“I’m Telling!”

psychoanalysis and narrative development

Jungian Psychoanalysis and Narrative Development

With children there can be vicious animosity surrounding telling on each other.  Labeling of the “tattle tale” is deeply rooted in the psyche of many of us…but to our detriment.  An inner resistance to disclose the contents of our souls is common, for the vulnerability and feelings of exposure feel threatening, and not just because of the presence of another.  The material threatens the attitudes we’ve constructed our lives with, especially those that are too narrow and rigid.

A basic tenet of psychoanalysis is the ability to tell on ourselves.  It’s not simply the telling of a laundry list of misdeeds (although that can and often does find its way into process so that we can face the ethical responsibility of ourselves).   The telling in psychoanalysis is a simultaneous mode of discovery and creativity.

A hallmark of psychoanalytic telling is the recounting of dreams.  This leads to an exploration of the soul territory the dream excavates, opening us to distant memories, some we know like the back of our hands, and others that have often never been retrieved since the initial experience.  As the associations build, we also discover how the contents under consideration help us better understand out previous material.  A linking occurs both to our lives and to previous psychoanalytic sessions, creating a rich tapestry of meaning and perspective.

As we weave the narrative of ourselves week in and week out, we slowly descend into lower levels of our own psyche that await our conscious discovery, moving through the personal material and into collective aspects of our being.   As Carl Jung writes in The Red Book, “He who goes to himself, climbs down,” and the path often spirals down through the material in a cycle that can at first feel like it is repeating, but soon revels itself to be the same theme from a different vantage point.

I recall an interviewing analyst warn me as I entered my analytic training, “You don’t know what you’re asking for!”  Indeed, if the path is one of discovery, there is no way to know before you get there.


I spend a good amount of time working with folks (and with myself) addressing mind/body splitting.

Often, I observe panic erupt when the mind starts picking up signals from the body.  Due to the split, these messages appear disembodied, as though they are hovering in space.  It can feel like a haunting.

The reasons splitting occurs vary and it’s forms vary, but the mind/body split has the peculiar historical development within our modern culture of being a widely adopted psychic posture.  It’s now common to interact with many people throughout any given day where this type of splitting is occurring.  It has begun to seem quite normal.

The path across the great mind body divide is an individual journey.  While many systems of embodiment techniques have been developed through the ages, the reunion of a mind with a body always unfolds in a unique way.

Finding Destiny in the Personal Threads of Trauma

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Analysis is a descent into the well of one’s being, exploring the many landmark’s that anchor the personal story and welcoming the archetypal motifs that rise to meet and color one’s perspective.  It’s a process where the depths take precedence.  As the mystery unfolds session after session, different arcs begin to relate in the most uncanny way, so that a power best defined as destiny begins to emerge.

“If this concept of destiny is used as a working hypothesis, a reevaluation of some of our present clinical assumptions is suggested.  Relevant events in a patient’s history which we have habitually considered to be causes of his present psychopathology may now perhaps be viewed as manifestations of an emergent life-pattern.  Traumatic events of childhood which we associate with the genesis of neurosis or psychosis, and therefore regard as quasi-accidental or avoidable under “ideal” circumstances, may perhaps be seen as essential landmarks in the actualization of the pattern of wholeness.” Edward Whitmont, The Destiny Concept in Psychotherapy, Spring 1969, pg. 74.

The constellation of the victim archetype seems to me much more powerful than any reaction to specific incidents of one’s past. The prevailing power which can color one’s perception is instead to be found in how one incorporates or rejects the reality of destiny as it manifests in one’s life.