Typology: Archetypal Insight and Interpersonal Understanding

Typology: Archetypal Insight and Interpersonal Understanding

Typology concept _ artist's representation of a window into the mind

Opening the Darkened Caverns

In Integrity In Depth, Jungian Analyst and Typology Specialist John Beebe suggests that therapy engages typological functions of both the therapist and the patient. When we use typology and work with the 8 functions to understand ourselves and our patients, we open the darkened caverns of inferior and unconscious functions. These serve to strengthen ones understanding and insight into the process of individuation and psychological awareness. I add that engaging typological considerations offers opportunity to pause and see through interpersonal exchanges whereby we may better see bias values and perception to an ultimately superior degree of insight. Typology opens the doors to self and other inviting us to see our bias and constellating archetypal patterns.

 

The 8-Function Model

Let’s take a look at the 8-function model introduced by John Beebe for further insight.  What we are dealing with here is the auxiliary functions. That is, Fi (introverted feeling), Fe (extraverted feeling), Ti (introverted thinking), Te (extraverted thinking), Ni (introverted intuition), Ne (extraverted intuition), Si (introverted sensing), and Se (extraverted sensing). According to Beebe, the auxiliary function refers to the second position. This function is associated with the archetype of the good parent. What this means is that mothering and fathering, of self and others reflects what function one has in this position. Without a doubt, therapy engages parenting functions because of the supportive and change provoking nature of the work.

 

A Way of Perceiving

Typology is a way of understanding and engaging with different temperaments and functions. However, as Jung made clear, it is not an exact science. Nor is it a method for describing a human being in totality. Typology is a way in, a way of perceiving. In conjunction with John Beebe’s 8-function model, typology provides also a conscious way of navigating the lesser functions of ones own type and the types our patients present with. Not only is typology a way of understanding, it is also a way of navigating.

 

Engaging With the World

Utilizing a typological framework offers tremendous room for growth in archetypal insight and interpersonal understanding. If, with Jung we look through the functions and attend to the unique values of the differences in type there is great potential to evolve in our therapeutic relationships. If you’ve not yet done so, I would suggest taking one of the various free personality-type tests. They are readily available on the web. (Here is one of many.) Then read up on common traits of your particular type. Is it accurate? What are some of the strengths and weaknesses of your type? How can you use this information to better engage with the world?

Nurturing the Unique Genius of the Soul

Nurturing the Unique Genius of the Soul

Concept of unique genius with a row of light bulbs, one set off and alight

… All I did was give him a look of confident expectation. An infant learning to walk, you know he can learn to walk, but the infant doesn’t know. You give the infant the confident support of your expectation. – Milton Erickson

Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words.  Trust movement. – Alfred Adler

 

Sharing Without Masks

From where are we speaking, sharing, contributing to groups, community, and individual therapy? As James Hillman suggests, we strive to make conscious who is here now rather than what is here now. In every share and every withholding, every judgment, and every insecurity some aspect of the self is moving. After exploring some of the qualities of the authentic voice – both the reasons we refrain or hide it away and the phenomena of healing that accompanies sharing without masks – I reflected on the delicate art that is deeply curious and reflective listening. Are we primarily space holders? Parents? Teachers? Life coaches?  Foremost, we are models of safety. When there is room, when a client is honored for what and how they present themselves, this uninterrupted, encouraged, and exploring self finds the experience of being known.

 

Let the Unique Genius of the Soul Lead the Way

Something we want to encourage this week is to make room for the budding of unique esteem inside of every one of us. Rather than highlight inadequacies, failure, and character defects, let us instead look to the unique genius of the soul to lead the way. We must enter the dream of the dreamer in order to help them look around and find their way.  In the simplest terms, we help clients to be within their own process. Indeed, we provide a safe space to have it for what it reveals itself to be to them. One’s treatment plan, for example, may reflect the skill set of another genius altogether. And while the outcome may be the same, the means to such outcomes are as different as the swimmer and the tree climber.

 

Toward Centers of Strength

As clinicians, we are charged with the task of curious neutrality. Suspended perspectives provide safety in the unknown, room for the voice of the inner parent to emerge, and the chance to discover genius. In other words, what kind of playground do you provide for the exploring and developing child? Does it have swings and monkey bars? Sandboxes or grassy fields? Or maybe trees to climb and waters to swim in? Where does your client go instinctually to nourish, to play, to find themselves?  And this, as we know, puts the basis of our efficacy upon how we provoke the unique genius of each of our clients. What is their way towards success? What are their images of success and how do we lead them towards centers of strength to confront a life belonging to them?

 

Honoring the Undiscovered Genius

We must strive to learn the language of the living soul within our clients. May we honor them for their yet undiscovered genius. May our efforts reflect the respect that each life and will deserve. In this, I believe we have the most to offer to our clients and one another. I hope we continue to strengthen this value in trust that the unique genius of the soul knows what it is doing. We are here to assist in that work both in practical tangible goals and the unique ways the individuals under our care playfully find their way home.

Weekly Theme: Grief and Loss

Weekly Theme: Grief and Loss

Grief and Loss - Friends comforting each other

 

When we deny the full expression of our grief, it lays like a weight on our hearts, causing emotional pain and physical ailmentsbell hooks

Processing Grief and Loss

No person who comes to Barn Life to heal is a stranger to grief and loss. Whether it be a physical death or loss of relationships or even the feeling of disconnection, we all experience having to endure the process of grief. This very personal journey can be very destabilizing for many of our clients. Many clients, I’ve noticed, have acknowledged that they have experienced the death of a loved one in the past and have never fully processed that loss and held space for grief.

 

A Confusing and Isolating Time

This past year has been full of loss and many have struggled to allow themselves to sit with grief or even identify feelings oriented around grief due to current circumstances. With the holidays, death and loss can be especially prominent for our clients at Barn Life. Many tend to find themselves reminded of a loved one who they have lost. It can be especially challenging for those who have not been able to fully process their loss. For these folks, it could be a very confusing and isolating time.

 

Healing in Community

This week, we are looking to allow space to normalize grief. Additionally, it’s important to note that the process is not always linear or clear-cut. Many times the pain of loss can be healed in communion. Think of wakes, funerals, and other memorial rituals and the power that these can wield. We are going to be using some of our process groups to allow our clients to help each other share their grief. This will be a chance to be a part of and heal in community. We could even acknowledge times when loss has helped us to develop and transform.

 

Some Questions to Think About

The following are some questions to consider this week. How do you perceive grief and/or loss? What has allowed you to process and hold space for your grief? How has loss been transformative or developed your character? What legacies or traditions have you carried out since your loved one’s passing? What barriers disallow you to process grief and loss? How can Barn Life best support your journey with healing from loss? How can you best support your peers and hold space for their process?

Suicide and the Soul Part II: Writing Down the Soul

Suicide and the Soul Part II: Writing Down the Soul

Writing Down the Soul

Is it a common occurrence for you to pay attention? How much of your day is spent in the here and now? When you add up the countless hours of television, mindless tasks, ruminating thoughts, and mind-filled wonderings, it can illuminate just how removed from reality our existences can be. We have replaced ritual and meaning with efficiency and tension (the primary factor in attraction and growth) with convenience. In 2015 Microsoft published a study on the attention span of the average American. It might surprise you to learn, says this study anyway, that the average attention span is only 3 seconds. What does this mean? It means that on average, every 3 seconds the human mind is bombarded with a distractor. Could this in part be due to this information age and the replacement of the sensory world?

The Harsh Reality of Our Psychological Desert

Our attention span is shrinking and our chronic distraction behavior ever increases. Distraction has become our oasis and the sensory world the harsh reality of our psychological desert. What can be done? For week 2 of Suicide and the Soul, I want to offer us a way into experience. Namely, the experience of the soul.  We use this word often at Barn Life and it gets thrown around in religions, too. But what is the soul? In short, the soul is that which experiences. Soul can be defined as the convergence of the spirit and the material world. This can exist in the body, in the imagination, in the emotional terrain and in our stories. Why do we consider work with the soul to be the primary task in mental health? Soul, when sought after, produces movement into awareness where our truest most meaningful journey can take place.

Listening to the Still, Small Voice

Suicide and suicidal thinking can be understood as an act of the soul. This writing exercise will ask of you a bit more than 3 seconds, and distractions are sure to pry there way in. I want to encourage you to set aside some time for this practice. Stay open and return to the moment. Listen to the still, small voice beneath the noise and remain open to what it has to say. You may find what wants to be said strange or unclear. The secret to the exercise is flow and trust. Be vulnerable enough to go where the pen takes you as if a force beyond your mind’s eye wants to lead the way. Let go and stay with it.

Writing Down the Soul

The exercise is simple. Writing down the soul consists of setting aside a time to observe. To sit or walk or stand without distraction to notice, we allow the experience to enter in. This doesn’t have to take very long. Soon a sensation, physical object, a color, or memory can come to us. Giving attention and naming our experience is a movement from self-rejection to embracing the self as you are. This writing exercise is a way to get past the feeling that you have to fix it. Instead, writing what is as it occurs to you acknowledges the relationship with what comes in and what goes out. Here, with a free hand, we become present to the inner world through the outer world.

Writing to Regain Perspective

Naming our experiences helps to shape our perspective. I offer you a resounding assurance that the unconscious is patiently waiting for you. Through a playful opening to what reveals itself, no matter how trivial, the part that is curious in each of us that wants to live begins again. Writing in this way can help us to regain a perspective.  Furthermore, should your pen take you to the worst in you and the harsh or despairing voice find its way to the paper, understand that this, too, connects us to healing and turns us toward the light.  Another Stanford study showed that it is better to feel sadness than to feel nothing because to feel is to carry us forward. When feelings take form, it offers us a way forward – an expression that so desperately needs to get out.

Enter Into the Experience

In suicidal thinking often it is the big fantasy that dies. What we need is the experience and story of something smaller and more human. The soul is not gone, lost, or beyond our reach. What we must do is enter into the experience without grand expectations. Pick a place and put the phone down. Turn off the television and the easy consumption. Breathe and look around. What grabs your attention in this moment? Begin to write and relate. Whether the words make sense to you or not, the sharing of an honest moment holds great power. The soul gets to speak, and the experience gets to find meaning. I leave you this week with a poem by David Whyte that I feel captures how we can find meaning in the space around us as we open to the here and now.

Everything Is Waiting for You

Your great mistake is to act the drama
as if you were alone. As if life
were a progressive and cunning crime
with no witness to the tiny hidden
transgressions. To feel abandoned is to deny
the intimacy of your surroundings. Surely,
even you, at times, have felt the grand array;
the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding
out your solo voice. You must note
the way the soap dish enables you,
or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things
to come, the doors have always been there
to frighten you and invite you,
and the tiny speaker in the phone
is your dream-ladder to divinity.

Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the
conversation. The kettle is singing
even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots
have left their arrogant aloofness and
seen the good in you at last. All the birds
and creatures of the world are unutterably
themselves. Everything is waiting for you.
–David Whyte

Borderline Personality Disorder and Mythology

Borderline Personality Disorder and Mythology

You may never see it coming. The defenses can be aggressive, frigid, fiery, slithering, and destabilizing. Not too long ago I entered a women’s mental health inpatient to run a weekly group. Client rotation is common so meeting new faces is part of the job. I wore a t-shirt under my blazer with the image of the Greek Medusa displayed on my chest and introduced myself. A new client asked what I meant to say by wearing the shirt. I said that I guess it’s a reminder that sometimes our defenses come from deeper wounding. That attacks like these can make us feel like stone and that for any of us that have gone through traumatic mistreatment we can benefit a great deal from getting to know the slithering serpents in our hair.

A Twisting and Passion Filled Assault

I did not expect the response I received. Her face was bright red. She accused me of being insensitive and an “asshole.” I tried to listen, apologies and clarify but it was too late.There was no room for repair. I felt frozen. Turned to stone. My words fell on deaf ears. She rejected outright my strong care for her emotions and I met a twisting and passion-filled assault. How incredible that 10,000 years later and the mere image of Medusa invokes a psychoactive response! Her story is the story of the overactive defenses of the wounded. I start this week’s theme with my story because it illustrates what working with some trauma survivors can feel like. While a diagnosis can offer us the nuts and bolts of a disorder, I want to focus instead on the idea of disorder itself.

The Personification of Borderline Personality Disorder

We might say that Medusa personifies a borderline personality disorder. Of the 9 criteria for the diagnosis, she demonstrates in her story at least 7 of them. But what I’m interested in this week is not the criteria of borderline personality disorder, but the pathology. Pathology refers to the sequence, the phenomenon, the experience rather than the behavioral criteria. A disorder is a more appropriate word in my view than diagnosis. Because to be “dis-ordered” is to have all the right pieces, only out of reasonable or functional order. Disorder implies not that someone is broken or missing pieces but instead has a tangling of parts. All the parts are there, and somewhere in-tact. What is lacking is the tact itself.

Our Delicate and Sensitive Work

In personality disorder, our delicate and sensitive work revolves around the recognition that the decision to overprotect oneself has turned pathological. That is, gone to such extremes that we are not experiencing relationship with self and others in healthy intimacy. Instead, defenses distort and prevent secure attachments. Stability comes in the form of defenses and prevents us from thriving in constructive relationships. Can we heal borderline traits? Studies on intensive DBT treatments tell us yes. With proper trust and safety, telling someone they meet the criteria for borderline personality disorder is ultimately constructive. To be clear: untangling the connection between empowerment and defensiveness is tricky work and belongs to the slow ego re-formation that comes through empathic understanding.

Medusa and Perseus

Let’s look in brief at the arc of Medusa and Perseus. Perseus is charged with the heroic task of obtaining the head of Medusa. To put it another way, by mastering the monstrous defenses of emotional trauma the hero then has access to her power. We can see Perseus, too, as an inner figure. The one who confronts and strives to overcome our disorders must square off with Medusa. I think it is important to note that this is not about conquering her, though that is the popular seasoning. Instead, Perseus shows Medusa herself- offering no interpretation, no aggressive attack, no attempts to overpower. A silver mirror presents a simple, voiceless reflection of her own image.

The Skill of Medusa

Perseus gains the skill of Medusa and shows her face to the monster of Poseidon – the Kraken. The sea of our emotions has many monsters and to win the gift of Medusa’s stare is to know when and how to freeze lethal enemies.  She is a gift. Our wounding and our defenses have worth and will support us in the right ways once dislodged from the body of terror. The trick is in knowing the difference between a lethal enemy and an imposing reality.  In other words, when Medusa runs the show, all are threatening. When the inner ego (hero) gains her strengths and can be shielded from her wrath there is great power and healing that can take place.

The Silver Mirror of Perseus’ Shield

Today, we know Perseus by many names. He goes by cognitive restructuring, emotional regulation, the spectral chart, emotional transference therapy, and many more.  Any practice in mindfulness is a look into the silver mirror of Perseus’ shield. Learning to observe and self reflect IS THE SKILL. As staff, I am encouraging us to work with the emotional deregulation of clients with a softer eye. Rather than attempting to interpret, learning to be grounding and curious. To join with activated dysregulation may sometimes not be an option. In defensiveness, all we can offer is our own boundaries. This week I will be teaching on maintaining healthy relationships with borderline tendencies as partners, therapists and family members. I encourage you all to make some extra room in your relationships with clients (for staff members) and with staff members (for clients). The only way through disorder is untangling the story and the only way to untangle the story is to give it our undivided attention.  May we all find the solutions in our symptoms and the passions in our wounding.

A Poem Written By Coral More

Marriage to the Self

Marriage to the Self

I wish I knew the beauty
Of leaves Falling
To whom are we beautiful
As we go?

A Parable

There once lives a king, long before our histories. He sat at the center of a thriving united kingdom. His subjects were joyful. His lands were ripe, green and beautiful. One day the king was walking in the gardens to the west when, like a fish hook, his gaze was reeled to the sight of a single, brown spot on the leaf of a rose bush. He pondered at the deadening spot for day and night as if possessed. The king could not help but stare with all earnest as he watched the gradual decay spread from leaf to stem to branch to roots. Flowers began to die by the thousands. The rains did not seem to come, and, in time the entire kingdom was in grave despair.

Marriage to the Self

In, week 2 of the Three Marriages we take a look at the marriage to the self. Who is the self? And what does it mean to invest our time, energy and effort into it. We may, on the surface be thinking the self is simply how we feel or making ourselves into who we want to be. We may stand up for and defend a sense that we have the right to be happy or treated fairly, loved unconditionally, supported, saved, received, and ok with things. Should we consider the self In terms of our expectations will surely come to some horrible let down. Our realizations that no one will live our lives for us, no one will offer the perfect medicine or promise the world, leaves will indeed die and the bliss of innocent perfectionism will painfully disappoint.

Talk of the self in such broad strokes can leave us wondering and wandering. The reality is that the self, that inner me and inner you, belongs not to our best or our worst, but instead to the world. It is not the self that creates our lives, nor is it our lives that create the self. By definition to be connected with the self is simply that. A connection.

Confronting Great Mystery and Adversity

To look within is not for the faint of heart. In our inner being, we confront great mystery, great adversity, fear, doubt, even badness. The self is not purified, not always kind, not even realized completely. From the self we experience all the instincts to love and take chances, to hope and dream, to step through the window and risk for our greatest longings. But also, the self may completely destroy what we think we are, at least on the surface. The ego and the self are not always the best of friends. Our versions of the story we like best, the hard-knock truths we demand to live by and expect of others are of no consequence to the self. Our truest being is always there, beneath the layers of how we think things should be.

A Reminder From David Whyte

David Whyte tells us a few things to remember when braving the inner world and searching out the experience of being one with what is within us. Firstly, Whyte wants us to know that life is where we leap. When we think about our passions, there requires a renewed innocent hope in order for our efforts to really come from the soul. In whatever experiences present themselves to you and me today, it is important to attend to the innocent hopes. Some of us may feel worn, beaten and even betrayed by life, and yet, the willingness to dream carries the soul onward. In part, this week I want to emphasize the role of hope.

Making Room for the Stirring of the Soul

If we are to commit to a marriage with the self we have to make room in the mundane, broken and hopeless for the stirring of the soul. Rather than forcing our energy into what we cannot change, what if we could come to an awareness of where the energy imagines itself toward?  Can we help ourselves and our clients by making room for these surfacing hopes? Of course, our perfect images do not come to pass, in fact, they may not come at all, but the drive is inextricably linked to our hope.  For the first glimpse of the self, everything must be possible. We have to step toward that light of possibility that expands the reaches of the self into a deeper and more profound experience.

An Unavoidable Truth

Secondly, Whyte offers that the pursuit of the self begins when we accept that human anxiety is endless and constant. There will always be waves of existential anxiety that knock over the surface self. The true self is that which remains. In each death and rebirth, every loss or inconceivable hijinks, the remainder is what always was and ever will be. A presence, an experience that we do not control nor manage, a truth that cannot be claimed only experienced. This is difficult to imagine primarily because we fixate ourselves in the throes of winning and losing.

An Active Relationship

Whyte says, “In the pursuit of the self we cannot get there from here. We get there to begin with by stopping” (p. 185).  Stopping is not a passive surrender, but an active relationship. In all true connections, stopping allows us to look at the world as if we have seen it for the first time. Stopping reminds us that everything we strive to keep alive, keep permanent, keep secure, is simply a pit stop along the way. We ourselves are impermanent beings. To act in fear is to act as if we and our surface selves are immortal.

Tearing Down the Scaffolding

Why do we avoid intimacy with our relationship with the self?  Because it means facing all the lies that scaffold who we think we are. Everything we work so hard to be in the relationship with the self must undergo the natural decay that accompanies our mortality. We look to the youthful hope that can ever drive us onward as we simultaneously learn the beauty in the surrender of the versions of life we claim as right.

Welcoming Loss As Growth

I remind clients often, and as I write this I remind myself that our work is not to gain but to lose. Our work is to strive and to welcome loss as growth. This week we come to the threshold between taking action and stopping to notice the withering leaves. What is dying must be embraced and what grows must first be planted. How can we support each other this week sorting the seeds of this surface self and the truest constancy of being?

I close with my favorite verse of the Tao Te Ching:

Twenty Two:

If you want to become whole,
let yourself be partial.
If you want to become straight,
let yourself be crooked.
If you want to become full,
let yourself be empty.
If you want to be reborn,
let yourself die.
If you want to be given everything,
give everything up.

The Master, by residing in the Tao,
sets an example for all beings.
Because he doesn’t display himself,
people can see his light.
Because he has nothing to prove,
people can trust his words.
Because he doesn’t know who he is,
people recognize themselves in him.
Because he has no goal in mind,
everything he does succeeds.

When the ancient Masters said,
“If you want to be given everything,
give everything up,”
they weren’t using empty phrases.
Only in being lived by the Tao can you be truly yourself.