TRAUMA AND SOUL 2

The soul’s  development

An important aspect of the traditional idea of the human  soul that recom- mends  it for our  use in this book  is the  fact  that  traditionally the soul is always a  creature   of  both  worlds=-divine   and  human,   time-bound and eternal,  mortal  and  immortal. Straddling these  two worlds, the soul is the seat of our dual destiny and home to what Shakespeare called our «immor- tal longings.»  It is also home  to what Jung  called  our  »religious instinct» Qung, 1959b: para. 653).

Moreover,  the  soul is understood to  develop from  its  original  onencss

with the divine, to an evolving condition of «two-ness»   as it gathers  worldly experience and  ultimately  to «threeness» as it re-relates (re-links as in re- ligeo or religion) again to its spiritual  origins.  Many years ago, in a letter  to his brother   George, John  Keats (1891: 255-6)  described the  soul’s evolu- tion as follows:

Call the world if you Please «The Vale of Soul-making.»  Then  you will find out  the use of the world….   I say «Soul making» Soul as distinguished from  an Intelligence –  There  may be  intelligences or  sparks of the  divinity in millions  –  but  they are  not  Souls till they  acquire  identities, till each  one  is personally itself.  Intelli- gences are atoms of perception – they  know and  they see and they are pure,  in short they are Gocl-  How then  are Souls to be made? How then are these sparks which are God to have identity  given to them – so as ever to possess a bliss peculiar  to each ones  individual existence? How, but by the medium  of a world like this? …  Do you not  see how necessary a World of Pains  and  troubles  is to school an Intelligence and  make it a soul? A Place where  the  heart  must feel  and  suffer  in  a  thousand diverse  ways!…  As various  as the Lives of Men are –  so various become  their  souls, and  thus  does God  make  individual beings,  Souls, …  of  the  sparks  of his own essence. This appears  to me a faint sketch of a system of Salvation which <loesnot  affront our reason and humanity.

In Keats’ view the innocent soul, a divine substance or spark,  is shaped  by suffering as it confronts the pains and  troubles  of this world.  Considered from  this point  of view,we  all start off as a human/  divine uníty-a    oneness,

but the process of our separate human  development means the descent  or emptying out of our  «divinity»  (kenosis)  into  human  particularity  and  lim- itation.  It represents a fall away from  that  primordial sense of oneness  in the Carden, into  two-ness. In developing  a self we inevitably become  self- centered and  self-conscious.  We leave the  garden  of our  innocence and now, ·       knowing  good  and  evil, live  in exile-«East  of Eden,»  conscious   but alienated.

Such  alienation from  our  essential  nature   seems  to be  the  necessary and  inevitable  price  paid  for becoming conscious,  and yet there  remains within us a part  of the  original  oneness  that  longs to retum  to that  great spiritual  reality from  which we carne and  about  which we have forgotten. 7

This splinter  of the divine radiance we call the soul. The soul’s  memory  of its  origins  are  celebrated   in  many  religious and  mythological  stories  all over the world, and  also in the dreams  of contemporary  individuals. One of  the  most  beautiful cultural  versions  is an  Iranian  Gnostic  story,  The Hymn   of the Pearl, found   in  the  apocryphal Acts of the Apostle  Thomas (jonas,  1963: 112ff.) where the protagonist leaves  his Heavenly home,  falls into  «Egypt»  (this world),  has amnesia  for his heavenly mission, and  must be awakened  to his divine  origin  and  destiny  by a letter from  his  father. He has forgotten who he really is,  until this calling from another  world.

A similar process  can happen in depth  psychotherapy for the survivors of early trauma.  In psychoanalysis people  go over and over their stories  in order  to integrate the multiple parts  of themselves from the past-all    the while searching for a new unifying pattern, a new center that may change their  perspective on themselves. They are waiting for that letter-that rec- ollection that  takes them  beyond  all the personal memories into a deeper ground  that makes sense of their  lives when  nothing  else ever has.  Sorne- tirnes  the  «letter»   comes  in  dreams. We  will see  dramatic  exarnples  in Chapters 4, 7,  and 9.

If  we  put  all  this  in  the  psychoanalytic   language  of developmental object-relations  and  attachment  theory, we  would say that in the  optimal process  of  this  descent  into   time-and-space   reality,  the innocent  soul, reaching   out  for  experience,   is met        a  reasonably  empathic  environ- ment,  and  the  soul  takes up  residence in  the  body  (secure  attachment). Winnicott  described the  process  as the  «indwelling»  of the psyche in the soma-a      mystery   that   happens    as  the   mother    «introduces   and   re- in troduces  the  baby’s  mind  and  body  to  each  other»  (Winnicott,  1970:

271).

The result is that  the child makes a mediated descent frorn omnipotence to the reality principie, from innocence to experience.  This is always a dis- illusioning  process   (see  Kohut,  1971)  but   «good  enough»  mothering rneans it  does not  happen   too fast and  that  there  is a «payoff» in psychic structure or growing ego-strength for each  loss of omnipotence  and gran- diosity.  Along  with  psychosomatic   indwelling,   the  other  payoff  in  this optimal process  is what Winnicott (l 964a: 112) calls «personalization»  by

which  he  simply  means  becoming  a  self  as a  coherent  unit   or  whole person.  A whole  person  is a psycho-somatic unity  who  embodies a vital spark at the center  of its integrated body/mind being.  Chapter  5 addresses this issue of psycho-somaticwholeness-how  the defensive  system compro- mises it, and how depth  psychotherapy holds the promise  of restoring it.

The  reader  will note  that  there  is something mysterious-even   spirit- ual-in    Winnicott’s concepts  of personalization and  indwelling. Winnieott

<loesnot  say precisely  what it is that  descends into  the  soma  through   the mother’s  mediation.  Sometimes he  calls  it  the  «mind,»  sometimes   the «psyche.»At one  point  he suggests tentatively  that  it might  be thought  of as «the self which is not the ego  [but]  is the person  who is me, who is only me, who has a totality …  and finds itself naturally placed  in the body, but may …  become  dissociated from  the  body» (1970: 271). At another   place

( l 969b: 565) he says:

It is not  clear  what  to call  that  part  of the   personality which  in health  becomes  closely bound  up with the body and  its functions, but  which  needs  to  be  considered  separately. One  can  use  the word «psyche,» but  this may suggest to the reader  something that is connected with the spirit and even with spiritualism.

In  the  various  chapters   of this  book  we will take  one  small step  beyond Winnicott here  and  unapologetically use  the  word  soul  to stand  for  that part  of the  personality «which in  health  becomes closely bound   up  with the body.» It will not  disturb  us if we find  this part  to be intimately «con- nected  with the spirit and even with spiritualism.»

Since the publication of The Inner  World of Trauma:  Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit (Kalsched, 1996), my attention has been  drawn more  and more  to the salient  moments in the work that seem to be most significant for change  and healing.  Surprisingly, these moments often  seem to have a spiritual  aspect  as well as a relational one.  Within  the  psychotherapeutic dialogue there  are moments in which  a soul-full mystery at the  center  of personality  is  glimpsed  or   shared   by  both   participants.  Often   these moments are occasioned by intense  suffering,  where  thc patient  finds the courage  to bear  sorne of the  pain  of his or  her  traumatic past-perhaps witnessed for the first time  (see Chapter  1). In so doing,  he or she breaks through  to a wider perspective (wholeness) anda  place of self-acceptance, beyond  blame or victimization. Or perhaps  therapist and  patient  together have weathered an emotional storm  and found  their way through  a fright- ening conflict to a place of calm and understanding where love flowsonce again.   Often,   such   moments  arise  when   we  are  moved   by  a  deeper meaning or larger  perspective than  the  ego’s  usual  orientation. Perhaps the uncanny wisdom of a dream  emerges  into  consciousness between  the therapeutic  partners,  filling  them  with  a  sense  of  appreciation  for  the psyche’s  deep   intelligence  and   beauty   (see  Chapter   7).  Or  perhaps   a

«synchronous» event  occurs,  filling  both  analytic partners   with a myster- ious sense of the hidden  spiritual.’ material  connections that transcend the otherwise clear boundaries between  self and other.

Whatever  its form,  such  moments are  universally healing   and  trans-

formative.   They  lead   to  the  strengthening  and  personalization of  the soul-its    «indwelling» in the body. The  indwelling soul confers a feeling of being  real-a    sense  that  we have a God-given right  to be here.  At its best, then,  psychotherapy is partly  a spiritual  discipline  helping   both  parties participate in  this world  as a potential space  in which  both  material  and spiritual  energies  support  each  other  toward  the goal of whatJung  called individuation-realizing       your   destiny,   becoming  who  you   really  are, becoming an ensouled person.

The ínterruption of trauma

The  subtitle  of this book  is «A psycho-spiritual approach to human  devel- opment  and  its interruption.»  Trauma  constitutes  an interruption  of the normal  processes  through  which an embodied, true self comes into being. The  early  trauma  we  are  focusing   on  in  this  book  is  relational  trauma because  it  occurs  in  the  earliest   attachment  relationship  between   the ínfant  and  his or her  mother.  When  things  are bad enough  in this primal relationship,  the   infant   dissociates  and   this  effectively  interrupts  the normal  process through  which the infant  is coming-into-being in dialogue with reality’s otherness.

Another   way to  say this  is  that  trauma   forecloses  transitional space, which is the intermediate space through  which the infant  is working out a relationship  between   the   inner   and   outer   world,  between   affect  and thought,   between   the  right  and  left  hemisphere  (Schore,   1994; McGil- christ, 2009), between  the body and  the mind  (see Chapter  5). Winnicott (1971:  11-15)  says that  the  hungry  baby  hallucinates the  breast   (inner world)  and  that  the  mother,   in her  empathy,  puts her breast  in the place of the hallucination ( outer  world). At this moment  the baby has an experi- ence of creating the world  (from inside)  and  discovering the world (out there) at the same time.

James  Grotstein  (2000: 49) suggests that  trauma  is about encountering  the

world be/ore  the baby has  had  a chance to create it. In other  words, the infant’s psychic pain  is unbearable  and  defenses  become  necessary  for  survival. The slowlyindwelling soul can no longer  afford to risk its descent  into the body  through   transitional space.  Indwelling ends.  Personalization ends, leading  to de-personalization. The  unfolding process of the soul’s incarna- tion is temporarily suspended, and  a second  world is pressed  into  service to provide  a mytho-poetic matrix  for the soul. But the relationship to the outer  world is compromised. The  trauma  survivor will often  describe  this experience as being  «broken» oras  «losing my innocence forever»  (see the case ofjennifer in Chapter   1).

When   the  personality  is forced   to  dis-integrate  in  this  way, it is hard   on the  soul.  The  soul  cannot    thrive   and  grow  in  the  fragmented   personality. Its preferred   medium    is the  psycho-somatic  integrate,   where   all  the  capa- cities  of the  self are  representcd    as parts   of a whole.   With  the  psyche   frag- mented,    the  soul  cannot    indwell   in  the  body-it      cannot    set  up  residence as a divine/human    principie   of  inner   sustainment.   Perhaps    it visits  occa- síonally  as an  unbidden  guest,   but  with  only  this  flickering  ghost-like   pres- ence   of  the  soul,  the  person’s    sense   of  animation   and   aliveness   is mostly gone.   This   is  because    the   soul   is by  definition,   this  very  animation   and aliveness-the     center    of  our   God-given    spirit-the     vital  spark   in  us  that «wants»  to incamate  in  the  empirical  personality  but  needs   help  from  sup- portive    persons    in   the   environment    to   do   so-help    that   is  often    not available.

Without    this  help   the  psyche   provides  a partial   cure   of  trauma    so  that life  can   go  on,  but   there   is  a  great   price   for  this  self-cure-loss      of  soul. Through     dreams   we  can  see  how  the  innocence-identified     soul  has  been sacrificed    and   given   up   to  another     world   and   we  can   see   the   spiritual powers   that  both  protect    and  persecute   it  there.   In  Chapter    1   we explore sorne  of  the  age-old   mythic   stories   that   embody    this  theme,   featuring   an «exposed»   and  vulnerable  child   and  the  «powers»   that  protector    persecute this child.   Considered   psychologically,  these  light  and  dark  powers   represent the ambivalence  of the  defensioe system  about  the process  of indwelling.  Having experienced   the  unbearable  pain  of trauma,   the  intelligence   that  seems  to inform   the  defensive   system  wants  to avoid  the  suffering  necessary   to come

into   being-necessary     for  innocence   to  gain   experience    (see  Chapters   7

and  8).  Accordingly,  this  intelligence   recommends   a more   mental   form   of chronic     and    repetitive   suffering   over    the    acute    suffering   in-the-body required    for  personal  development.

Known   in  the  literature   as  «neurotic»    vs. «authentic»   suffering,  we  will

see  these  two forms  of suffering  illustrated  in  Chapter  3, where   Dante   and Virgil  descend    into   Dante’s    own  personal  version   of  Hell  to  confront   the dark  Lord  of Dissociation  otherwise  known   in Latín  as «Dis.» Having  found the  courage  (and   the  affect-tolerance)    to  remember   his  dissociated  pain, Dante   finally  finds  his  way out  of  his  depression   and  into   a more   creative and  conscious  form  of suffering  that  leads   (through   Purgatory)   to indwell- ing,  and   ultimately  to  the  renewal   of  his  life.  But  not  befare    he  has  faced the  pain  he  <loes and  doesn  ‘t want  to face.

Throughout   the  cases  in  this  book,  we will find  again  and  again  that  it is relationship   that   heals   trauma.    But  not  just   any  relationship.   The   kind   of relationship   that  makes   a difference   is the  kind  of transformative   relation- ship   actualized   in   the   best    contemporary     psychotherapy    and    psycho- analysis.  Such  a relationship   will have  one  eye open,   looking   outward,  and one   eye  closed,   looking    inward.    Such   a  relationship    will  re-open    both inter-subjective   and   mytho-poetic   space.   It  will  «awaken   the   dreamer»   in the  patient    (Bromberg,  2006),   inviting   both  partners    in  the  psychoanalytic

dyad to «stand  in the  spaces»  (Bromberg, 1998) of dissociated self-states, reflecting on the stormy affects that are generated as the soul re-enters the body, until  reconnections are made  between  affects and  images,  between the present  and  the past, between  the inner  child and its caretakers in the self-care system. Such  a relationship holds  the  hope  that  both  inner  and outer   transitional space  may  open  once  again,  that  connections in  the brain  can  be slowly re-wired,  and  that  archetypal defenses will release  us into human  inter-subjectivity  and ensouled living.

Concludíng thoughts

In my earlier  book,  I acknowledged that trauma  was often a spiritual  crisis requiring the  intervention of powerful archetypal forces from  the  uncon- scious,  and  described these  powers  functioning  as  a  «self-care  system.» Although I  presented  my findings  as tentative and  provisional,  the  ideas presented in  The lnner World of Trauma apparently struck  a chord  with ana- lytic practitioners and  proved  to be  a useful  map  for what  they encoun- tered    clinically    (Bernstein,   2005;   Sinason    and    Cone-Farran,  2007; Wilkinson,  2006).  Other  colleagues  questioned my formulations, finding their implications at variance with Jung’s   classical position  on  the  integ- rative  telas  of  the  individuating self  (Marlan,  2005)  or  raising  questions about whether  archetypal defenses are best thought  of as «innate»  or, pref- erably, «emergent» (Knox, 2003: 129-32).  Whatever the case, my dialogue with these writers has been  invaluable in the process of clarifying my ideas.

Even  more  rewarding, from  a personal point  of view, have  been  the many e-mails and letters  I have received from  trauma  survivors around  the world who happened  upon  my earlier  book  and  found  thercin  a sympa- thetic  and  useful  understanding  of  their  own  self-experience.   Many  of these  letters  highlighted a spiritual  aspect of the book-aspects I had  not intended to emphasize. One  woman, for example,  struggling with depres- sion, wrote:  «When  I read  your book,  the stranger  within me carne to the window and cried.» This woman seemed  to be saying that sorne passages in the book had moved  her  and  mirrored her soul-a  fugitive part  of herself that had become  a «stranger»-but   that now could return  from its place of exile to the threshold between  inner  and  outer  world  (the window).  This, in turn,  enabled  her  to feel her deep  and heretofore unreachable sadness, ancl this was the first step toward healing  her  depression-toward   making her whole again.

This is the  way it is with  the  human  soul. It seems to need  a resonant image from  the human  or non-human  environment (Searles, 1960) if it is to come  forward,  something it recognízes. We can imagine  that  the  infant responds to this resonant image repeatedly, in the deep embodied holding by its mother,  and in the equally soulful eye contact  and gaze that is a part of ·      their  mutual   play ancl loving  connection. These  moments, which  we now realize are so critica! to later «secure attachment» (Bowlby, 1969) and

evento   the healthy formation of the brain  (Schore, 1994, 2003a), are the first quickening of the  soul,  the  earliest  beginning of its «indwelling» as Winnicott would  say. Later,  other  resonant images  will quicken  the  soul through   intimate   contact  with  others  in  the  interpersonal world  oí  the child.

Still later,  and  in other  settings,  this resonance will come from  sources beyond  the  interpersonal-the    beauties  of nature,   the  awesome realities of the  cosmos,  the  soulful  eyes of an  animal,  inspiring music,  elevating ideas-even   psychological descriptions in  a  book!  Therapy  for  the  soul comes in many forms and from many places, not just  in the mother-infant dyad or in its later re-creation in the consulting room  of a psychotherapist.

But for those of us who work in those  consulting rooms, day in and day out,  having a theory  that  honors  the  reality of the  soul and  the depth  of the spirit becomes important. This theory  can  never  be systematic or sci- entific  because  the  soul  and  spirit  are  mercurial realities, quixotic,  inef- fable,  and  can never be pinned  clown.As  the  seat of our  subjectivity,the soul can  never  be  an  object of investigation and  scientific  discourse.  Like light itself, it lives «between  the worlds»-now  particle,  now wave-always evanescent, just  out of reach, leading  us both  out into  the world and back into  the depth  of ourselves. If we were wisewe would probably keep silent about  the soul and learn  to listen. But this is impossible. We are compelled to talk about it, and so we will.

So, in  the  following pages  I will tell  stories about  encounters with  the

soul or spirit. These  stories are  anecdotal and  not  amenable to statistical analysis.Yet they are factual. They are empirical realities,  and so I believe they have a claim on scientific truth.  They actually happened, and  sorne- times they are the most important things  that happened in a person’s  life or in the course of psychoanalytic treatment. They are also the most inter- esting stories on the planet-at   least to this investigator-so  how could we not tell them? Perhaps  their telling in the pages of this book will allow the «stranger»  within sorne readers  to «come to the window» in recognition of that  evanescent shimmering reality  presenting  itself  at  every interface «between the worlds.»We call this reality the human  soul. It participates in both eternity  and time, and so do we.

1

TRAUMA   AND   LIFE-SAVING ENCOUN     ERS   WITH    THE NUMINOUS

Ring the bell that still can ring

Forget your perfect  offering

There  is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s   where the light comes  in

(Leonard  Cohen,  Anthem, 1992)

Mineralogists tell us that if you want to understand the basic structure of a crystal,  you should  examine  the places where it is broken.  In this chapter  I present   a series  of cases where  traumatic experiences have  broken   the «crystal» of people’s  ongoing, otherwise  cohesive lives and  let in a myster- ious light.  The  broken  places  or lines  of cleavage represent what we call moments of dissociation,  and  dissociation is something the  psyche  does in response to trauma.  In order  to protect  us from  the full impact  of expcri- ence  that  is unbearable,  different aspects   of  the  traumatic  experience (sensation,  affect, image)  are fragmented, divided into compartments, and encoded  in segmented «neural  nets» in the brain  (see Badenoch, 2008: 9). In this way they are prevented   from joining up into  a meaningful whole. After  this we no  longer  make  sense  to ourselves.  We can ‘t  tell our  own story as a coherent narrative.

The poet  Emily Dickinson  puts it this way:

There  is a pain – so utter-

That  it swallowssubstance up-

Then  covers the Abysswith Trance- So Memory can step

Around  – across – upon  it-

As one within a Swoon-

Goes safely-  where an open  eye- Would drop  him – Bone by bone.

(Dickinson, 1961:599)

The  traumatic trance  to which the poet  alludes  is something I have preví- ously called the seif-care system (Kalsched, 1996: 4). This system of defenses has a telas or purpose which we will try to discover  in the  following pages. The cases presented in this chapter  and  throughout the  book will provide support  for a tentative  hypothesis-that   the purpose  of the selfcare system is to keep an  innocent  core of the self out  of further   suffering  in  reality,  by  keeping  it «saje» in  another  world. Further,   this innocent  core  of the  self is a sacred somethingwithin    the human  personality that is often referred  to as the soul. The  defensive  system that  «covers the  abyss with trance»  tries to keep  the innocent  remnant   of  the  whole  self  from   being  further   impacted  by suffering-in-reality. This  protection  has  survival value  for  the  individual menaced by a traumatic environment, but  it  proves  to be problematic in the   long   run   because   psychological growth   depends    on   a  relational process through  which the innocent core of the self gradually accrues experience. Dissociativedefenses prevent  this and  thus  compromise per- sonal development.

In its function  of sequestering the vulnerable core  of the  self, the self-

care  system  employs  certain   very powerful   forces  from   a  layer  of  the unconscious thatJung  called «collective» or «archetypal.» These  forces, in turn,  are often  experienced as spiritual  or «numinous.»1  They can put the person  in a trance  or violentlyfragment the inner  worl<lso that acute pain is  not  experienced. They are  trans-egoic powers,  and  hence,  in studying the protean  forces that  come  to the psyche’s  rescue  in traumatic dissocia- tion, we are given a viewinto  the dark hinterland of psychic reality where otherwise   invisible  powers  reside.  These   powers2    normally support   the ego’s functioning, but at critica! mornents (trauma) they are recruited for defensive  purposes,  and  without  help  this  leads  to psychopathology and unlived life.

What  I have called  trans-egoic powers  are visible in  drearns  and  other imaginative products  of  the  human   psyche  during   the  psychotherapy process.  These  personified presences are  found   in  all  the  cases in  this chapter  and  the others  that follow.As  the reader  will discover, individuals with  a  history  of  childhood  trauma   frequently seem  to  have  access  to altered  states in which  they are  tuned  in,  as it were,  to frequencies that most  of us cannot  see  or  hear.  Many of  them  apparently have  genuine paranormal  abilities   (see  Reiner,   2004,  2006).   The   otherwise   invisible world of spirit seems more  accessible to them,  and  their  dreams  are sorne- times archetypal dramas  like something out of science-fiction films such as Star Wars or mytho-poetic sagas like Lord  of the Rings.   Sometimes they have had life-savingencounters with the positive side of the numinous, a «voice» or a «presence» that has come  to them  in a moment   of great  need  like a guardian angel,  and  given them  a kind  of  inner   security  that  no  outer human  being has ever provided.

At other  times, however, they seem  to be menaced by dark  and fright-

ening  energies  and images-demonic   voices or persecutory inner  entities

that  can  attack, shame,  and  humiliate them  from  within,  re-traumatizing them   and  driving  them   to  despair   and  abject  hopelessness,     sometimes even  to suicide. Whether positive  or  negative,  these  volcanic  and  imper- sonal   libidinal   or  aggressive  powers  are  the  untransformed,   therefore mythological,  expressions  of what Winnicott and other  object-relations theo- rists call childhood omnipotence. But they also seem to be more than that. They  are  the  personified representatives    of  universal  archetypal  forces and,  as  such,  they  seem  to  be  ordered  by  a  central   archetype  with  a remarkable  «intelligence.»    In  this  sense,   childhood   omnipotence   has  a kind  of  «implicare  order»   (see Bohm,  1980)  that  unfolds  in  predictable patterns.

In this chapter  we explore  the striking relationship between trauma  and encounters with positive, integrative  aspects  of  this archetypal  dimension  ( the darker aspects of the dissociative powers will be explored  in Chapter  3,

4, and 9).  The people who have such positive, integrative experiences never

forget them. And followingsuch experiences,  many of them report that they are no longer afraid of death. We might speculate that in these moments the subject  momentarily sees through   a veil that  normally  separates  ordinary reality from non-ordinary   reality. Such moments  provide glimpses or «hints» of a transcendent  or ineffable dimension to human  experience.

Depth  psychology’s  discovery   of the  spirit  world

Many of the pioneers of depth  psychology have described «spiritual» phe- nomena  suddenly visible through  a gap. created by trauma,  although their dis- coveries have remained on  the margins  of accepted  theory.  For example,

100 years ago,  the  great  American psychologist WilliamJames described how  experiences  that  appear   to  «break»  us   (trauma)   also «open»   us  to another dimension of experience which we are inclined  to label  as soulful or spiritual:

Briefly, the facts I have in mind  may all be  described as expcri- ences  of  an  unexpected    life  succeeding   upon   death.   By  this   I don’t   mean  immortality, or  the  death   of  the  body.  I mean  the deathlike  termination of certain  mental  processes within the indi- vidual’s  experience, processes   that  run  to  failure,  and  in  sorne individuals, at least, eventuate in despair. …   The  phenomenon  is that  of  new  ranges  of  life  succeeding   on  our  most  despairing moments. There  are resources in us that naturalism with its literal and  legal virtues never  recks of, possibilities that  take our  breath away,of another  kind of happiness and power, based on giving up our own will and  letting  something higher  work for us,  and these seem  to  show a  world  wilder  t.han  either   physics  or  philistine ethics can imagine.

(James,  1977: 137-8)

In  the  same lecture, James  goes on  to say· that  he  finds  the  various  facts concerning  the   divided   or   split  personality  demonstrated   by  Janet, Charcot,  and  others  to provide  the strongest evidence  yet for our connec- tion to a wider spiritual  world or environment from which we are ordinar- ily shut  off. His findings  support  the binocular vision of «two worlds» that we are taking in this book:

In a word, the believer is continuous, to his own consciousness, at any rate, with a wider self from which saving experiences flow in. Those  who  have  such  experiences distinctly  enough   and  often enough  to live in the light of them remain  quite unmoved by criti- cism, from whatever  quarter  it may come ….  They have had  their vision and  they know-that   is  enough-that    we inhabit   an  invis- ible spiritual  envíronment from which help comes, our soul being mysteriouslyone with a larger soul whose instruments we are.

(james,  1977:  139)

And, James  suggests,  these  two worlds  are  often  potentiated by traumatic experience. In  his  1896 Lowell Lectures  James  concludes: «If  there  are supernormal powers,  it is through   the  cracked  and  fragmented self that they enter»  (quoted  in Taylor, 1984: 110).

Later,  Sandor  Ferenczi made  a similar  discovery quite  independent  of James.  Recorded in  his  Clinical Diary (Ferenczi,   1988)  he  showed  how certain  «primordial powers»-long   since  dormant-were    «awakened» by trauma.  «In moments of great need,»  he said,

when  the  psychic  system proves  to be  incapable of an  adequate response, or when  these  specific  [psychic]  organs  have been  vio- lently destroyed,  then  the primordial psychic powers  are  aroused and  it will be these  forces  that  will  seek to overcome  the  disrup- tion ….          These reflections open  the wayto an understanding of the surprisingly intelligent reactions of the  unconscious in moments of great distress …  [including] incidents of clairvoyance.

The  Intellect   [in such  cases] is without  time  and  space,  there-

fore supra-individual. «Orpha.»

(Ferenczi,  1988: 6-13)

«Orpha»  was the  name  that  Ferenczi  gave to a remarkable inner  object that  had  come  to the .rescue   of a patient  named  Elizabeth Severn, identi- fied in the Diary as «RN.» Orpha  was no ordinary inner  object,  but rather identified itself  as  Elizabeth   Severn’s   «guardian angel»-an    inner,   all- knowing,  precociously intellectual part  of  the  self that  seemed   to  have access to higher  powers. Ferenczi and his patient  were able to reconstruct the life-savingactivities of this remarkable inner  object. At the moment  of impossible suffering,  Orpha  would exit through  an imaginary hole in the

patient’s   head,   ascend    into   the   starry   vault,   and   become    an  «astral   frag- ment,»  shining   off in  the  distance   like  a star,  fuli of compassion  and  under- standing  while  the  patient’s    body  was being   tortured    and  abused   (Ferenczi,

1988:  206).   After   the   acute    trauma    had   passed,    Orpha    would   descend again   and  help   the  shattered   child   assemble  sorne  kind  of minimally  func- tioning   self with  which   to go  on  existing.

Ferenczi   speculates    about   the  spiritual   implications    of Orpha:

To  what  extent   do  those   who  have  «gone   mad»  from   pain,   that  is, those  who  have  departed   from   the  usual  egocentric   point   of view, become    able   through     their   special   situation  to  experience   a part of that  irnrnaterial   reality   which   remains    inaccessible   to us materi- alists?  And   here   the  direction   of  research    must   become    involved with  the  so-called   occult.   Cases  of thought    transference   during   the analysis  of suffering  people    are  extraordinarily   frequent    …  and  it is possible   that  even   the  intelligence  of which  we are  so proud    is not   our   property   but   rnust   be  replaced   or  regenerated    through the  rhythmic  outpouring   of the  ego  into  the  universe,   which  alone

is all knowing  and   therefore  intelligent.

(Ferenczi,    1988:  33)

C.G. Jung   was led  toward   a similar   discovery  and  toward   similar  mystical speculations   by  observing   the   creative    fantasy   products   of  sorne   of  his severely   traumatized    patients   at   the   Burgholzli   Psychiatric    Hospital   in Zurich,   where   he  spent   his  early  years  as a psychiatrist.    It  is unlikely   that Freud   ever  experienced   the  florid   psychotic   features   so  typical  of the  life- threatening   early  trauma    thatJung   saw in  these  patients.

What   really  excited   Jung  were  the  archaic   and  typical   (archetypal)   par-

allels  between   his patient’s   dream   and  fantasy  productions   and  the  mytho- logical    and   religious     imagery    with   which    he   was  acquainted      from    his classical  studies.   These   parallels  had  already   been   noted   by other   investiga- tors,  most   notably   Frederick   Myers,  whose   work   ( 1903)  was  perhaps    the first  great   resource    for  a psychology    of the  subconscious     mind.   Myers  had talked    about     a   mstho-poetic  function      of   the    unconscious,    available    in glirnpses   of «anothcr   world,»   i.e.,  a deeper    stratum   of the  subliminal  mind sometimes  activated  in  cases  of  severe   dissociation.    Both  James   and  Jung saw here   the  possibility   that  «another  world»  of reality  might   shine  through from  this  deep   stratum    in  the  unconscious.

The   idea   that   mytho-poetic    images   represent   a different  world  of  real- ity~psychic reality-was Jung’s    painful   discovery   during   the  despairing  time after   his  break   with  Freud    and   recorded   in  the  Red Book (Jung,   2009).   In his  «active  imagination»   Jung    treated    the  invisible   «powers»   of his  dreams and  visions   as  real.  He   spoke   with  them   and   they  responded-often       with information   and  wisdom   that  Jung   did  not  know  consciously.   The  relative autonomy   of   these    personified    psychic    powers    was  something    all   too

familiar   to Jung   from  his psychotic   patients.  But  the  idea  that  such  powers might   be  «organized»    by meaningful-even      redemptive-motifs      having   to do  with  the  human   soul,  that  was something   else  again.

Freud   could   not  follow Jung   into  this  rnytho-poetic  territory,  Freud   rec- ognized   that  our  basic  instincts    (Triebe)    out-pictured   themselves   as mental representations,     but   he   hesitated   to   attribute     any   kind    of  ontological «reality»   to  them.   Instead   he  called   their   psychic   reality  a «particular  form of existence»  ( eine besondere Existenzformi,  which   got  its reality-like   character from   the  undeniable   power   of  the  unconscious   (see  Loewald,   1978:  8-9). Although  seemingly   «real,»  this  world,  he  said,  was not  to be  confused  with factual   or  material   reality,  i.e.,  the  ego’s  world.   HenceJung    became   a man of «two worlds»  while  Freud   insisted   that  psychic   reality  be  reduced,  where possible,    to  one   world   («where    id  was,  ego   shall   be»).   This   difference   is foundational   in  assessing   the  relative   contributions   of Freud   andJung     to a psychology    of  religious    experience.   For  Jung,    «psychic   reality»   has  a  col- lective   layer   and   mediates   «spiritual»     experience.    To   relate    consciously with  this world  is good  for  the  soul.

Encounters with the mystery

The   following    personal   stories,    several   frorn   my  own   practice,   describe encounters   with  the  mysterious    «powers»   residing   in  the  collective   layer  of the   psyche.    Each   was  constellated    by  a  traumatic   experience.    My  first example   is  a  story  I’ve  written    about    elsewhere   (Kalsched,     1996:  41).   I repeat   it here   because   it gives  a vivid example  of the  uncanny  intelligence of   the   psyche   and   because    it  demonstrates    so  clearly   the   relationship between   the  «broken   places»   and  the  «light.»

Little girl and the angel

The  story» comes  indirectly  from  Esther   Harding,  a Jungian    analyst  in New

York  to whom  it was reported    by the  mother    of a little  girl,  aged  6.

The   mother    sent   her   young   daughter    to  her   father’s    study   one morning  to deliver  an  important   note,  written   on  a piece  of paper. The   little  girl  went  off  to  deliver   the  note.   Shortly   thereafter   the daughter   carne  back  in  tears  and  said  »I’m  sorry  mother,    the  angel won’t    let  me  go  in.»  Whereupon    the   mother    sent   the   daughter back  a second   time,  with  the  same  result   only  this  time  more   tears and   distress.   At  this   point    the   mother     becarne    irritated     at  her youngster’s   imaginative   excess,   so  she   took   her   little   girl  by  the hand    and   thc   two  of   them    marched    the   rnessage    over   to   the father.    As  they   entered     the   father’s     study,   the   mother     saw  her husband    slumped  in  his  chair,   his  drink   spilled   on  the  floor,  dead from  a heart   attack.

This story brings  home  to us the  miraculous   and  daimonic powers  of the  archetypal psyche  in  its  efforts  to  preserve  what  I  have  called  the imperishable   personal   spirit  or  soul.  The  painting   by Henrietta   Wyeth (Plate   2)  called  Death and the Child illustrates   this poignant moment. In this arresting image  an  angel  is covering  the  eyes of a child  so that  she does  not  «see» the  unbearable  reality of death.  As  the  artist  seems  to be aware,  sorne traumatic  affects simply cannot  be processed with the normal resources available to the ego of a young child,  and deeper  resources need to be marshaled.  These  deeper  resources  are what Winnicott calls «primi- tive defenses,»  but  there   is   no  acknowledgment in  Winnicott of what  a miracle  they are,  or  how essential  their  «spiritual»  content   can  be  to the emotional survival of a child.

There  are three  ways to interpret this event. If we took the usual materi-

alistic/ reductionistic view, the child «made up»  the angel in order  to toler- ate the intolerable …   thus  the angel would be a fantasy, an hallucination, a «spiritual defense.»  Freud  thought   all religion  was a derivative  of such defenses   .  .  .      fantasies   to  make   the   intolerable   realities   of  life  more tolerable.

On the other  hand,  from a «supernatural»  perspective, we would say that

the  guardian angel,  representing  a  genuine   spiritual  agency,  intervened from 1’011  high» in the little girl’s earthly existence,  ata  moment  of imposs- ible suffering, and  blocked  her  access to her  father’s  room.  The  Christian church might describe such an event as a genuine  miracle of «salvation.»

A (third)  psycho-spiritual  approach (between  the worlds)  might  go as follows: The  guardian angel  could  be  viewed defensively-yes, but  then comes  the  question, what  is- it defending? And  where  does  its uncanny wisdom  and  compassion come  from?  Could  the  angel  represent a uni- versal self-protective  agency  from  the  collective  layer of the  unconscious (resident perhaps   in  its  «celestial»   or  «spiritual»  component-see Jung,

1988: 441-4)  that  sometimes  intervenes  in the ego’s affairs when  it is  con- fronted  by the «too much»  of trauma,  like Ferenczi’s  Orpha?  This agency seems  to know something  the  ego doesn’t-as if the angel  «saw» the ego- annihilating  horror   of what  this little  girl was  about  to experience    (her father ‘s death)  and appeared at precisely that rnoment  to block the thresh- old of his room. This angel would have put the little girl in an altered  state («covered  the abyss with trance»)  and in this way dissociated  her  from  an unbearable reality until  her mother  could help mediate  and  humanize her overwhelrning anxiety and  grief. In other  words, the angel would have pro- tected  the child’s  soul from annihilation.

So in this third  (mytho-poetic)  view,  the angel would also be a defense

against too much  reality too soon, but  the «goal»  of the defense  would be neither  salvation  nor  hallucinatory  protection.  More  primarily,  its  «goal» would be to restare a mytho-poetic matrix  between reality and f antasy because this is where  the little gfrl ‘s soul lives, and the angel appears  to be a guardian of this soul. So conceived, the survival of the soul is the main «purpose» of the seif-care system.

To   say  that   the   human    soul   lives  in  a  mytho-poetic   matrix    between reality   and  fantasy  is one  way to  think   about   the  importance   of what  D.W. Winnicott  means   by transitional   space   between    the  mother    and  baby,   self and   other,   self  and  world.   Transitional   space   is,  for  Winnicott,   the  space through    which   the  baby  makes   the  crucial   transition  from   omnipotence    to the  reality   principie.   It involves  mysterious  processes  like  the  «indwelling» and   «personalization»   of sorne  vital  spark   of  the  person    so  that  something more is going  on  than  the  baby’s  hallucination    of the  breastjoined    up  with the  mother’s   actual   breast   (see  Introduction).    There   is also  an  inner   proc- ess-a      transitional   space   between    the   ego   and   its  deep   ground    in  what Jung   calJed  the  Self. This  is apparently   the  «space»  where   angels  and  other hybrid   daimonic beings   have  their  hybridexistence.

In  this view,  perhaps    the  little  girl’s   angel  provided  an  inner transitional figure-an     intermediary-in      the  absence   of an  outer   one.  At the  moment of dissociation,   perhaps    this  inner    reality   bleeds   through     the  dissociative rupture    into  o u ter  reality  and  appears    as an  externa!    «being.»   This  mytho- poetic   «blood»   eventually   scabs. over  and  plugs   the  impossible  wound   with a universal   story,  before   the  personal   story  can  even  get  started.   But  in  so doing,  it gives the  little  girl’s  ego  something   to hang   onto,  something   mov- ingly  true   about   the  soul’s   need   at  this  moment,   i.e.,  somebody  cares! And this   «somebody»    seems   to  be  more    than   the   actual   mother-or      at  least more   than   the  actual  mother   at this moment.

One   might   ask,  «How  <loes any child   metabolize   the  reality   of  death- death    of  her   beloved    father-no      matter    how   adequate    the   outer    medi- ation?»   Aren  ‘t  we all  «orphans  of the  Real»   in  this  sense?  And  don ‘t we all have  mytho-poetic   (spiritual)    stories   that  provide    a matrix   of  meaning   to help   hold   our  souls  in  being,   on  the  edge   of that  frightening   abyss  called death?    Does  it  sometimes   take   a  trauma    to  render     the   ultimate    mystery into   an  adequate  story?  Maybe  even  to  make   it livable?   Trauma    confronts the  child   with  the  pains   of living  before   resources   are  available   from   out- side-therefore      requiring  inner   resources,   «spiritual  resources.»  Otherwise the  soul  stumbles.

We  do  not  know  the  end   to  this  story.  We  don’t    know  if this  little  girl would   have  been   one   of  Grotstein’s   «orphans   of  the  Real»  or  not.   If  the mother’s   empathic   mediation   of  this  experience   was  adequate   and   help was  found   to  metabolize   this  trauma    through    play  and   imaginative    atten- tion   to  the  little   girl’s  feelings   and   ideas,   then   the  guardian   angel   would have  served  her  purpose    as a temporary  provider  of a mytho-poetic  matrix for  the  soul.  Eventually   she  would   have  retired   into   the  unconscious   back- ground.     If, on   the   other    hand,    the   mother     disappeared    into   her   own anxiety   and  depression  for  days or weeks,  then   the  daughter’s   angel  might have  turned    into   a pervasive   mental    presence   and  would   have  provided   a substitute  for  reality,   instead    of  being   mixed   up  with   it,  as in  transitional space.   The  angel   would   then   have  overseen  the  encapsulation   of the  trau- matic   experience   so  that  the  sensations,  affects,   and  ideas   associated   with

this  moment    would   be  isolated   from   normal  memory-encoding    processes. Slowly  the  angel   would   have  turned    dark   and  ultimately  would   have  over- seen   further    dissociative  processes.  We  will  see  a vivid  example  of  such   a «fallen   angel»   and   its   violent   effects   in  Dante’s   joumey   into   the  Inferno, the  first  book  of his  Divine Cornedy  (Chapter  3).

My point   in  providing   this  example    early  in  this  book’s   discussion    is to

indicate   how  we might   try  to  hold   simultaneously  a spiritual    and  material view  of  this  mysterious   situation    and   others    like  it.  Referring    back  to  our Inuit   Storyteller    mask   in  the   Introduction     (Figure    I.l),  this  would   mean maintaining   both   inward-   and  outward-focused   vision-a      «binocular»  view. Only  such   a paradoxical   stance   would   do justice    to  the  mysteries   involved in  this  case.  Just   as Winnicott  insists   that   after   the  baby  has  both   created and  discovered  the  breast,   «it  is a matter    of agreement   between   us and  the baby  that  we will never   ask  the  question:   ‘Did  you  conceive  of this  or was it presented   to  you  from   without?»‘   (Winnicott,   1971:  12),   we  would   never ask  the   traumatized   little   girl  in  this   example   whether     she   «found»    the angel    out   there    or   «created»    her   from   within    herself.    Such   a  question would   violate   the  soul   because  it would   threaten     the  intermediate   space, the   mytho-poetic    matrix    where    the   human     soul   finds   a  medium    for   its growth    and   development.    This  is  the   matrix    from   which   all  meaningful stories   grow,  and   the  soul  needs   a  story-a      resonant   image-that    is ade- quate   to its own  biography.

Visitations  at the  moment  of  dying

The   following    two  accounts  involve   near-death    experiences   in  which   the question  of whether    to live or die was mediated    and  witnessed    by a remark- able   presence  who  reassured    both   children   that   they  had   a choice   about life  in  this  world.   In  both   cases  the  story  of this  presence   became   an  inner secret,   privately   cherished     and   not   shared    with   others   for  fear   of  being made   fun  of,  or  seen   as «crazy.»   In  both   cases,    the  telling   of the  story  itself had  a healing   effect.

]ennifer and the angel

A  Iittle   girl,   who   I  will   call   «[ennifer,»    who   later    became     my  patient, remembered   with  great   grief  the  place  where   she  was sitting   in  the  school playground,   separated  from   the  other   children,  when   she  realized   that  she was «broken.»  She  was only  eight  years  old.  But  for  two years  she  had  been sexually   violated   on  a regular   basis  by her   older   step-brother,   who  threat- ened   to  injure   her   if she  told  about   it.  She  knew  she  was  different  now- somehow   damaged,   no   longer    able   to  play,   robbed     of  her   innocence, broken.    We  could   say that   her  heart   had   been   broken    and   this  was  true, but  she  couldn’t    feel  her   own  sadness   about   these   losses  until   much   later in  therapy.    Instead,    she  felt  «bad,»  dissociated,   split  off,  and   like  an  alíen

in  a world   that   other   children    seemed    to  occupy   without    difficulty.  This alienation   was two-fold.   She  felt  alienated  from   people    in  the  outer   world and  she  felt  alienated  from  herself.   Whereas  before   she  had  been   «at-one» with  herself,   playing   and  growing   like  a normal   kid,  after   the  sexual  abuse started   she  was  «at  odds»  with  herself,   «beside»   herself,    split  in  two-one part   observing,  finding   fault  with  herself,   criticizing  and   comparing,   one part   full  of  shame,   anxiously  trying   to  fit in.   The   essential   self  that   she knew   herself    to  be-the       very  heart    of  her   personality-had       gone   into hiding,    so  deep   into   hiding   that   she  herself   had   lost  contact    with  it.  She soldiered  on  with  great   courage   through    her  half-lived  life,  but  something essential was missing   and  she didri’t   know  what  it was.

Whenjennifer     grew  up  and  entered    therapy   with  me,  she  would  tell me she  had   lost  her   soul.  There   were  fleeting    moments,   she  reported,   when her   soul  would   return    to  her-when     she  painted    alone   in  her   studio,   or isolated    times   in  nature-but      most   of  the   time   she   felt   devoid   of  value inside   and   she  was  convinced  of  her   own  lack-her       own   «badness.»  She suffered    terribly,   but  much   of  this  suffering  was  a  corrosive  self-criticism and   shame   about   herself   that   never   relented     even   if  she  found    love  and acceptance   on  the  outside.   It was as though,    in  the  space   inside   which  her soul  had  vacated,   a dark  mocking  spirit  had  moved   in,  a mental   spirit  that negated    everything  and   filled   her   with   despair    and   hopelessness.   As the years  went  by she  began   to feel  more   and  more   defeated-more       and  more «failed»   compared   to others,   and  more   and  more   bitter   and  victimized  by her   circumstances.    She  was  surviving,  but   she  was  not   living.   «I  have   to construct   a self,»  she  told  me  later,   «instead    of  living  out   of  a self.  Other people    seem   to  have   the  right   to  ‘be’   in  a  different   way  than   I  do  …   I always have  to be  ‘for’   someone  or  ‘for’   sorne  other   purpose.»

Therapy    was  a place   where   she   could   begin   to  find   and   tell  her   true story-not     the   false,   self-blaming   victim/perpetrator       story   whispered   to her   in  the   background   by  her   inner    «voices,»   or  by  what   Corrigan   and Gordon    (1995)   might   call  her   pathological   «mind   object.»   But  there   was great  resistance  to  this  true  story  because   of the  grief   that  carne  up  as she began   to  allow  herself   to  feel  compassion  for  the  small   and   helpless   con- fused  little  person   she  was when   the  sexual  abuse   began.   One  of the  mern- ories  that  helped   her  toward   this  self-compassion  was a «visitation»  she  had at age  seven  from   a «presence  of light»-a      presence   she  interpreted    as an angel,   representing    the  positive,   integrative  side  of  the  spirit  world   and  a power   that  supported   her  will to live.

She  was near   death,   lying  in  a busy  emergency  room   on  a gurney   with  a

ruptured   bowel  caused   by the  rape   of her  abusive   step-brother-when       she heard    one   of  the  ER  nurses   remark    «don’t    take   much    trouble    with  her; she’s   not   going   to  make   it  anyway.» She  remembered    fighting    the  sweet smell  of  the  ether   as she  lost  consciousness,  vowing   that  she  would   live to spite   them   and   prove   them   wrong.   Later   she  found    herself   in  a  narrow hospital    corridor    with  the  familiar   pain   that  had   companioned    her  for  so

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long   now  replaced   by  the   dull   ache   of  tight   bandages.   She  wondered   if they    knew    she   was   there     and    that    she    was   still   alive,   despite     their prediction.

At last, she was moved   into  a room   with another    child.  As she  lay on  her

back   watching,    she  saw  this  other    beautiful   blonde    child   sitting   in  bed, coloring-using      crayons   from   a  box   like  she   used   at  school.   It  was  then that  she  formed   the  thought    that  there   could   be  sorne  reason   to  continue fighting.  Though    she  had   closed   her   eyes,  the  image   of  the  large,   bright- colored    crayons                with her   and   the  need    to  make   a                  «Can  I color?»   she  asked.   «I want  to color.»   Her  tenacity   impressed  the  nurses   and they  let ·her   try.  She  became    their   «little   wonder»   the  «rniraculous   recov- ery.»  But  her  recovery   didn’r   last.

Now  it was months    later-a      bitter   cold  winter   aftemoon.   She  was alone in  a somber   timeless space,   a cocoon    of fever  and  pain  from   a recurrence of peritonitis.   She  was lying  in  bed  moving   in  and  out  of sleep,   aware that

things   were not  right,   that  she  was getting   worse not  better,   despite  assur-

anees  to  the  contrary.    She  was alone   with  this  secret.   At  her   side   lay  a remnant     of a Christmas    that   had   occurred without  her.  It was a large   tin box  of watercolors.    While   she  barely  had   the  strength    to hold  her  treasure she  had   spent   the  weary   afternoon   examining   each   color.   Each   one   was like a beautiful jewel  full of possibility and  yet,  now,  as her  vital signs  began to flag,  she  thought    «what use  is this  to me  now?»

The   angel,   when   it carne   to  her,  was in  the  midst   of a soft  white-yellow light   beside   her   to  the  right.   Neither    male   nor   female,   it was at  once   ter- rible   and   cool  and  somehow  unsurprisingly   familiar.   Calmly  and  caringly, the   ethereal     messenger   declared   without    preamble,   »You  don’t    have   to continue;   it’s  all  right   to  let   go  now.»   The   presence   paused    then    con- tinued,    «If you  decide   to stay it won’t   be  easy.»

Jennifer     remembered    that  it was so  tempting   to  let  go  at  thís  moment and  so very easy not  to call  out  for  help.   But  in  her  agonizing  deliberation, her  eyes fell on  the  box  ofwatercolors   and  went  to the  color  Rose  Madder. A sense   of longing   carne  over  her.   «I need   to  use  this  color,»   she  thought. «How can I leave  without               this  color? I must           to                     use  my colors.»   Without    daring   to  look   directly   into   the  light,  she  told  the  angel that  she  knew  that  she  must  stay in life.

In  the   quiet   stillness   of  that   momentary   state   of  grace,  Jennifer     knew that  she  was found   and  held   by a serene   intelligence   beyond   herself.   With her  angel’s   visit, carne  a quiet   sense  of belonging,   a knowing   that  she  was a part  of something  greater   than   herself.

Now  she  had  something   to  do  that  was important   in  the  grand   scheme of things,   and  although   she  didn’t    know  it then,   the  passion   for  color   that helped    her  make   this  choice   for  life,  stayed  with  her   throughout   and  led to her  vocation  as an  artist.

Despite    her   unbearable    childhood    pain   and   almost   complete   loss  of hope,  Jennifer    had  the  privilege  of seeing   through    to something   «beyond

this world» and that made  all the difference. Her  lonely suffering now had a witness. It changed  her  world  view. She experienced  what  the  ancient poetAeschylus meant when he said in Agamemnon   (1957: 9, lines 179-83):

And even in our sleep, pain  that cannot  forget, falls drop  by drop upon  the heart,

And in our own despair,  against our will,

Comes wisdom,

By the awfulgrace of God

Mypatient teared upas  she recounted her story-a   story she had told no one  for  50 years. She  remembered  making  the  decision  for  life, and  it impressed her  that she had  been  able to do  this. The  fact that  this angelic spirit had visited her  and witnessed her  «sicknessunto death,»  then  let her know that there was a bigger story about her life than  the one she could see as a sevenyear old, i.e., namely that she would be «all-right» if she let herself slide down the slipperyslope into death-all  this moved her profoundly. Her recounting of the story moved me profoundly. A kind  of poignant wisdom and soulfuldepth entered  the room, and we were both changed  by it.

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