A hero ventures forth from the world of the common day into a region of the supernatural, where fabulous forces are encountered, and a decisive victory is won. The hero returns with the power to bestow boons onto his fellow man. A child torn from the innocent state by traumatic experiences remains painfully surrounded by the world of normality. They confront a profound sense of alienation and disturbance, feeling different and monsters. Regardless of our upbringing and environment, we will eventually encounter psychological and spiritual difficulties, testing our perspectives and limited thinking, where we are forced to seek out untapped strengths and potential. Over time, we can see the possibility of moving this child from a state of normalcy to a state of chronic traumatic stress and confusion. These interpersonal traumas cause the child to split off from their healthy feelings and emotions to survive in a hostile environment. All of this is pushed into the unconscious, out of awareness, so the parent can retain the image they can love.

The child does not understand the parent is causing their pain, fracturing their personality, and they blame themself for being the problem.

When the child can recover from this emotional trauma, enhanced as adults, they can return to their true selves. The old self is left behind as the person must learn to discover and develop the new self. Development trauma crosses over into one`s thinking, feelings, and behaviour, bleeding into their work, family, and romantic relationships. They develop an unconscious worldview that incorporates this betrayal and hurt; they anticipate and expect the trauma to recur as they respond with hyperactivity, aggression, defeat, or freeze reactions. Behaviour becomes impulsive, thinking concrete and black and white, and emotions become constricted and unyielding. An emotional numbness, unable to feel and experience the challenges in life, keeps them stuck and arrested. The four F responses :

  1. Fight – Mobilisation of anger and ego/physical defensives
  2. Flight – escapes from the dangers and experiences fear and pain.
  3. Freeze – may play dead, disassociates, and depressed.
  4. Fawn- Passive clinging and submission to avoid any confrontation.

Only a major life crisis will bring one beyond the “call to adventure”, more from the comfortable and familiar to the unknown, uncertain and fearful. Conditions must be ripe for the call to be heard, as the familiar life no longer fulfils one’s desires, needs, and meaning. The refusal of the call manifests as boredom, engulfment in hard work or distractions, depression, or emotional symptoms, as one has subjected themself to the higher power of culture and society. Once beyond the threshold, the supernatural aid and mentor will appear, the guide to spiritual maturity, whose wisdom and magic support the hero on their journey. The Monster’s journey begins with a sudden, abrupt powerful loss of innocence in the face of interpersonal trauma, not through a conscious choice. The time has come to endure the burdens of pain and tensions, enter the dangerous unknown abyss, and embrace their difference. The child moves into the unconscious darkness’s chaotic, bleak, and frightening world.

The hero, in recovery, is burdened with having to recover from wounds that were not the result of their own doing and action; however, as adults, they are responsible for tending to the aftermath of the experience. The hero searches for the disjointed, disorganised and rejected aspects of the self and needs to find the strength, resources, and potential from within, now as an adult. The hero has to allow the ego, the fantasised idea of oneself, to be annihilated so that they can fashion the true self. The hero immerses themself in the emotional depths of despair, having to re-experience and contain the disassociated feelings experienced as a child—the need to confront their deepest conscious challenges and undergo their most significant psycho-spiritual growth. Once the ego has been crushed and reborn, the hero is ready for initiation, ready to face the trials and obstacles obstructing spiritual truth.

Mundane Life

Conquests are often tied to revelation and insight, where one must confront the mundane and normal whilst functioning within society. Here are some examples ;

  • Trying to operate as a member of extended family
  • Managing commitments and pressures at work
  • Discovering one`s inner talents and new interests
  • Cultivation of new meaningful friendships and social identity
  • Navigating romantic feelings and beginning to understand true and mature sexuality.

These mundane tasks may lead to enormous frustration, anxiety, self-sabotage and judgment as the ego tries to hold onto its grip. The inner sense of failure hurts, and wounds are exposed for healing. Unable to do anything right, sensing the false self will be uncovered and humiliated again. This is when the hero encounters the goddess, the nurturing essence, the source of all beauty and the natural world, discarded and rejected as a child. She will help one cultivate positive qualities and build inner strength and self-esteem. The soothing figure can understand, love, and value the child, who can see the true goodness beneath the hardened outer shell of the ego. The healer who can aid the hero in moving past layered defences, helping the child see a glimpse of their inner beauty, regardless of the fear it may create.

The goddess will initiate practices, affirmations, wisdom, skill, and conscious intentions to grow.

Atonement with the Father

The world of tasks, achievements, and systems is a masculine reality. The father will guide the child outside the home’s confines and into the wider world. With the love of the goddess (mother) and the father’s support, the child is ready to should adult responsibilities. The father helps the child let go of their grandiosity and infantile resentments of childhood and be an appropriate vessel for transformation. The child can then embrace and integrate the dual aspects of the mother (feminine) and masculine (father). The father saves the child from the clutches of the devouring mother, the negative feminine who wants to keep the child for her narcissistic needs and fulfilment.

The hero can move beyond the goddess into divinity and experience their spiritual humanity. Able to see beyond the tension of opposites, beyond good and evil, inner and outer, etc. The opposites are transcended as the hero locates their deepest identity in the spiritual realm. The final return to the mundane is another great challenge, as one may seek isolation, peace, and simple life. The hero may be destined to unify the false realities where the world needs renewal from spiritual wisdom. They may face scepticism, cynicism, and resistance from those who most need the hero`s message. The hero has to re-emerge into the forgotten atmosphere of the unconscious man, who already imagines they are complete. Bringing the ego-shattering, life-redeeming elixir as the hero has to endure the blows of hard resentment and people’s inability to grasp and understand.

The journey’s end comes with another sacrifice, the remains of any self-identity or righteousness, surrendering a vessel to the will of spirit. Here is the deepest freedom, freedom from desires and suffering, freedom from infantile and limited ego consciousness. The final stage is to give back the gifts of trauma, recovery, and spiritual development.

  • Heightened capacity for understanding others (Empathy)
  • Heightened capacity to work with other’s pain (Healing)
  • The heightened vision of goodness (Morality)
  • A heightened sense of creativity (Imagination)
  • Heightened capacity to persevere (Focus)
  • Heightened spiritual or psychological drives and depth

The acceptance that good can come from trauma and suffering, with a willingness to never be a victim again, married with vigilance, self-protection amongst their values.

Fordman, M (2020) The Monster’s Journey: From Trauma to Connection, Independently published