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Taproot Therapy Collective - www.GetTherapyBirmingham.com

Hosted by Joel Blackstock, the Taproot therapy podcasts discusses trauma and depth psychology and the implications of psychology on art and design. We dabble in neuroscience, brain based medicine, Jungian psychology, and various modes of artistic expression and healing. Based in Birmingham Alabama, Taproot Therapy is devoted to discovering the most cutting edge ways to treat trauma. We believe that therapy is about more than reducing symptoms. Taproot Therapy Collective does not use ”one size fits all” therapy models and is always looking to the future. Read articles and watch video versions of the podcast @ https://www.GetTherapyBirmingham.com. read less

Lament for the Dead Psychology After Jung’s The Red Book Review; By James Hillman Sonu Shamdasani
20-12-2022
Lament for the Dead Psychology After Jung’s The Red Book Review; By James Hillman Sonu Shamdasani
“The years, of which I have spoken to you, when I pursued the inner images, were the most important time of my life. Everything else is to be derived from this. It began at that time, and the later details hardly matter anymore. My entire life consisted in elaborating what had burst forth from the unconscious and flooded me like an enigmatic stream and threatened to break me. That was the stuff and material for more than only one life. Everything later was merely the outer classification, the scientific elaboration, and the integration into life. But the numinous beginning, which contained everything, was then.”   ― C.G. Jung, preface for The Red Book: Liber Novus   James Hillman: I was reading about this practice that the ancient Egyptians had of opening the mouth of the dead. It was a ritual and I think we don't do that with our hands. But opening the Red Book seems to be opening the mouth of the dead.   Sonu Shamdasani: It takes blood. That's what it takes. The work is Jung's `Book of the Dead.' His descent into the underworld, in which there's an attempt to find the way of relating to the dead. He comes to the realization that unless we come to terms with the dead we simply cannot live, and that our life is dependent on finding answers to their unanswered questions. Lament for the Dead, Psychology after Jung’s Red Book (2013) Pg. 1     Begun in 1914, Swiss psychologist Carl Jung’s The Red Book lay dormant for almost 100 years before its eventual publication. Opinions are divided on whether Jung would have published the book if he had lived longer. He did send drafts to publishers early in life but seemed in no hurry to publish the book despite his advancing age. Regardless, it was of enormous importance to the psychologist, being shown to only a few confidants and family members. More importantly, the process of writing The Red Book was one of the most formative periods of Jung’s life. In the time that Jung worked on the book he came into direct experience with the forces of the deep mind and collective unconscious. For the remainder of his career he would use the experience to build concepts and theories about the unconscious and repressed parts of the human mind.  In the broadest sense, Jungian psychology has two goals.    Integrate and understand the deepest and most repressed parts of the the human mind   and    Don’t let them eat you alive in the process.   Jungian psychology is about excavating the most repressed parts of self and learning to hold them so that we can know exactly who and what we are. Jung called this process individuation. Jungian psychology is not, and should not be understood as, an attempt to create a religion. It was an attempt to build a psychological container for the forces of the unconscious. While not a religion, it served a similar function as a religion. Jungian psychology serves as both a protective buffer and a lens to understand and clarify the self. Jung described his psychology as a bridge to religion. His hope was that it could help psychology understand the functions of the human need for religion, mythology and the transcendental. Jung hoped that his psychology could make religion occupy a healthier, more mindful place in our culture by making the function of religion within humanity more conscious.    Jung did not dislike religion. He viewed it as problematic when the symbols of religion became concretized and people took them literally. Jungian psychology itself has roots in Hindu religious traditions. Jung often recommended that patients of lapsed faith return to their religions of origin. He has case studies encouraging patients to resume Christian or Muslim religious practices as a source of healing and integration. Jung did have a caveat though. He recommended that patients return to their traditions with an open mind. Instead of viewing the religious traditions and prescriptive lists of rules or literal truths he asked patients to view them as metaphors for self discovery and processes for introspection. Jung saw no reason to make religious patients question their faith. He did see the need for patients who had abandoned religion to re-examine its purpose and function.    The process of writing The Red Book was itself a religious experience for Jung. He realized after his falling out from Freud, that his own religious tradition and the available psychological framework was not enough to help him contain the raw and wuthering forces of his own unconscious that were assailing him at the time. Some scholars believe Jung was partially psychotic while writing The Red Book, others claim he was in a state of partial dissociation or simply use Jung’s term “active imagination”.    The psychotic is drowning while the artist is swimming. The waters both inhabit, however, are the same. Written in a similar voice to the King James Bible, The Red Book has a religious and transcendent quality. It is written on vellum in heavy calligraphy with gorgeous hand illuminated script. Jung took inspiration for mystical and alchemical texts for its full page illustrations.   It is easier to define The Red Book by what it is not than by what it is. According to Jung, it is not a work of art. It is not a scholarly psychological endeavor. It is also not an attempt to create a religion. It was an attempt for Jung to heal himself in a time of pain and save himself from madness by giving voice to the forces underneath his partial psychotic episode. The Red Book was a kind of container to help Jung witness the forces of the deep unconscious. In the same way, religion and Jungian psychology are containers for the ancient unconscious forces in the vast ocean under the human psyche.     Lament of the Dead, Psychology after Carl Jung’s The Red Book is a dialogue between ex Jungian analyst James Hillman and Jungian scholar Sonu Shamdasani about the implications the Red Book has for Jungian psychology. Like the Red Book it was controversial when it was released.    James Hillman was an early protege of Jung who later became a loud critic of parts of Jung’s psychology. Hillman wanted to create an “archetypal” psychology that would allow patients to directly experience and not merely analyze the psyche. His new psychology never really came together coherently and he never found the technique to validate his instinct. Hillman had been out of the Jungian fold for almost 30 years before he returned as a self appointed expert advisor during the publication of The Red Book. Hillman’s interest in The Red Book was enough to make him swallow his pride, and many previous statements, to join the Jungians once again. It is likely that the archetypal psychology he was trying to create is what The Red Book itself was describing.    Sonu Shamdasani is not a psychologist but a scholar of the history of psychology. His insights have the detachment of the theoretical where Hillman’s are more felt and more intuitive but also more personal. One gets the sense in the book that Hillman is marveling painfully at an experience that he had been hungry for for a long time. The Red Book seems to help him clarify the disorganized blueprints of his stillborn psychological model. While there is a pain in Hillman’s words there is also a peace that was rare to hear from such a flamboyant and unsettled psychologist.    Sonu Shamdasani is the perfect living dialogue partner for Hillman to have in the talks that make up Lament. Shamdasani has one of the best BS detectors of maybe any Jungian save David Tacey. Shamdasani has deftly avoided the fads, misappropriations and superficialization that have plagued the Jungian school for decades. As editor of the Red Book he knows more about the history and assembly of the text than any person save for Jung. Not only is he also one of the foremost living experts on Jung, but as a scholar he does not threaten the famously egotistical Hillman as a competing interpreting psychologist. The skin that Shamdasani has in this game is as an academic while Hillman gets to play the prophet and hero of the new psychology they describe without threat or competition.    Presumedly these talks were recorded as research for a collaborative book to be co authored by the two friends and the death of Hillman in 2011 made the publication as a dialogue in 2013 a necessity. If that is not the case the format of a dialogue makes little sense. If that is the case it gives the book itself an almost mystical quality and elevates the conversation more to the spirit of a philosophical dialogue.    We are only able to hear these men talk to each other and not to us. There is a deep reverberation between the resonant implications these men are seeing The Red Book have for modern psychology. However, they do not explain their insights to the reader and their understandings can only be glimpsed intuitively. Like the briefcase in the film Pulp Fiction the audience sees the object through its indirect effect on the characters. We see the foggy outlines of the ethics that these men hope will guide modern psychology but we are not quite able to see it as they see it. We have only an approximation through the context of their lives and their interpretation of Jung’s private diary. This enriches a text that is ultimately about the limitations of understanding.   One of the biggest criticisms of the book when it was published was that the terms the speaker used are never defined and thus the book's thesis is never objectivised or clarified. While this is true if you are an English professor, the mystic and the therapist in me see these limitations as the book’s strengths. The philosophical dialectic turns the conversation into an extended metaphor that indirectly supports the themes of the text. The medium enriches the message. Much like a socratic dialogue or a film script the the authors act more as characters and archetypes than essayists. The prophet and the scholar describe their function and limitations as gatekeepers of the spiritual experience.    Reading the Lament, much like reading The Red Book, one gets the sense that one is witnessing a private but important moment in time. It is a moment that is not our moment and is only partially comprehensible to anyone but the author(s). Normally that would be a weakness but here it becomes a strength. Where normally the reader feels that a book is for them, here we feel that we are eavesdropping through a keyhole or from a phone line downstairs. The effect is superficially frustrating but also gives Lament a subtle quality to its spirituality that The Red Book lacks.     Many of the obvious elements for a discussion of the enormous Red Book are completely ignored in the dialogue. Hillman and Shamdasani’s main takeaway is that The Red Book is about “the dead”. What they mean by “the dead” is never explained directly. This was a major sticking point for other reviewers, but I think their point works better undefined. They talk about the dead as a numinous term. Perhaps they are speaking about the reality of death itself. Perhaps about the dead of history. Perhaps they are describing the impenetrable veil we can see others enter but never see past ourselves. Maybe the concept contains all of these elements. Hillman, who was 82 at the time of having the conversations in Lament, may have been using The Red Book and his dialogue with Shamdasani to come to terms with his feelings about his own impending death.    Perhaps it is undefined because these men are feeling something or intuitively, seeing something that the living lack the intellectual language for. It is not that the authors do not know what they are talking about. They know, but they are not able to completely say it.  Hillman was such an infuriatingly intuitive person that his biggest downfall in his other books is that he often felt truths that he could not articulate. Instead he retreated into arguing the merits of his credentials and background or into intellectual archival of his opinions on philosophers and artists. In other works this led to a didactic and self righteous tone that his writing is largely worse for. In Lament Hillman is forced to talk off the cuff and that limitation puts him at his best as a thinker.    In his review of Lament, David Tacey has made the very good point that Jung abandoned the direction that The Red Book was taking him in. Jung saw it as a dead end for experiential psychology and retreated back into analytical inventorying of “archetypes”. On the publication of The Red Book, Jungians celebrate the book as the “culmination” of Jungian thought when instead it was merely a part of its origins. The Red Book represents a proto-Jungian psychology as Jung attempted to discover techniques for integration. Hillman and Shamdasani probe the psychology’s origins for hints of its future in Lament.   HIllman and Shamdasani’s thesis is partially a question about ethics and partially a question about cosmology. Are there any universal directions for living and behaving that Jungian psychology compels us towards (ethics)? Is there an external worldview that the, notoriously phenomenological, nature of Jungian psychology might imply (cosmology)? These are the major questions Hillman and Shamdasani confront in Lament.Their answer is not an answer as much as it is a question for the psychologists of the future.    Their conclusion is that “the dead'' of our families, society, and human history foist their unlived life upon us. It is up to us, and our therapists, to help us deal with the burden of “the dead”. It is not us that live, but the dead that live through us. Hillman quotes W.H. Auden several times:   We are lived through powers that we pretend to understand.  - W.H. Auden   A major tenant of Jungian psychology is that adult children struggle under the unlived life of the parent. The Jungian analyst helps the patient acknowledge and integrate all of the forces of the psyche that the parent ran from, so they are not passed down to future generations. A passive implication of the ethics and the cosmology laid out in Lament, is that to have a future we must reckon with not only the unlived life of the parent but also the unlived life of all the dead.    It is our job as the living to answer the questions and face the contradictions our humanity posits in order to discover what we really are. The half truths and outright lies from the past masquerade as tradition for traditions sake, literalized religion, and unconscious tribal identity must be overthrown. The weight of the dead of history can remain immovable if we try to merely discard it but drowns us if we cling to it too tightly. We need to use our history and traditions to give us a container to reckon with the future. The container must remain flexible if we are to grow into our humanity as a society and an aware people.    If you find yourself saying “Yes, but what does “the dead” mean!”  Then this book is not for you. If you find yourself confused but humbled by this thesis then perhaps it is. Instead of a further explanation of the ethical and cosmological future for psychology that his book posits I will give you a tangible example about how its message was liberatory for me.    Hillman introduces the concepts of the book with his explanation of Jung’s reaction to the theologian and missionary Albert Schweitzer. Jung hated Schweitzer.  He hated him because he had descended into Africa and “gone native”. In Jung’s mind Schweitzer had “refused the call”  to do anything  and “brought nothing home”. Surely the Africans that were fed and clothed felt they had been benefited! Was Jung’s ethics informed by racism, cluelessness, arrogance or some other unknown myopism? A clue might be found in Jung’s reaction to modern art exploring the unconscious or in his relationship with Hinduism. Jung took the broad strokes of his psychology from the fundamentals of the brahman/atman and dharma/moksha dichotomies of Hinduism. Jung also despised the practice of eastern mysticism practices by westerners but admired it in Easterners. Why? His psychology stole something theoretical that his ethics disallowed in direct practice.    Jung’s views on contemporary (modern) artists of his time were similar. He did not want to look at depictions of the raw elements of the unconscious. In his mind discarding all the lessons of classicism was a “cop out”.  He viewed artists that descended into the abstract with no path back or acknowledgement of the history that gave them that path as failures. He wanted artists to make the descent into the subjective world and return with a torch of it’s fire but not be consumed by it blaze. Depicting the direct experience of the unconscious was the mark of a failed artist to Jung. To Jung the destination was the point, not the journey. The only thing that mattered is what you were able to bring back from the world of the dead. He had managed to contain these things in The Red Book, why couldn’t they? The Red Book was Jung’s golden bough.    Jung took steps to keep the art in The Red Book both outside of the modernist tradition and beyond the historical tradition. The Red Book uses a partially medieval format but Jung both celebrates and overcomes the constraints of his chosen style. The Red Book was not modern or historical, it was Jung’s experience of both. In Lament, Hillman describes this as the ethics that should inform modern psychology. Life should become ones own but part of ones self ownership is that we take responsibility for driving a tradition forward not a slave to repeating it.   Oddly enough the idea of descent and return will already be familiar to many Americans through the work of Joseph Campbell. Campbell took the same ethics of descent and return to the unconscious as the model of his “monomyth” model of storytelling. This briefly influenced psychology and comparative religion in the US and had major impact on screenwriters to this day. Campbells ethics are the same as Jung’s. If one becomes stuck on the monomyth wheel, or the journey of the descent and return, one is no longer the protagonist and becomes an antagonist.  Campbell, and American post jungians in general were not alway great attributing influences and credit where it was due.    Jung was suspicious of the new age theosophists and psychadelic psychonauts that became enamored with the structure of the unconscious for the unconscious sake. Where Lament shines is when Hillman explains the ethics behind Jung’s thinking. Jung lightly implied this ethics but was, as Hillman points out, probably not entirely conscious of it. One of Lament’s biggest strengths and weaknesses is that it sees through the misappropriations of Jungian psychology over the last hundred years. Both of the dialogue’s figures know the man of Jung so well that they do not need to address how he was misperceived by the public. They also know the limitations of the knowable.    This is another lesson that is discussed in Lament. Can modern psychology know what it can’t know? That is my biggest complaint with the profession as it currently exists. Modern psychology seems content to retreat into research and objectivism. The medical, corporate, credentialist and academic restructuring of psychology in the nineteen eighties certainly furthered that problem. Jung did not believe that the descent into the unconscious without any hope of return was a path forward for psychology. This is why he abandoned the path The Red Book led him down. Can psychology let go of the objective and the researchable enough to embrace the limits of the knowable? Can we come to terms with limitations enough to heal an ego inflated world that sees no limits to growth?   I don’t know but I sincerely hope so.    I said that I would provide a tangible example of the application of this book in it’s review,  so here it is:   I have always been enamored with James Hillman. He was by all accounts a brilliant analyst. He also was an incredibly intelligent person. That intellect did not save him. Hillman ended his career as a crank and a failure in my mind. In this book you see Hillman contemplate that failure. You also see Hillman attempt to redeem himself as he glimpses the unglimpseable. He sees something in the Red Book that he allows to clarify his earlier attempt to revision psychology.    Hillman's attempt to reinvent Jungian psychology as archetypal psychology was wildly derided. Largely, because it never found any language or technique for application and practice. Hillman himself admitted that he did not know how to practice archetypal psychology. It's easy to laugh at somebody who claims to have reinvented psychology and can't even tell you what you do with their revolutionary invention.   However, I will admit that I think Hillman was right. He knew that he was but he didnt know how he was right. It is a mark of arrogance to see yourself as correct without evidence. Hillman was often arrogant but I think here he was not. Many Jungian analysts would leave the Jungian institutes through the 70, 80s and 90s to start somatic and experiential psychology that used Jung as a map but the connection between the body and the brain as a technique. These models made room for a direct experience in psychology that Jungian analysis does not often do. It added an element that Jung himself had practiced in the writing of The Red Book. Hillman never found this technique but he was correct about the path he saw forward for psychology. He knew what was missing.    I started Taproot Therapy Collective because I felt a calling to dig up the Jungian techniques of my parent’s generation and reify them. I saw those as the most viable map towards the future of psychology, even though American psychology had largely forgotten them. I also saw them devoid of a practical technique or application for a world where years of analysis cost more than most trauma patients will make in a lifetime. I feel that experiential and brain based medicine techniques like brainspotting are the future of the profession.    Pathways like brainspotting, sensorimotor therapy, somatic experiencing, neurostimulation, ketamine, psilocybin or any technique that allows the direct experience of the subcortical brain is the path forward to treat trauma. These things will be at odds with the medicalized, corporate, and credentialized nature of healthcare. I knew that this would be a poorly understood path that few people, even the well intentioned, could see. I would never have found it if I had refused the call of “the dead”.    Lament is relevant because none of those realizations is somewhere that I ever would have gotten without the tradition that I am standing on top of. I am as, Isaac Newton said, standing on the shoulders of giants. Except Isaac Newton didn't invent that phrase. It was associated with him but he was standing on the tradition of the dead to utter a phrase first recorded in the medieval period. The author of its origin is unknown because they are, well, dead. They have no one to give their eulogy.    The ethics and the cosmology of Lament, is that our lives are meant to be a eulogy for our dead. Lament, makes every honest eulogy in history become an ethics and by extension a cosmology. Read Pericles eulogy from the Peloponesian war in Thucydides. How much of these lessons are still unlearned? I would feel disingenuous in my career unless I tell you who those giants are that I stand on. They are David Tacey, John Beebe, Sonu Shamdasani, Carl Jung, Fritz Perls, Karen Horney, and Hal Stone. Many others also.   I would never have heard the voice of James Hillman inside myself unless I had learned to listen to the dead from his voice beyond the grave. It would have been easy for me to merely critize his failures instead of seeing them as incomplete truths. Hillman died with many things incomplete, as we all inevitably will. Lament helped me clarify the voices that I was hearing in the profession. Lament of the Dead is a fascinating read not because it tells us exactly what to do with the dead, or even what they are. Lament is fascinating because it helps us to see a mindful path forward between innovation and tradition.    The contents of the collective unconscious cannot be contained by one individual. Just as Jungian psychology is meant to be a container to help an individual integrate the forces of the collective unconscious, attention to the unlived life of the historical dead can be a kind of container for culture. Similarly to Jungian psychology the container is not meant to be literalized or turned into a prison. It is a lens and a buffer to protect us until we are ready and allow us to see ourselves more clearly once we are. Our project is to go further in the journey of knowing ourselves where our ancestors failed to. Our mindful life is the product of the unlived life of the dead; it is the work of our life that is their lament.
Interview with John Beebe on the MBTI Typology
05-12-2022
Interview with John Beebe on the MBTI Typology
A popular lecturer in the Jungian world, Beebe has spoken on topics related to the theory and practical applications of Analytical psychology to professional and lay audiences throughout the United States and around the world. He has been especially active in introducing training in Jungian psychology in China. Beebe is the founding editor of The San Francisco Jung Institute Library Journal, now called Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche.[2] He was the first American co-editor of the London-based Journal of Analytical Psychology. Beebe has also published in The Chiron Clinical Series, Fort Da, Harvest, The Inner Edge, Journal of Jungian Theory and Practice, Psychoanalytic Psychology, Psychological Perspectives, The Psychoanalytic Review, Quadrant, Spring, The Journal of Popular Film and Television, Theory and Psychology, and Tikkun among others. He has contributed book chapters to The Anne Rice Reader, The Cambridge Companion to Jung, From Tradition to Innovation, House, Humanizing Evil, Initiation, Jungian Perspectives on Clinical Supervision, New Approaches to Dream Interpretation, Post-Jungians Today, Psyche & City, The Psychology of Mature Spirituality, Same-Sex Love, The Soul of Popular Culture, and Teaching Jung. With Donald Sandner, Beebe is the author of "Psychopathology and Analysis",[3] an article on Jungian complex theory used in many training programs, and with Thomas Kirsch and Joe Cambray the author of "What Freudians Can Learn from Jung".[4] He is the author of the book Integrity in Depth, a study of the archetype of integrity, and of Energies and Patterns in Psychological Type: The Reservoir of Consciousness.
Interview with David Tacey on Carl Jung, Mysticism, and the Politics of Religion
14-11-2022
Interview with David Tacey on Carl Jung, Mysticism, and the Politics of Religion
Dr. David Tacey is a professor in literature and depth psychology at La Trobe University, Melbourne. He is the author of eight books, including Jung and the New Age (2001), The Spirituality Revolution (2003) and How to Read Jung (2006).He was born in Melbourne and raised in Alice Springs, central Australia. It was here that he was influenced by Aboriginal cultures and their religion and cosmology. After completing a PhD degree at the University of Adelaide, David Tacey was a Harkness Fellow in the United States, where his studies were supervised by James Hillman.He regularly gives lecture courses at the summer school of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich. I grew up reading David Tacey so it's extremely exciting to get to sit down and talk to him. He was very generous with his time. Many of his books and articles are no longer in print or are behind hefty paywalls. One of the things that he offers in this interview is that any listener can send him an e-mail to request essays that were in academic journals no longer in print and he will send you the PDF. Please take him up on that as he is a fascinating writer.   Subscribe to this podcast here: https://gettherapybirmingham.podbean.com/ Dr. David Tacey is a professor in literature and depth psychology at La Trobe University, Melbourne. He is the author of eight books, including Jung and the New Age (2001), The Spirituality Revolution (2003) and How to Read Jung (2006).He was born in Melbourne and raised in Alice Springs, central Australia. It was here that he was influenced by Aboriginal cultures and their religion and cosmology. After completing a PhD degree at the University of Adelaide, David Tacey was a Harkness Fellow in the United States, where his studies were supervised by James Hillman.He regularly gives lecture courses at the summer school of the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich. I grew up reading David Tacey so it's extremely exciting to get to sit down and talk to him. He was very generous with his time. Many of his books and articles are no longer in print or are behind hefty paywalls. One of the things that he offers in this interview is that any listener can send him an e-mail to request essays that were in academic journals no longer in print and he will send you the PDF. Please take him up on that as he is a fascinating writer. #mythology #religion #symbolism #allegory #metaphor #Jung #existentialism #depthpsychology #anthropology #sociology #politics #myth #comparativereligion #hinduism #christianity  GetTherapyBirmigham.com
The 3 Personalities of Karen Horney Feminist Psychoanalyst
28-09-2022
The 3 Personalities of Karen Horney Feminist Psychoanalyst
Karen Horney was a German psychoanalyst. Her career came into prominence in the nineteen twenties when she formed theories on human attachment and neurosis that split from Freud’s key ideas. Horney’s theory of personality development and individuation are still highly relevant to modern theories of personality, attachment psychology and psychological trauma. Even though she is not well remembered, her work is as relevant as it was at the turn of the century. Applying her theories to my work with patients and to my own life has been an integral piece of my own personal and professional development. This article is part one of four in a series explaining Horney’s theories. At the time of this writing my daughter is two. Sometimes when my wife and I relax slightly in public, she will get a glimmer in her eye and, starting to giggle, run away from us. While we will yell for her to stop, she will cackle drunk with her new found power, as she runs away into a crowd of strangers or into oncoming traffic. When we take her to school or to meet new people she wraps herself around my wife’s leg, pressing her cheek into my wife’s calf, and refuses to Speak. Two year old children cannot understand moderation or limitation. They demand to have “more food” even when their plate is overflowing. Minutes later they will refuse to eat another bite because they are “full”. They cannot understand shades of gray. They refuse to believe that they need a nap until their eyes are closing. People are either all “bad guys” or all “good guys”. Individual children live in a world of extremes with tunnel vision on their immediate present desires and realities. Infants do not understand that they are separate creatures from their mother. The first traumatic event in an infant’s life is the separation from the mother as the infant becomes a toddler. Infants are connected to the mother for so much of their post birth experience. In order to soothe infants we try to make them feel as though they are still in the womb. We swaddle infants, keep them warm, and play white noise. The mother is both their source of physical comfort and nourishment. So much of the infant’s conscious experience is centered on its connection to its mother, that it makes sense that infants would lack the ability to understand what they are outside of the central reality of their experience. For the nine months in the womb an infant is physically and psychologically dependent on its mother. It takes at least one and a half years after being born for infants to begin to piece together that they will have to eventually become something separate from their mother. Because infants cannot understand their existence without their mother, this means that when they are inevitably forced to separate from their mother, infants feel like their existence is under threat. The necessary task of the mother is to separate the child from herself into itself. Yet, this feels to the child like it is being obliterated. This is often the first major trauma of a child’s life. Karen Horney’s theory of personality and neurosis is built on examining its effect on an infant’s development. When toddlers begin to be separated from their mothers they experience moments where they, like my daughter, think they are God and can run through traffic. They are completely independant, completely free, can do things “by themself”, and will never need supervision or approval from parents again. They quickly alternate into periods of abject terror where they are horrified with their agency as an independent being and, often wrapping themselves around her leg, attempt to remerge with their mother. The distinction between infant and toddler is between a creature that can not live independently and a creature that sometimes thinks it can. Toddlers alternate between rejecting all authority to become a god and trying to crawl back into the womb in order to forget they exist. Our ego is what allows us to navigate the overwhelming forces of the unconscious. The ego allows us to accept both our autonomy and reconcile our own ultimate insignificance. Toddlers are just beginning to develop an ego that will synthesize these competing, and contradictory realities. As a trauma therapist I use Horney’s theories constantly. The connection between the way that our parents give us attention and the way we learn to get attention from others in later life is endlessly relevant in many types of therapy, especially work with trauma. In Horney’s theory of neurosis, the way that a child individuates from their mother determines their coping style and predicts many of the psychological issues they may develop in later life. Moving Towards People Karen Horney was a German psychoanalyst. Her career came into prominence in the nineteen twenties when she formed theories on human attachment and neurosis that split from Freud’s key ideas. Horney’s theory of personality development and individuation are still highly relevant to modern theories of personality, attachment psychology and psychological trauma. Horney observed that children deploy three different coping styles during the time they are individuating from the mother. Ideally children learn mastery in the three different styles. In imperfect situations infants become over dependent in one style and form a neurotic and rigid personality style. This second part of a four part article will explore the moving towards people personality style. The first coping strategy that children will attempt in order to retain the connection with the mother during individuation is to ask for help Horney called this stage moving towards people. As infants we cry in order to make our mothers come running to our aid. If our mother’s continue to come running to our aid for the rest of childhood however, this can impair our development as we fail to learn to solve our own problems internally or assert ourselves. In extreme cases where mothers will not separate from a child to allow room for experimentation with assertive aggression or self soothing behavior the child becomes neurotic and co-dependant in the moving towards people style. People and characters with this level of impairment see the entire world in terms of their mother and never learn to make their own judgements or form their own values. What would mother think of this? That is against mother’s rules. Another force like a charismatic leader, romantic partner or social identity may replace the actual mother at some point, but the inability to be a separate person will remain. Persons over dependent on another person or group’s ego have no ability to self soothe without the warm glow of the surrogate mother’s approval and ability to define rules and worth. Horney calls this neurosis the need for affection and approval. The sense of self in people with this personality type is incredibly diffuse as they are not able to watch others withdraw their approval even for good reason. The psychologist Albert Ellis used to tell his patients that “It is pathological to want to be liked by everybody all the time”. I often tell mine that “There are times when the loving or the honest thing to do is to piss someone off”. When we cannot stand to see our standards judged by other people it means that we cannot have a stable sense of self with authentic standards for self worth. This need often manifests as a form of codependency in relationships or friendships as people try to replace the stabilizing presence of a controlling caregiver with a different set of rules and boundaries. We learn to tolerate the anxiety of not knowing what to do and being forced to choose early in life. When we have not been allowed to adapt to making small choices over the life course we decompensate in the face of larger overwhelming choices about our life and Identity. In therapy I encounter patients who have had a controlling caregiver, and a corresponding inability to develop their own sense of identity. I start by asking them simple questions about who they are. Patients with an underdeveloped sense of personal identity will often have no idea what their basic preferences and beliefs are. Often they will have found an abusive partner or a rigid social, political, or religious group to fill up the “blank” spaces in their identity with. In healthy partnerships we are allowed to maintain our own sense of identity while still participating in a group affiliation or romantic partnership. I always frame the therapy with these patients as an exciting adventure that we are going on together. We are going to discover who the patient is and who they want to become. Patients of this coping style often will try and figure out what the therapist wants them to do and what the “new rules” that the therapist has for their life are. Their primary fear is that they will do something “wrong” and don't know what the “right” answers are to their life questions. I tell patients that “You are the only best expert in how to be you”. While the freedom and gray area of this kind of personality development therapy is initially terrifying to patients, eventually this style of therapy becomes exhilarating as patients reconnect to a long absent sense of self. Even though patients present to therapy blank and indifferent about their, often abusive and traumatic history, they will start to recognize moments in the past when they had a strong emotion or a preference that was dismissed by a caregiver or a partner. “I was so angry that my clothes were picked out for me every day”. “I was told that good christians don’t go to prom”. Not all people in the moving towards people neurotic type will use a partner to try and complete their functioning. Oftentimes I have patients with social and intellectual gifts that use admiration, fame or envy in order to move towards people. Many people seek fame or attention, but those with a moving towards people neurosis will not be able to function without admiration of others. These patients are not able to determine the value or morality of their behavior without group approval. Moving Against People Karen Horney was a German psychoanalyst. Her career came into prominence in the nineteen twenties when she formed theories on human attachment and neurosis that split from Freud’s key ideas. Horney’s theory of personality development and individuation are still highly relevant to modern theories of personality, attachment psychology and psychological trauma. This third part of a four part article will explore the moving against people personality style. In Horney’s theory of individuation, the individuating child will settle into one of three different personality styles based on what allows it to successfully reclaim its parent’s attention. The first style that children try is the moving towards people style. This is most familiar to the child since this is the style they are accustomed to using in infancy. If this asking for attention and attempting to be close to the mother through affection fail, the child will next try aggression in order to force it’s caregiver to give it what it wants. If only aggression is effective the child will settle firmly into a moving against people personality style. People in the moving against people personality style had sporadic or unpredictable affection offered to them as children. They came from environments that were hostile or uncaring and handled the fundamental insecurity that these environments engendered by becoming aggressive. They never had the option of asking for the basic attention children need and instead learned to demand attention. Caregivers were neglectful and unresponsive until these fought for the little affection or attention available in their home. This reality in their family of origin colors these patient’s interpersonal style and assumptions about the world. These assumptions about others and the world are immediately recognizable in the first few minutes of the first therapy session when a patient in the moving against people personality style presents to therapy. Patients in the moving against people personality style are not likely to come to therapy and do not usually present to therapy until they are in crisis or are facing significant personal or professional losses due to their rigidity. Just as patients in the moving towards people personality type often have anger turned off, patients in the moving against people personality type are often out of touch with their ability to feel hurt or vulnerable. To ward this feeling off patients in theis personality style develop a “don’t mess with me” defensive posture. They may use wit as a weapon becoming acerbically funny. They maybe overly macho or simply act like they don’t care what anyone thinks. Most often patients who are neurotic in the moving against people personality style are highly competitive and motivated to dominate athletics, group functions and professional environments. Patients in this style are often high achievers when they are skilled. They are seen as invulnerable at work but often feel hollow in personal spheres. They are unable to understand the point of life without comparison and competition. Patients often present to therapy in middle age when there is “nothing else left to win”. Moving Away From People Karen Horney was a German psychoanalyst. Her career came into prominence in the nineteen twenties when she formed theories on human attachment and neurosis that split from Freud’s key ideas. Horney’s theory of personality development and individuation are still highly relevant to modern theories of personality, attachment psychology and psychological trauma. Horney observed that children deploy three different coping styles during the time they are individuating from the mother. Ideally children learn mastery in the three different styles. In imperfect situations infants become over dependent in one style and form a neurotic and rigid personality style. This second part of a four part article will explore the moving away from people personality style.  Horney’s three neurotic personality styles can most simply be understood as dependency (moving towards people), Aggression (moving against people) and resignation (moving away from people). The resigned type is the result of the developing child discovering that they are unable to get the attention of the parent either through asking for attention or demanding it. The child then retreats into an innerworld where it creates its own systems of psychological reward through creativity and self expansion. If you are a writer or a psychotherapist it is highly likely that you are strongly developed in this area even if you are not quite a neurotic! The ability to move into your head and create your own rules and concepts for life is a useful skill, but not one we learn from asking or demanding attention from our parents. These personality types are more able to see through the arbitrary nature of the rules or traditions in a society, and have less attachment to the cultural rules. Unless these children develop ways of communicating these inner worlds they can seem “spacey” or “lost in their thoughts”. All of the neuroses that Horeney observes can be understood as the limiting conditions that a person with insecure attachment has for being safe. The dependent type needs others to feel safe, while the aggressive type needs control. A person in the “moving away from people” neurotic type only feels safe when some inner condition of solitude or independance has been fulfilled. This ultimate value of independence can present in several ways. Some want to be invisible, living an unassuming and private life. Sometimes the fixation on independence manifests and living off the land, being wealthy, and sometimes as being emotionally independent. Patients in this style may emulate, Jay Gatsby, Jeremiah Johnson or John Wayne. The moving away from people’s personality type is not comfortable unless they are absolutely independent in some special area. While the moving towards people type needs people in order to function, and the moving against people personality type needs people in order to become dominant, the moving away from people type feels unsafe if it needs people for anything substantial. This does not mean that they are unsuccessful socially, only that they are uncomfortable with relying on social or emotional ties to others in order to feel stable. This type failed to maintain a connection with their mother through either dependence seeking or aggressive behaviors.  They learned to soothe themselves and learned their own coping skills. This process of learning to regulate ones own emotions as a child without assistance leads children into their own head where they develop a large and elaborate inner world. Children become less interested or even aware of external realities like norms, socially, or practical tasks. Instead of learning to manage their feelings they become fascinated with them.  Moving away from people personality type patients have a unique knack for encoding their beliefs, personality and opinions into artistic creations because they crave the recognition and understanding that was denied them by their caregivers as children. Art, humor, fashion, business even, is a way of communicating something about the hidden self to others.
The Child Archetype 6/6
26-09-2022
The Child Archetype 6/6
Find more free resources on the website: https://www.gettherapybirmingham.com/   The Child is a tricky archetype to find within ourselves. The Child is the first archetype that the self identifies with. The Child has no problem asking for help or expressing it’s emotions and desires loudly and honestly. The Child is a kind of creative anarchy that we lose as adults and rediscover during liminal and transitional spaces in our development. The Child is a freedom we reconnect with when we release the parts of ourselves that have held us back. The Child is the “alive” feeling that addicts begin to connect with after completing recovery. The Child is strongly associated with the unconscious and a sense of connectedness to all things. Children are still discovering the things that make them unique individuals. The Child is growth and Children know how to grow instinctively. The Child does not remember all of the rules that we had to learn as adults and is more interested in its own creative impulses and whims than rules or deadlines. The Child is necessary for art and for self discovery, but it can become solipsistic when it is over indulged. The Child puts us in touch with vulnerability but it cares about its own emotions, desires and whims. It is not aware of others or their wants or needs. The Child is important to creatives because it is the source of new ideas and perspectives but it needs to be tempered lest we become selfish, oblivious and inwardly focused. In adulthood is the process of losing touch with the vulnerability and capacity for growth that we felt as children. Adults come to believe that the limiting voice of their inner critic is “responsible” and that asking for help or admitting vulnerability is “weak”. Many times the process of therapy forces us to uncover our own vulnerable child and reconnect with the parts of ourselves that are hurting or scared. When we cannot honestly admit our own needs, fears and sadness we often over complicate our life. Patients who are over identified with the Child may present to therapy lost in creative visions and emotional whims. While over identified with the Child, these patients will be oblivious or in denial about the practical and detail oriented responsibilities of adult life. They may be prone to bouts of drug use or personal vision quests and passion projects. Patients will often overly identify with the Child as a response to their families of origin having pathological Queen archetypes that stifled development. In college or as adults they cast aside all responsibilities and overcompensate for the constraints of their childhood with an overly juvenile outlook on responsibility. Patients under identified with their Child will present to therapy asking the therapist to produce pragmatic and concrete changes in their lives and relationships. They often come from families led by an over identified King or Warrior that had no interest in the uncertainty or self discovery of the Child archetype. They are rote and uninterested in the abstractions of therapy, art, or life. These patients have little interest in getting in touch with the vulnerabilities or flights of fancy of the Child. We are all born into the world as a vulnerable Child, as naïve beings that see the world as an unending canvas on which to paint our vision for ourselves. These tendencies are idealistic, but also natural. Material realities impose restrictions on our lives, and we are remiss to ignore them, but also waste the potential meaning in our lives if we become their slaves. Rediscovering the child is necessary for personal growth and healing required to make progress in therapy. The Child is not only creativity and growth, but also our innate resilience. Patients who rediscover the Child during a chronic illness may make recoveries whereas patients who do not may not.
The Lover Archetype 5/6
24-09-2022
The Lover Archetype 5/6
Find more free resources on the website: https://www.gettherapybirmingham.com/ The Lover is one of the most difficult archetypes to notice that you are experiencing. By its very nature it is seductive and spontaneous. The Lover is most commonly associated with sex, but sex is the smallest part of the archetype. You cannot experience the Lover by yourself, but you do not necessarily have to experience it with another person. Anytime you are pulled into an alluring daydream, swept up in the rhetoric of a rousing speech, or moved to a sense of greater understanding by a work of art or fiction, you are beginning to fall into the embrace of the Lover. The Lover is a drum circle, it is staring deeply into a bonfire, it is a poem about time, a drug trip. The Lover can be an infinite amount of things. The Lover is most easily understood as our ability to give up a small part of ourselves to become part of something greater. The Lover is our ability to merge with another person or a group of people. The Lover lets us dissolve part of our own ego to be a part of a greater purpose or force of society. If we do not have access to the Lover we are completely alone, completely with purpose and life becomes an abstraction. We are connection making creatures and it is the Lover archetype that allows us to make those connections. Because The Lover requires us to give up a piece of ourselves in order to identify with it, over identification with The Lover can be disastrous. Patients over identified with The Lover might try to dissolve themselves passionately into each many new relationships or over identify with each new friend. Extreme over identification with The Lover leaves patients with no sense of self. These patients will operate in society as chameleons. Over identification with the Lover is over identification with something outside of oneself. They will continue to find religious, romantic, or social relationships that let them take on someone else’s identity and concept of self. When working with patients with substance abuse problems therapists should be very aware of the functioning of the lover archetype. Addiction is often understood by therapists as an attempt to numb out painful emotions or memories, and while this interpretation is correct it is also an incomplete understanding of what addiction is. Substance abuse is always fueled by a desperate attempt to have connection with something. The loneliness and isolation that patients with substance abuse issues feel is an extreme under identification with the lover archetype and the hunger for the wholeness of the lover is often the emotional state sought by the addicted person. I always tell my patients that an addiction is often a hunger for growth with a simultaneous refusal to change. Substance abuse provides the feeling of growth and connection without the actual work or risk. Drugs like alcohol and stimulants often activate the Lover by making us feel productive, creative, loved or accepted. Drugs like depressants or psychedelics often activate the Lover by allowing us to turn off our conscious mind and remerge with the world. Psychedelics and transcendental religious practices often allow a person to experience ego death or a “oneness” with all things. This form of ultimate connectedness is the most activated state of the archetype as we have completely given up our own identity. The Lover requires us to have the ability to trust something outside of ourselves and may be difficult for patients with trauma to experience without anxiety. We first learn how safe it is to open up to others within our family of origin. Patients that have a strong under identification with The Lover often never felt safe in their families of origin. Patients over identified with the Lover might have had a parent over identified with their Queen and are used to finding a controlling partner. If someone has made us a puppet then we involuntarily find a puppeteer when we leave our families of origin. These patients often become codependent in relationships, looking for someone to give their life rules and meaning. They believe they are unable to do this for themselves. The Lover is an often ignored archetype, but is needed to give the other archetypes any ability to operate. What is the cause that the Warrior fights for, where is the growth or the creativity of the Child without The Lover? For that matter, what is the grand vision of a King or control of the Queen without the ability to make a connection? For a patient to participate in a relationship with a therapist there must be some part of the Lover archetype active. Therapy requires trust and a dissolution of boundaries enough for the therapist and patient to collaborate on treatment. We cannot begin to benefit in therapy unless we give up some part of our old self and are willing to be open to creating a new self image. Resistance to the therapy process can also be understood as a resistance to experience this archetype
The Magician Archetype 4/6
22-09-2022
The Magician Archetype 4/6
Find more free resources on the website: https://www.gettherapybirmingham.com/   The Magician is intuition, education, and reflexes. In myth and legend the Magician appears in stories not to be the hero, but to aid the hero on their quest. In these stories the Magician can also take the form of a witch, enchanter, or shaman. The Magician is the most esoteric part of our schooling that filled us with the most passion. The Magician is a sense of personal power and accomplishment, but not power gained through conflict like the Warrior. Power for the Magician comes through cleverness, tricks and being resourceful and inventive. To the Warrior knowledge, secrets and intrigue make one strong, not brute strength. The Magician is a wiseman and a diviner, both prescient and empathic. The magician can act as a negotiator or statesman, but is more commonly a salesman, seducer, or an entertainer. The Magician stands with one foot in two worlds. He is a gatekeeper between the abstract clairvoyant realm of the unconscious and the practical and results oriented world of the everyday. He brings back visions from the world of the unconscious and bestows them as gifts on others. This power to surprise and interest others is closely tied to our own need for attention. Patients that did not get the attention they desired as children will often have a well developed Magician. These patients believed as children that something about them was bad or shameful, and developed their magician archetype as a way of being seen or having control. It is the Magician that impresses others with insights, funny stories and hidden talents. It is the Magician that is able to stand out in a bar room or business meeting when others are vying for attention. The Magician is our ingenuity, and adaptability in the face of situations that we cannot plan for or control. The Magician is our ability to read between the lines in academic domains, to see the broader point or meaning beyond a text. Every insight or inspiration that you have ever pulled from the ether and used to your advantage feels like magic. If you are comfortable pulling clever observations and realizations from the unconscious and putting them to use then you are strongly identified with the Magician. Patients may be under identified with their Magician if they were brought up to be rule oriented or understand the world only as a series of lists to be memorized. These patients are not intuitive but learn by memorizing a series of steps that became a crutch for their thinking. Patients under identified with their own Magician will distrust the Magician in others. They are not adaptable and are inflexible in their thinking. Patients who view people that are funny or creative with suspicion are likely to be under identified with their own Magician. Patients who are over identified with the Magician may have a grandiose idea of what their intellect or insight will get them out. They may think genius will solve every problem without elbow grease. They may try to use a charming personality or a quick wit to escape hard work or interpersonal conflict. Patients who are deeply dismayed over poor academic performance despite no effort at study will be over identified with the Magician. These patients are often under identified with their Warrior because they have never learned to overcome situations their intuition cannot control or to work hard for a reward. The fundamental anxiety that the magician assuages is the inability to control one’s surroundings. The Magician is at its root a personality device developed to maintain control during a period in a person’s life when assertiveness was not allowed. This was often a way to hold on to some control of our environment when direct confrontation was not an option. The Magician can also develop in early childhood when a child feels like there is a need in the family of origin that neither caregiver can meet. This is often a wounded or unreliable caregiver the child has to manage. This leads to the development of an often “magical” seeming ability to read others, read between the lines, and communicate in indirect ways like art and humor. A patient who is over identified with both the Warrior and the Magician may try to dominate others with their intellect, delighting in the humiliation they cause. After all the cynic is the shadow of the caregiver. A caregiver sees the needs of others in order to meet them. The cynic sees the same needs in others, but uses them to exploit or write off other people. This cynic is the shadow side of the magician’s ability to use intuition to understand others. An example in pop culture would be the stand up comic that summarizes and denigrates groups of people with acerbic insight.
The Warrior Archetype 3/6
21-09-2022
The Warrior Archetype 3/6
Find more free resources on the website: https://www.gettherapybirmingham.com/ The Warrior archetype allows us to harness our own sense of personal power to face fear and assert our own energy against the plans of others and the plans of the universe. The Warrior allows us to enforce boundaries securely between ourselves and others. It lets us carve out our own sense of personal space and make clear to others what is allowed and what is not. Mankind has had a warrior class as long as there has been civilization. We must all at some point in life learn to face our fears and accomplish something scary. The psychologist Albert Ellis was fond of saying that it was “pathological to want to be liked by everyone all the time”. He knew wisely that we must all learn to face conflict and navigate disagreements with others to remain true to ourselves and our journey. The Warrior is our actualized capacity for self-expansion, personality development and discovery. We cannot discover who we are meant to be unless we are brave enough to face the unknown and know we deserve to grow. The Warrior is our capability to develop and use our talents for personal and professional achievement, but the Warrior does not exercise leadership or hold authority. The Warrior is not power within systems, only our sense of personal power and competency. The Warrior is our own success within a system of many other Warriors. The Warrior is our own unique abilities harnessed to make ourselves succeed. Each of the archetypes deals with some form of fundamental anxiety, and the anxiety that the warrior assuages is meaninglessness in the face of chaos. The enemy of the warrior is chaos. When chaos surrounds us we feel like we are not special, like there is no plan, like we do not matter. The Warrior allows us to impose our will into the void and create meaning from scratch. When we feel like life has no purpose, it is our Warrior energy that lets us create purpose. While this function of the Warrior is not a bad thing when it becomes overindulged it becomes the shadow function of tribalism. While the Warrior lets us strike back at chaos when it threatens our meaning and significance it can also lead us to turn on other people who are not like us. The over-identified Warrior sees other people as chaos when they act contra its own plans and meaning. Shadow political and religious leaders often call us to over-identify with the Warrior when they tell us to defend our own tribe against attacks from those who are different and would take away what is ours. The Warrior is what allows us to reclaim our purpose and significance when the world threatens to take these things away from us but when overindulged it robs others of these things. Patients who are under-identified with the Warrior will feel listless, purposeless, and incapable. These patients will often have had their Warrior taken away in an abusive relationship or in their families of origin where they were not allowed to assert themselves. Often they will present to therapy with a general sense of anxiety, believing they lack the power to be assertive, enforce boundaries or change their current reality when it distresses them. Losing touch with the Warrior leads a person to be fearful and conflict avoidant yet be prone to bouts of rage. Without the Warrior we can not act on our anger and do not notice it until it takes us over. Over identification with the Warrior means that we see every interaction as a challenge, every challenge a fight with a winner and a loser. When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail; the old saying goes. If you are over-identified as a Warrior, you will not be able to back down from any confrontation. A diplomacy is never an option to the Warrior. The Warrior is not an archetype that is comfortable accepting humility or the mystery. The warrior is only comfortable with certainty, but as adults, we must learn to be comfortable with the mystery of life. An over-identified warrior archetype might benefit the occasional type-a personality in the business world but most often at the expense of personality development, healthy relationships, and a well-rounded existence. The Warrior is the mask that we wear when we want to see ourselves as the hero. Patients under-identified with the Warrior may have lost the ability to see themselves as the hero, where patients over-identified with the Warrior may not be able to take off the mask of the hero they aspire to be. The Warrior archetype requires that life and development has taught us to have faith in ourselves and a self-image that allows us to achieve our dreams. Many patients with damage in childhood do not know that they have a right to their own hero’s journey or deserve self-discovery. Oftentimes therapy with traumatized patients will require a therapist to teach patients how to put on the warrior mask. Under Identification with the Warrior is a disowning of one’s powerful self and ability to act heroically or make meaning. The warrior is at its base an ability to make meaning out of life. If we have disowned the warrior we either see life as meaningless or rely on others to make it for us as followers. Oftentimes patients who have learned that anger is not allowed will try and disown the warrior and “play zen” to avoid the anxiety that conflict causes for them. These patients will often act as though conflict is beneath them when in truth judging or disagreeing with others terrifies them. Get more articles and free self help resources @ https://www.GetTherapyBirmingham.com Google Maps: https://g.page/GetTherapyBirmingham?share
The Queen Archetype 2/6
20-09-2022
The Queen Archetype 2/6
Find more free resources on the website: https://www.gettherapybirmingham.com/   The Queen is the power behind power and the maternal influence on development. The Queen is the indirect power that we hold over authority and systems just as the magician is the indirect power we hold over peers and our immediate vicinity. She is every calculated comment that ever made you reconsider your own behavior. She is every raised eyebrow that made you behave. The Queen is long talks by the fire with a loved one about your own worst impulses. She is tempering to power, but when over identified with she becomes a manipulative puppet master behind the throne, a Bloody Mary. The Queen uses her influence over the powerful to exercise her own power. If this concept is lost on you, then you are likely under identified with your own Queen. If this is the case, be careful, because it is the patients under identified with their own Queen who are most susceptible to be influenced by the Queen of others. If we do not understand the art of manipulation, we have no defenses against it. The Queen is, by her very nature, the least recognized archetype. The Queen is the thing behind the thing. She is the unnoticed influence on the world. The Queen is the reason that the people in charge behave better than they otherwise would. The Queen is a mothering impulse in all of us. She sits close to our Anima or archetype of the feminine. The Queen is the part of us that wants to see the people around us grow and flourish under our watchful gaze. The Queen smiles as her children and her husband mistake her subtle suggestions for their own ideas. She is the master of the understated and implied. The Queen is consigliere, advisor, right hand man, and second in command. The fundamental insecurity behind the Queen is the fear that power is incompetent or malevolent. Patients with an over developed Queen usually had a competitive parent or a parent that viewed them as a peer in childhood. Like patients with an overdeveloped Magician, the child with an overdeveloped Queen may have worn this anxiety like a badge of honor in childhood. However, also like the child with an over developed Magician this damaged the child, leaving them hyper vigilant and trapped with an exhausting control instinct. Unlike patients with an over developed Magician, patients with an overdeveloped Queen felt responsible for running a household by proxy and controlling an irascible or inconsistent parent. They did not seek to be understood or get attention from a caregiver like children with an overidentified Magician. Patients that present to therapy reporting that they are the “therapist for all their friends” or that “everyone asks them for advice” have a healthy identification with their Queen. The over identified Queen is not content to advise power, but wants to control it from the shadows as a puppeteer. Overidentification with the Queen leads patients to become obsessed with subtly influencing other people as extensions of themselves and power. Manipulative patients, who begin to hold their altruism over the heads of those they are helping are on the road to over identification with the Queen. Therapists should be aware of the functioning of this archetype, as it is the role of the therapist to play The Queen in the patient’s life during the process of therapy. The over identified Queen as a mother does not want children to develop as individuals outside of the family or have a personal identity. Children are to remain a part of her and only exist as her accessory and a reflection of her purposes and her values. The over identified Queen wants to know all her children’s secrets, and to get to tell them exactly who they should become. Because patients who had a mother over identified with her own Queen never had the chance to listen to their own inner voice during development they will present to therapy with a bothersome inner critic that reflects the internalized critical voice of the parent. This overwhelming voice of inner criticism is the implanted voice of the parent that did not want their Child to exist outside their own sphere.
The King Archetype 1/6
19-09-2022
The King Archetype 1/6
Find more free resources on the website: https://www.gettherapybirmingham.com/ The King is our sense of systemic power or our sense of power within society . The King is both the father of the family and of society. He has a larger plan for others and sees how all pieces of the system work and what different types of people need. This larger plan comes from creativity and imagination, but it is the practical imagination of planning and developing communities and systems. The King not only wants to improve himself, but to improve others linked to him as an extension of himself. The appropriately identified King is a proud father. We need the King in order to manage our households, supervise employees, or volunteer in leadership roles. The fundamental anxiety the King manages is the fear that there is no larger plan structuring others lives. The King fears anarchy. The King lets us take the reins and provide leadership when we see that no one else can. The King is able to organize the many individual Warriors behind a single banner. The King is order, organization and unity. It is healthy and positive to have a vision for a better world that we would like to see our life and works contribute toward. Without the King we cannot have hope for our families or for the world. Patients who were raised being systematically excluded or oppressed are likely to be under identified with their King. If society has rejected or oppressed them their entire lives they have been taught that it doesn’t want them, and will have difficulty believing others will let them lead. If we do not believe we have any power over the world, it is difficult to function within it. These patients will be plagued with interpersonal difficulty until the under identification is resolved. Patients under identified with their King will avoid any position where they have responsibility for or power over others. They were often punished for being angry or assertive in their families of origin and felt they were not allowed to hold power. Often these patients will have anger “turned off” and have extreme anxiety when circumstances force them to judge others, even accurately, or when they are angry. These patients will have difficulty reconciling anxiety when they have a moral standard that others violate. They do not want to let go of their own moral compass but also are uncomfortable when others fail at being moral or good by their own standard. Patients who are under identified with their King may be highly competent and successful, but still remain highly individual and atomized, clinging to solely personal power or adhere to strict moral standards they refuse to apply to others. . They may express hopelessness or even contempt for ideas relating to improving family or government systems, even though they could otherwise be highly successful in either. Patients over identified with their King will mistrust and criticize all authority because it is not their own. They will play contrarian during any discussion of politics or religion and often family issues. They will often get into conflicts with superiors at work but secretly feel unheard or misunderstood. During these times they are reliving their experiences in their own families of origin. Extreme identification with the King will leave patients listless and unsatisfied no matter how much power they attain. Extreme over identification with the King means that there is no amount of power that will ever make one feel fulfilled. Life becomes a competition. It does not become a competition with individuals like the warrior, but a competition with all “great” men from history. Total overidentification makes one want to hold power and influence over others in every domain of life. Patients over identified with their King will rarely present for therapy of their own volition. These patients can become tyrants to their friends, families and colleagues. Even though these patients may do things that society would consider immoral they will never see themselves as evil. These patients see themselves as saviors that want to save an unappreciative society or family by making them great. Patients who are under identified with their Magician and Warrior often over identify with their King in order to compensate for their failure to develop their own domain of internal (intuition) or external (accomplishment )personal power. These patients often are prone to fantasies about what would happen if they were in charge. They will never see themselves as immoral, but only as misunderstood heroes.
Astrophobia: Why are so many trauma patients afraid of space?
09-09-2022
Astrophobia: Why are so many trauma patients afraid of space?
Find more free resources on the website: https://www.gettherapybirmingham.com/   Our phobias are often metaphors for our most unconscious parts of self. In the 2013 movie Gravity, Sandra Bullock plays an astronaut marooned in space. At every moment she is seconds from spinning into the hopeless oblivion of deep space. Bullock’s character must use her ingenuity to navigate the shuttles and space stations to find her way back to earth. During her time in space Bullock is haunted by trauma from her past. Numerous shots suggest that her time in space causes her to regress to infancy and face not only trauma but primal childhood fear. It’s fairly common for patients with insecure or reactive attachment to have had an intense fear of darkness as children. Some of them still have a fear of the dark as adults. Darkness takes away the control and awareness that our eyesight provides us. Children who learn that mystery and uncertainty are not safe spaces come to fear the dark. It takes secure attachment to learn that we can go into the great unknown and survive its surprises. I work primarily as a trauma therapist and a surprising large number of trauma patients have a fear of outer space. So many that I have started to ask if patients have a fear of outer space when certain things come up in therapy. Patients are shocked that I am able to detect such a specific and seemingly bizarre phobia. Why outer space? We might encounter spiders, or snakes in our everyday routine but outer space is something few people have a direct encounter with. Why do our primal fears manifest as a fear of space? At a surface level it might not seem to make sense. However space is an extended metaphor for many of our most basic fears. For one space is dark. It is cold. It is inhospitable to us. People that feel unwelcome or incapable can project this inadequacy on the impossibility of surviving in space. On another level space represents a complete lack of control and orientation. There is no up or down. Every direction leads to the same hopeless void. There is no gravity. There is no ability to center ourselves. These extreme conditions manifest the lack of our most basic needs for orientation control and power. Most mythological systems begin with a primal void. Water is added to the void and then land. This archetype appears in almost every creation myth. Space represents a reality stripped of the basic elements we need to survive. Space threatens the importance of all the things our ego needs to maintain integrity. Space represents the ultimate existential threat to all of the projects we create and all the things we identify ourselves with to make meaning. The most ambitious human projects mean nothing from the window of a rocket. Even the great wall of china is a thin line. The Vatican is a tiny dot. Our families, our careers, our religions, our sports teams… all of these things fail to matter in the midst of the cosmos. Space represents the ultimate existential annihilation. It reminds us of our ultimate limitations against the enormous scale of the universe. When starting trauma therapy we must find our worst fear in order to confront and overcome it. Many times imagining space is the best place to start because it encompasses so many of our fears. What does space make you think of? What parts of it frighten you?   #space #astrophobia #astrology #trauma #ptsd #therapy #psychology #growth #psychotherapy
Existentialism vs Mysticism: What is the Ego Self Axis?
06-09-2022
Existentialism vs Mysticism: What is the Ego Self Axis?
Find more free resources on the website: https://www.gettherapybirmingham.com/   In the first session when I give patients my initial observations they often have difficulty hearing what I mean regarding their emotional experience. I hear things like: “I’m not angry because I’ve also done bad things to people and everyone makes mistakes.” “I’m not sad because I know it happened for the greater good.”  “I’m not afraid because I know that it can’t hurt me.” These statements are not attempts to feel emotion, they are attempts to turn emotion off. These statements are attempts to solve and emotional reality with intellect. They are using the wrong part of the brain for the wrong part of life.  People have a hard time accepting that they can feel that something is true even though they may know intellectually that something is not true. Clear as mud? Stay with me for a second here.  We can be sad when friends let us down even though we know intellectually that humans make mistakes. We can be afraid of a story or an archetypal image even though we know that it is not real. We can be angry at realities of life even though we know they are inevitable and true.  [caption id="attachment_1891" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Scared?[/caption] Intellect and emotion often contradict each other. We tell ourselves that our intellect can turn our emotions off, but our intellect can only let us ignore our emotional reality temporarily. Both of these experiences come from two different parts of the brain that process two different kinds of realities. Our ego and cognition comes from the prefrontal cortex, the newest part of the brain. This upstart new part thinks that it is all of us. We pretend that we are purely rational creatures until emotion overwhelms us and we try to tamp it down again.  Our intuition, emotion, and creative elements come from the oldest part of the brain, the subcortex. When indulged our subcortical brain allows us to feel intuitive gut feelings, creatively heal problems, and listen to our emotional reality. It is also the gateway to religious and transcendental experiences.  The subcortical brain stores information that activates our emotional fight or flight center. To do this it has to store information about the past that our conscious brain may not have time to think about intellectually. The subcortical brain is fast, so lightening fast that we do not always notice consciously what it is doing. The prefrontal cortex brain is slower but more deliberate in how it processes information. The subcortical brain raises our adrenaline and makes us cautious after the red hot coil of a stove. The unconscious subcortical brain associates this image with trauma from the past. It raises the alarm before our conscious brain knows what is happening.  The subcortical brain reacts to stimulus from our past. This becomes a problem when emotional pain and trauma are stored there. Feelings of inadequacy, hopelessness and rage can get stuck “under” our life until we acknowledge and process them in therapy. A therapist encouraging you to feel, eye movement therapy, prayer, transcendental meditation, intentional creative practice, or psychedelics can unlock the door to this part of the brain. This part of the brain can be a scary place though if we have trauma blocking the way down. Trying to feel emotion, creativity or intuition may make trauma overwhelm us if it is not healed.  Edward Edinger points out in his book Ego and Archetype that these parts of the brain do not want to be in the same head. They often disagree and fight one another. The prefrontal cortex is extremely existential and see’s the world through cold reason. Over-indulged the prefrontal cortex would have us fixate on our own ultimate unimportance. From its perspective we are a bubble on a tide of empire or a meaningless dot in a vast galaxy. Our existential and intellectual brain doesn't understand emotion or mystical religion. It only understands practical accomplishment and objective material realities.  The subcortical brain is myopic and childish. It contains the zen perspective that “all things are one” or that “we are connected to all things”. The subcortical brain contains past emotional information. It also contains information from our shared evolutionary heritage. This spiritual function of the subcortical brain can help us access wisdom and creativity that feel “older than us” and “timeless” or “connected”. In conditions where subcortical emotional reality overwhelms the ego and rational brain we can become psychotic or depersonalized.  Much of psychological dysfunction occurs when we try to use the wrong part of the brain to create change in our current reality. We have all been people who become overly intellectual when feeling emotion instead of confronting the emotional reality. “Magical thinking” often occurs when people feel like their emotion or insight will change the outcome of their existential reality. Some people retreat into religion instead of taking practical steps to solve their problems. Others might despise religion because they see no point in any part of life that is not objective and rational  Edinger calls these two dueling functions the Ego / Self Axis. Edinger see’s the development of both functions as the key to an intact and stable psyche.   “The Self is the ordering and unifying center of the total psyche (conscious and unconscious) just as the ego is the center of the conscious personality. Or, put in other words, the ego is the seat of subjective identity while the Self is the seat of objective identity. The Self is thus the supreme psychic authority and subordinates the ego to it. The Self is most simply described as the inner empirical deity and is identical with the imago Dei.” ― Edward F. Edinger, Ego and Archetyp   e: Individuation and the Religious Function of the Psyche Often people retreat too deeply into one function. These people often distrust one another. Mystics and existentialists rarely get along. They have repressed one part of the human experience in themselves and avoid it in other people. Understanding the reality of the ego self axis can let us have a happy and whole life. The ego, or the prefrontal cortex, can make us effective at planning and accomplishment. The Self, or subcortical brain, can let us heal trauma, create, and develop a transpersonal spiritual dimension. Neither part of the brain is “bad” or “wrong”. We need both to understand our humanity. In order to heal and understand religious and political differences we need to embrace Edinger's lens and use it to hear what people are really saying.  Both parts of the brain are "right" from their own point of view. At our deepest levels we are alone and cannot be totally understood. From another perspective we are a part of a human experience that connects all of us. The ego brain knows that we are born and die alone, but the self brain can feel the archetypes in our evolutionary heritage.  We are each existentially alone, but it is the knowledge that we are all existentially alone that can bring us together and allow us to understand one another.  For more info on the subcortical brain check out our other article: https://gettherapybirmingham.com/post-therapy-spirituality-and-mysticism/ Waiting by Robert Penn Warren You will have to wait. Until it. Until The last owl hoot has quavered to a Vibrant silence and you realize thre is no breathing Beside you, and dark curdles toward dawn. Until Drouth breaks, too late to save the corn, But not too late for flood, and the dog-fox, stranded On a sudden islet, barks in hysteria in the alder-brake. Until the doctor enters the waiting room, and His expression betrays all, and you wish He'd take his God-damned hand off your shoulder. Until The woman you have lived with all the years Says, without rancor, that life is the way life is, and she Had never loved you, had believed the lie only for the sake of the children. Until you become uncertain of French irregular verbs And by a strange coincidence begin to take Catholic instruction from Monsignor O'Malley, who chews a hangnail. Until You realize, truly, that our Saviour died for us all, And as tears gather in your eyes, you burst out laughing, For the joke is certainly on Him, considering What we are. Until You pick the last alibi off, like a scab, and Admire the inwardness, as beautiful as inflamed flesh Or summer sunrise. Until you Remember, surprisingly, that common men have done good deeds. Until it Grows on that, at least, God Has allowed us the grandeur of certain utterances.
Don’t Block the Hearth Fire; Reclaiming the Soul of Therapy by Embracing the Awareness of Death
22-06-2022
Don’t Block the Hearth Fire; Reclaiming the Soul of Therapy by Embracing the Awareness of Death
Find more free resources on the website: https://www.gettherapybirmingham.com/   In my house, like in most houses in America there is a fireplace. My wife and I do not often use our fireplace. In fact, I am not even sure if it works. Now that there are more efficient forms of heating installed in most homes there is really no need for fireplaces, but they continue to be built all the same. Any interior decorator or homemaker worth their salt will tell you that whether or not a fireplace works it cannot be blocked, and furniture must be placed so that people can gather around it. The style of houses that we build today are still based on the same basic floor plan of the ancient Roman style of architecture. In Rome, houses were built around a lares, or hearth fires, where penates, ancestral gods of the family, were revered and guarded the home. Even though most Americans could not tell you why the hearth is afforded such significance, it is still agreed upon in western design language that the hearth is significant. The origin of the hearth idea in western architecture is one example of the many ways that the religious impulse indirectly recognizes a connection to our ancestors. As humans we long for transpersonal and trans-generational connectedness. Jungian oriented therapists help clients cultivate the transcendental and reflective skills that a well-developed spiritual dimension brings into our lives. Inhale, exhale Forward, back Living, dying: Arrows, let flown each to each Meet midway and slice The void in aimless flight Thus I return to the source. –Japanese Death Poem Gesshu Soko, died January 10, 1696, at age 79: Stephen Jenkins is a palliative care counselor and writer that I admire. In his writing, he makes the argument that western culture has an unhealthy avoidance of the reality of death. Jenkins writes that that the fear of death in our society has robbed us of a spiritual dimension and tools for everyday life that ancient civilizations have always had. Acceptance of one’s own mortality and acknowledging one’s ancestors are directly related concepts. Jenkins’ argument is that acceptance of death is what gives a culture the ability to make meaning and understand its own story. If we deny or disregard death as an important part of our human experience, then we can never make meaning of our own lives. We must embrace this important part of our humanity if we are to be able to make ourselves whole (Wilson, T 2009). As a society we hide children from the dying, and often even from the elderly; not allowing young people to understand this important stage in the life journey. We do not value the wisdom of the aged; we simply treat their cultural experience as out of date. It is our general cultural practice to pretend that we are immortal. We hide from death and all the trappings of death until it is too late. We wait until we are at the end of our life journey and we have not developed any tools to help us understand how to die. This practice is to our own deficit and the deficit of our culture. Jenkins argues in his interviews that our culture needs to embrace death and the process of dying in order to reclaim the spirituality our culture has lost (Wilson, T 2009). It’s your life. You don’t know how long it’s going to be but you know it’s got a bad ending. –Don Draper Mad Men; Season 2, Episode 9 Spirituality in most religions contains a meditative or contemplative component used to orient one’s priorities, clarify goals and values, and discover one’s own personal identity and agency within the world. Although spirituality is a vague concept that can mean many things to many people, most therapists agree on the importance of spirituality in the therapeutic process. One of the major benefits of spirituality in therapy is that spirituality assists clients in understanding their place in the world, and helps clients accept their own finitude and mortality. This is true whether a person’s spiritual tradition advocates belief in an afterlife, a multi-layered reality, or simply a scientific materialist understanding of the world. Regardless of an individual’s spiritual tradition, an active spiritual life will help a therapist engage an individual in important reflective personal questions. Personal spirituality is different from organized religion. Developing one’s own personal spirituality distinct from the organized religion you participate in is important because it allows individuals to answer questions and face struggles unique to their own life. There is much diversity between different individuals’ life course trajectories. What works for one person may not work for another person. Developing one’s own personal spiritual dimension inside or outside of an organized religion increases an individual’s self-efficacy and individual human capacity for choice-making. A robust spiritual dimension allows individuals to solve problems that arise in the life course in the best way for them, according to their own strengths and weaknesses. This self-efficacy is an important protective factor for individuals as they develop throughout the life course. This protective factor can help individuals avoid many problems as they traverse the various stages of life. In the book The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker puts forth a hypothesis that won him the Pulitzer Prize, and changed the way many cognitive theorists thought about therapy. Becker argued that human cognition is a defense mechanism against the knowledge that we must die. Many drives within humanity are attempts to make ourselves immortal and find ways of obtaining spiritual immortality. Becker put forward the idea that anxiety, depression, and even psychosis can be attributed to the breakdown in our immortality seeking processes. Becker argued that human beings long for secular and religious accomplishments because we believe that these will make us immortal. Becker argued that cognitive problems arise when our culture lacks the spiritual and numinous dimension that allows us to understand death and accept our finitude (Becker, E. 1973). The part of Becker’s theory that is most applicable to therapy and social work practice is his idea of immortality. Becker’s idea of immortality is much more involved than simply an idea of an afterlife in popular culture and religion. In The Denial of Death immortality is the way that a person finds their significance, self-worth, and meaning in relation to the universe (Becker, E. 1973). We attain spiritual immortality when we have a well-developed spiritual dimension that allows us to feel connected to the past, others in the present and to future generations. It is this connectedness that allows us to feel spiritually immortal and come to terms with our mortality. In the ancient world heroic deeds and religious traditions were an attempt to feel connectedness to a numinous reality larger than the time ancients lived within. Becker argues that nothing but spirituality of some kind can give humans the connectedness to the fabric of our world and provide us the spiritual immortality we long for. One of the reasons that Becker’s theories were so successful is that they build on the basic assumption that all human beings know at a fundamental level that we will one day die. Because of this we are all in a sense already dead. This knowledge is an intrinsic part of our humanity that we must learn how to handle, or it will lead us to destroy ourselves. The reason that this is important to include in a discussion of spirituality in psychotherapy practice is that this theory of therapy makes spirituality an essential component in the therapeutic process. The problem of death in our own and in our clients’ lives must be solved in order to live a fulfilling life. This cannot be done without the transcendent quality of spiritual practice. In my own life I find Becker’s spiritual immortality in what will be preserved of me in how I change the world for the better. I personally have no interest in the concept of the afterlife in my own religious tradition, but I do not need that to feel motivated and important. Sharing love that changes the lives of those around me and the lives of those they will touch is where I find immortality. What will be preserved of me is the impression that I leave on this world through how I live my life and affect the lives of others. The presence of me will be preserved by people who likely do not recognize or understand what they are preserving. We are all released into the earth, and into the stuff of the heart, and the mind, the character of others, and the lives of everyone who antecedes us. A piece of the things that are part of me will become part of everyone whom I become a part of. The things that made me who I am did not come only from me; but also from those before me and how they shaped the world. The juice of ourselves was never ours, but something we borrowed from countless others. This is not something that would make sense to everyone, but it is what makes sense to me. Life is chaotic and overwhelming to the best of us. To understand it we need a lens to view our world in a way that makes sense to us. When we develop our own spiritual dimension it can act as the lens that lets us understand our world. Our personal spirituality tells us why we are unique and special. It gives us the immortality that Becker describes in a way that we decide is important to us. A robust spiritual dimension can help us live life intentionally, mindfully and effectively. Bibliography Wilson, T., Clarke, A., Lorber HT Digital, Alive Mind Media, & National Film Board of Canada (2009). Griefwalker. United States: Alive Mind. Becker, E. (1973). The denial of death. New York: Free Press. Weil, A. (2005). Healthy aging: A lifelong guide to your physical and spiritual well-being. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.