Archive for the ‘Connecting the Dots Series’ category

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

September 10, 2020

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.

Getting Started

September 1, 2020

How might we frame our depth work process approach?

Let’s open with an observation from Rumi:

“A night full of talking that hurts,
my worst held-back secrets. Everything
has to do with loving and not loving.
This night will pass.
Then we have work to do.”  Rumi poem translated by Coleman Barks

Orienting to my wordpress layout: In terms of how this blog offering works, note that if you click on an activated link, the link will take you either to the internet source, or quite often, to another one of my posts here. My pages are fixed and reserved for core components of the symbol system. The posts are listed below the pages, with the most recent on top. Below the posts are my selected Source quotes, which are simply posts consisting of direct quotes without much comment from me. When you click on any page, you go there; hit the back button to return to prior page, or, just return to the website to see the top page layout. The search function is helpful if you have a key word, such as “micro” as in micro-fracture, or partial as in partial cure; you can pull up a few postings on the theme and see which may be the best way into the conversation.

Back to Rumi: In this case, the observation from the Rumi poem is the opening of a post from me about this work. Please take a minute to go there and consider following up with the additional embedded links, to begin to orient to my processing focus.

Managing our power struggles: The immediate priority from my perspective is to consider that the ways we have been getting triggered and pulled into emotional conflicts are all part of our co-created system dedicated to enabling each other to try to maintain order and comfort when really something else is emerging. The concept of the blur, and the perspective healing only occurs in the blur is central to understanding the emotional charge in triggers here, and the importance of getting triggered.

We want to consider the possibility our hard work and dedication may be paying off, and as a reward, psyche is now offering an initiatory process which sets the ego up to be sacrificed. This is quite different from getting an unsolicited robo-call offering x-nights of free lodging at an exotic resort!

We are called to consider the meaning and impact of the possibility everything that has ever happened to us is entirely conscious now, but not to the ego

Jung’s concept of the ego-Self Axis is crucial to understanding the mid-life transition as an initiatory process. As Stein and Stein note in their excellent overview, what is needed is the art and science of maieutics – midwifery. It is a birth process: symbolically the ego must suffer a kind of death, in the service of a rebirth, enabling a new working relationship with what Jung called the Self, the deep center of conscious and unconscious life.

Really, what this is about, is a return to discovering and then re-connecting to our lost selves.

For this opening and true coming home to occur requires that we let down the very defenses that enabled us to survive our unique challenges. This means wrestling with our core character defenses. This is the partial cure problem. As children we find work arounds, but ultimately, these dissociation based defenses enable a core disconnect, which works against living life fully.

We can try to think about the idea that psyche, in psyche’s wisdom, has chosen a beloved who is sensitive and strong enough in just the right ways, to help us break down our defenses. Once we put them in place to help us become our true authentic selves, we fight like crazy to resist their best efforts. If we succeed in thwarting their sacred mission – which we unconsciously assigned them to take on in our behalf – there will be no wedding! The story reference here is we will not be able to achieve true self-other emotional intimacy until we recover our own.

For today, please take a close look at the partial cure link.

From Margret Atwood’s Surfacing: an image of the (radical) tear

June 25, 2020

After recently streaming a very compelling documentary on the life and work of Margaret Atwood – see Margaret Atwood: A Word after a Word after a Word is Power – I was moved to order a couple of her earliest books: Surfacing and The Edible Woman. Both have been very powerful reads. I was struck by her vivid description of having been cut in two:

“No hints of facts, I didn’t know when it had happened. I must have been alright then; but after that I’d allowed myself to be cut in two. Woman sawn apart in a wooden crate, wearing a bathing suit, smiling, a trick done with mirrors, I read it in a comic book; only with me there had been an accident and I came apart. The other half, the one locked away, was the only one that could live; I was the wrong half, detached, terminal. I was nothing but a head, or, no, something minor like a severed thumb; numb. At school they used to play a joke, they would bring little boxes with cotton wool in them and a hole cut in the bottom; they would poke their finger through the hole and pretend it was a dead finger.” (pp 108-109)

By the dates, Margaret published this when she was 42 or so. That seems about right in terms of psyche helping us realize we have experienced a significant disconnect which has required a partial cure work around. Seems like a lot of Donald Kalsched’s formulation on trauma, dismemberment, and re-memberment is present in this painful realization/reflection. I recently worked this from the perspective of recognizing the “tear that always shows.”

On that note, I have been pondering the relationship between tear (tare) and tear. ie: tear “…to rend (a solid material) by holding or restraining in two places and pulling apart, whether intentionally or not; to destroy or separate.” In contrast to: tear “…A drop of clear, salty liquid produced from the eyes by crying or irritation.”

Source: “…the important units of recall are the occasions of repeated interaction.”

June 25, 2020

The source quotes below are from The Journey of Child Development, Selected papers of Joseph D. Noshpitz. I appreciated his description of the layers of infant experiences which contribute to Daniel Stern’s conceptualization of representations of interactions that have been generalized (RIGs). The image of RIGS helps us understand the origins of what was presented to me as the nucleus of the experiential state: the composite scene/image of the episode(s), one’s self in relationship to the other, standing in for all the others, and the associated affect, as reflected in the totality of the expressions in the moment of impact.

Let’s hear now directly from Dr. Noshpitz:

“…let us turn our attention to actual details of the process of recall: what are the elements babies use to construct inner images? It is evident that one of the elements of experience that has particular valence for babies is the encounter with the significant other. For infants, this 3- to -9 month period is a time of extraordinary pressure toward socialization. Another way of saying that is to state flatly that during this interval all babies fall intensely, passionately, head over heals in love with their mommies. They cannot get enough of her; nothing means as much. They yearn for her when they do not have her at hand, light up when they see her, reach for her when she comes near, and crow when they touch her. Smiling has appeared, social smiling in response to other’s presence, with a special smile for the beloved mommy. Hence, in laying down memory traces, special emphasis should be given to these moments of intense interactive experience with the loved one as begetters of memories.

It is therefore not surprising that Stern suggests that the important units of recall are the occasions of repeated interaction. Thus, a feeding experience, a mother-infant play session, or some other such exchange between the two is the likeliest place to look for the groundwork of memory constructs. What happens then is that the interactions between the mother and infant become familiar; their quality is both anticipated and predictable. A feeding is a comparable sequence of positionings, holdings, lookings, sucklings, with a fairly standard pattern of overall conduct of self and other as the process continues. Babies lay down a memory trace of such an exchange, then add another of very similar character the next time, and then another, and yet another as time advances.

At this point, however, if Stern is correct, a remarkable thing happens. Babies begin to average out these experiences and to construct a model of how the experience should go. It were as though a generalized representation of the interaction emerged from the recurrent encounters, an image that can serve as a basis for predicting and judging the character of the next such encounter. Stern calls these representations of interactions that have been generalized RIGs). These RIGs are the building blocks of the core self, islands of consistency that form and coalesce out of the welter of infantile experience. They provide the basic material for constructing a sense of self as well as a sense of other.

It is my view that these early generalized representations are a unique and precious achievement to infants. In effect, each one is a work of art, a creation, their own rendering of a series of intense and valued experiences into a concentrated and succinct whole. There is a quality here of recording unifying it, distilling its essence and capturing its quality, and this, I believe, is central to the aesthetic encounter with a work of art, whether as creator or as viewer.

It is important to keep in mind the central role of these RIGs. They provide the bricks to build the mansion of the sense of self. They give infants the agency, the intensity, the coherence, and the continuity that together make for a continuing awareness of inner presence, inner integrity. They are dynamic presences, constantly undergoing small changes as each new experience is summed into the average, yet they are static in the sense of being repeats of the same kind of sequence over and over; this is what offers the sense of self the necessary stability and continuity and engenders the feeling of knowing one is there and who one is.” (pages 70-71)

As a conceptual tool, the experiential state gives us a way to think about our history as it contributes to our memory banks at the level of these RIGs. It seems our work in becoming conscious – recognizing enactments as blur moments – will involve connecting the dots between present day conflicts and our corresponding RIGs origin experiences.

To be continued.

 

 

 

Stern: “The experienced micro-world always enters awareness but only sometimes enters consciousness (verbalizable awareness).”

June 10, 2020

This source quote comes from a paper by Beatrice Beebe, Ph.D.,  Daniel Stern: Microanalysis and the Empirical Infant Research Foundations

I will be following this up with more descriptions of representations of interactions that have been generalized over time (RIGs). For me, this is the level of experience informing the experiential state images of self-other-affect. In opening to recognizing the blur we then have the opportunity to be with that which is trying to surface, via the enactment. By definition of the terms, we do not have language for the subsymbolic core. (See my Philip Bromberg post Enactment: Problem AND Solution?) We really want to try to get comfortable enough to simply be with the emerging experience, and try to find language together; this is the process for bringing the blur into conscious, symbolic awareness. The microfractures in communication quotes go well with this layer of material.

“The experienced micro-world always enters awareness but only sometimes enters consciousness (verbalizable awareness). [Stern, 2004, p. xiv]

Stern operated at the interface of the empirical analysis of mother-infant communication, systems theories, philosophy, neuroscience, and psychoanalysis. Dyadic face-to-face communication was the focus. Using the method of frame-by-frame microanalysis of film, moment-by-moment interaction sequences became the center of his thinking: miniplots of brief interaction scenarios. He described the reciprocal dyadic communication process across time: Each partner is changing with the other. Miniplots of the temporal-spatial-affective flow of each partner changing in relation to that of the other became his definition of procedural representations. Stern emphasized the primacy of time and temporal process over more static notions of psychological organization. Most fundamentally, Stern’s work in microanalysis has changed what one can see, and thus what one can know. His work fostered a dynamic, interactive model of the organization of experience. The foundation of experience, the origin of mind, and the key to change in psychotherapy are found in the moment-by- moment interactive process itself.

Dan’s fascination with the micro-momentary details of the present moment, which became the title of one of his books (Stern, 2004), was the core of his inspiration and talent. In the preface to that book he wrote,

In considering the micro-world of the present moment, I first thought of the working title, A world in a grain of sand from William Blake. … It captured the size of the small world revealed by micro-analysis. … One can often see the larger panorama of someone’s past and current life in the small behaviors and mental acts making up this micro-world. … Seeing the world at this scale of reality changes what can be seen [italics added] and thus changes our basic conceptions. [Stern, 2004, p. xiv]”

The Blake poem referenced by Stern above opens with:

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour.”

 


“That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief”

April 11, 2020

This is the title of an article being circulated by Scott Berinato, an editor from the Harvard Business Review, which captures an interview with grief expert David Kessler. The interview is excellent; I have posted just his last summary comment. Granting our feeling life sovereignty is the teaching at the core of the Hags and Heroes story. I appreciate his observation on “one unfortunate byproduct of the self-help movement…”

(Berinato) What do you say to someone who’s read all this and is still feeling overwhelmed with grief?

(David Kessler) “Keep trying. There is something powerful about naming this as grief. It helps us feel what’s inside of us. So many have told me in the past week, “I’m telling my coworkers I’m having a hard time,” or “I cried last night.” When you name it, you feel it and it moves through you. Emotions need motion. It’s important we acknowledge what we go through. One unfortunate byproduct of the self-help movement is we’re the first generation to have feelings about our feelings. We tell ourselves things like, I feel sad, but I shouldn’t feel that; other people have it worse. We can — we should — stop at the first feeling. I feel sad. Let me go for five minutes to feel sad. Your work is to feel your sadness and fear and anger whether or not someone else is feeling something. Fighting it doesn’t help because your body is producing the feeling. If we allow the feelings to happen, they’ll happen in an orderly way, and it empowers us. Then we’re not victims.”

Co-Created, Dissociation Enabled Enactments

February 7, 2020

I’ve been translating from psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice into this 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.

Enactments: Setting the table…together

January 11, 2020

In the post below, Enactments: Problem AND Solution? I brought forward some of Philip Bromberg’s observations on the meaning and role of enactments in work with trauma survivors. My Setting the table…together title is shorthand for the importance of our efforts to get our own enactment experiences out on the table, in a manner that is useful to the patient. When a rupture occurs, how we struggle together with the hidden meaning (recognizing the subsymbolic mode of being for the gift that it is, and working directly too bring it into the symbolic mode through our shared discovery process) is the work; yours and mine. When something disrupts/disallows our working this rupture/enactment through together, we will be unsettled as hell. How about them apples!

A part of this that I find so helpful, and so resonant with my interest in the meaning and implication/application of healing only occurs in the blur, is the emphasis on focusing on the emergence, via enactments, of the subsymbolic world.

Again and again Bromberg brings us back to the idea of one dissociative process conditions for another; the work is in our engagement with what shows up, palpably, in co-created dissociative enactments. For this to be fruitful, he suggests:

“During the analytic process, a main part of the analyst’s job is to find words to get his own experience of enacted communication out on the table in a manner that facilitates the patient’s ability to do the same….”

Furthermore, citing Levenson, Bromberg illustrates “…how the analyst’s being pulled into an enactment is not a technical error but an inevitability. (and) … how working one’s way out of the mess of an enactment is a core ingredient of therapeutic action, and how neither patient nor analyst can free himself from the grip of a “mess” without the others help.

Pause on that one: being pulled into an enactment is not a technical error but an inevitability. And: neither patient nor analyst can free himself from the grip of a “mess” without the others help.

Here we have direct support for privileging (my choice of words) the analyst’s efforts to find words for his/her/they own experience of enacted communication.

The idea of privileging the detail finding words to get his own experience of enacted communication out on the table is interesting from the legal sense of the word. It seems to point to an exemption. An exemption from best practices? We do take seriously our responsibility to maintain a conscious observing presence throughout our work with patients; at the same time, this direct support for acknowledging the presence of the subsymbolic layer, as manifested in tracking our enactments, yours and mine, seems to suggest having an active relationship with one’s own unconsciousness, in the service of meeting the patient in their subsymbolic experience, is a most critical component.

Given that, we could ask, would we be comfortable saying getting activated and submitting to a dissociation enabled co-created enactment is a component of best practice? The question is a bit of a puzzle. Perhaps the answer is: “by degrees.” If the therapist, or trainer, or organizational leader, or intimate partner, and so forth, slips into an intense moment of unconsciousness with an acting out component, for all who could see, to see, then what? My advocacy for thinking in blur terms conceptually, is the recognition the violation, as a betrayal of trust, is initiatory for the one on the receiving end of the enactment.

Recall I have suggested that in the absence of good enough ritual elders, traumas can be lived through, but remain essentially incomplete initiatory experiences. At some point, in the midlife or later, we need to open up this encapsulated, episodic memory centered trauma complex in order to re-integrate the split off material and thereby gain conscious wisdom in the ways of the world.

Importantly, perhaps more so if the originator of the wounding is in a leadership position, if the enactment is met with enough consciousness to help the originator get his own experience of enacted communication out on the table, this episode can be deeply initiatory for both/all participants. Given the relative primitiveness of these defenses, offending parties may not be able to use the resources available to surrender to the transformative opening, as John Perry observes in some happy moment. Clinically speaking, for the originator to resist direct participation in the working through is not a conscious choice. We bear witness, and contain the enactment as consciously as we can.

I prefer coding these episodes as re-enactments of the wounding in that the scene, when formulated into an experiential state image, points back to the entire relationship histories of both parties present in the action. That the trusted other presents not as her/they/his known self, but in a possessed state, can be shocking, stunning, deeply upsetting, infuriating, but, really, when I am triggered by anothers submitting to an enactment, pulling me in to add my fuel to the fire, I do want to look primarily at my vulnerability to being confused about what is really going on. This is what co-created means. If I can only focus on what the other did, in this real time moment, I will be stuck feeding the complex, and continue to suffer the re-traumatization of the wound that informed my trigger. Together we have reinforced enough intensity in the conflict between us to disallow either the opportunity to breathe and drop into the core. When one can see the core driving the enactment, one can begin to consider what type of conscious enactment, or portrayal, might enable a transformative shift.

Citing Levenson and Sullivan’s work, Bromberg suggests … “working in the moment with transference and counter-transference experience provides the most powerful context for therapeutic growth.”

“… The process of consensually finding the ‘right words,’ language that symbolizes a new shared reality, is the basis for the development of intersubjectivity where it did not exist... When patient and analyst can each access and openly share their dissociated experience that has been too dangerous to their relationship to be formulated cognitively, the process through which this takes place begins to enlarge the domain and fluency of the dialogue and leads to increasingly integrated and complex content that becomes symbolized linguistically and thus available to self-reflection and conflict resolution…”

“I thus argue that what has been labeled the analyst’s self revelation, if used as a negotiable element in the ongoing relationship, is not only permissible but also necessary: a part of the developmental process that Fonagy … calls mentalization, through which subsymbolic experience is allowed to become a part of the relational self rather than being interminably enacted. …”

“…the Boston group’s findings support the view that “process leads content, so that no particular content needs to be pursued; rather the enlarging of the domain and fluency of the dialogue is primary and will lead to increasingly integrated and complex content…”

On a side note, Christopher Bollas has written beautifully on the image of countertransference readiness. There are always two patients in the the consultation room: “… the other source of the analysand’s free association is the psychoanalyst’s countertransference, so much so that in order to find the patient we must look for him within ourselves. This process inevitably points to the fact that there are two ‘patients’ within the session and therefore two complementary sources of free association.”

These combination of observations, or what sound like core clinical truths, all point to the importance of finding a way to be present in the therapy in one’s own depth process, including what I am calling the blur.

Imaging the Experiential State, Complex Nucleus, and Ego-Self Axis

December 11, 2019

Note from Chuck: I first published this page in 2012. Note for me, my pages – see guide to pages at the top of right hand column – are the fixed building blocks of the symbol system. Posts, archived below the pages, are explorations on a theme.

Taking a look this morning, I decided to bring this page forward for a refresh. My conceptual framework does feel a bit like five ball juggling. I am shooting for identifying the various components, which, taken individually can be grasped quite directly. The challenge is to get them all in the air at once. The heart of this exploration for me continues to be the bridge between the life we live, starting out as infants, coming from an ancestral womb, and the archetypal world, our shared/collective, hard wired resource bank. Seems to me this is the key. As an earlier offering I did not build in hyper links to related plates. This link: Complexes as Bridge to the Symbolic World pulls up an extensive description of this plate’s illustration. Please feel encouraged to search for the core components. Enjoy…and let me know if this seems helpful.

From the experiential state to the complex: developmental failings or traumas severe enough to trigger primary survival defenses, that is, disconnection through splitting, evoke archetypal, hardwired resources in the form of complexes. These are as if image and affect templates activated via a match with the emotional resonance of the here and now scene.

Here I am suggesting we start with picturing the developmental wounding, symbolized by the Experiential State in the mother/father other approaching from the right, as the activating object, caught in the act. Imagine how this episode, one of countless interactions averaged and generalized over time, contributes to the composite Experiential State.

In addition, the complex nucleus, with its image and energy, reflects the fact of the scene’s corresponding evoked archetypal node. This activation contributes it’s ancient pattern recognition and resources in providing spontaneous help to insure survival in the face of a seemingly impossible experience. This plate illustrates the shared elements and places the ego-Self axis in the center, in recognizing the continuum with regards to the degree of conscious access versus effective repression at any given time.

Source Quote: Von Franz on The Suffering God Osiris

November 11, 2019

I will be moving this post to a Source quote soon, but wanted to offer it now with comments pending. Enjoy! (note my italics)

In her orientation to the origins of alchemy, Marie-Louise von Franz discusses the middle of the old Egyptian empire and the rise and increasing dominance of the sun god Re:

“This phenomenon corresponds to a typical development of consciousness. It was the time when writing and recording, the measuring and mapping out of the fields, mathematics, and all such arts flourished. For the first time in the Egyptian empire records were kept. Here there is a coincidence: at the time when the sun god, who is the archetypal principle of consciousness, becomes dominant in a civilization, there is a sudden increase in rational consciousness. But naturally through this also arises a split from which we still suffer: namely, that certain aspects of the psychic life of the individual, certain moods and impulses that do not conform to collective rules, have to be repressed.”

She then moves into describing what gets pushed into the background, the shadow, with the dominance of the sun god Re:

“You could therefore say that part of the primitive individuality of the Egyptian went into the unconscious at that time, and with it went a certain aspect of affect in the feeling life. This aspect of the Egyptian’s communal life was concentrated in the archetypal image of the god Osiris. Osiris, in contrast to the ordering, ruling sun god, was the suffering god. He represented the passive, suffering aspect of nature and of the psyche. Histories of religion always depict him as the god of vegetation; however that does not mean concrete vegetation, but vegetation as a symbol of his being: it is that which does not move, which does not have its own volition, which is the greatest suffering thing on this earth. Osiris represents the underground part of the Egyptian communal life. In the Osiris part of his nature was also hidden the Egyptian’s true consciousness of his own individuality, in contrast to the collective ruling principle of consciousness.”

Then she brings in the idea of the Ba-soul.

“So the body was associated with Osiris and the idea of the Ba-soul. … The true pre-conscious individuality and individual human consciousness was at that time still projected into the Ba-soul. Normally in Egypt the Ba was either represented by a star or a bird… a man was not aware of his Ba-soul during his lifetime, since as an individual he lived according to Egyptian regulations, even to the extent that during the judgment after death he had to swear to a list of things he had not done. That is the famous negative confession: “I have not stolen, I have not broken the law, I have not sacrificed to the god..,” and so on. … clearly a nice list of lies, because they did all these things like everybody else, but the idea of lying like that to the gods after death was considered not a lie but an assertion: “I would not dare to impinge on the collective rule.” Because to dare to say, “Yes, I have done this,” would imply individuality; it would mean standing up to the fact that one had broken the rule, and that was forbidden. Egyptians were so closely identified with the collective ruling body of morale and ideas they could not admit their individual sinful impulses even to themselves and to the gods. 

Normally, you would meet your Ba-soul only after death and be completely unaware of its existence before. It emerged, so to speak, at death and during the mummification process. But in this specific paper, “The World-Weary Man,” there appears a man whose Ba-soul suddenly speaks to him during his lifetime, at the moment when he is about to commit suicide. This results in a very famous and touching conversation between the two. Such a meeting with the nucleus of one’s own individuality was believed to take place only after death, the Ba-soul being immortal and individual, the eternal aspect of the human being. Becoming one with the Ba-soul meant, therefore, being deified and becoming one with the oneness of the universe.”

von Franz, Marie-Louise, alchemical active imagination, Shambhala Publications, Inc, 1979. 1997, pp. 4-6.