Archive for the ‘psychotherapy’ tag
I actually don’t like this photo. I rarely take photos such as these but felt that it was representative of what is happening here in Costa Rica for my family and friends travel blog site. The photo features another in an endless series of “missionary” events. This particular group, the “Church of God” is hoping to convert poor Costa Rican Catholics into their superior version of Christianity. I noted that as with other such events by other missionary groups that the focus ended up on becoming a photo opp for the organizers rather than meeting the spiritual needs of the people they have convinced to attend their event which is focused on children. The idea is if you can attract the children, their parents will likely come with them.
Personally, I find this practice of roaming the earth with the intention of trying to convince others that your particular brand of externalized spirituality is better than everyone else’s brand to be morally bankrupt. The implication by each of these competing missionary groups is that belonging to any “other” group will be catastrophic for your soul, that you likely will end up in hell. The only thing all the competing Christian missionary groups will have in common is the belief that non-Christians are truly lost people who need saving more than anyone else, even if it means that non-Christians (such as Muslim radicals) should be subject to modern day versions of the Inquisition. I know that I am not being kind here, but the arrogance of missionaries is too much to bare. Obviously a complex is showing its face here.
“Whenever there exists some external form, be it an ideal or a ritual, by which all the yearnings and hopes of the soul are adequately expressed – as for instance in a living religion – then we may that the psyche is outside and that there is no psychic problem, just as there is then no unconscious in our sense of the word. In consonance with this truth, the discovery of psychology falls entirely within the last decades, although long before than man was introspective and intelligent enough to recognize the facts that are the subject-matter of psychology. It was the same with technical knowledge. The Romans were familiar with all the mechanical principles and physical facts which would have enabled them to construct a steam engine; but all that came of it was the toy made by Hero of Alexandria. The reason for this is that there was no compelling necessity to go further. this need arose only with the enormous division of labour and the growth of specialization in the nineteenth century. So also a spiritual need has produced in our time the “discovery” of psychology. The psychic facts still existed earlier, of course, but they did not attract attention – on one noticed them. People got along without them. But today we can no longer get along unless we pay attention to the psyche.” (Jung, The Spiritual Problem of Modern Man, Modern Man in Search of Soul, 1933)
This is the age of psychology and I agree with most of what Jung has to say here. But, I must hasten to add that many, many people are still in a world where the psyche is outside the person, located in the rituals of community or church. The need for psychology is growing as more and more people fall out of the embrace of community rituals, falling flat on their faces and notice that they are now on their own. This view of psychological need isn’t about fixing people who have bad habits (behaviour modification or solution-focused therapy) or disorders that are relieved with a proper equilibrium of pharmaceutical products. This notion of psychology is about relocating the psyche back to within an individual. Hillman was correct when he claimed that we’ve had 100 years of psychotherapy and no one has really been fixed. As Jung claimed, no one gets fixed in doing psychological work, one only becomes more aware of one’s self and becomes personally responsible for that self. One is not a victim. One simply is.
Another photo from India, this time from Jaisalmer. Actually, the photo was taken just outside of the city at a cenotaph. It was January, 2008 in the late afternoon when the sunlight was accentuating the golden colour of the sandstone used to build most of the buildings in Jaisalmer which led to the city being called the Golden City. Besides the ornate memorials, there were a number of small piles of rock marked with a single stick, often with a red rag attached which indicated where ashes had been interred. The urn above is a symbol of sacred containment, a feminine symbol.
The psychoanalytic/psychotherapeutic encounter is also a place of sacred containnment. The dialogues between other and self in the pyschoanalytic/ psychotherapeutic container are held as sacred, not the stuff of common communication. There would be no purpose is taking the contents out of the container with the intention of engaging others in a dialogue about the contents as context would not be present. By context, I mean the tension of the moment being shared in the psychoanalytic encounter. For me, this carries on to most of my interactions with others. I have learned to keep my counsel. The sacred containment, temenos, of authentic “I-Thou” interactions prevents contamination. Translated, when dealing with the psyche of others, keep it confidential. It’s more than about therapist ethics.