Psyche
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I have recently come to ask myself whether our wounds really heal. As a student of depth psychology, the learning is never ending. The layers of the psyche are complex, not only on an individual but a collective level. How do I differentiate my wounds from my partner’s? What belongs to my history, and what is cultural? When I’m suddenly triggered by another, am I projecting the unfinished business of my soul onto the other, or is it an attempt to not be engulfed by the sea of their emotional drama?

Last week I wrote about the collective psyche and the challenge of separating our symptoms, both physical and psychological, from the environment (refer to Collective Pathology). Today I’d like to pose the following questions to consider:

What is healing?
How do we know when a wound is healed?
Do we ever truly heal?

There are numerous approaches to healing, based on culture, religion, geography, education and even gender. We in the West have traditionally used the medical model, where a procedure or pill will “fix” the symptoms and the patient can be healed. The pharmaceutical world is currently a multi-billion dollar industry. Even psychology has embraced this method of diagnosis and treatment in working with the psyche.

The Eastern cultures tend to look at pathology as an imbalance of different energy centers in the body, as well as a disconnection from the source. Yoga, the union of mind, body and spirit, has been used for thousands of years to bring forward this necessary balance. Mindfulness meditation quiets the mind and brings awareness to the present, and has been scientifically proven to lower heart rate, decrease symptoms of anxiety and stress levels, and activate the parasympathetic nervous system to bring our bodies back into homeostasis.

Respectful of culture, tradition and belief system, depth psychology is asking the deeper questions: what is the next level of consciousness that allows a person to sit with the pain, and endure the insufferable? How do we shift from healing as a goal to one of a journey?

As stated by Ginette Paris in her book Wisdom of the Psyche, “Psychological wisdom is the compass within each of us, pointing in what seems like the most fruitful direction. The attempt to ‘fix a soul’ diminishes life, harms the psyche and dries up the seed of wisdom.”

I believe that psychotherapy is an art of seeing through the symptoms and repairing the ‘internal compass’ within all of us. Psychological wisdom is the goal and suffering is part of the journey. Wounds may never completely heal and the leakage of old memories can come upon us when least expected.

Learning the skills to be with our pain instead of numbing emotions, grieving losses in place of seeking substitutions, empathizing instead of pathologizing; this is how we can repair our broken souls and stop the psychic leakage. Time may heal infectious wounds, but the scars will remain, forever a reminder of the peaceful warrior within that helped us gain control of our inner lives.

This is the goal of depth psychology. What is your process of healing? How do you repair your inner compass?

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7 Responses to “A Repair Shop For Broken Souls”

  1. John Fischer says:

    I have found that modern approaches to therapy are all geared toward that next $160 appointment. The revenue stream does not reward success. I am a student of The Landmark Forum, which puts the control back in your hands and requires you to be responsible for your own life.
    http://www.landmarkeducation.com/landmark_forum.j

    • rashin says:

      John, you are correct that modern therapy tends to be the quick-fix, time is up, here is your bill model. But that's what depth psychology is hoping to reverse. I am familiar with Landmark Forum, and ultimately it all comes down to the individual being responsible for his or her own life. Just sometimes we need someone to hold the flashlight while we do the digging. Thanks for reading and your comment.

  2. Jennifer Sandoval says:

    These are very important ideas. It seems that you are asking both,"what is healing?" and "is healing the goal?" In depth psychology, the traditional answer to what is healing might be to resolve unconscious conflict, or to bring what is unconscious into the conscious domain. This is similar to what happens in the Landmark Forum (you begin to see what you didn't know you didn't know, and the healing just in that experience alone is beyond imagining). According to Wilfred Bion, healing is evidenced by our ability to expand our tolerance ‘for being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after face and reason’ as Keats said, and to become more present to our inner psychological life (i.e. remembering dreams). To develop one's capacity and willingness to experience more of life, to be more awake to the intensity and beauty of life, and also to the pain and despair -but to be awake to it -that's my answer to your wonderful questions (for now :)

  3. I thought healing was done with pills by a doctor or by being put in a cast. Everything else was called "get over it". That was back in the "old days".

    I have heard the term "healing the soul" many times before I got even close to understand what it means. It just sounded good.

    Jennifer is going very deep in her comment and I like the wording. I've learned over the years that I don't need to understand everything that is going on within me or around me. Mysteries are ok.

    I think it is too much to expect that every traumatic event in someone's life can be completely "healed" in the traditional sense. We'd fool ourselves. Things keep coming up. The ability to put wounds into a certain space and to learn to live with them might be just as good as it gets in some (or many) cases.

    We might think we are completely over something and then 15 years later we have another meltdown. Our mind plays a lot of games with us and we'd fool ourselves if we'd think we could completely control it. That dribbles down into our soul as well. Hence my limited expectations to "complete recovery".

    Can anyone control what they are dreaming (and processing) of in advance? Maybe that's a whole separate discussion 😉

  4. rashin says:

    Jen, great quote by Bion. It appears that in some cases, the best we can do is expand our tolerance for our inner pain. As you said, to be more awake to both the beauty and despair of life; that to me is the goal of anyone seeking healing. Thanks for your beautiful words!

  5. Diana says:

    I broke the two largest bones in my ankle a couple of years ago. It was extremely traumatic. I was told 6-12 months to heal. After a few months, the bone specialist said it was healed, showed me the Xray. After one year I complained to my cardiologist (from India) that my biggest health issue was that my ankle still hurt. This doctor said "That is not the same ankle any more and will never be the same again". I have had to adjust everything I do to this new ankle's shape, pain and limitations. Has it healed? Yes and no. Yes, the bone is knitted. But nothing will ever be the same.

  6. rashin says:

    Broken ankle, or broken heart, we are never the same again. You are right, in that adjustments need to be made to this "new way of being".

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