Immigration, Art, and Healing through Trauma

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Oct 13, 2017 2:37:02 PM

Inner Work, Immigration, and the Healing Process of Psychotherapy: An Interview with Alexandra Rusu, MFT Consortium Stipend Recipient. A Guest Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Even at an early age, Alexandra Rusu found herself fascinated by the way people’s bodies seemed to be affected by their emotions. When she was just five years old, she sat in on grownups' conversations so she could listen to their stories, a sure sign her daimon (the inspiring force within that connects us to our calling ) was at work even then. As an immigrant whose family fled the tyranny of Romania’s Communist dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu when she was very young, Alexandra has been profoundly interested in healing and in the archetypal concept of “home.” She also produces stunning paintings which grew out of her own work with a therapist.

Since finding the M.A. Counseling Psychology Program with its emphasis in depth psychology at Pacifica a few years ago, she herself has felt at home in a field that emphasizes soul and the perspective of the soul. "The art of counseling as being a bit like being a midwife of the soul," Rusu offers.

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Posted in: Counseling Psychology, Therapist, Trauma, immigration

We Must Respond

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Oct 4, 2017 10:33:47 PM

A guest post by Chancellor and Founding President of Pacifica Graduate Institute, Stephen Aizenstat, Ph.D.

Today we grieve. Our hearts open and we send support and love to those family members and friends who lost loved ones in the shooting in Las Vegas, and, too, to those in places of natural as well as human made strife. Yes. It is a time of mourning.

The turmoil in the world’s soul is visceral. We are experiencing the collective trauma 24/7. No longer can we encounter our angst like a bad dream frightening us in the night, only to disappear in the morning when our eyes open to the avalanche of texts, Instagram posts, tweets, and emails alive on our phone, seducing our attention even before we get out of bed. No. The nightmare is real, here to stay, a living actuality . . . and demanding our response. Yes. We find ourselves in a time of great peril, as the world, as we know it, faces the imminent threats of ecological devastation, the sixth extinction, and technological takeover, which Elon Musk names as “the most serious threat to the survival of the human race.”

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Posted in: The Psyche, Current Affairs, Trauma, collective trauma

The Core Complex of a Traumatized Psyche

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jul 7, 2017 4:50:43 PM

Opening Keynote presentation by Donald Kalsched, Ph.D., Response at the Radical Edge: Depth Psychology for the 21st Century
Summary article by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

“The false God changes suffering into violence. The true God changes violence into suffering,” begins Jungian analyst Donald Kalsched, quoting Simone Weil, French philosopher, mystic, and political activist [1], at the “Response at the Radical Edge” conference at Pacifica Graduate Institute. That day, Kalsched was up in the dark hours before dawn reworking his talk, which he gave a new title, “Healthy and Unhealthy: Hatred in the Psyche and In the Country.” He noted that the “false god” is abroad in the country at the moment, and while many in the field of Depth Psychology are working hard on behalf of “the true God” who turns violence into suffering, they are finding it difficult in a culture that supports the “false God” in this scenario.

Paul Russell [2], a respected analyst who taught in Boston, defined “trauma” as an injury to our capacity to feel. When our capacity to feel is injured, we cease to be able to imagine, because imagination depends on emotional literacy. In the process, archetypal aspects attempt to do the feeling for us, notes Kalsched, who has deemed this process the “self-care” system, which, in its attempt to sequester and protect can also end up persecuting us and keeping us from experience in order to preserve our innocence. However, we need to experience: the world actually needs suffering, Kalsched insists, citing poet John Keats along with archetypal psychologist James Hillman who loved to quote him, saying, “The world is a veil of soulmaking.”

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Posted in: The Psyche, Trauma, Pacifica Events

The Beating Heart of Standing Rock: Walking The Great Mystery With All My Relations

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jul 7, 2017 1:42:50 PM

A guest post by Joseph Bobrow, Roshi, Ph.D.

From April 2016 to February 2017, tens of thousands of people journeyed to Oceti Sakowin, Seven Fires Camp, in Cannonball, North Dakota in support of the water protectors on the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in a momentous gathering of tribes, their allies, and people from all walks of life and all ages, standing in solidarity to put a halt to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and protect the water of 17 million living downstream. They won a major victory when the Army Corps of Engineers denied a key permit to the builders (Energy Transfer Partners) and insisted on a thorough Environmental Impact Study. Soon after Donald Trump took office in January, 2017, he ordered that construction resume without the study [1]. The pipeline sprung leaks even while being tested. Now, it is in full operation.

The impacts from the remarkable community of solidarity and action at Standing Rock did not end when camp was closed, the teepees and communal structures razed, and the holdouts arrested. Other protest camps are springing up around the country, including Camp White Pine in Pennsylvania, where residents are working to stop the Mariner East 2 pipeline, and in Louisiana where a multifaith alliance is organizing a camp to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline. The ripples from Standing Rock was also felt on July 4, 2017, when tribes gather in Black Hills, SD for “Reclamation of Independence.”

To convey and keep alive the power and joy of Standing Rock, I want to share my experience as part of an action by 524 clergy on November 3, 2016. At Standing Rock multifaith spiritually-informed direct action was the interplay, in a remarkable contemporary context, of the principles of Native spirituality: The Great Mystery (Wakan Tanka, also Great Spirit) and All My Relations (Mitakuye Oyasin).

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Posted in: Trauma, Pacifica Events, Social Justice, community psychology

Disconnected from the suffering of others

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jul 5, 2017 10:08:08 PM

Keynote presentation by The Truth Telling Project co-founder David Ragland, Ph.D. at Response at the Radical Edge: Depth Psychology for the 21st Century
Summary article by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

When political philosopher Hannah Arendt reported on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the pivotal organizers of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, for the New Yorker in 1963, she described a disturbing fact. In his defense, Eichmann, who was certified as “normal” by a half a dozen psychiatrists, only insisted that he was doing his job; that it had been his duty to obey his superiors in his daily work by hastening millions of Jews to their deaths on trains bound for concentration camps [1].

Eichmann’s refusal to take responsibility for his actions is illustrative of what Arendt referred to as the “banality of evil.” Her notion of banality suggests that evil exists in everyday life, and by not taking a stance against it, by not making the effort to eradicate it, we become complicit [2].

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Posted in: Trauma, Pacifica Events

Touching the Soul of the World: A Mythological and Soulful View of Chaotic Times

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Jun 26, 2017 9:59:12 PM

Opening Keynote presentation by Michael Meade, Response at the Radical Edge: Depth Psychology for the 21st Century
Summary article by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

In a 4000 year old poem, a weary man argues with his ba soul (the unique spirit of a person) because the man feels deeply troubled by the increase of injustice, greed and unrest in the culture, which makes him want to end his life, begins mythologist Michael Meade, in a compelling keynote address at the recent "Response at the Radical Edge: Depth Psychology for the 21st Century" conference at Pacifica Graduate Institute.

When there is wounding in our culture, there is wounding to the soul of the world. Many may be feeling “world weary” at this moment in our modern world, and in fact, we are seeing an increase in suicide in all ages right now. But this mood of despair has happened before, Meade points out. This poem is an ancient story. A distortion in the culture, whenever it occurs, weighs on everyone in the culture—but people have survived this before.

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Posted in: Current Affairs, Trauma, Pacifica Events, soul, mythological

Trauma and the Soul: Psychoanalytic Approaches to the Inner World

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on May 23, 2017 4:27:05 PM

Trauma and the Soul: Psychoanalytic Approaches to the Inner World An Interview with Jungian Analyst Donald Kalsched
A Guest Blog Post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Trauma is an injury to the capacity to feel, says Jungian analyst Donald Kalsched, who has specialized in the field of trauma for decades. He describes trauma as something that occurs when we are given more to experience than we can consciously bear, especially if we lack resources to help metabolize the feelings that emerge. For example, a child in an emotionally illiterate family who has no place to turn for support may be traumatized by certain events.

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Posted in: Trauma, Pacifica Events, clinical psychology, soul, dreams

Waking Up From Trauma

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Mar 3, 2017 2:59:12 PM

A guest post by Joseph Bobrow, Roshi, Ph.D.

“To sit at a table... and bear the full force of our anguish.” —Lucia McBath, Mothers of the Movement group consisting of women who lost children to gun and police violence.

When trauma ripples through the zeitgeist, as it has since the November 8 elections, relationship and community become vessels for repair, revival, and transformation. Our inner lives and our sociocultural lives are intimately intertwined. Our own well-being arises in concert with the well-being of others and of our earth. My peace, understanding, and freedom do not exist in a vacuum; they express themselves in action that promotes justice for the many.

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Posted in: Trauma, Pacifica Events, Social Justice, community psychology

Mythological Legends as Portals to Personal Shadow, Group Trauma, and Cultural Complexes

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Nov 11, 2016 4:17:45 PM

A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

Three of four Americans profess at least one paranormal belief, studies show, including a belief in ghosts, witches, or other magical entities.¹ There is a particular genre of folklore narratives called mythological legends, I recently learned, which are stories relayed as real experiences by real people, and which always involve paranormal elements such as highly unusual animals or ghosts. These specific kinds of folklore narratives are not historical, notes Evija Vestergaard, Ph.D., who researches mythological legends and links them to contemporary culture; rather they are about everyday people and their everyday experiences, which just happen to involve these fantastic creatures or components.

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Posted in: Trauma, Mythology, dreams

How Memory Tending Can Transform You: An Interview with Dr. Daphne Dodson

Posted by Nikole Hollenitsch on Sep 19, 2016 12:35:29 PM

A guest post by Bonnie Bright, Ph.D.

You may have donated that Times of Your Life Paul Anka 8-track to charity when it didn’t sell at the last neighborhood rummage sale, but the words to “Good Morning Yesterday” live on. Sometimes it is hard to find the “memories you left behind” as Anka sang in 1976. Sometimes, as Freud argued, those memories sink below the level of our consciousness, but continue to work on us in various ways even decades later. Sigmund Freud even formulated a term “return of the repressed” to explain where neurotic symptoms originate, writing that

illness is characterized by the return of the repressed memories -- that is, therefore, by the failure of the defence.... The re-activated memories, however, and the self-reproaches formed from them never re-emerge into consciousness unchanged: what become conscious as obsessional ideas and affects¹

Jung, too, expressed the opinion that our memories can torment us to a dangerous extent when he wrote,

It may be that the majority of hysterical persons are ill because they possess a mass of memories, highly charged with affect and therefore deeply rooted in the unconscious, which cannot be controlled and which tyrannize the conscious mind and will of the patient.²

You don’t have to be a depth psychologist to notice when, at times, memories of your own rise up unexpectedly out of nowhere, often instigating powerful emotions. It happens for me with a handful of certain memories show up, surprising me with their content and their intensity, making me wonder why a certain memory would arise for me when millions of others are lost.

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Posted in: Trauma, Alumni, transformative, symbol, images