Journeying Toward Wholeness

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Jungian Psychotherapy & Sexual Issues

October 26th, 2011 · Jungian, Jungian psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

sexual issues

Ancient Fertility Symbol

Sexual issues are often part of Jungian psychotherapy and of any form of depth psychotherapy that takes human life seriously.  Sexuality is a matter of vital importance to us, and is directly connected to other essential areas of our life, like the aesthetic and the spiritual.

Sexual issues of one kind or another will almost certainly appear in the course of the normal development of any life.

Freud was Wrong — but Freud was Right

Freud wrongly thought that sexuality and aggression are the only two human drives.  Actually, there are many.  Nonetheless, Freud was not wrong to think that sexuality is a very important drive for humans, with incredible emotional and feeling power.  It’s a key element in many aspects of our personal being and growth.

Sexuality is Incredibly Diverse and Individual

We humans are very intricate beings, and our sexuality both embodies and expresses our uniqueness.  We are often at our most vulnerable — and our most wounded —  in the areas of our life that touch on sexuality.

Sexuality is Deeply Connected with the Unconscious

Sexuality takes us deep into parts of ourselves of which we are only dimly aware, which clash with the way we’d like to present ourselves to the world.  This is the part of the personality that Jung referred to as the shadow.  For almost all of us, some aspects of our sexual identity are in the shadow and the unconscious.

But that doesn’t mean that those aspects in our shadow are necessarily bad or evil.  Far from it.  What we truly yearn for sexually may be fundamentally connected with our yearnings for wholeness, often expressed in music, poetry, art, or religious or spiritual impulses.

Sexuality as the Bearer of Conflict

Issues around sexual identity, unacceptable sexual impulses, shame, guilt — and ecstasy — ensure that sexual issues will be matters of importance to people.  These same issues also ensure that sexuality will very often produces deep conflict in the personality, and, as a result, deepened consciousness.

Yet, Accepting Our Sexual Nature is a Key Part of the Journey to Wholeness

This is a very easy thing to say, but, for many people, for a variety of reasons, this acceptance may be something that is not so easily acheived.  It often forms a key element in that process of individual soul-making that Jung called individuation.


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© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)

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Psychotherapy for Work Related Stress: 4 Realities

October 20th, 2011 · stress, work, work related stress

work related stress

Psychotherapy for work related stress is increasingly essential for many people.  In our present era of privation and job uncertainty, it is abundantly apparent that work stress has more than purely psychological consequences, and deeply impacts the physical well-being of workers — for stress is a mind-body phenomenon.  A recent article from the Manchester Guardian on a report on a U.K. survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)  shows that worries about job losses have caused stress to become the most common cause of long-term sick leave in Britain.

Now, these statistics are for the U.K.  Is it similar in North America?  The fact is, it is similar enough.

Here are 4 factors pointing to the urgency of finding ways to address work related stress.

1. Work Related Stress Can be a Personal Crisis

Stress related to work accumulates in ways that cause emotional damage to workers.  In particular, there is a growing body of evidence that shows that continued anxiety over job loss is even more damaging emotionally than actual job loss.

2. Self Esteem is Involved

When dealing with something as fundamental as work identity, continual anxiety about job loss can easily engender endless anxiety about the self.  The question of self-esteem can be relentless for someone dealing with these issues.

3. Work-Related Stress Can Bring Serious Illness

In a similar way, serious stress can and does lead to serious illness.  Stress reduction research has clearly established the connection to coronary disease, ulcers and many other  illnesses.  It’s essential for the individual facing such stress to avoid these extremely negative consequences.

4. There are Deep Questions Within Work Stress

Work stress opens up questions that we would rather not face.  The most fundamental of these are around resilience in the face of great fear and stress, and also around maintaining a sense of abiding personal identity, in the face of grave assaults on personal dignity, our sense of ability to control our lives, and our self worth.  It is in these areas that psychotherapy can have the greatest and most lasting effect.  The particular message of Jungian psychotherapy, that the Self is something greater and more lasting than the ego, and is drawing us towards a meaningful wholeness that we cannot fully anticipate, can be something that is essential for us to experience in our turbulent and demanding times.


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© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)

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Individual Psychotherapy for Relationships… Say, What?

October 14th, 2011 · individual, individual psychotherapy, Relationships

individual psychotherapy

Getting individual psychotherapy often can be the best thing for the relationships in your life, and especially for relationships with lovers and spouses.

But isn’t getting individual therapy for yourself and hoping for improvement in key relationships a little bit like, well… “Dancing with Myself”?

Billy Idol humour aside… there’s truth here.  Learning to “dance with yourself”, and learning to dance with others are intimately related.  Jungian psychotherapy stresses that our individual “stuff” can profoundly affect intimate relationships — and vice versa.  Here are 4 important ways that can occur:

1) Identifying Projections

Projection occurs when I unconsciously see people through the lens of my past experience, and when “difficult emotions and unacceptable parts of the personality are located in a person different from the subject” (Samuels).  So, for instance, I may perceive my partner as being controlling when I’m the one being controlling in the relationship — but it would distress me greatly to acknowledge that.  Individual therapy work can help me to take back projections, and to have a more accurate picture of what is going on in the relationship.

2) Others’ Projections onto Me

Also, people close to me may put their projections on me.  They may unwittingly perceive me in ways related to their own history that really have nothing to do with who I actually am.  If I’m not conscious of how this is occurring, it may distort communication and relationship.  Or I may even act in ways that resemble the other person’s projections — what is known as projective identification.

3) Recognizing Shadow – the Unacknowledged Self

Individual therapy often reveals the ways in which the shadow, the unacknowledged aspects of ourselves, affects a relationship.  Shadow may be very active.  For instance, we may feel that striving for power in a love relationship is the last thing we would do — until we recognize ourselves doing it in the mirror held up by individual psychotherapy.

4) The Contrasexual

This is the inner image and form of the opposite sex that we carry within us, referred to by Jungians as either the anima or animus.  That particular entity strongly influences our feelings about the ideal mate, and more especially in the inner story that we tell ourselves about “how guys / women are.”  If we are unconscious of our anima or animus in our relationship, we probably have a tiger by the tail.


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© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)


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Individuality, Therapy for Anxiety, & Jungian Analysis

October 7th, 2011 · Jungian, Jungian analysis

therapy for anxietyTherapy for anxiety and Jungian analysis might seem to be two very different things.  But if a person really wants to get to the roots of anxiety, there are some very real and powerful connections to be made between anxiety and depth psychotherapy.

  • Therapy Isn’t Modular; Everything Interconnects

My recent post on psychotherapy for depression stressed the key differences between a computer and the human psyche, and the need to avoid the trap of thinking that humans are healed the same way we fix machines.  We cannot pull out a broken “module” that creates anxiety in a person and replace it.  Anxious states often have deep roots in personality, upbringing and overall stance towards life.

  • Anxiety Has a Human Meaning

Our anxiousness connects meaningfully to our inner life and to the deep story each of tells ourselves about our lives.  Anxious states are often tied to the real life happenings that a person has experienced.  However, these anxious states are also tied to simply being alive as individual, mortal, vulnerable beings.

  • Anxiety Has an Individual Meaning

A person struggling with anxiety encounters it in a very personal and individual way.  It is his or her anxiety, and it has emerged in a particular unique way within them.  Only when that individual meaning is fully and carefully understood, will the individual be able to move beyond that anxiety.

  • The Grounding Power of Myth

This could be a whole post, or whole series of posts.  An anxious psychology can be deeply connected to whether or not people have a working framework of meaning within which they can see their lives.  As James Hollis says, “entire generations may be anxious if the mythological carpet is pulled out from under their feet.”  Humans inevitably confront the question of whether the world is a secure place, and whether life is a meaningful journey, or merely a chaotic “tale told by an idiot”, in Shakespeare’s words.  For many in our time, , the standard, institutional answers provided by religious institutions, and secular authorities no longer adequately serve this foundation function.   There is need to find a truly grounding world view, or philosophy of life.

Jungian psychotherapy often provides an appropriate means to find a vibrant, vital and individual connection to a uniquely personal myth, in C.G. Jung’s phrase.  For many, this holistic journey can provides a key form of healing for the particular anxiety that they experience.


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© 2011 Brian Collinson
2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, ON (near Mississauga)



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