The psyche rest on the archetypes and the psyche experiences that formulate them. The collective unconscious is the matrimony of archetypes. The hero leaves the ordinary world into the underworld, where they confront hostile forces in a variety of forms. The undertaking of the ultimate ordeals and getting their rewards in an expansion of consciousness. The meeting of the king and queen, feminine and masculine, good and bad, the chemical wedding.

The result of the union means the loss of interpersonal and intrapsychic boundaries, the death of the false self, and the world that captures the adult ego’s experience of deep repression and merger. The soul descends to heaven, leaving behind the lifeless body, into a world of disorientation and despair, which any successful treatment must navigate and resolve. The client will become depressed as their manic defences give way, facilitating the confrontation with the pain that true existence involves. Healing moisture washes over the depression, the nigredo of blackness (purification), with a return of hope and some measure of resolution with a new birth.

Sandler’s (1979, pp 20.22) 5 Stages of Symbolic Healing

  • Purification of the therapist and client and the holding space where the healing rituals are to be held
  • Presentation or evocation in which the relevant symbolic images are presented in visual or audible forms and invested with the numinous (divine) power that underlies them.
  • Patients and clients identify with the powers they have evoked as they take in the evil part of the client that is causing the sickness.
  • Transformation as the healer wins the battle banishes the disease, expels the evil, and recovers the soul.
  • The healer and the healed are ritually returned to their ordinary lives, divested in the numinous power with which they have been imbued during the ceremony.

The client descends into the unconscious and alchemical bath experienced as a merger with the therapist, comparable to the child/mother dynamic. The client’s evils are uncovered from the hidden dungeons, and the inner buried rage emerges. Through experiencing these negative feelings and processing the rage at their parents, the client can experience their own negative feelings, working with their discarded shadow aspects of self. The emotional regression feels like death as the ego and illusion start to dissolve into a disoriented, dismembered state. Brought into the inner sanctum where the soul is judged and restored.

  • Return to Origin
  • Confrontation and manipulation of evil
  • Death and rebirth
  • Restoration of the soul/universe

The work is the unrobing, unravelling, and revealing of the world beneath the conscious awareness.

The deeper the layer the client is compelled to explore, the more infantile their experiences become as they move towards the preverbal core of the self. The therapist must be able to tolerate the client’s loss of competence in the context of their life if they are to hold the child into the regression of rebirth. The dismantling and dismembering of the client’s identity lead to a powerful depression, demanding death and the complete destruction of any illusions, to a felt sense of individuality and transformation. The child learns to revere and integrate the poisonous side of the dark mother, the black Madonna, returning to service to life. They learn to shift the infantile aspects of disgust and rejection into acceptance and respect. Must accept the death of the hero, recognise their helplessness and let the work and process happen, restraining and resolving impulses trying to block the process. Having the courage to stay with the descent, challenges, and rebirth process. One must be willing to be confused as we accompany them into the chaotic world of the abyss, the unchartered aspects of their soul.

The universal human wound adopts an inadequate environment to cope and survive, sacrificing their essential nature, self, and soul in the process. They learn to mobilise the fixated libido to find new possibilities, regressing from new beginnings. The pre-oedipal is expressed in therapy by nonverbal communication, as in gestures and movements, where misjudged interpretation may be experienced as an attack and insinuation or alternatively as pleasing, gratifying or seductive. The therapist has to tolerate and allow the client to suffer, as they suffer with them, and avoid the need to rescue. The therapist must touch and reach the client at the level of the soul and become the primary object, prove indestructible and not keep too harsh a boundary, but allow for self-development and sustain the nurturing process. Recognise the context of the complaints and pain, not soothe them, tolerating the pain as they enter the client’s world of pain to contain.

The client must recognise a kind of regret /mourning of the defect/fault/wound where the shadow has been cast over, which effects can’t be made good; the good is wholeness, not perfection. The false self protects the true self from impinging toxic environments, complying with the demands of the external reality, and a sense of facticity with doubt about the values of living. The true self can’t develop until the infantile levels are repressed to and given new meaning and need responses. The redoing of development. Learning to play and be creative in a world of purpose and meaning.

Between the poles of egoic ambition and idealisation lies the individual’s native talents and capacities, learning to be amongst other human beings. They work through the dark night of the soul, time and again, dying and rebirthing through empathic alliances. The experienced trauma is transformed when the client has revisited, changed, and contained the original experiences, creating new ego structures and transmutation. Human beings are reborn as they defeat the dominating infantile ego into the true self contained within the soul.

The Conjunctio arises out of the participation mystique between 2 individuals (therapist and client).

The immediate experience of the archetypes can only occur in a repressed state, infancy in contact with the transpersonal psyche, shredding the defence complexes to release the buried energy into a rebirth once we have been stripped bare.

Sandler, D. (1979) Navaho symbols of healing, New York, Harcourt brace Jovanovich  
Sullivan, B.S.(1987) The archetypal foundations of the therapeutic process, Chiron publications, Asheville, USA