Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Retirement Letter with Resources

August 6, 2022

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:

For more personal communications, please contact me directly through my website or my secure email address: 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


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:

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: 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

Edward F. Edinger: On Mortificatio

February 8, 2021

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

And the people stayed home…

March 25, 2020

I found this poem to be a lovely meditation, a transport if you will:

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.

And listened more deeply.

Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.

Some met their shadows.

And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed.

And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

by Kitty O’Meara

Googling Kitty O’Meara pulls up an interesting story about Kitty and how the poem came into being. Sounds like she is an elder who has worked in palliative care. This offering came to me via my niece, a biologist, who has been called to an eco-chaplaincy training program. Gratitude…

Co-Created, Dissociation Enabled Enactments

February 7, 2020

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.

Couple Experiential State Complex as Activated Threshold

February 2, 2019

I am in Florida this week attending a five day Accelerated Experiential Dynamic Psychotherapy (AEDP) Immersion training with Diana Fosha, PhD. With two full days in, I am very happy and excited to report her model, with it’s experiential focus on the transformational experiences, seems to be a field guide for working with the blur. I am so looking forward to differentiating my work with AEDP!

Below is a page I first posted in 2012. I am re-posting it to highlight a few details. More on those later.

In recognizing the presence of emotion as the indicator the unconscious is activating, and in appreciation of the understanding healing only occurs in the blur, we are ready to consider the possibility that getting one’s buttons pushed is just what the doctor ordered. How might we recognize psyche’s timing as an opportunity for spontaneous healing and embrace the opening?

A Couple Experiential State Complex activation brings to the here and now the direct experience of one’s core family of origin vulnerability. Infused with the emotion of the dream-time, this co-created complex sets the stage and provides the script and props essential to facilitating a re-enactment of the wounding. Without considerable effort to understand and keep connected to consciousness, once constellated, the couple experiential state complex is likely to defeat the individual and couple’s best ego-based intentions. While it might seem wise to learn how to extinguish the complex, this approach doesn’t take into account the important meaning and role of complexes.

“During early traumas, our emerging egos split-off and repress aspects of the psyche that parents, siblings, or society found unacceptable. These split-off aspects could be thoughts, feelings, images, or associations. Often they are valuable and worth recall. They may carry hidden talents, intuitions, abilities, or accurate feelings that would make our personalities wiser and more complete if we could integrate them. Until reintegration can occur, our psyches are like the pieces of a broken mirror, which hold in fragments what was once a complete reflection.” (Moore, Robert, and Gillette, Douglas, The King Within, pp.32 33.)

However valuable as they may be, when it comes to opening to suffering them through, it is understandable to resist such opportunities to incarnate these entities. By definition they are the missing connections to the most unbearable experiences of our childhood, specifically the highly charged split-off images and affects at the center of the complex. Acknowledging their existence let alone consciously attempting to experience them directly is counter intuitive to the ego’s self preservation instincts (Edinger on Mortificatio).

Recovering one’s wholeness necessitates that at some point we embrace unbearable split off trauma in the service of suffering it through. On a side note, my long term care consultations offered the opportunity to bear witness to the return of the repressed: if one lives long enough to become demented, that which one’s defenses have kept out of conscious awareness will begin to resurface. With cognitive faculties on the ropes, these storms of affect can wreck havoc on the now beleaguered mind. Suffering through that which could not be borne consciously at an earlier time is what is required to complete the initiation.

Donald Sander and John Beebe (1985) have observed:

“Working through any split requires not only dis-identification by the ego from the more familiar pole of the complex, but also affective recognition of the contrary pole. Such recognition requires immersion in the side that has been unconscious. There is an unconscious tendency toward wholeness and relief of tension that fosters the emergence, under accepting conditions such as analysis, of the repressed pole. The consequence is that at least temporary possession by unfamiliar contents is a regular part of the life and of the analytic process, an inevitable prelude to the integration of unconscious portions of the Self.” (Jungian Analysis, edited by Murray Stein, pp. 331-332.)

In other words, the experience of remembering that which was dismembering at the time of the original overwhelm requires the ego submit to “at least temporary possession by unfamiliar contents.” What seems unfamiliar to the ego is the experience of finding itself immersed in the historically split off image and affect. This is the blur. 

Staying conscious in the here and now experience of the blur, as a betwixt and between, waking dream infused state of consciousness, supports us in recognizing the blur as an activated threshold. From a psychological perspective, this encounter with the blur for me represents the ego’s experience of approaching the Self, with as much consciousness as it can bear. Remember, the ego is wired for something like 110 voltage, and the Self is wired for 220 on up to 10,000 volts. Considering Edinger’s observation the collective unconscious does transcend time and space, we can only imagine the ego’s challenges, as the “agent of the Self in time,” in attempting to peer into the unconscious; this is something like being afforded an opportunity to look into eternity.

In this aspect, the Couple Experiential State Complex, when activated, captures and embodies the breadth and depth of the ego’s here and now experience when infused by the archetypal, eternal realm of the Self. From this perspective, it symbolizes the universe of possible meanings and interpretations. In this moment, however, it provides the opportunity to enter into an encounter with that which is presenting for healing, here, now.

Random(?) Dream Postings

January 18, 2019

FYI: Poking around in my unpublished-to-date stuff, I found a couple of earlier dreams and thought I would post them as stand alone window into psyche. The Eye Fetish dream below is one of several in a sequence which set a future discussion on archaic human longing. It dawns on me I could put all the dreams in a file…some day.

Philip Bromberg on Self – States

June 19, 2018

Source quote plus comment:

“If an analyst is listening carefully he will often be aware that a sudden change in ‘topic’ is accompanied by a change in self-presentation, including affect but by no means limited to it. From my frame of reference, what is taking place is defined neither by the change in topic nor the change in affect but a switch in self – states and in the respective realities that organize them. One’s clinical ear hears the voice of another part of self and has the opportunity to invite it into relationship by accepting it in its own terms rather than talking about it as though the part that has just emerged is simply a change in mood. For those who are not yet totally at home with how the concept of self – state is different from a shift in affect or mood, let me offer a one sentence clarification: Self – states are highly individualized modules of being, each configured by its own organization of cognitions, beliefs, dominant affect and mood, access to memory, skills, behaviors, values, actions, and regulatory physiology. (Chuck’s bold)

When all has gone well developmentally, each self – state is compatible enough with the modes of being that are held by other self – states, to allow overarching coherence across self – states, which in turn creates the capacity for sustaining the experience of internal conflict. In treatment, however, when proactively protective dissociation is operating, self – state shifts are most likely to reach the analyst’s perceptual awareness if he is able to freely engage his patient with the stance of participant – observer. Or so I contend. Why should this be the case? Because the shifts may be discerned initially not as something in the patient, but as a destabilization of the analyst’s own mental processes, an awareness of discomfort that he does not immediately recognize is a discomfort that is linking him to his patient through a dissociative enactment that is taking place while they are participating at a verbal level.” Page 72-73.

Comment: I will be creating a separate page for this source quote at some point. For now, I wanted to get it posted in anticipation of commenting on it from the perspective of more language and theory about others, entities, agents, archetypes, components making up experiential state scenes, figures populating the nuclei of complexes, and the images and affects associated with invarient organizing principles. My interest in the blur reflects my tracking of the importance of finding a way to embrace these less conscious beings that keep trying to show up in the service of winning back as much of our lost selves as humanly possible.

Reading that last line above and my choice in using the language “less conscious beings” I am struck with the need to clarify “from who’s perspective?” The challenge is recognizing that these beings have their own consciousness. It’s more of a question of how much awareness, on a continuum, might we have in a given moment of their presence or influence. Something like that. 

Philip Bromberg, The Shadow of the Tsunami and the Growth of the Relational Mind. 2011.

A Conversation…

May 30, 2018

Every now and again I’m reminded that somehow this “blog“ adventure needs to move into a conversation. Granted, it starts with my wanting to engage with community around stuff that comes to mind for me out of my sitting with patients. I have these, to me, juicy thoughts about stuff that I want to write about and I’m not at a point where I can take the time to research it well enough to I call it an opinion paper or essay. I want to practice being more spontaneous about it, posting it, and letting it go without obsessing about what it could be with more effort and editing. That’s it for this brief entry!

Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity (Robert Moore)

January 30, 2018

I recently came across a couple of Robert Moore audio presentations entitled: The Dragon of Grandiosity and Facing the Dragon.

This link will take you to the Minnesota Men’s Conferences website.

His insights, offered to a men’s gathering, are previews of his book Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity.


Differentiating Feeling from Emotion

December 13, 2017

Below is a copy of my page with the same title. I wanted to bring this forward to highlight the last couple of paragraphs exploring the meaning of Perry’s quote: “From the fire of the passionate life grows the light of awareness, but the activeness of the ego’s attitude decides the gains or losses. If the ego is passive and allows the contents to remain habitually ensconced in their emotional form, there may be only gain on the side of the unconscious. In their emotional form the images remain merely intimations of meaning; one can speak of true understanding only when the meaning is recognized by an active ego-consciousness and adopted into its structure of values and meanings. Instead of passively allowing an affect-ego to relate to the affect-object, without the effort of understanding, the active ego intervenes, insisting upon an assimilation of the meaning over a period of time.” (My italics)

Page: In light of the idea that the presence of emotion may be the most accessible and reliable indicator the unconscious is activating, learning to differentiate feeling from emotion or affect becomes a first order priority.

Recall, on the differentiation of feeling from emotion, Perry, with help from Jung, observes:

“. . . feeling is of a different order from that of emotion; feeling is a function of consciousness, and – to the degree to which it is differentiated – has the quality of choice and intentionality in judgments of value.” J W Perry p.2

“. . . emotions are the activity of the unconscious, the non-ego” (Jung, 1907)

“. . . emotions are autonomous and happen to the ego without its bidding, and the ego is the recipient of the impact of the emotions” (Jung, 1939, 1943).

“. . . we think of the unconscious as being the autonomous psyche, and it can as well be called the emotional psyche.”

Before moving into thinking about the problem of emotion and importance of discerning feeling from emotion, consider the following quote that captures emotion in its fullness:

(Jung) “…conflict engenders fire, the fire of affects and emotions, and like every other fire, it has two aspects, that of combustion and that of creating light…for emotion is the chief source of consciousness. There is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion…” (Perry paper)

For me the observation “there is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion” supports directly the importance of developing one’s capacity to work within the blur. In recognizing emotion as an essential element to this process, we might imagine encountering the blur as something like this: the fire of the emotion generates light; the light in turn, when we can bear to look into it deeply, guides us to the discovery of the missing component of development. For this to be revealed requires we bring a witnessing consciousness to the scene of emotion; this allows the activation to be suffered directly; this in turn reveals the original scene, and thereby the suffering becomes meaningful. In this moment, if/when we can pay attention to the depth of the self-other experience in its fullness, what needs to happen can happen. This time, after all this time, it is as if the help that saves the day shows up in the nick of time. Now, all is understood. It all makes sense in this happy moment.

And now back to the difficulty at hand. A trial acceptance of this premise – emotion = activation – equates with making a personal commitment to withdrawing one’s energy from an escalating power struggle. This means choosing to surrender the ego’s position of needing to make a point, and doing everything possible to acknowledge the presence of an unconscious driver. This is in the service of activating the power of witnessing consciousness. Let’s try that descriptor on for this function.

In terms of understanding what generates the emotion, Perry observes:

“. . . I find the occurrence of any emotion to consist of the interplay between two complexes. . . The subject experiences the affect that belongs to the complex with which the ego aligns itself, and assigns the other pole to the object. During the emotion the energetic value of the ego is lessened, and that of the complex heightened, and in this situation one should speak of an interrelation of an affect-ego and an affect-object.”

When you sense the presence of a feeling tone, what Perry is calling an interrelation of an affect-ego and an affect-object, perhaps having noticed clear evidence of someone’s  ego powering down, including your own, you may still have a choice to try not to surrender your own consciousness. While a melt down in process may be very obvious, it is surprising how often all of us seem willing to abandon ship and jump in, contributing our material to strengthen the power of the complex. As if a perfect storm will help the situation. (see Emotion and Invulnerability to Fire page)

The couple complex image as symbol puts the experiential state complex graphic back into the bodies of the two who find themselves engaged at the level of the participation mystique. The experiential state complex image in the center of the two then represents the interplay of two complexes, in the moment. For me this suggests the blur exits both in self and other, with the central image standing in for both parties complexes.


The Persona Submitting to Emotion plate views this scene  from the perspective of an individual Experiential State Complex.

If/when one is unable to stay conscious enough to contain an activation, the complex splits and is at risk for moving out into the room. When one pole hijacks the originator’s ego, the other pole is projected onto the object or environment. If the other unwittingly introjects the projected content, the “offering,” it is likely the re-enactment of the wounding will take place. I have positioned the symbol for the complex between the two parties, indicating the scene is under the spell of the originator’s complex image and affect.

Side note: Remember projection and introjection by definition refer to the unconscious aspects/layers of our process.  In that sense, intojection is always unwitting, as we don’t recognize we have just absorbed a projected content. We are always becoming aware of this, as intuition senses this. Really tuning in to this level can be hazardness, perhaps along the lines of the difficulty captured by William Stafford in his observation: “I call it cruel, and perhaps the root of all cruelty, to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.”

The teaching moment here is to support developing a sensitivity to picking up on this early enough to intervene with awareness. When we are conscious enough to see it coming our way, we have many options. If one misses reading the signals, and one’s own unfinished emotional business provides a hook for the projection to catch on, the stage is set for the enactment.

This is the mechanism of projective identification. While I understand there are severe forms of this defense, which is very difficult when fully activated, I find it helpful and useful to consider something of this gets constellated, at a less intense level, more frequently than we might think. Here, an intolerably painful self assessment, unable to be thought about directly, gets projected onto you, and then my experience of you is you are looking at me as if I were x, y, or z, in perfect alignment with the projected critical judgement. I feel hurt, upset, misunderstood by you, and you are going to hear about it! This dynamic also could be understood as an exteriorization of the inner antagonist.

The Couple Experiential State Complex suggests another layer of complexity, reflecting an established co-created complex. This recognizes the fact of the couple’s shared history of activations; over time these have contributed significant material to the original individual complexes (see Stein on Complexes page.) While life partners have time to notice the ritualistic, repetition compulsion aspects to their communication breakdowns, it seems activations with strangers can be every bit as problematic, if not devastating. In fact, it is quite common to get lined up on your complex at home, bringing enough consciousness to it to recognize the blur, only to then have it activated somewhere on the road. We want to try to contain this deeper work within our personal and couple’s process. When these activations occur “out there”, the goal is to recognize the “exteriorized inner antagonist” and bring him/her home.

Here is another lengthy but exquisite observation from Perry on the difficulty and importance of striving to stay conscious:

“From the fire of the passionate life grows the light of awareness, but the activeness of the ego’s attitude decides the gains or losses. If the ego is passive and allows the contents to remain habitually ensconced in their emotional form, there may be only gain on the side of the unconscious. In their emotional form the images remain merely intimations of meaning; one can speak of true understanding only when the meaning is recognized by an active ego-consciousness and adopted into its structure of values and meanings. Instead of passively allowing an affect-ego to relate to the affect-object, without the effort of understanding, the active ego intervenes, insisting upon an assimilation of the meaning over a period of time.” (Chuck’s italics)

If images in their emotional form are in fact mere intimations of meaning, the presence of emotion, when viewed from the position of an active ego consciousness, represents a bridge to true understanding. The emotional activation is an opportunity to deepen consciousness, moving from an intimation of meaning to the direct experience of the meaning. This how we come to self-knowledge. Might this be the most direct pathway to finding the mythological gift believed to be at the center of wound?