Depth Therapy - Dr. Marie Kerns PsyD.
It is possible that you may be experiencing, the complexes in your personal unconscious, triggering your outward behavior, resulting in consequences
you did not intend.
The focus is on relational explanations where conflictual attachments patterns may be the concern.
Attachment and the Unconscious
John Bowlby, a Psychoanalyst developed the theory on human attachment, suggesting that infants and adults are biologically predisposed to form attachments. In Bowlby's first emperical study in 1944, he was able to link clinic patients symptoms of stealing and lack of affection to their histories of early maternal separation and deprivation. Bowlby concluded, after many more research findings that an infant and young child need a warm, intimate, relationship with their caregiver to grow up mentally healthy (Brettherton,1992).
Beginning with Bowlby, theorists have suggested that the experiences that give rise to an attachment relationship provide individuals with a lifelong schema for social relationships called an internal working model. An internal working model is a memory structure that gathers together a child’s history of interactions with his or her caretakers, the interactions that yielded a particular pattern of attachment. This internal working model provides a template that an individual uses to generate expectations about future social interactions.
Ainsworth (1953) conducted her first empirical
study of infant attachment in Uganda. Secure
attachment and mother sensitivity
were strongly correlated (Brettherton). Researches found that children's responses fall into three general categories:
•Securely attached children show some distress when the parent leaves the room; seek proximity, comfort, and contact upon reunion; and then gradually return to play.
•Insecurely attached–avoidant children seem aloof and may actively avoid and ignore the parent upon her return.
children become quite upset and anxious when the parent leaves; at reunion,
they cannot be comforted, and they show anger and resistance to the parent but,
at the same time, express a desire for contact.
Later, an additional category of disorganized attachment was added.
Brettherton, I. (1992). The Origins of Attachment Theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Developmental Psychology 28 (5) 759-775.
Many of my clients have expressed difficulty discussing their experiences with friends and family. I offer a professional counseling relationship that provides confidential, committed, and supportive therapy where my clients can tell their story, and be heard. This process helps you, the client, sort out your issues.
Depth Psychotherapy can help identify your
- unhealthy patterns,
- integrate problems with solutions, and
- empower you to live your life with satisfaction!
Please call me at 949-285-5199
Wondering what the research says about working psychodynamically? Click on article below. See Article
Carl Jung's Organization of the Psyche
This information is taken from my 2009 Dissertation
In my Doctoral Dissertation, A Jungian Oriented Treatment Plan for Mid-life Women’s Liminal Phase Transition into Mid-life, I developed a treatment plan that was intended to serve as a guideline for therapists, as they worked from a Jungian orientation.
Jung was interested in the way basic dispositions present in human imagination & his research focused on the contents of the unconscious. The contents of the unconscious are found in the symbolic pictures and sequences in which they can be found in dreams, myths, & fairytales (Jacoby, 1999).
He believed the personality is a reflection of both our conscious and unconscious and how we integrate the tension between their opposites. Our preferences overlap the boundary between consciousness and unconsciousness (Corlett, 1993).
The Function and Structure of the Psyche
The function of the psyche is to guide the individual to regulate and adjust to his/her social and physical environment. Jung’s premise is that a person comes into this world as a whole human being and must develop this wholeness to the greatest degree of differentiation to guard against a break up into autonomous and conflicting systems.
The structure of the psyche consists of various interacting systems, and levels, that include the conscious mind, the personal unconscious, and the collective unconscious (Hall, 1973).
The Conscious Mind
The individual is aware of the conscious mind from prior to birth. He recognizes his parents, toys, and other objects. Conscious awareness grows through the four mental functions of thinking, feeling, sensing, and intuiting. These functions are used in varying degrees to determine the child’s basic character.
In addition to the four mental functions there are two attitudes that determine which way the conscious mind is oriented. The extraverted attitude is oriented toward the objective outside world, while the introverted attitude is oriented inwards, subjectively.
Individuation is the process where the consciousness of an individual becomes differentiated from another individual. The goal of individuation is to know oneself completely and this is referred to as consciousness. From this process the ego develops (Hall, 1973).
The ego is mostly made up of the four preferences in the personality and represents our identity in the world. The ego tends to be in charge during the first half of life, deciding what we will allow into consciousness. At the same time that we gain proficiency in using the functions of our type code to navigate life, we have a propensity to ignore their opposites (Corlett, 1993).
The ego is the gatekeeper to awareness. It is selective as to what goes into the conscious mind preventing saturation of an overabundance of information. Ego consciousness is primarily determined by the dominant function, and partly by the intensity of the experience (Hall, 1973).
The Personal Unconscious
Included in the personal unconscious may be distressing thoughts, unsolved problems, moral issues, conflicts, or thoughts that were at one time conscious but are now repressed. The contents are usually available if needed. Experiences that were not noticed may appear in a dream at night (Hall, 1973). The contents of the personal unconscious include sense impressions, which lacked sufficient intensity to reach consciousness, but have still entered the psyche that became unconscious due to the loss of intensity. Also included are the complexes and all their contents (Papadopoulos, 2006).
Complexes consist of a cluster of representations that are emotionally charged. Within a complex, there exists a core element linking associations, which originate from a person’s unique experience as it is conditioned by the environment, or may originate from that person’s innate predisposition. The associations then form a cluster of thought-affect content, which function
independently of that person’s conscious will, and further molds their behavior into typical patterns.
Complexes develop from many sources such as a traumatic experience, repression, or by the impossibility of making certain unconscious factors conscious. Since complexes are loaded with autonomous affective charges, they act by forcing consciousness into repetitive patterns. The structure of a complex is then organized according to an archetypal schema.
Jung believed that a conscious understanding of this structure diminishes its repetitive, destructive effects; resulting in the person’s affect being rechanneled constructively (Humbert, 1996).
An example of a woman with a father complex would be a woman who was insufficiently nurtured by her father. She may have chosen patterns of dependency or addiction, searching for one love partner after another and ending up disillusioned and frustrated.
Emotional neediness may drive men away, yet she unconsciously may choose a man who is emotionally unavailable. If her father was emotionally unavailable to her as an infant and a child, she may have reflexively formed her life around a self-destructive perception that since she was not adequately loved, she is undeserving of love.
This parent-child wound within, and the various unconscious responses adopted by the inner child determine the adult personality. The wounds of childhood create an adult personality that is less a series of choices than a reflexive response to the early traumatic experiences of life. The length and intensity of the initial experience determine the power of the complex in one’s life (Hollis, 1993).
This theory explains how the psyche can be fragmented into autonomous forces. Emotions, images, and orientations are imposed upon consciousness through the effects of these forces acting autonomously (Humbert, 1996). Complexes are mostly unconscious and operate autonomously. They are usually activated by an event in the present where the psyche recognizes the emotion and triggers the patterned response.
Most of the crisis of mid-life involves the disparity between the inner sense of self and the acquired personality becoming so great that the suffering cannot be contained, leading to decompensation of the personality (Hollis, 1993).
The Collective Unconscious
The mind has inherited characteristics that determine the way a person will react to a given experience. Evolution prefigures the mind, which links the individual with history of the species and prior to the organic evolution (Hall, 1973).
The primordial images or pre- existent forms are called archetypes and they can only become conscious secondarily as they give form to psychic content. Archetypes are analogous to instincts. Along with primordial images the collective unconscious consists of mythological motifs.
Jung believed our myths, fairy tales, and legends are carriers of a projected unconscious psyche. The mythological is produced out of a participation mystique where it is not the physical phenomena of thunder or earthquakes, but the fantasies caused by the affects they arouse (Papadopoulos, 2006).
The archetype of the persona is usually involved in the presenting problem of a client. The client recognizes this by indicating that the person they show to the world differs from how they perceive their total personality.
Once the persona is worked with, and the mask is removed, the defenses that protect what are behind the mask become apparent. As the defenses are dealt with, the unconscious aspects of the personality emerge (Singer, 1972).
Recognizing the shadow usually follows the unmasking
of the persona. As this process continues deeper parts of the unconscious become attainable to the ego (Singer, 1972). Shadow elements are incompatible with the conscious personality and must be integrated to achieve wholeness (Weinrib, 2004).
The shadow consists of qualities of a person that are distasteful and unacceptable to their conscious mind, but are not always negative. There are situations where the conscious attitude is negative, while a positive shadow projection could be activated by an admired outer object (Papadopoulos, 2006).
The shadow work that must be dealt with at mid-life includes acknowledging envy, greed, laziness, aggression, and jealousy. Jung realized that what he advocated as part of analysis was a rediscovery of an ancient truth regarding the healing power of catharsis, when as a result of analytic shadow work; the client becomes aware of their darker side and confesses to it. Jung identified the confessional as the prototype for soulwork (Papadopoulos, 2006).
As the persona begins to be unmasked, the shadow is recognized; next the anima/animas will begin to appear in dreams and in projections onto other people (Singer, 1972). In the case of a woman who dreams of a sexual union with her boss, an inner psychological meaning is missed if this dream is taken literally.
“In dreams, sexual union frequently represents the tendency of some part of us to unite itself with our conscious personality” (Sanford, 1980, p.26).
When properly understood, this dream symbolizes an awakening of this woman’s creative powers. She is projecting her creative powers onto her boss, and if taken literally she could mistakenly have an affair leading to negative consequences in her life. When properly analyzed, this woman could realize the creative potential in herself that was looking to be realized.
Many women in midlife experience a certain creative energy that overflows the marriage and family life boundaries. This creative energy is many times projected onto a person of the opposite sex. This person becomes a hook onto which these women’s creative powers are projected. These women may begin to realize their potential when they withdraw the projection (Sanford, 1980). Integration happens when the withdrawal of projections of unconscious psychic content is repeatedly brought to the attention of the conscious ego and is recognized as belonging to one’s own personality (Brehony, 1996).
Brehony (1996) outlines Marie-Louise von Franz’s five stages of projection and the withdrawal of projection in Awakening at midlife. Projection begins when an individual believes that an unconscious, inner understanding is reality. In the second stage, differentiation happens when the individual realizes the discrepancy between the projection and the reality of the situation. The third stage requires that the individual bring this discrepancy to consciousness and accept the difference between the projection and the reality. In the fourth stage, the individual comes to the conclusion that what they originally believed was an illusion. In the final stage, the individual must look inwards for the origin of the projected energy.
Aziz (1990) points out that the withdrawing of projections is important for two reasons:
- Projections give a false impression of the object.
- Projections contain elements that are naturally part of the person’s personality and need to be consciously integrated.
When the persona is unmasked, the shadow integrates, and the anima and animas projections are withdrawn, the self emerges. “The Self is the goal towards which the process of individuation strives. It represents psychic wholeness and the process by which self-division may be healed” (Papadopoulos, 2006, p.153).
The God image is what Jung regards as the symbolic representation of the Self. It is the organizing principle of the psyche and therefore organizes the personality (Papadopoulos, 2006). The Self is the totality of both conscious and unconscious components out of which the ego evolves (Weinrib, 2004).
Erich Neumann describes the ego-Self axis, as the nature and quality of the connection between the ego and the self. Since the ego emerges out of the self, that from which it emerges is the unconscious part of the self (Papadopoulos, 2006).