like to be oneself the victim and to make others the targets of one’s desirousness, rage, pride, and deceits. Those who make it to Purgatory are not less shadow-driven, narcissistic, obsessed, or pathological than others, but they have not refused to make conscious what they are, to bear the burden of themselves, and to come in time to take full responsibility for their own natures. By coming to know what operates in us behind appearances, whether driven by unconscious instinct and aggression or by more deliberate betrayals we can choose to take a stand against whatever in our personal character moves us to wound others and our larger selves.

Atonement, the poet says in many ways takes time; the passage of time is central to the work of purgation. … It is psychologically true that a new level of self-awareness can be achieved only with sustained effort over an extended time, but how much time depends in part… on the attitude of those who are central in our lives. Taken objectively, this expresses the reality that the caring concern of those who love us can accelerate our growth and act as a catalyst for inner healing. Taken subjectively – in terms of what we can do for ourselves – prayerful engagement by the ego with the inner figures of parent, beloved, or child, as a means of reaching out to the larger powers that seek our development, often moves the process more swiftly.”

Waking Reflections on the Great Fish, Loss of Identity, and Meeting the Father of the River Dream

Posted March 23, 2021 by chuck bender
Categories: Author, Communications from the Dream Time, Dream, Images of the Self, Initiation, Learning to Think and Work Symbolically, Soul, Waking Reflections

Comment: Here are my waking reflections (WR) recorded when I woke up after the dream posted just below (see Close Encounters of the Dream Kind: Battling the Leviathan and Meeting the Father of the River). My practice in recording dreams when I wake up with one is to find a low light space and just begin writing as fast as I can in order to capture as much of the detail, energy and flow as possible. I care about being able to read what I’ve written later(!), but try not to worry about punctuation or spelling at all; I just keep writing and try to record everything that comes into my head, in the timing it comes. I am recalling I believe Jeffrey Raff’s description of Jung recommending this fast writing as a way to support greater access to these communications from the dream time. This is as if a spontaneous active imagination experience, as the ego is involved in sorting and making sense of this somewhat altered state.

Waking Reflections: when I first sat down to write, I was struck with the question of what happened beneath the surface! Popping back up naked and and in a state, in a public place, was uncomfortable, but strangely secondary to the real action. I had a vague sense of apprehensiveness about the possibility this dream be alerting me to the fact the I wasn’t able to land an important fish in my life, and, I lost my identity in the process to boot… and, and, a part of me has been dazed and confused since? Questions about who was the fisher person, in the world versus anima or an inner lover figure drifted through my head. How was it that I was in the position I was in, as if perched on the little craggy island between the channels, and, alert to possibility of diving in after the rod and reel instantaneously? feeling … when it came to describing the scene with the elder who seemed to live on the riverbank, looking after the cache, the name that popped vividly directly into my head was Father of the River, He who has his station of ancient order along the banks of the wildly abundant river, where the fish are mythological Leviathans. The opposites of order and wildness felt very important. Who is this Father of the River in relationship to me, my work. My strong sense being he was/is the deep guide to all my work, the elder, the wise old man, the Father of the River, in psyche, guiding me, Chuck, in relationship to the river of life, emotion, life flow, and all the abundance in psyche, nature, and the work of becoming conscious. He understands being a part of nature and the ways that as humans we cannot control or dominant elemental energies through force.

When recording this dream, Behemoth first came to mind; in researching a bit, it seemed Leviathan would be more appropriate. For now, it seems most accurate to say it was a very large, salmon like fish. In the dream action, I was decidedly pulled under by it and experienced complete amnesia for what happened beneath the surface. *In posting this today, with regards to these initial associations, I would like to do some research about the Leviathan, to see what the spiritual and historical record can contribute; it’s always a question of time and priority.

Before sharing one more vivid association to the last scene, being invited into talk to the keeper of the cache, I want to say my next post here will be my active imagination process in search of answers to the question what happened when I was pulled under?

One more complicated association towards the end of my recording this dream was a dream and the timing of meeting Doug Von Koss while attending a week long men’s mytho-poetic gathering in the Mendocino Woodlands. After waking up about 4:30 AM with a powerful Eye fetish dream, spending an hour outside in the moon light in a round of very powerful waking dream embodiment, I had just finished a pen, ink, and watercolor picture capturing the vividness of the image, when I heard someone singing, slowly working their way down the path leading up to the lodge where I was sitting, alone, with my painting. Doug, on a mission to get a cup of tea, walked right up to me. He took one long look at me, my freshly painted image, and said “something’s happened.” He then invited me to find a time later to tell him all about it. And, to my surprise, suggested if I would like him to paint it on my forehead on the day of the planned major ritual, this was something he could do for me. This was very much like the river elder inviting me into his realm to hear my story. He then also invited me to join his small group of men who would be offering the morning wake up chant for each of the cabins. This ritual became an important part of my waking to world each. How lovely…

Close Encounters of the Dream Kind: Battling the Leviathan and Meeting the Father of the River

Posted March 19, 2021 by chuck bender
Categories: Active Imagination, Author, Communications from the Dream Time, Dream, Images of the Self, Initiation, Learning to Think and Work Symbolically, Soul

Author note: Keeping a dream journal is a wonderful major step to beginning to pay attention to our depth. I have been pondering posting more dreams with their active imagination (AI) dialogue transcripts for some time. In my excitement to be diving into Jung’s Black Books, see post below, and witnessing his process, and his courage, I feel compelled to post more of my own close encounters of the dream kind. While one could make the case that dreams without specific personal life context can only be lacking, the burden of connecting the dots with one’s intimate life and work is great. In the spirit of all creative processes, and embodiment, it seems dream offerings and active imagination dialogues, from/with psyche, can stand alone. Might we give them that respect? I am deeply curious about what could come out of such an (limited) engagement with you, fellow dreamers. May we experiment with bearing embodied witness together in celebration of psyche? Let the images and affects, the energies and the mysteries speak for themselves!

Dream: Encountering the Leviathan and Meeting the Father of the River

April 10, 2020 4 AM: awakened with a big dream: Bank side of powerful river within a developed almost city like park, I recognize a medical staff person, like a hospital nurse I know; she/we are comfortable and collegial, and chat briefly; I see she has a very long fishing rod and reel set up and is ready to cast out into the water upstream; I am, have been, standing on what seems to be a rocky island like outcropping, with just enough height to block one’s view of the right bank, just off the left bank where she is; I am looking upstream from my rocky perch, which is running parallel to the current, with the larger flow and deeper channel to my right. I see her hook a huge 12-16 foot long fish! It strikes and jerks her off the bank and into the water flowing through the left channel of the outcropping, and I see that she can’t hold onto the rod and reel, and in an instant, I realize if I just dive into the water from my rocky observation point I might be able to snag the rod and hold onto the fish; I do and sure enough I am just able to grab it as it goes banging, and flying by; I am now being pulled into the deep water in the channel on the right side of the island. I can’t think about how I’m going to hold onto the fish, only that I have a chance to save the gear and the catch …

For a brief moment, I am being pulled under towards the opposite shore; I feel strong and hopeful, not worried about drowning, but really, just totally engaged, and then … poof, it’s over and I am crawling out of the river, naked, somewhat disoriented, and I have no idea what happened to the fish, the gear, my clothes. I am looking around trying to orient myself to the bank, others, only slightly distracted by the fact of my nakedness; I see her, stunned, and throw up my arms as if to say “wow!” Then I became aware of the loss of my wallet and everything else usually in my pockets, ID, credit cards, phone, and begin to want to find something to put it on and find out what happened to my clothes. Did anyone see the action? See what happened? I seem to be amazing or a problem for some who are just trying to do there usual daily business. I see what seems to be a group of wait staff setting up a buffet honoring dinner with well-dressed people being seated in a riverside hall like garden area. I am/feel way out way out of sync with this group!

Then I find myself on the opposite side of the river, along the deep channel, walking downstream, south along the east river bank and I discover a hidden from view storage area, with closets, clothes rods, and a cache of well preserved, boiled wool and other heavy duty fishing/fishing boat, navy surplus type gear and I feel hopeful “this is where my stuff will show up, in salvage.” I am taking a close look when a ruggedly dressed-for-the-elements, ancient mariner type man confronts me with what am I doing here? While initially stern and guarded/protective, I get his attention and he directs me to step into a nearby place to talk; I start with pouring out my recounting of what happened, how I found myself, there, just now… about the amazing fish, like the ones known to be in this river… I remembered having seen others this big; I sense he knows everything about this river, this station along the banks of this river; he will be the key… I woke up. It was 4 AM.

Waking reflections: In honoring the dream itself, I am holding back on my reflections for this post for now.

I will follow this dream up with my active imagination process dedicated to trying to find out what did happen when I was pulled under?

Jung on Active Imagination

Posted March 16, 2021 by chuck bender
Categories: Active Imagination, Communications from the Dream Time, Connecting the Dots Series, Conscious Enactment, Learning to Think and Work Symbolically, Soul

Tags:

I am enjoying a seminar with THE SALOME INSTITUTE of JUNGIAN STUDIES on Jung’s newly published Black Books (BB). The course is guided by the institute’s director, Satya Doyle Byock, and astrologist Carol Ferris. Seems we’re off to a great start!

Working in depth to understand Jung’s process of self experimentation, as it informed his birthing of analytical psychology, offers an up close look at our own journeys. I hope to be bringing forward key concepts in support of all who dare to consciously deepen in relationship to the unconscious.

Here is Sonu Shamdasani, the primary editor, commenting on Jung’s approach to active imagination: “In December 1913, (Jung) referred to this first Black Book as the ‘book of my most difficult experiments.’ In retrospect, he recalled,

‘my scientific question went: what would happen if I switched off consciousness? I noticed from dreams that something stood in the background, and I wanted to give this a fair chance to come forward. One submits to the necessary conditions – as is in a mescaline experience – so that it emerges.’ (BB, Volume I, p. 24)

“Jung described his technique for inducing spontaneous fantasies: ‘The training consists first of all in systematic exercises for eliminating critical attention, thus producing a vacuum in consciousness.’ One commenced by concentrating on a particular mood and attempting to become as conscious as possible of all fantasies and associations that came up in connection with it. The aim was to allow fantasy free play, but without departing from the initial affect in a free-associative process. This led to a concrete or symbolic expression of the mood, which had the result of bringing the affect nearer to consciousness, hence making it more understandable. Merely doing this could have a vitalizing effect. Individuals could draw, paint, or sculpt, depending on their propensities:

‘Visual types should concentrate on the expectation that an inner image will be produced. As a rule such a fantasy-image will actually appear – perhaps hypnagogically – and should be carefully noted down in writing. Audio- verbal types usually hear inner words, perhaps mere fragments or apparently meaningless sentences to begin with…. Others at such times simply hear their “other” voices…. still rarer, but equally valuable, is automatic writing, direct or with the planchette.’

Once these fantasies had been produced and embodied, two approaches were possible: creative formulation and understanding. Each needed the other, and both were necessary to produce the transcendent function, which arose out of the union of conscious and unconscious contents. 

For some people, Jung noted, it was simply to note the “other” voice in writing and to answer it from the standpoint of the I: ‘It is exactly as if a dialogue we’re taking place between two human beings…’ Dialogue led to the creation of the transcendent function, which resulted in a widening of consciousness. His descriptions of the use of inner dialogues and the means of evoking fantasies in a waking state match his own undertaking in the The Black Books…” (C.G. Jung, BB, Notebooks of Transformation, Volume I, Edited by Sonu Shamdasani, 2020, pp. 54-55)

Edward F. Edinger: On Mortificatio

Posted February 8, 2021 by chuck bender
Categories: Uncategorized

I have updated this source quote after reviewing the concepts and the amazing poem imagery support in an earlier hour this morning. Mortificatio is not an easy concept for our culture. As a companion quote, Jung’s observations concerning Rebirth and Natural Transformations offer further guidance. Enjoy!

“Mortificatio is experienced as defeat and failure. Needless to say, one rarely chooses such an experience. It is usually imposed by life, either from within or from without. To some extent it can be experienced vicariously through that great cultural instrument of mortificatio, the tragic drama. In some cases the drama can provide even more than a vicarious experience. If the time is right, it can have an inductive effect and initiate an authentic transformation process in the individual.” (p. 172)

King, sun, and lion refer to the ruling principle of the conscious ego and to the power instinct. At a certain point these must be mortified in order for a new center to emerge. As Jung says, “Egocentricity is a necessary attribute of consciousness and is also its specific sin.” (CW 14, par. 364.) On the archetypal level the mortificatio of the king or the sun will refer to the death and transformation of a collective dominant or ruling principle.” (p. 151)

Poetic expression of the mortificatio experience from “East Coker” by T.S. Elliot:

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love for the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.

Out of the experience of darkness and emptiness can come the encounter with the inner companion. (p.174)

Edinger, Edward F., Anatomy of the Psyche: Alchemical Symbolism in Psychotherapy

Ichsucht (“ego addiction”) A Source Quote from Elie Humbert: On Ego, Self, and the Individuation Process

Posted September 10, 2020 by chuck bender
Categories: Connecting the Dots Series, Images of the Self, Individuation

Below is a lengthy and interesting formulation on narcissism from an ego problem in need of a solution perspective.

“Narcissus directly experienced an insatiable quest for the self and acute anguish in the face of everything that threatened his self-image. Jung took up Narcissus’ subjective experience and discovered the Ichhaftigkeit (“ego attachment”) within which the subject is caught. This internal force seeks the constitution of an ego complex around which it wants all of psychic life to revolve. Before the ego differentiates itself by relating to the unconscious, it is in a state of Ichsucht (“ego addiction”) (C.W. 14, par. 364), a turning of consciousness upon itself. The danger then is that the image of the world and the image of the ego risk becoming confused with one another.

Ichhaftigkeit (C.W. 11, par. 554) might well dominate the individual psyche if its own one-sidedness did not give birth to the shadow, which becomes in turn an independent complex opposed to the ego. The ascendancy of the shadow (of which the return of the repressed is but one aspect) overturns the organization of the ego. Jung analyzed the transformation process that then begins. Rather than focusing upon narcissism, he studied the conflicts, sacrifices, and mutations that mark the successive moments of the subject’s formation.

Jung insisted on the fact that becoming conscious puts the ego in jeopardy. A 1941 text reflects what he himself had lived through thirty years earlier:

The integration of the contents split off in the parental imagos has an activating effect on the unconscious, for these imagos are charged with all the energy they originally possessed in childhood, thanks to which they continued to exercise a fateful influence even on the adult. Isolation in pure ego-consciousness has the paradoxical consequence that there now appear in dreams and fantasies personal, collective contents which are the very material from which certain schizophrenic psychoses are constructed. (C.W. 16, par. 218)

Even while it endures such an ordeal, the ego cannot escape from an inflation, be it a negative or positive one. While relating to its own solitude and to the psychic elements it integrates, the ego either allows itself to become possessed by an upsurge of psychic energy or defends itself from this energy by identifying with its own conscious boundaries. Is there no way to avoid these two false solutions?

But at this point a healthful, compensatory operation comes into play which each time seems to me like a miracle. Struggling against that dangerous trend towards disintegration, there arises out of this same collective unconscious a counteraction, characterized by symbols which point unmistakably to a process of centering. This process creates nothing less than a new center of personality, which the symbols show from the first to be superordinate to the ego …The center cannot be classed with the ego, but must be accorded a higher value… for which reason I have called it the “self.” …the experience of the self has nothing to do with intellectualism; it is a vital happening which brings about a fundamental transformation of personality. I have called the process that leads to this experience the “process of individuation.” (C.W. 16, par. 219)

Thus by becoming conscious and by withdrawing projections, the ego is led into a state of either inflation or deflation. Neither of these states is resolved unless an unconscious center of the personality to which the ego can relate is brought to life.

…Influenced as he was by alchemy, Jung focused less upon images and more upon processes. The conjunction of opposites, with all that it implies of separation and differentiation, provides the schema with which one can understand the activity of the Self. Jung summarized this activity using three concepts: (1) becoming follows upon a compensatory movement; (2) wholeness consists of the relationship of consciousness with the unconscious; (3) psychic organization evolves according to the law of differentiation.

When referring to the concept of wholeness, which Jung used frequently, one must recall that the English word totality obscures the original German meaning. Jung rarely used die totalitat but almost always die Ganzheit (ganz, ganzwerden). Now the root prefix ganz does not signify “total” but “whole.” It would be better to translate Ganzheit by the English “wholeness.” Far from aiming to become, possess or experience everything, the Ganzheit is correlative to the experiences of dissociation and fragmentation. Jung specified that Ganzheit is not a Volkommenheit, not “a total achievement, perfection.” To individuals who feel the presence of two beings within themselves, Ganzheit appears as a possible unity. It is in the sense of a possible unity that the experience of the Self resolves the dissociation of consciousness from the unconscious and allows the subject to be whole.

…the Self is the true center of the personality from which the ego, by its goals and values, is alienated. Thus the ego must sacrifice its values and goals if it is to submit to the orientation of the Self. This sacrifice is brought about by the recognition of the shadow, and will have the characteristics of what some will later call a symbolic castration. Sacrifice differs from symbolic castration, however, because sacrifice does not culminate in the mere acceptance of human limitations and death but leads to a living relationship with the unconscious subject.

…What is at stake in the analytic process is not the death of the ego but the sacrifice of Ichhaftigkeit (“ego attachment”). Not only does the ego not disappear, but the conflicts that it goes through release it from imaginary states and allow it to come to its own reality.”

Excerpted from Humbert, Elie, C.G. Jung: The Fundamentals of Theory and Practice, Chiron Press, 1988, pp. 61-64.