It seems all of us will be challenged at some point to reconnect with historically painful, and sometimes, unbearable emotional facts. Traumas trigger powerful defenses dedicated to insuring our survival. While we are changed deeply by them, their true depth and meaning are lost to us until such time as we can consciously suffer them. Until then, they represent incomplete initiatory experience. They serve to connect us to a deeper reality and potential source of guidance: the archetypal world. Donald Sander observed: “Death and rebirth are the mythological symbol for a psychological event: loss of conscious control, and submission to an influx of symbolic material from the unconscious. This is always felt to be a great sacrifice, a dying to one’s old self.” (Sandner, D., Navaho Symbols of Healing)

While psychological events associated with loss of conscious control may be split off from ego consciousness, they have not gone away. Alice Miller instructs us:

The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our 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.” (Miller, Alice, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware)

Telling our stories for the purpose of reconnecting with the truth of our experience is the way we honor the “still whole in spirit” child within. The symbol system supports understanding something about how these original wounds are recorded and manifest in transference and countertransference reactions through what Jung called the participation mystique. I want to propose how we might understand problematic unconscious processes in their primary function: they bring into consciousness that which needs healing in the service of balance, harmony, and wholeness.

The framework is process oriented, reflecting relationship between conscious and unconscious experience. Finding language for unconscious-to-ego experience is both challenging and necessary if we are to have any chance of embracing complexity. The quotes cited through out the blog represent something of the “rocket science” of transference. I think of these word-based images as points of meditation on the theme at hand. While the technical language will be unfamiliar to many initially, the quotes offered have a poetry about them, and simply taking a moment to try them on and ponder the layers of meaning is a helpful practice for feeling one’s way into what we all may experience at some level.

One Comment on “Introduction”

  1. […] In A Little Book On The Human Shadow (1988), Robert Bly opens with a few images capturing our energetic beginnings. The shadow, from a Jungian perspective, may be simply all that is unconscious in us. Bly references Alice Miller’s work The Drama of the Gifted Child. (See “the truth about our childhood is stored in our bodies…” […]

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