Source: Donald Kalsched on Psyche’s Self Care System and the Partial Cure Paradox

I want to reference some of Donald Kalsched’s writing (“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).

“For those familiar with attachment theory, the SCS (see psyche’s “self care system”) can be thought of as a set of internal working models or schemas reflecting patterns of relationships that have been generalized and internalized (Stern 1985, Knox 2003, 104-37). These schemas provide a set of appraisals and expectancies about outer relationships that determine how the interpersonal world is interpreted and experienced. From a Jungian standpoint, however, the SCS is much more than an internalization of outer relationship-patterns. Its imagery and affects are amplified from within by the psyche’s mythopoetic, archetypal dynamism, and the apparent “wisdom” with which it generates meaning, creates imaginative stories for the “child” and provides healing dreams, would seem to transcend what is often described as infantile illusion or defensive fantasy. More than one clinician has been deeply moved by the uncanny inner intelligence that seems to be mobilized under conditions of traumatic stress-to the point of suggesting that in its efforts to heal trauma, the psyche seems to have access to “higher,” precognitive or trans-rational powers (Ferenczi 1988, 81, Jung 1912, 330, Bernstein, 2005).

However we visualize it, the SCS accomplishes a partial cure of trauma, enough so that life continues, despite dissociation and its effects in limiting a person’s full potential. When people come for psychoanalysis they often don’t know that this partial cure is in place, nor do they expect that their identities, informed for many years by “interpretations” from the SCS, will have to be “deconstructed” in the course of therapy. As Masud Khan (1974) reminds us, with these traumatically wounded individuals . . . “one is rarely dealing, at first, with the authentic illness of the patient. [Rather] . . . what is most difficult to resolve and cure is the patient’s practice of self-cure. To cure a cure is the paradox that faces us in these patients . . .” (97).

May we work together to cure the cure,

chuck

4 Comments on “Source: Donald Kalsched on Psyche’s Self Care System and the Partial Cure Paradox”


  1. […] At the time I had this dream, my sense was it was a compensatory dream, pointing to my need to allow myself to deflate, to choose connection and feeling presence, rather than seducing moods, keeping myself pumped/powered up. For me, this dream message was a reminder of the reality I continue to be vulnerable to relying on partial cure based solutions. My analyst offered what seemed to me to be a very helpful interpretation. He suggested the crone on my left represented the opening of the encapsulation of trauma; this opening is what then allowed “me” to experience directly, through the symbolism, the reality of my core wound. From this perspective, this sequence signals progress on the continuum of my personal work to “cure the cure”. […]


  2. […] 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 […]


  3. […] on working with trauma in analysis, Donald Kalsched touches on the importance of recognizing the partial cure problem: “However we visualize it, the self care system accomplishes a partial cure of trauma, enough […]


  4. […] The early conditions provide the “design build” requirements for our character defenses. These character defenses bring us through, enable us to move into our adult lives, however, upon examination, they can be seen to be only a partial cure. […]


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