Interview : Doctor Victoria Moreno, Jungian Analyst,MFT
Definition of Jung’s Theory of Individuation
Jung considered individuation, a psychological process of integrating the opposites including the conscious with the unconscious while still maintaining their relative autonomy, necessary for a person to become whole.
Individuation is a process of transformation whereby the personal and collective unconscious is brought into consciousness (by means of dreams, active imagination or free association to take some examples) to be assimilated into the whole personality. It is a completely natural process necessary for the integration of the psyche to take place.
Besides achieving physical and mental health people who have advanced towards individuation tend to be harmonious, mature and responsible. They embody humane values such as freedom and justice and have a good understanding about the workings of human nature and the universe.
– From Wikipedia
Q: Dr Moreno, you are a Jungian Therapist. What are the unique therapeutic elements of the Jungian approach of trauma therapy?
A: Dr. Carl Jung appreciated the value of having a patient develop a relationship between one’s Waking State (Ego, Conscious) relationship with the unconscious self, which comes out through dreams, connections we make with a past event and a current fear or what we feel when we say “A Button is Being Pushed” by someone or something. We project irritation or fears into the outer world because we have held it inside, splintered it off into the subconscious.
Q: Can you give me an example of a past issue that has been “split off” and unresolved playing out in a current set of events?
A: As an example, if you had issues with your father, seeing him as unapproachable or threatening, then an attachment was possibly not formed. When you are in a romantic relationship, you may project the relationship that you had with your father onto that person, therefore reacting to them in mays that are not warranted by current events. Recognizing that there is a subconscious issue by bringing it into the present can heal that early trauma and free you to form your own relationships.
Q: Can you discuss the “Splitting off” of traumatic events throughout our lives:
A: If there was unbearable suffering or fear we may need to “split them off” from our daily thoughts and the unconscious becomes the repository for all of these experiences. When the person (Ego/waking) person is strong enough to create a bridge to the unconscious and integrate that event , then it isn’t “lurking in the basement”, unknowingly controlling our present reactions.
Q: Do we ever integrate all parts of our trauma’s with ourselves and, if so, are we “Cured”?
A: There is never perfection. It does, however, make many finally feel “whole” to not feel embarrassed about any part of ourselves.
Q: If you are working with a patient who you suspect has trauma (s) that are causing present issues, how do you work with them? There is a controversy that you never have to have a patient remember, and therefore relive the trauma. That it can be detrimental to do so.
A: I always am very aware of how fragile a patient is and I build a relationship of trust. We may go to some scary places together as things unfold and the Ego has to be strong enough and ready to do that. Usually, a patient will circle around the issue time and time again until he or she is ready to go there with the therapist so that the event doesn’t hold as much power. For example, if a patient is afraid of elevators, ideally, the therapist and patient would explore the reasons, and the therapist would help to “desensitize” the patient by repeated exposure of going up and down together in order for the patient to get strength from the experience.
Q: Can you give me an example of working with a patient who had continuing childhood abuse to get to a positive self image and belief system?
A: Yes, you gave me an example of a man in his 40’s who had been repeatedly abused by his father. He told you that although he was beaten and saw his mother beaten that he did have someone in his young life (In his case, a teacher), who told him that he was very intelligent and could develop into so many things. She had him read books of philosophers, men and women who overcame obstacles and moved forward to help others. She told him about artists, philosophers and scientists who had been called crazy, but they believed in what they were doing and their findings changed our world. We would work (If he were ready and committed and strong enough) on finding the positive voices that he heard from anyone who are still in his memory when he thinks of them. We would locate the abusive and negative talk in his psyche. We may even enter into dialogue with them and change their attitude, challenge them.
A: In therapy, I’ve learned that the best way to “face the old demons” (and make them less powerful in present life) is to put the scary thoughts on paper, journal, paint, sculpt. It is important to make them concrete, not free floating out there.
Debra to Victoria: Thank you Doctor Moreno. I look forward to following up with you on the topic of Addiction.
Coming: Interview with Dawn Theodore on Early Trauma and Eating Disorders, Clinical Director at Eating Disorder Institute California.