And the different Schools of Analytical Psychology
This paper is about a very short Jungian therapy (only 2 sessions) to show something about the central point of every analytical treatment, be it Freudian or Jungian. The paper is also about some different approaches in the Jungian tradition: the so-called classical, developmental and archetypal schools of Analytical Psychology.
In its process of individuation every child needs a lot of assistance and concern, and has to overcome a lot of obstacles. I´ll tell you the story of a 6 ½ year old boy. He came to the Child Psychiatric Consultation because of an important problem: for some weeks he was unable to walk. He felt pain in his legs and was paralyzed since the autumn holidays some weeks before. In previous years was a healthy boy without any somatic problems. Now he was unable to go to school, and when the mother tried to bring him there by car she had to carry him home again after an hour. He was brought to the hospital but there no somatic reason for the paralysis could be found.
There was another problem: He saw things nobody else could see. For instance he saw the head of a friend in the family’s flat, but of course nobody else could see it. The mother became very much concerned for her boy’s health, especially because she has a schizophrenic brother.
Before I describe the two sessions I had with the boy and his mother I´ll provide two remarks:
1. The Jungian approach and terminology („Individuation“)
2. The setting I was using.
The Jungian term „Individuation“was originally created to describe the process of inner growth in the second half of human life. It is the process of introversion and inner differentiation after the turning point of the life cycle, meaning in the afternoon of our life. Individuation means becoming who (or what) one is. It is the „opus“ of one’s life, the goal of one’s quest, the essence of what will be the result of one’s existence on earth. The symbols of the individuation process are many, but are similar in all cultures around the world: the circle or any other round and spherical form, the globe, the pearl, the mandala (with a cross in the circle) or the treasure: the hidden treasure which is not easy to find, the alchemical lapis or „Philosopher’s Stone“, the stone of wisdom and eternal life, the Holy Grail and so on. The way to get the treasure is a hard and dangerous one; one has to fight and to defeat enemies and dragons. One has to climb high mountains and to descend deep into the hell of demons and dragons. In old mythological stories the hero, who wants to get his treasure, often even has to become swallowed by the dragon like the Prophet Jonah in the Old Testament. But he must survive and come out again, and often he has to (somehow) kill the dragon to free himself from old bindings and boundaries. The princess he has to redeem is his own soul, his own inner treasure, his anima. It is often a battle of life or death.
Some of these symbols often appear in the psychological development of a child, too. The young child has to struggle a lot and has to win it’s fight as well. Michel Fordham (London) and Erich Neumann (Tel Aviv), both scholars of C. G. Jung, were the first to describe this fight in the childhood. Neumann, in some meaning closer to Jung’s original ideas, spoke about the early dragon fight (the „First Dragon Fight against the Uroboric Symbiosis“), whereas Fordham stressed more the developmental aspect. He called this process the „Early Individuation“. In any case, the child is in a difficult situation: On the one hand it needs shelter and protection and the care of its parents, but on the other side it has to hatch out and free itself step by step – to find its own way. At some crucial point the beloved mother can appear as transformed into an overprotective and devouring monster. The poor child has to fight for his autonomy and development. In situations like this the assistance and help of a third person is useful or even necessary. The Triangulation helps the child to overcome the troubles of separation and re-approaching. The „treasure“ of so many fairy tales and children’s stories is – clearly enough – the child itself – the Child´s Self.
Following Fordham’s theory the development of the child’s Ego emerges in the interaction between “deintegrates” of his Self and the mother (the environment). He says that the original Self of the child has a necessary tendency for deintegration, implying an inborn tendency and openness for experiences. The several deintegrates as parts of the child’s Self still have the qualities of wholeness of the Self. It is a task of the “mother” to assist the child by providing a vessel for its growing by bringing and keeping the fragments together. In the more “classical” Jungian view of E. Neumann this containing function is represented by the Self of the mother from which the child’s psyche step by step shall hatch out.
At the end of the paper the different Jungian views in this regard will be addressed again.
2. Therapeutic Consultation
The young paralyzed boy came to me to the Child Psychiatric Consultation together with his mother. In most cases I prefer to start with an interview among all the family members. I find it useful in the beginning of a diagnostic or therapeutic encounter to experience how much or how deeply the child’s psyche is still part or element of the collective psyche of the family. The child often plays a role in the unconscious dynamics of the family; it is part of the self balancing system of mutual projections and delegations. The unconscious family dynamic consists not only of actual issues and problems but also of hidden memories of good or problematic constellations in former generations. The unsolved problem then is unconsciously passed to the next generation. We are speaking from parentification or delegation. I find it important to state that this is not only a pathological process but also an expression of hope: the unconscious hope that the child as representative of the next generation will do it better, will do the revenge or do the penance, will change its fate, and by doing so will reconcile and redeem the errors and sins of the grandparents and ancestors. Sometimes a child takes over the place of a child which has died earlier, acting as a deputy. The archetypal dimension of the child contains this ability to change its fate, to make the world new, to overcome all the problems and miseries of the life before. It is the Archetype of the Holy Child, which is reborn in every new child.
The psyche of a child is much closer and more open to the collective psyche of its family and society than the adult psyche. Children and adolescents often even suffer from shadow aspects of what Jungians call the cultural complex of the society. Sometimes they are acting out what is hidden in the Taboo of the collective shadow. The Ego – Complex (its Autonomy) step by step has to emancipate itself from the uroboric entanglement of the collective unconscious. This we call the Early Individuation. The younger the children are, the closer they are to the surrounding psyche of the nature; they regard animals as brothers and sisters. They have an inborn capacity for compassion and empathy. They suffer from and take pleasure in the painful and joyful events in the life they are part of. This reflection is important for what happens in the transference and countertransference relationship in the therapeutic work with children.
From a psychoanalytical point of view one can say that for young children the Inner Object and the Outer Object (what we call „real“) are not as well differentiated and separated as with older children or adults. Following Neumann: The early common world of mother and child has to become separated in the psychic development – and the early dragon fight is one aspect of the task the child has to undertake. Fordham’s “deintegrates” as parts of the Self of the child enable the child to gain perceptions as “inner objects”. The „Inner Object“ will be important for the whole life as a kind of psychological instrument or structure for the perception and integration of experiences.
Sometimes this structure will be symbolized in very archetypal images. The British Child Psychiatrist D. Winnicott (a Freudian – Kleinian who was also familiar with Jungian ideas) tells a funny story about the Inner Object. Children came to him for, what he called a „Therapeutic Consultation“. After some minutes of drawing together (you may know of his „Squiggle“ play) and looking for a common root to understand each other and the unconscious problem behind a symptom, the children said to him: „You are just the same I dreamt from last night. I dreamed of you, Doctor, last night.“ Winnicott says that then he is an Inner Object for the child, not an Object of outside reality. His conclusion is that in this position the Doctor (the therapist) has to be very careful with his words and interventions. When one is part of the unconscious psyche of a patient he has no right to act somehow inside of the clients psyche. His duty then is to listen, to be open for what the unconscious has to say and to share. He must be open to the messages of the collective unconscious which are constellated between the child and himself. Then – maybe – a healing symbol can emerge.
As a Jungian I would say, that in those moments an Archetype is constellated, the Archetype of the Healer. The Archetype is constellated, and I (as the Doctor) am only a part of it. Every Archetype manifests itself in a situation and relation, in transference and countertransference. I am not the healer, but I am the representative or „midwife“ of the healing Archetype in the relationship with the client. The word „Therapeutes“ originally meant „Servant of the God“.
The setting I chose for the encounter with the paralyzed young boy was that of Winnicott's „Therapeutic Consultation“. The aim was to benefit as much as possible from the first date. It is not so necessary to do a profound anamnesis before, because for the therapeutic encounter only those facts which come to the surface during the therapeutic talk itself are useful. If the „facts“ are not embedded in the real encounter, in the emotional field which emerges during the talk, they are useless for the child’s profit. What should be helpful must happen in the Transitional Field. This emerges between the therapist and the patient and follows the same pattern as the original transitional field between mother and child. In the case I´ll tell you now we were three. It was a triangulated situation: At the table there were the child, me and the mother.
3. The First Session
At the table there were the 6 ½ year old boy, his mother and I. I only knew that the paralysis of his legs started some weeks ago, that he saw some things which others can´t see, that he soon was going to school (he was very young for that), and that the mother was French. They spoke French with each other.
The slim boy started to draw something. He started with a tree and wrote his name „Tim“ inside the tree. The drawing showed a Treasure Map. Starting from the tree there were labyrinthine interwoven ways. On some spots there were, as Tim said, „bad ones“ and „bad giants“ watching the „treasures“. The bad ones punished the „good ones“ who wanted to get the treasures.
Besides the tree there is a turtle and a bird. In one corner there is a volcano emitting smoke and lava. It kills the good ones which have caught in a trap. Another bad giant is hidden behind bushes. It is a dangerous world, and there is no way out.
The boy continued to draw the map on a second page designing a line as a bridge from one page to the other. The hopeless labyrinth continued.
I was silently following the emerging of this threatening fantasy. I was concerned not only because of the scenery but also because of Tim´s drawing style. It was not easy to understand his cryptic depictions, as in drawings of some psychiatric patients with a loss of the reproducting ability. I became concerned, too, because of Tim´s obsessive imaging of bad and destructive elements as in some psychotic fantasies (the paranoid level, following M. Klein).
As Tim was giving some comments to his horrifying panorama I began to ask: “Is there no help?”
Tim answered „No“.
“Maybe the turtle or the bird?”
„No, there is no help“.
At the end Tim designed what he called, „A sun under the sea“. I was reminded of drawings of children with cancer.
In this moment my impression was “It is about a seriously ill child.” I didn´t say this. I first tried (as I´ve learned from Winnicott´s technique) to bridge the emerging symbol with the child´s own experience. I said “Sometimes one can have dreams about such sad and threatening things.”
Tim agreed, and his mother said that Tim often had bad dreams. Once, his father had written down one of Tim´s bad dreams.
Tim seemed to be very exhausted, and it was my turn now to do something. I said loudly, but to myself: „It is about a seriously ill child.”
Subsequently, the mother began to tell me a story while Tim was looking demonstratively aside. It was about a boy in Tim´s former kindergarten (where Tim used to go before he came to school). This boy now was suffering from cancer, and would die soon. In the recent autumn holidays they (together with Tim) had visited this boy. The boy can´t walk any longer and must stay in bed.
Listening this I immediately understood Tim´s problem. Tim was looking at me, and I was looking into his face. I asked him “What is the name of this boy?” Tim answered and said the name of his dying friend.
The time was over. My impression now was that Tim made his problem as clear as possible – but the solution was still to be found. The mother seemed to be affected and moved. We arranged a new date.
4. The Second Session
About a week later they come, on time. The atmosphere is somehow relaxed, but serious. The setting is the same as for the first session.
The boy starts again with drawing. He starts to continue his treasure map on a third and then even a fourth page, always linking the parts with bridging lines. He again uses only the black pencil. Again there are labyrinthine dangers, treasures, traps and bad giants, but the evil and dangerous stuff seems to have a slight touch of playfulness. The drawing is much less obsessively made as compared to the first session. I suppose that the slight relaxation will somehow be connected with a change in the symptomatic, but I don´t ask directly. I myself feel relaxed.
When Tim begins to draw horrifying and dangerous labyrinths on the fourth page too, I want to change something. My intervention is “If somebody could gain a treasure, in spite of all the dangers, then he needs a place to bring the treasure and to hide it.”
It is now as if Tim had waited for my intervention. Immediately he starts to draw a house with a chimney and a door. Inside of this house he draws some (seven) little treasures and seven little dwarves. The labyrinthine line leads to the house and goes further up through the chimney, to another bad giant. I feel some disappointment because of this never-ending story of dangers, bad giants, and traps and so on.
But then Tim starts to draw another trap, a pit, but with a stairway so that the good ones which fell into the trap can climb out again. I think “There is a solution now, I want to know more.”
I ask what happened with Tim’s paralysis.
His mother says Tim has had no more problems with his legs, for one week. Two days after our first session he said to her: „Mama, I have forgotten my legs.”
I enjoy this very much. I only ask myself why his mother didn´t tell me this earlier.
I want to go back now into the symbolic level of our conversation – to find a way to close up the magic encounter between the boy and myself, and maybe to understand better what really happened. It is obvious that we met each other on a level which had been unconscious for me, too. We must have met in our common and shared unconscious.
I ask Tim whether the dwarves in the house are the dwarves of Snow White (Schneewittchen). He answers “No, these are bad ones.” He starts to paint the entire house black so that the internal details are no longer visible. I feel reminded of a coffin, a black coffin, or a black box as a prison for bad ones – or of an oven in which they are burnt to ashes, as in an alchemical oven, a crematory (or a concentration camp?). The smoke from the chimney, first painted with yellow and other colours, is getting dark and black. I make some comment on the colours which are hidden in the black, but can be shown again by a prism.
Now Tim draws a thick arrow downwards back to the labyrinth and starts to paint one loop with colours. He says “I want to use the bright colours now.” With the colours a new dimension appears, it feels like a redemption or metamorphosis. It touches me very deeply, like some religious experience.
I ask Tim whether this is a rainbow – but Tim answers: NO.
I ask again: Is it a bed of flowers? The answer is: NO.
Then I ask “Perhaps this is a colourful painted elephant, seen from the top?” Tim laughs.
(I asked these questions to do something with the numinous feeling, and to lift our symbolic conversation to another level, closer to consciousness.)
Tim laughs and explains:
„No, this is not a painted elephant seen from above. It is a swamp (- I think: O no, again something terrible) in which one goes down and sinks and can´t take a breath (and dies?) but down under the swamp there is a magician who can magically create for you everything that exists.“
By this turn I really feel quite moved because it seems that the boy here has overcome the death. Death means: the dying of his friend from kindergarten, and his own separation conflict from his mother by going to school. The surprising colours of the rainbow are impressive, like a metamorphosis into a new life. The rainbow is a very archetypal symbol for a new life, for redemption and reliability. You all know the rainbow symbol from the bible. The magician under the swamp is like a personification of the archetypal healer or of God himself.
But I think that some information is still missing.
Tim wants to be in the room while I´m talking with his mother. She tells me that she had a first child, one year before her first of two girls, and (later) Tim. This first child (a girl) died 10 days after its birth from a heart dysplasia. This was a shock for the mother, but shortly thereafter she became pregnant again. This explains the deep separation problem of the mother. She lost a first child and had not time enough for mourning over that loss because of the new pregnancy.
I recommend that she talk about her loss and the fear of loss in a therapeutic setting. She tells me, that her elder daughter, at 8 years of age, had a depressive crisis and went to therapeutic sessions with Francoise Dolto in Paris. This was also a good experience for the mother but she had only a few sessions for her own. We arrange a new date to talk about the idea of an analysis.
Now we come to the end. Tim is happy; his mother will do a therapy on her own.
5. The Encounter in the Unconscious
These two hours are an example of what Winnicott calls a Therapeutic Consultation. The aim is to benefit as much as possible from the first encounter. Winnicott says that a second session in most cases is necessary to close up the magic transference again. The second session is often more superficial than the first one, but nevertheless important for the reconstruction of the therapist as an „outer object“, a real person in the outside reality. It is necessary that the archetypal projection onto the therapist can be withdrawn and taken back by the patient. That was one reason for my joke with the painted elephant. A sense of humour sometimes is quite helpful to leave a magic circle.
To recapitulate what happened in these two sessions: The boy began by drawing his tree and then his treasure map full of bad enemies, traps and dangers. At the end of the first part he designed the „sun under the sea“. I felt reminded of drawings by children suffering from cancer. Therefore I said aloud „It is about a seriously ill child“.
When I some time later was looking through the collections of drawings by children with cancer I made a strange discovery. Paintings of a sun under the sea don’t exist in this context! I had simply made an error. In the collection of paintings made by children with cancer there is no picture of a sun under the sea.
This means that my unconscious built a bridge to the unconscious of the child. We met in a sphere in which neither the child nor the therapist really knew what they said. I found the right words by mistake, by following a false memory. It happened something like what C. G. Jung and some anthropologists call the „Participation Mystique“. In the field of transference and countertransference sometimes things happen which are to be explained only by analogies to transpersonal experiences.
There is an alchemistic drawing with a partly similar symbol. It is from alchemical illustrations of the 16th century showing the crucial point of the Alchemical Opus. The Green Lion is devouring the sun, and the moon is submerging under the ocean. This strange image shows that for the goal of the Alchemical Opus, the winning of the Philosopher’s Stone, the false gold (sulfur) and the false silver (quicksilver: mercury) must be sacrificed and dissolved. It is an analogy to the hero myth – at the end the hero will be reborn as the true man with eternal life.
One important motive in the treasure map of Tim is the devouring evil and the necessary fight against the bad ones. In my first remarks I spoke about the requisite first dragon fight of the child. The child has to emancipate itself from the identity with mother’s psyche.
Tim´s mother had herself a big problem with separation. She had a mentally ill brother, and she lost her first child. When she was confronted with the cancer of Tom´s friend in kindergarten she must have been shocked. It was a repetition of the worst events in her life. Therefore she was not able to help Tim at that moment. In the time when Tim was born he became a follower and replacement for his dead sister.
As a result, Tim became identified with his ill friend. By the paralysis of the legs his body acted in the shadow of his mother’s unconscious.
The separation problem was constellated, too, by Tim´s going to school. The beginning of school is often a big step of separation, not only for the children but also for the parents. Usually school starts at the age of 6 or 7. Maybe the 7 burnt treasures and bad dwarves in the house do symbolize something with the end of early childhood. This period must be finished now if Tim wants to become a real schoolboy and go his own way. In this perspective, the dangers of his treasure map may appear as the obstacles and dangers the young hero has to fight and overcome.
To finish: Maybe some of you wonder where the father is in this story. In fact there was another Taboo behind the problems of separation between Tim and his mother. The father was going to leave the family – another separation conflict to be experienced as a “complex episode”. It was a Taboo in the family and nobody spoke about it. The mother started her own analysis shortly after the therapeutic consultation with me.
The rainbow in Tim´s treasure map, the symbol of metamorphosis and reconciliation, became a hopeful sign at the beginning of a new period in the life of this family.
6. Classical, developmental, archetypal?
Where do the treasures come from? One idea was that they may represent the (7) years of Tim’s early childhood. Another view would regard the many little treasures as deintegrates of the child’s own Self, as Fordham would say. It is a necessary task for every child to go out in the world. The child will find what he is looking for – at the end he will find his own soul: “Search and you will find.” In the Christian tradition we say: “You will get what you believe in.” The many “treasures” of Tim’s map so can be seen as fragments or deintegrates of his own wholeness and completeness – his Self – which the child has to offer to go into the world and to gain consciousness. This would be the developmental approach of Fordham and his school.
In the Jewish Cabbala tradition there is the idea of “collecting the sparks” of the first creation. We have to collect the sparks of the divine light in our world. This is the meaning of our existence. The developmental school of Analytical psychology would call these sparks deintegrates of the Self.
For C. G. Jung the goal of our existence was consciousness. He often used the image of the “sparks of the divine light” or the “gleaming eyes of the fish” out of the dark water of the unconscious. In his “Late Thoughts” in “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” he called the Archetypes “apriori structures of the instinctive fundament of consciousness.” They represent the collective part which then will be expressed and shaped by the individual’s experiences, perceptions and relationships. The example of “the doctor as an Inner Object” can show that there is an inner energy and the longing for an image in the outer reality (“You are the doctor from my dream”). It is an “archetypal image” – in the shape of a real man.
The term “apriori” comes from the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (1724 – 1804). Jung was a “Kantian” when assuming that in our psyche there are inborn (apriori) patterns of perception – the archetypes. The opposite view in Kant’s time was presented by the English empirist David Hume (1711 – 1776). The original question was how we know that the sun will rise the next morning. Do we know this by experience (which can deceive us, or change – Hume) or because we “know” it (via an inborn archetypal / apriori pattern – Kant). Fordham was more following the English tradition of Empirism, whereas Jung was deeply influenced by the Kantian Enlightenment, German Idealistic Philosophy and Romantic Psychology (C. G. Carus). It is interesting that the image of the sun was addressed in the early discussions between the schools about “archetypal thinking”.
The symbol of the sun in this context may show how closely our concepts of psychic growth are linked with what we experience. The baby is born from the dark to the light – and this early experience may be the pattern of our individuation, too. The archetypal school of Analytical Psychology is close to that level of experience. James Hillman (a famous protagonist of archetypal thinking) would even call the “inner doctor” of the dream a real man.
The treasure map of Tim may show that it is about the quest of one’s own soul – you will find what you are looking for. The rest will remain in the shadow. The treasure map also may show that the different concepts of classical Jungian, developmental or archetypal approaches are complementary attempts to describe what happens when two people meet each other.
Jörg Rasche, MD, Berlin, Psychotherapeutic Medicin, Psychoanalysis – Psychotherapy DGAP / IAAP / DGPT. Child Psychiatrist, Teacher at the C. G. Jung Institut Berlin, Sandplay Therapist DGST / ISST. Currently vice president of IAAP