The psyche wants to be healed

The last post ended with the healing of the self so that we become the person that we are intended to be, and it is interesting to see that Carl Jung understood this process which he described as becoming all of our unique self individuation. He sees it as the most insistent of instincts. Jung believed that we needed to use our energy – our aggressive and destructive energies to be part of healing. He thought that the psyche had a quality of ruthlessness in forcing us again and again to heal trauma. In that way the repeating and the flashbacks are not so much a negative thing but rather a reminder of the urgency to repair and resurrect. The psyche urges us to wholeness and to break through the blockage and the stuck places to move us on to fullness and love.

The energy that comes from aggression can be so usefully harnessed and the destructive and aggressive energies can give us stamina and resilience. There is a rage at what happened either to us or to another or to a community, but the urgency is, as Winnicott expressed it, to allow ourselves to experience the trauma whether cumulative or one-off but this time with the adequacy and ability to bear it, and to describe it and so understand it. This may involve more suffering but the idea is to avoid denial or acting-out. Ann Belford Ulanov describes how symptoms hold the riddle to the whole trauma and the aggression is needed both to face the trauma but also to unlock all the defences we have built against experiencing it.

It seems both difficult and also perhaps liberating to see that the repeating and the flashbacks are a form of grace and a desire for healing. Ulanov quotes from her husband’s work that if we can see that this grace comes from the Spirit who is itself liberating us then repetition of trauma symptoms is a form of communication from God. ‘The destructiveness that was conscripted to protect us against anticipated abandonment is freed up to plow the very earth of us, aerating our entrenched structures, engineering us to face again the unbearable and respond in new ways.’

Once there is a measure of consciousness there is a measure of healing and insight into seeing how the parts are related to the whole psyche, and how we managed to deal with the trauma. This may have been through repression or dissociation with all the associated underlying threats of things breaking through to overwhelm us once again. Another way may have been  through projection onto others, then it is possible to begin to see what one has done to oneself and how, Anna Freud called it identification with the aggressor, we have re-inflicted on ourselves the original violations.

Once some light has been thrown on to these dynamics it is possible – also by using the same aggressive energies – to reclaim the injured part and to recognise and empathise with it…in other words to turn again (to repent) and to love this exiled and neglected part of us. This then is the beginning of salvation; this then is the beginning of healing.