Through a Jungian Lens

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Memories, Trauma and Healing – Part One

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The wind carves the snow in the pre-dawn darkness.

The wind carves the snow in the pre-dawn darkness.

It has been snowing and the temperature has been dropping. I captured this photo from the doorway looking into my backyard. I was captured by the designs, the contrast of darkness and light and thought that it would make for a good image to bring here if it had turned out – which it did – to my satisfaction. I know that I have posted perhaps too many of such photos here, and taken hundreds more, perhaps of even the same location and time of day over the years. There is something about darkness in contrast with light that stirs something deep within me. It’s something that I now recognise as being cyclical like the seasons of the year and the flow of day into night into day.

I learn from this. I learn that even at noon, when night is banished from the heavens, the darkness is still there, waiting for its turn. There is a parallel with inner darkness and the light of consciousness. Awake, each of us is conscious of the world in which we find ourselves and claim that world as a world of fact, of truth, a place where we carve our own identity living in the moment, being present.

Yet, we all fall asleep and that waking world reality is supplanted by figures and realities that emerge out of the darkness of the unconscious. Things we have banished into the darkness of forgetting and denying still hold a place and a power that refuses to be banished and denied. This is where we park our traumatic episodes and our memories of them.

Last night I was listening to Michael Conforti via a teleseminar called Memories, Trauma and HealingIn the introduction to the series of four presentations, Dr. Conforti notes:

Traumatic memory carries a power all its own.  It has the force to sweep us across the threshold of tangible reality into a field where the trauma lives on and continues to toss us on a turbulent sea of volatile emotional, physical and psychological upheaval.  We know so little about the workings and deeper meaning of memory, trauma and healing, three forces which perhaps shape individual and collective life more than any others. “

As many of you have survived trauma, and there is no need to rank the trauma to determine who has suffered the most; and because I have also survived trauma, it is important to realise that the traumatic impact on the psyche has determined much of our journey to the present. Many mistakenly believe that with enough therapy or drugs or life-style changes, that the dark container within ourselves which holds the memories will somehow be wiped out leaving us free to move through the rest of our lives without having those memories reappear and once again shape our lives. Fortunately or unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

As we become aware of the presence of this darkness that was born out of trauma, we learn how to cautiously navigate our lives knowing that it is there, hovering ready to disrupt whether it be via an unconscious response in the outer world, or through a dream, or through a descent into a dark mood. We learn that we are on shaky ground, not on firm foundations, as we go through life. And somehow, we learn to live in spite of the trauma and the darkness that was born with that trauma.

Needless to say, I am looking forward to next Monday’s teleseminar presentation.


Written by Robert G. Longpré

November 19, 2013 at 9:28 am

2 Responses

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  1. Thank you Robert. You make my brain ache! I was struck by your post and your pointing to the Assisi Institute’s web site that the world is morphing at speeds and in directions that makes one’s head spin – if one chooses to contemplate it – and puts the conflict between the light and the dark on a global scale on the platform of the Internet.

    Sites like yours and the Assisi Institute, and many others, offer wisdom and hope for a more aware global civilization – the light – however, of course, there are many dark and dangerous corners on the Internet that threaten to drag civilization down.

    The Internet of things, as it is called now, where nothing is immune from being Internet connected via some wireless technology such as the start your car parked in the airport parking lot remotely from your smart phone as a recent advertisement shows, is a technological wonderland. However, it is also a global platform for human conversations where an organization like Assisi Institute can operate out of a small town in Vermont and have a global reach, as can your blog sites.

    I don’t know if academia recognizes a “philosopher of the Internet” discipline or if Jungian thought has expanded to contemplate the “Internet” as “us” writ big and how the two way interactions between billions of individuals and the third party “living” entity called the Internet is now a macro-scaled overlay of human civilization and is of enormous influence on us as a civilization.

    I sometimes think that “we” collectively are so mesmerized by the whiz-bang technology of a million apps that the big picture, the global picture, of this thing called the Internet is being missed.

    With all of us who are in one way or another dealing with the darkness born out of some trauma now increasingly dealing with it via the Internet a new and largely unknown, underestimated tool box is becoming the major influence, for better or worse is also unknown.


    Bill Rathborne

    November 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm

  2. one of my ’causes’ in psychiatry to getting people to deal with trauma so the trauma no long dominates them, like a complex overwhelming the ego. Too often trauma is in league with the Shadow side of The Child in cahoots with The Victim; this makes trauma a tyrant. Trauma work for me is working through it so the Ego will no longer be empowered by it.


    November 19, 2013 at 10:54 pm

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