Friday, 1 December 2017

Therapy from a Jungian perspective,, Integration of the dark and light anima....

These are the reflections of my client. Gerry is 82 and has been working in a Jungian way with me over the last 12 weeks, The theme is integration of the dark mother and an attempt to understand both the dark and light anima. gerry has given full permission for me to publish this document and his reflections.

 Therapy Considerations 
Gerald A. Thomas
November 2017

Acknowledging the role that over the years the imagine of the ‘Dark Mother’, has exercised over my subjective imagination; with it’s accompanying negative mood swings, is my need to understand not only the deprivations of my childhood, but also to contextualise the relationship against that of the ‘White Lady’ figure who even in my latter years, remains so remote and unmoving. This subjective situation is now something I need to uncover using in particular ‘Jungian’ psychotherapy methodologies as directed by Martyn J. Shrewsbury BA, BSc, Dip.Psych. Psychotherapist, Hypnotherapist and Philosophy Tutor,at Asclepius Therapy Centre, in Swansea.

The swirling activity of DM, contrasts sharply when compared to the immobility of WL, who remains unmovable in my attraction to her. The latter image came into my awareness when I read an account of the persecution of the Albigenses and the Cather movements in Christian crusades of the 13-15C in Southern France. Subjectively I fell in love with this WL image, (as a teenager) and it came to form a part of my psychic sense of self, remaining with me even now in my elder years.

Both White and Dark images have until this present time remained as separate entities, the dark being more attention grabbing than it’s opposite perhaps due to difficult birth and early childhood experiences. Coupled to my rejection of ‘society-at-large’, and inability to merge the polarity of self-awareness with the material world, which formed an inexplicable and bewildering condition of my ‘inner’ sense of self.

After years of attempting to conform to a positive normal life, I entered into the Camphill Rudolf Steiner Community School, Aberdeen, at the age of 35, which provided a living work ethic combined with spiritual values that were accessible to my aspirations in a practical manner; although at a subjective level of my personal development, left much to be desired. The reason for this inner neglect was because the school devoted much effort into demonstrating that ‘difficult or mentally ill’ children could respond to the curricula we provided. This aim has by and large succeeded, despite ever increasing difficulties being presented to this therapeutic impulse throughout, by society at large especially in institutions connected with main stream education.

Having, in retirement years succeeded in my own ‘normalised’ academic path, (2017) I am drawn to the subject which I call, ‘An Architecture of Ageing’. Such an architecture is emerging due to societal conditions that are emerging in this present age, as our Western European civilizations allow for a comparative extension of life expectancy…unless we give way to war!

To return now to ‘Dark Mother and White Lady’, these images exist within my own sexual mystical context, which emanated partly out of my inability to have long term and satisfactory relationship with the feminine in normal life. This difficulty is illustrated by several marriages and abortive relationships; resulting in my rather insular life style that has developed during the last ten or so years of my life. The impact of this subjective feminine duality remains as a blockage to a healthier psychic life, within the context of my personal story.

Archaic Images’ is a term I use to encapsulate much of my subjective life that emerged from a non-conscious state of being that, as the decades have passed, has sought to harmonise these conflicts of polarity of gender and extremes in my self-awareness. These psychic forms remain active even in these remaining years of my life. As a teenager I endured induced involuntary episodes of insulin and electric ‘ therapies’ and session of cognitive therapy induced by 1950’s medical and legal attitudes that were then in force… not a voluntary discipline! No matter the value or not, of such medical impositions upon me, the resolution to continue to follow an ‘archaic pathway’ to selfhood remained intact, and indeed has been sharpened by recent academic studies undertaken as an elder student.

In my efforts to contextualise ‘ Dark Mother and White Lady’ , these entities I regarded as separate beings until my embarking on a therapeutic awareness involving a C.G. Jungian framework of psychotherapy. Though it is too early to judge any outcomes, except for the attempt to consider melding together these feminine imaginations, this process seems to promise an easing of older issues that have caused me imaginative difficulties from, my earliest encounters with the ‘demonic’ in my own nature, and its coming to terms with my own life anima, gender identity and the role of a healer, as a special needs teacher, in society.

Here I must posit the question of possible developments of these feminine images and speculate as to their developmental possibilities as relating to my future ‘ demonic or egoistic’ imaginations.This practice calls for exercises whereby these subjective images may reach beyond my personal psychological states and fantasies. They may also resonate with universal processes which inform my humanness, with their relatedness to ‘origins’, as referenced in all traditional creation literature, and in contemporary terms to the works of psychology and emerging technology based on quantum or particle theory. These subjects will assist in my future researches in this area of developmental consciousness and related issues. These topics may well be encompassed by an ‘architecture of aging’ in our wider population; this subject I will refer to again later.

As far as my own personal subjectivity is concerned, it remained that of sexuality and material procreation despite the early disasters of my own attempts at stable and domestic lifestyle. On the level of consciousness which is involved with such materialistic forms and possible ‘origins’ as above, these social and cultural symbols may provide’ keys or thresholds’, which are constantly being uncovered by an intelligent use of archaic symbolism. Contemporary science particle theory, and quantum theory also promise fresh developments in archaic interpretations as to basic forms of materialism and its elements… the alchemical aspiration that holds each human as a sacred expression within the wider universe.

But what of my present concerns now that my struggle to acquire an academic standing as an MA( distinction) student has been achieved? After composing my autoethnic narrative, whilst maintaining the all important social context beyond my domestic and personal story, I have been occupied with philosophical debate that runs parallel to Fine Art issues, and life-long learning. Though not directly linked to the subject of ageing in society, my conjecture arose as I begin to consider the ageing question as a continuation of the subject of “Considerations of the relationship between Egoism and Muse in the approach to the Sublime in Contemporary Society” , that I submitted for my major work to university 2016.

As the present awareness of this ageing issue dawns on the wider population, and myself, there is a gathering need in society to examine implicated parallel concerns arising from connections to our ecological and universal responsibilities which implied further moral imperatives for our species I believe. Even to the question of the continuation of sapiens ourselves in our earthly planetary existence!

As a hypothesis to the question of possible extended years of age, although not a guaranteed development, suggest that an ‘Architecture of Ageing’ imagination, be examined to provide an active psychic life as one’s physical faculties undergo the ageing processes( seeking both negative and positive outcomes we now consider as being almost inevitable, or ‘normal’. Initially I had thought that basing such an ‘architectural image ’ to an approach to older years would not be too difficult but have now come to understand why this task is difficult for many elder people, myself included.

Fearfulness! But fear of what? And conversely Joy in what?

I have emotional difficulties with an excess of sentimentality that often surround older people, as this attitude imposes itself all too often on what could have been promising conservations relating to individual life experiences. Uncertainties and questioning moods of Fearfulness often cause a ‘second guess’ doubting, as to episodes good or bad in the elder’s narration. This attitude can be likened to that of a mask being used to shield such memories from recollection in the elder’s emotional states. Concerned carers or relatives may, by becoming involved themselves too emotionally with their own feelings in the relationship( project on the older person anxieties related to or regretted by past situations. I believe such interdependency can create a fearful withdrawal for the older person, from interactions both with subjective ruminations of their own and with the wider community.

What can be the Joyfulness of the ageing process in our contemporary condition?

Cultural environments which relate to selflessness, to concerns that involve the ‘Other’, in one’s life story, storytelling to young grandchildren, remain vital across the generations. Superseding egoism and ‘absolute truths’; such gentler soul qualities that have realities within the physical ageing process; which previously had been shaped by industrial work methods, can now become responsive to inner often unsort-for-images, of an expansive, deeper warmer mood, freed from the workday world of industrial timekeeping.. time also becomes flexible losing its implacable sense of relentless pace, instead becoming as a meandering process whereby the soul can recover itself from memories painful and pleasurable.

Along with our wider view of human nature in general, with its commonality of symbolic images and real time experiences, the need to examine an ‘Architecture of Ageing’ as proposed here, is also the realization of planet-wide dialogue that is very recent; only becoming possible initially because of the destructiveness of war during the last 150 years or so. The generation of my parents and of my own age group that survived these catastrophic times found amongst the derbies of collapsing empires, an upsurge of Eastern Philosophy that has become popularized and commercialised. Especially Vedic and Ancestor religious attitudes with the more violent extremes of Islamic fundamentalism. I mention these societal and religious tendencies in order to provide a context for one’s own ageing in our Western type of civilization. The isolation caused by European Materialism has largely disenfranchised elder generations of people from psychic values, a situation creating vague fears of many types as the urgency of the plight of our older generation is regarded as a liability to society and not a blessing.

Because in the United Kingdom we have a belief that Trade is the most important activity even now, followed closely by ‘ pragmatism’; ideas that originated from industrialised Central and Northern European cultures are now being regarded as having questionable value, in terms of psychic wellness. Societal issues concerning ageing are regarded as ‘ problems’ to be solved! Social engineering implemented by the State notably in UK as a National Health service has without doubt attempted to alleviate many former health issues. What may be less well known was the implementation of compulsory military service on the youth of our population at the same time!

Despite many shortcomings the ideal of a national health programme has been an outstanding achievement,except in the area of Social Care of the elderly! Allopathic medications have failed to have much impact on the daily difficulties of personal care. Simply because of the hygienic demands placed on caring employees, these vocations have been given over, by and large, to underpaid and undervalued people in British society.

As a part of reinventing vocational community care professions, that can feed into the needs of both carers and dependents, I believe an educational programme using existing social care programmed i.e., NVQ’s and additionally, a much deeper grasp of the psychology of the ageing processes, requires at least involvement in psychotherapy and allied appeals to that which is ‘spiritual’ in its practical applications. Here I name ‘ spiritual’ as opposed to ‘religious’ sensitivities as any educational programme needs to be based on the consenting elder person’s understanding of their personal values as they interrelate with the understanding of an individual service provider, not the agency that may be managing them!

The reader may by now feel the author has wandered far from the subject of this paper as expressed in the first paragraph at the beginning of this writing. Both wider social conditions and highly personal experiences have taught me that there is no analytical thinking solution to the experience of polarities as being part of many elder people’s early psychic realities that may have been aggravated by unhappy or impoverished former states. These ‘problem’ areas which are faced by a small but significant number of older people are now manifestations of universal concerns throughout our Western Contemporary Secular life.

A polarizing experience emphasized my own inability to relate to a sense of self for many years, and only within the context of my Fine Art practice and reading (before my interest in psychotherapy) is this polar estrangement being overcome in my soul life. I believe similar cathartic memories are employed by many older people to avoid regretted strategies from their past. It remains true also that wonderful loving relationship and episodes are fondy wrapped in deep emotional cloaks which provide an emotional warmth and sense of protection that may not be easily communicated to others. Very often closest relatives i.e. family members, can be focal points involved in these forms of ‘therapeutic’ forgetting or being.

For a beginning of this project I use auto ethnographic narrative as described by Carolyn Ellis, Tony Adams & Arthur P. Bochner. Volume 12, no 1, Art 10 January 2011, which I used in my 2016 MA submission for university. In my own case I will use emerging archetypes to perform a continuation of my psychic journey that may assist people who have in their particular cases, the time, leisure and means to embark on an evaluation of their own life histories; reviewing any social significance they may feel as to the validity of a life well spent, or regretted!

As described above Dark Mother and White Lady, an archetypal image originating from my own early childhood traumas of several kinds, resulted in life long difficulties having to be confronted and hopefully integrated into the adult elder person I am. This process I believe is common to elderly persons who have survived a long life. Longevity is a condition that is growing into concerns involving societal agencies, often leaving caring institutions and families in perplexing and challenging relationships, whereby an old person is regarded as a liability and a negative influence on their family network, if any are available, to give support.

In the year of 2005 I described a journey undertaken by a contemporary Scottish painter who transformed his early works from broad political observations to what latter became deeply personal, largely subjective visualisations of individual suffering of people nearer to him in his own city. His sensitivity to these matters is described by an author, T. Normand (2002) ‘Ken Currie Details of a Journey’, Lund Humphries publishers. This subject stirred in me an interest in archetypal image making that I described in my writing as ‘Ken Currie and the Tarot: An Interpretation’. (2005)

The Tarot has a long obscure history that led me to examine just four cards in particular that I regarded as being of significance to Currie’s journey, eventually examining closely card number nine entitled, ‘ The Hermit’. Upon completion of my MA project, and reading the writings of C.G. Jung I felt that such an image could construct a symbolic return pathway to deal with communication difficulties with the elderly, which usually are regarded as too private, too personal and often too loving or regretful to share.

From the above writing it is clear that these several strands of conjecture require their own particular storyline in order to suggest that they can form elements in an overall ‘architecture’ of the ageing process. They may make sense to an older person when followed separately, and I begin with my own story to tackle the suggested reluctance to communicate life experiences to younger people, or care providers.

First storyline: My “ Dark Mother”

It only became apparent to me recently through my growing unease of recollections I held, of the relationship between my birth mother and images arising within my self awareness. As I observed the degree of discomfort, shame and guilt associated with these psychic moods, I realized I needed help to understand and reconcile these experiences. With this in mind I turned to therapies associated with C.G. Jung and psychotherapy, as mentioned above. I discovered that an anger, which for most of my life had been a positive, though dangerous energy, had diminished greatly in my motivation and working life.
By redirecting this mental/ emotional force I completed more visual artwork and written narrative resulting in an award of an MA degree in 2016, at the age of 82 years.

These efforts directed me to explore the growing concern in society at large as to why the elderly seem to be reluctant to review their life stories. Remaining mostly secretive and non communicative to younger people, who could greatly assist in following a vocational impulse, to provide healthier patterns of care than is usually available?

Although still deeply ingrained, past industrial, and mechanistic work has left a legacy of semi crippled people whose physical bodies require much sensitivity in the skills associated with basic personal care routines. It is not enough to delegate such work to low paid unskilled, often warm hearted line workers who will not become recognised as skilled and valued carers in our society.

Second Storyline:

Ageing as spiritual event, in a society torn by suffering and warfare of the last 150 years and more. Suffering has been the heritage of uprooted masses of humanity, and remains so today. Although not usually associated with politics especially national politics, there have occurred N.H.S. and pension schemes within Western culture that remain quite remarkable! The most basic care for the elderly has, in an almost mysterious manner, grown around concerns for incapacitated isolated and lonely people. It is important to recognize a difference between ‘lonely ‘ and persons who choose to remain alone. Such difference if not recognized by a caregiver, can create issues of loss of dignity, on the part of the elder, and impatience and frustration on the giver of (unskilled) care. This is an example of avoidable ‘problems’ of communications, is not intended.

Spiritual insight, has replaced largely, religious vocation within the caring calling, I believe. In this sense a ‘ practical’ regime becomes a caring philosophy, something easily understood within this context of ageing; such rationalizations are secondary to the inner experiences of a long lived life. Physical pain and periods of feeling abandoned often remain over from very early years in a person’s life , and can blemish childhood memories. Such distress effects the willingness to share such important stories between an elder and carers seeking to be of service. This and similar later tribulations create areas of concern that can be greatly assisted by psychological insights and could form one aspect of a training programme for carers. Pain in later years often prohibits physical, emotional and moral mobility, but pain can also stir memories that enrich a quality in life that encourages others to question values that may have been ignored or lost. If the sufferer senses a relationship that seeks to understand, acknowledge and provide physical and emotional warmth for their needs, then life continues to be of very significant value to all concerned.

Part of a proposed ‘architecture of Ageing’

Third Story Line. Invoking the ‘ return’ to origins.

This part of a journey, although experience through the filter of personal experiences and social forms has I believe universal significance especially as applicable to long human life completion. Periods in one’s earlier motivations and acts that remain as regrets or tangled webs of unresolved relationships, require to be examined through the medium of the individual consciousness of the other population. This minority may be unaware as individuals, of the access to spiritual energies that permeates their long lived realities. To articulate their stories will, I believe establish communication across differences of perception between generations and long-term care providers and environments that are regarded as ‘problematic ‘ and financially expensive.
These attitudes will not change quickly, but there are encouraging signs in medical/community care, that indicate the emergence of individual worth is central to human relatedness. Such utopian relationship will most certainly affect our dismal performance in regard to the terrible abuse we subject our planet to, through greed and extraction industries. It is difficult for most of humankind to sense such inter-relatedness, but elder people will have time and if they chose, the savvy to share such perceptions especially through family connections.

It remains to recognize possible structures to assist in the articulation of ‘Being Old’. In this proposal I express as ‘An Architecture of Ageing’ a possible method that can use the language of symbolism from our human past but understood and given new life through psychology and science. Psychology has to move on from its medical model of Freud, important as this remains and science has to be freed from mechanical processes of sensory illusion business models based on financial greed. Sensory pollution is as dangerous as material pollution of the planet.

Consciousness varies throughout our lifetime, psychotherapy can be employed to interpret a language to articulate a ‘Returning Journey’ for our present elderly population. The origins of mythic encounters picturesquely described throughout Legend and heroic adventure, point to human consciousness being formed and shaped by resources deep within oneself, but inhabited with many other life energies of which human consciousness is but a part. Creation stories tell of consciousness being gifted or transferred from ‘Gods’ to Mankind. Of ‘Angelic’ attraction to human women desired by these creature activities usually incurred hardship for the givers of life forces and eventual discontent for ourselves as recipients of these ‘gifts’. These are myth and histories , of civilizations gone by, but as C.G. Jung indicates remain in our human collective consciousness,despite our concern for individuality and autonomy of purpose.

Purposefulness in an elder life can be forgotten with distressing consequences, especially conscious purpose connecting one to intimate relationships within the family nexus. For many, The days are long gone when tribal and domestic ties supported our meaningful purpose in life. As societies struggle to create caring environments the inclusion of the psychological or spiritual dimension if recognized and worked with enables purpose to be found again. The ‘Mythic tradition May be covered over in an elders life but can I believe be recovered thus enhancing our motivation to care for one another in a manner that remains in present times, difficult though desirable.

The above thoughts and considerations are clearly generalizations that may indicate pointers to enable approaches between elders and community based care personnel to be established. Psychotherapy stresses that each person has a unique story to uncover, so if one is in especially an elder caring relationship, it requires a foundation based on the numinous, or Spiritual, to approach the physical needs that are so interwoven with dignity of both elder and carer. If hygiene becomes the goal to the exclusion of all other concerns then unintentional distress will occur. Digestive and elimination Of excrement with their accompanying smells are repulsive in every day living, so too the acceptance of dressings needing to be refreshed… these matters demand deep spiritual fortitude and proper training and skilled understanding.


As an older person, the psychotherapeutic experience is a challenge. In one’s mind and imagination both true and false events can be recalled not being quite sure which is which. Emotions and sometimes unresolved situations are revived which one would rather bury beneath ‘forgetfulness’. As our life span increases these scenarios can become more real than one’s everyday life. This situation I believe to be beginning for many of us older ones, to find courage if that is required of one, to examine our long life past and not to be too surprised if what was once white, in now black! What was once a distressing event,can be seen as a happening that resulted in a lot of goodness! In aging, reviewing past years is comparable to traveling on a circular pathway, seeing a landscape where many matters are in reverse and what one has given is indeed received. It is a truly wonderful experience when a good event from one’s past returns once again retaining it’s warmth, love or enchantment in one’s recollections, indeed seemly to expand even further beyond the individual event linking itself to psychic beauty beyond imagination… this is perhaps why this returning is worthwhile yet difficult to describe.

It remains a mystery why such talents are rewarded with so little respect in our present day wealthy society. Most local authority funding being based on values that inhibit a therapeutic nursing care attitude remains a disgrace within our society. It is a hope that evolution of consciousness as a spiritual adventure, will eventually right the wrongs of our previous materialistic morality.

Important Note:

The above has been written as reflections on my process of excarnation, of returning to subconscious origins or states ( a healthy death) after my 82 years of lived materialistic life. These images have evolved from my work as a care worker, teacher based on the philosophy of Dr. Rudolf Steiner as used in the Camphill schools for special needs children and other therapeutic communities.

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