Archive for the ‘Soul’ category

“When reality is simply too painful to experience, then the psyche has a way of allowing life to go on—but at a price.”

December 1, 2017

In the words of Donald Kalsched: “When reality is simply too painful to experience, then the psyche has a way of allowing life to go on—but at a price. This is a psychological defense we call dissociation. Dissociation is organized by a re- markable “intelligence” in the psyche that insures survival. I have called it the “self-care system.” We don’t have to think about it. It’s a “mechanism.” It happens automatically.”

The Atlanta Friends of Jung set up a short interview with Donald Kalsched prior to his presentation. It is a powerful if brief overview of theory and practice. Check it out.

The Secret of Salvation in Dante’s World

September 28, 2017

The paragraph below is excerpted from a source quote posted under Images of the Journey in Dante’s Divine Comedy, by Charles H. Taylor & Patricia Finley:

“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.

Getting Back into the Boat

February 18, 2016

When we become aware of having been triggered, activated, constellated, possessed, dispossessed, dissociated, or disconnected in some important way, how can we think about getting “back into the boat?”

This image, suggesting we have somehow been knocked out of the boat, brings forward earlier references to the impact on psyche of episodes of trauma and emotional/physical overwhelm. What I am signifying as wounds of overwhelm.

These human experiences have been described as the psychological basis for the mythological motif of death and rebirth.

From Egyptian mythology, Edward Edinger has observed: “When the child Maneros witnessed Isis’ terrible loss and grief upon seeing the dead Osiris, this awesome sight was so intolerable to Maneros that he fell out of the boat and drowned.” We too are vulnerable to losing balance, falling overboard and drowning in the face of intense emotion. It is how we are wired.

From the conceptualization of the ego-Self axis, such wounds symbolically knock the 110 voltage wired ego temporarily out of the boat of consciousness, and drop down into the deep waters of total psyche, in the realm of the Self. Here, they remain as if in suspended animation until the conditions are favorable for their re-integration. These are the original encapsulated episodic memories which form the nuclei of our complexes. On a side note “suspended” is misleading in terms of these are not energetically inert bundles of split off trauma. Their energies are not diminished by time and space.

Depth work is about helping us to get back into the boat with a new relationship to the reality of the waters of the unconscious, the unseen world. It is about discovering a way to re-connecting to those very experiences which, for our survival at the time, necessitated the disconnect.

Getting back into the boat consciously means choosing to open one’s self to suffering directly the images and affects generated by the original wounding experience. By definition, when these wounds of overwhelm are sufficient to knock the ego out of the boat and into the unconscious, the wounding itself evokes archetypal energies via a match with its associated collective, primordial scene. The ego is challenged to bring such scenes back into consciousness.

Years ago I was introduced to the idea that if you want to know about what has been initiatory for a person, you just need to inquire about “when did death come into your life?”

After a long opening night, hearing a hundred personal stories about first confrontations with death, I shared mine, and was then afforded a week in deepening in that exploration.

While I had never forgotten the details of my own near actual drowning experience, I was able to see then, 30 plus years later, how intensely overwhelming that confrontation with death was for me; how it had changed me, and how it was present in my work at that time, and informs me today.

The short story is that I recognized then my intense interest and evolving skill in helping others who required hospitalization in an acute psychiatric inpatient ward, could be seen as a reflection of my own initiatory encounter with death. Recognizing this possibility for the first time, a “name” came to me spontaneously: I was He-Who-Talks-About-Deep–Over-There. I was able to connect the intensity of my interest, dedication, and seemingly inexplicable capacity to sit with the most psychotic, anxious, depressed, and overwhelming experiences of others, my deeply felt resonance with the mystery present in primary process, the non-ego realm, to my ego’s efforts to look out, not within me. My connection with the depths, though largely unconscious to me at the time, was providing some critically important glue in my ability to trust the meaning of the dynamics present in the patient’s compensation-decompensation-recompensation cycle . While we may not be able to understand it yet, it can be understood from a drive to healing perspective; it is not accurate or helpful to reduce the action to evidence of pathology. It is psyche attempting some form of corrective adjustment.

This focus on the other enabled me to be present with this level of experience in the unique energetic field of the inpatient setting, without opening to my own terror and anxiety associated with my encapsulated trauma. This would be an aspect of my partial cure adaptation. My work with inpatients was about supporting them in finding their way back. Back into the boat.

I am pulling together the story about what happened next. It is a bit unusual in that the actual sequence of events have a strikingly mythological, dream time quality.

During that week I realized I needed to find a way to revisit and complete the initiatory cycle. The thought occurred to me, if/when I was able to do so, what might my new name be? What came to me at the time was: He-Who-Talks-About-Deep-In-Here-Now. While I do work out of a talking cure modality, I would place the emphasis today on being present with the full range of emotion. Something like One-Who-Is-Fully-Present-Inner-Outer-Above-Below.

What do you think? Should we practice being fully present? I believe so. Let us make preparations together to get back into the boat of consciousness, the place of re-membering.

 

 

Everyone is a patient, everyone a psychotherapist?

February 11, 2016

“Therapy, or analysis, is not only something that analysts do to patients; it is a process that goes on intermittently in our individual soul–searching, our attempts at understanding our complexities, the critical attacks, prescriptions, and encouragements that we give ourselves. We are all in therapy all the time in so far as we are involved with soul-making. The idea here is that if we are each and everyone a psychological patient, we are also each and everyone a psychotherapist. Analysis goes on in the soul’s imagination and not only in the clinic.” James Hillman, Re-Visioning Psychology, page. xii

Source: James Hillman on Psychological Faith & Soul-Making

January 29, 2016

This is a beautiful description from James Hillman:

“The work of soul–making is concerned essentially with the evocation of psychological faith, the faith arising from the psyche which shows as faith in the reality of the soul… Psychological faith begins in the love of images, and it flows mainly through the shapes of persons in reveries, fantasies, reflections, and imaginations. Their increasing vivification gives one an increasing conviction of having, and then of being, and interior reality of deep significance transcending one’s personal life.

Psychological faith is reflected in an ego that gives credit to images and turns to them in its darkness. Its trust is in the imagination as the only incontrovertible reality, directly presented, immediately felt.

Soul making, as work on anima through images, offers a way of resolving the dependencies of transference. For it is not the therapist or any actual person whatever who is the keeper of my soul beyond all betrayals, but the archetypal persons of the Gods to whom the anima acts as bridge. The shaping of her amorphous moods, sulfuric passions, bitter resentments, and bubbles of distraction into distinct personalities is the main work of therapeutic analysis or soul-making. Therefore, it works in imagination, with imagination, and for imagination. It discovers and forms a personality by disclosing and shaping the multiple soul personalities out of the primary massa confusa of arguing voices and pushing demands.”

From Hillman, James, Re-Visioning Psychology, p. 50

For more notes/quotes on Hilman’s view of soul work, check out:  “Talking About Psychology – James Hillman