Journeying Toward Wholeness

Vibrant Jung Thing Blog

Trust and Betrayal

May 24th, 2010 · betrayal, depth psychology, Individuation, psychological crisis, trust, wholeness

In my recent blog post on “Crisis“, I indicated that one of the gravest things that can happen to people is the experience of betrayal in those close relationships with others whom they trust deeply, and upon whom they depend.  I feel strongly that this is an area worth exploring further, and some of my readers have indicated to me that they felt that this was an important topic.

Please consider for a moment the story of Jesus in the Christian New Testament, but with a psychological, rather than a religious perspective.  A prominent feature of that story is the betrayal of Jesus by his own disciple, Judas Iscariot.  This element of the narrative clearly functions to show us that Jesus went through one of the very bitterest things that can occur to a human being, that this was one of the most appalling torments that a human can undergo.  To me, this just seems psychologically accurate.  It doesn’t get much worse than being betrayed by someone that you love and trust.

We can experience the awful bitterness of betrayal in a great variety of ways, and at very different stages in life.  When it is a real betrayal, it undercuts the individual in such a radical way that it can sometimes lead people to even question the worthwhileness of living.

In our culture, we often associate the terms “trust” and “betrayal” with lovers, whether married or not.  Betrayal can appear in the lives of couples through infidelity, through physical, sexual or verbal abuse, through addictions, or through allowing a family to fall into a vulnerable and/or seriously damaging financial position — among various other ways.  When it occurs, it can deliver wounds to the one whose trust is breached that are not at all easy to overcome.

It is perhaps less frequently realized, but, within the family of origin, there are many ways that the family can betray a child in his or her vulnerability.  One of the greatest fears for the child is the fear of abandonment.  This can occur in purely physical ways, that is, through actually leaving the child in his or her helplessness.  It can also occur in emotional ways, through rejection, or withdrawal of love.

There are other areas where children or young people can have the experience of betrayal.  Many have the experience of religious leaders and institutions in which they have put their faith, that become associated with physical, sexual or emotional abuse.  Educational institutions can do the same things, along with other gravely negative things, such as labelling or humiliating the individual in such a way that he or she feels fundamentally violated or devalued as a person.

It is essential to respect the impact of betrayal, if we encounter it in our lives.  It is very likely that it will impact the degree to which we can give ourselves in trust in other situations in our lives.  It may even have an overall effect on what we call “basic trust“: the capacity of individuals to trust that life is good, and to trust that they can make their way and find what they need from their lives.

To come to terms with betrayal can be one of the greatest challenges that an individual will ever face.  It can be a fundamental part of the process of becoming oneself, the process of individuation.  Often the difficult road to moving beyond betrayal passes through the journey of therapy.  At its best, therapy in depth can be a way of renewing the trust in the other, and simultaneously, the trust in myself.

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness — especially to those who at this time wrestle with the dilemmas of trust and betrayal.  If you would like to share any part of your journey through a comment or email, I would welcome it.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: ©  Eszawa|Dreamstime.com © 2010 Brian Collinson

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Work and the Heart

May 15th, 2010 · Hope, Identity, Jungian analysis, Psychology and Suburban Life, Psychotherapy, soul, Wellness, wholeness, work

An article from the Globe and Mail of 12 May 2010 , “Working regular overtime linked to increased heart attack risk” raises some very serious questions about the way that we’re living now:

//bit.ly/99TwPg

The article cites a study published in the European Heart Journal, which finds that employees who regularly put in 11- to 12-hour days have an almost 60 per cent greater risk of having a heart attack than those who put in a standard 7 to 8 hours daily.  The scary thing, of course, is that, in our world, that group who are putting in the 11 to 12 hour days is very large.  As the article suggests, “the overtime hours were not, in and of themselves, causing heart problems, but rather that they likely reflect the stress being felt by those who work long days”.  So, to be literal-minded, stress and endless days are making people sick at heart.

What is it about work and the heart?  There is true symbolism here, that comes right out of the midst of flesh and blood.  For events in the body are very often symbols or metaphors of what is going on in the psyche.  Psyche will reflect in the stomach, or in the neck and back what psyche has to bear, or finds unbearable.  Psyche and soma (Greek for body) are a unity, and they reflect each other.

At the risk of sounding childish or naive, this whole area begs our consideration because it draws attention to a huge very personal, very human question: what is our heart’s desire?

Down through the millenia, the symbolism of the human heart has represented that dimension of the human being that interacts with life through feeling.  The psychic reality is that the feeling dimension of life cannot be ignorred.  The overall question of what we want, really want, from our lives is not going to leave us alone, not really going to go away, even if it gets repressed.  Endless work and/or the complete blurring of the distinction between work and home leaves the heart in a desert wasteland.

We have to come to terms with the true depth of our yearning.  The only way to do that is to trust that our deepest yearnings are not meaningless.

How can we possibly find a way to make a living and keep our health?  Only by giving the heart what it needs.  What does your heart need?  Can we dare to even ask that question?  Do we dare to hope for it anymore, or has that hope gotten submerged or lost in the midst of cascading demands and obligations?

Stay with your heart.  Trust that it knows what you need.  Strive to find the ways to get closer to the things that matter to you, and to be less and less driven by urgencies and agendas that have nothing to do with your own real life.  As the Book of Proverbs, that compendium of age-old human wisdom in the Hebrew Bible has it:

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.

 My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness — and your journey to your heart.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: ©  Vladimirdreams|Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Anxiety, Stress and Decisions

May 11th, 2010 · Anxiety, decision, Individuation, midlife, Mississauga, Oakville, Psychology and Suburban Life, Psychotherapy, soul, unconscious, wholeness

A great deal of stress and anxiety in peoples’ lives is associated with making major decisions that deeply effect personal life.  Very often, people come into therapy because they are hung on the horns of a major dilemma, with a decision to be made between two or more possible decisions or paths to take.

As we all know, making a life-changing decision can be a time of real struggle.  Often the choice may be of a kind from which there is no easy turning back.  In such a situation, if the stakes are high enough on each side, the dilemma can seem insoluble, and the situation can seem absolutely paralyzing.

This is in part because, there is often no easy, logical set of steps to take in making the fundamental decisions in life.  Decision-making is not nearly the logical, rational proposition that it is often portrayed to be, and that we would like to think that it is.  This is true whether we look at individual or group decisions.  I appreciated this article in the Financial Post newspaper of date, which concerned research into the psychological processes around decision-making demonstrates this:    //bit.ly/cd0whp

In the course of an ordinary human life, there will be decisions that will be true forks in the road.  These decisions will not be made easily, and making them may well have a very real personal cost.  As one enters mid-life, the frequency of these difficult, uncharted decisions tends to increase.  From the middle of life on, there will be more and more of an individual character to such major choices.  As one really confronts one’s own unique identity, and one’s own unique values and sources of meaning, conventional cookie-cutter answers to these dilemmas will be less and less readily apparent and less and less helpful.  If an individual is to find an authentic way to move forward at such a point, it will require genuine self exploration, and confrontation with the unconscious elements in him- or herself.

Coming to terms with the unconscious element of ourselves, and becoming aware of its presence and its effect on the direction of our lives is a transforming process.  The self that makes the decision and moves forward will necessarily be somewhat different from the self that originally confronted the dilemma.  Often it is the support provided by the container of depth psychotherapy that can make the difference between an end result that furthers a sense of despair and stagnation, and a resolution to the dilemma that provides a sense of greater unification and integrity of the self.

I’d gratefully welcome your comments on the decision process.  Have you confronted times in the recent past where making a major decision or decisions has been a source of great stress?  Have you ever had to confront decisions that had the feeling of being a genuine “fork in the road” or “crossing of the Rubicon” from which, once made, there was no turning back?

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness.

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist and Jungian Analyst

Main website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga practice: www.briancollinson.ca

PHOTO CREDIT: ©  Ffennema |Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Crisis

May 8th, 2010 · Anxiety, Carl Jung, collective unconscious, complexes, depression, depth psychology, Identity, Individuation, inner life, Jungian analysis, psychological crisis, Psychology, Psychology and Suburban Life, soul, stress

 

Sometimes we can be overtaken by things that happen in the psyche.  Such events can leave a person in a very vulnerable place struggling with intense anxiety, depression or stress.  Often these psychic events are triggered by events in our outer lives.  Nonetheless, it is their psychological impact, the things that they cause to happen in our minds, that has the most fundamental impact upon us.  It is the manner in which we perceive these events, and the meaning that we attach to them, that can led us into real difficulties.

There are many potential types of crisis.  I have chosen just a few types to mention here, which are among the most prominent and difficult.

Betrayal is often one of the very worst types of crises. A negative experience at the hands of one who is loved and trusted can be one of the most profoundly shattering experiences in life.  I will be writing a whole posting, or a whole series on this in the near future.  Nonetheless, what is important here is that such an experience can shake a person to the core, particularly if the relationship in which the betrayal occurs is one that is fundamental to a person’s sense of identity (see below).

Fundamental crisis of identity. A fundamental crisis of this kind is an experience in which an individual’s sense of themselves is pulled out from underneath them, as it were, rather than the kind of gradual change in understanding of identity that occurs in aging and maturation.  For example, consider the person who has 37 years in with the same firm, and who is unexpectedly laid off 2 1/2 years before retirement.  Or the 47 year old woman who learns for the first time that she is adopted in her mother’s last will and testament.  job loss.  loss of a business.

Grief and or profound disillusionment.  These two types of experience can be quite distinct, or else they can come together.  Often the loss of a loved one can lead to some of the deepest soul-searching and questions in life.  Sometimes grief, though, can also be associated with the loss of a way of life, or something that has provided a certain kind of meaning, such as a pattern of life that may be associated with living with a certain city or location, or in a certain community of people, when one has to leave it.

The sense of being fundamentally overwhelmed by external events.In my opinion, this is one of the most frequent kinds of psychic crisis for people in suburban environments like Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga.  In fact, at certain times in recent years in our culture, I think that this kind of psychic affliction has been almost epidemic.

The effect of huge life events of these types is that they can cause some pretty fundamental upheavals deep in the individual’s psyche.  These can lead to things in the unconscious getting very shaken up and emerging in consciousness, such as anxiety and depression.

However, it is important to recognize that contents from the unconscious might well be surfacing in an attempt to bring healing to the individual, also.

What do I do if I find myself in the grip of a crisis? Sometimes people keep on with business as usual, acting as if nothing has changed in their lives.  They work just as hard, maybe harder.  They are just as demanding of themselves as they ever were, maybe even more so.

1. Acknowledge that you are in a crisis. This can be hard to admit.  All of us would rather not go through this type of experience, even though they are a fundamental aspect of human life. Sometimes the need to look good–to ourselves, or to others–can keep a person from acknowledging in a self-compassionate way that she or he has something big with which they have to struggle.

2. Take care of yourself.  Carefully consider your sleeping, eating, working and stressful interactions.  Are you putting more burden on yourself than you can manage in a healthy way?  As in 1. , are you truly acknowledging what it is that you are going through?  If you respond to the distress of a crisis by, say, trying to drown the pain through working harder, you need to recognize that the outcome may not be at all good for you or for the people to whom you are close.

3. Get help.  Seek out a good therapist.  You are going to need to process what is happening to you, to come to terms with the feelings, and with everything, such as depression, anxiety and perhaps even panic, that may be coming up from the unconscious.  A skilled therapist who is aware of the deeper meanings of these types of events can help you to put them in a context where the psyche can start to make some kind of meaning out of them.

4.  Ask whether this situation reminds you of anything similar in your earlier life. Is this particular crisis bringing up things out of the past for you?  Does it connect with difficult things that you have had to deal with earlier in your life?  Does it reflect patterns that you have experienced at earlier times in your life?……..

I’d gratefully welcome your comments and reflections on psychological crisis.  Have you, like very many people, had experience of crisis in your life?  Are you dealing with forms of crisis now?

My very best wishes to you on your individual journey to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

Website for Brian’s Oakville and Mississauga Practice: www.briancollinson.ca

PHOTO CREDIT: ©  Icefields|Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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Welcome to the New Home of “Vibrant Jung Thing!”

May 5th, 2010 · Jungian analysis, Jungian psychology, life passages, Mississauga, Oakville, Psychology and Suburban Life, Psychotherapy

Dear Readers,

With some great help, I’ve finally been able to move my blog onto my main website, which is something that I have been wanting to do for a very long time.  I hope that you will continue to read and enjoy my posts.  Having the blog on my main site makes it easier to see how the posts are connected to my counselling, psychotherapy and Jungian analysis practice.

I invite you to check out the “Welcome” page, to get a clearer sense of what I do as a therapist, and my particular concern for soul-making and wholeness, and especially what that means for people in suburban places like Oakville, Mississauga and Burlington.

I also invite you to look at the “About Brian” page for more information on me and my background and The Journey in order to get a sense of the kind of clients with whom I work.

So, for me, getting the blog to this point is the completion of a journey of sorts.  My hope is that Vibrant Jung Thing will continue to be a resource that you can use on your journey to yourself.

My very best wishes to each of you on your individual journeys to wholeness,

Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTO CREDIT: © Missdolphin |Dreamstime.com

© 2010 Brian Collinson

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