Dissociation: Encountering Our Inner Exile

Jul 2, 2020


Jung discovered the psyche’s dissociative nature through his Word Association Test. Subjects would delay or make nonsensical responses to ordinary words associated with troublesome personal memories or traumas.

Dissociation, our autonomous psychic “circuit breaker,” exists on a spectrum from “spacing out” to disorders that interfere with life functioning. Psychotherapy could be considered the practice of healing dissociations, as treatment entails bringing banished contents into consciousness with feeling and understanding.

Fairy tales such as Sleeping Beauty frequently depict dissociation as enchantment, abduction, or dismemberment. Reconnection with consciousness is the happily-ever-after resolution, for dissociation takes psychic energy that should be available for life. Giving our inner exiles a seat at the table of consciousness is crucial to wholeness. 


“I find myself at the bottom of an archaic like pit or well about 5 meters deep. There is very nice warm light coming into the pit, sandy golden and amber colors.  recognize it as a snake pit but the space doesn’t feel threatening. A large four-legged snake appears; at this moment I do feel fear but am also intrigued by this creature. I start climbing up a ladder to escape from the pit and the creature stands on its back legs to tug me down with its teeth. The creature is not violent but insistent. I make my way out of the pit that is bathed in warm light.”


John Bradshaw, Healing the Shame that Binds You (Amazon) 

Bennett Braun, BASK model: scholarsbank.uoregon.edu/xmlui/bitstream/handle/

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