There are three major models of healing: medical, shamanic, and psychoanalytic. In the first, the doctor does it to you; in the second, the intermediary does it for you; and in the third, Jung’s dialectical process, we work together to discover “the curative powers in the patient’s own nature.” Just as every wounded patient has inner health, every healer has an inner wound. If consciously known and borne, the analyst’s wound serves the healing process.
In Greek myth, Chiron symbolizes the wounded healer, a term Jung originated. A wise and noble centaur, Chiron suffered a painful, incurable wound—and inspired many a Greek hero to reach full potential. Psychotherapy and psychoanalysis attract wounded healers. A recent survey shows that 82% of applied psychology graduate students and faculty in the U.S. and Canada experience mental health conditions. We must be willing, like Chiron, to embrace the darkness of our painful places if we hope to help others embrace theirs.
Here’s the dream we analyze:
“I had just moved into a house with new roommates. One of the roommates was an African American social media personality, and the other roommate was a Latinx man. As a white woman with a privileged background, I felt like an intruder, but was excited to be living with them. In the first week, I get back to the house, and no one is home. In one of the shared spaces, the ‘social media personality roommate has left out materials for one of her projects where she has two mason jars that have been fermenting and infusing for weeks. Both jars are filled with a clear liquid, where the top half of the liquid is red, and the bottom half is blue. One jar is labeled “separated,” and the other doesn’t have a label. Since I’ve seen her video about this on social media, I know that if the labeled jar is shaken, the colors will stay separated, and with the unlabeled jar, they will mix into a purple. Without thinking, impulsively, I grab the unlabeled mason jar and tip it over, watching the colors bleed into each other. I give it a shake, and it turns into a gorgeous, bright, light, almost neon purple. Immediately I realize what I’ve done and that I can’t separate the colors again. I’ve destroyed my new roommate’s weeks of patient work. I feel horrible. I pray for it to reset, but I know it’s too late. I’m in a fancy German University library with my boyfriend. I’m a mess, confessing what I had done. I need to tell my roommate that I am sorry and that I promise I will never touch her work again, but I don’t actually know her real name or phone number. My boyfriend and I are scouring all sources to find a way to contact her: emails, texts, social media, but she uses multiple monikers, and we can’t figure out her real name. I’m sobbing and self-conscious of making noise in the uptight library. My boyfriend tries to lighten the mood and loudly says, “If I’m ever going to have kids, I’m going to do it when I’m 27, not when I’m 34” as a type of joke, which causes a stir in the quiet library and generates some laughter. I’m embarrassed and feel helpless. I know what I want to say to her to apologize, but I am missing key information to be able to contact her.”
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