EXILE & ALIENATION: surviving catastrophic rejection

Mar 25, 2021

Photo Credit: Roi Dimor via Unsplash

Exile and alienation could be considered the external and internal aspects of rejection. Exile is not chosen but is imposed and unwanted: a relational break-up, job lay-off, or deportation. Exile can affect the human spirit so powerfully that the ancient Romans used it as an alternative to execution. Alienation describes an internal state of deadness and despair–an uncanny valley that feels featureless, gray, and unending.

It can manifest as depression, anxiety, addiction, and desperation—which can lead to violence against self or others. A return to feeling heals, movingly rendered in Va, Pensiero in Verdi’s opera Nabucco: the exiled Hebrew slaves sing of their loss, love, and longing for home. Tears transform pain into suffering and restore personal presence in relation to something greater. 

 Here’s the Dream We Analyze:

“I am in a conservatory. It is night and the conservatory is dimly lit. It is a large room between two castle towers, and the stone walls of the castle can be seen at each end of the conservatory. I feel very comfortable in the room and I even begin to consider how I could move in with my belongings. An old friend from my music college years appears and tells me that the stone walls outside are covered with crystals and diamonds. He also says; “the diamonds are strong enough to cut the scales of a dragon.” We then spend some time making incisions in wood with these diamonds, though it feels like a childish exercise. I tell my friend that there is a hidden room in one of the towers and I invite him to follow me to this room. As we walk I mention other rooms (an organ room, a library) and we ascend staircases along the way. The corridors and staircases become more narrow and awkward. I enter the secret room alone; it is empty and very small. I feel extremely uncomfortable, as though there is a strong invisible presence there, and I feel terrified. I leave the room and rejoin my friend; the building is different and we join a crowd of people exiting a theatre. I wake from the dream.”


James Hillman. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0060921013/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_VW9YZNKYGKEFY52D5J41

Edward Edinger. https://www.amazon.com/dp/087773576X/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_TRNS2QBQX31DKJ1AS6GV


Learn to Analyze your own Dreams:  https://thisjungianlife.com/enroll/


  1. Aurora

    The German word for ‘uncanny’ is ‘unheimlich’ which literally means ‘unhomelike’ – interesting in view of your discussion of exile (from home) and alienation (from a feeling of at-homeness in oneself) … and your mention of the uncanny alongside that.

    And by the way, I love your podcasts

  2. Gloria

    Thank you for your podcasts.
    This one is very pertinent to my reflections as an Italian, living in another country by choice. Listening to Va pensiero, brought tears to my eyeys.


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