“You know these things as thoughts, but your thoughts are not your experiences, they are an echo and after-effect of your experiences: as when your room trembles when a carriage goes past. I however am sitting in the carriage, and often I am the carriage itself. In a man who thinks like this, the dichotomy between thinking and feeling, intellect and passion, has really disappeared. He feels his thoughts. He can fall in love with an idea. An idea can make him ill.”
To all appearances, Eleanor Longden was just like every other student, heading to college full of promise and without a care in the world. That was until the voices in her head started talking. Initially innocuous, these internal narrators became increasingly antagonistic and dictatorial, turning her life into a living nightmare. Diagnosed with schizophrenia, hospitalized, drugged, Longden was discarded by a system that didn’t know how to help her. Longden tells the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health, and makes the case that it was through learning to listen to her voices that she was able to survive.
Eleanor Longden overcame her diagnosis of schizophrenia to earn a master’s in psychology and demonstrate that the voices in her head were “a sane reaction to insane circumstances.”
The Red Book has been described as Jung’s creative response to the threat of madness, yet it has also been seen as a deliberate exercise in self-analysis. I believe it’s likely both. When creating The Red Book, Jung knew he was on the verge of madness, and he also knew his analytical skills and expertise as a psychiatrist were his best chance at alleviating suffering, if not creating the conditions for transformation.
In many regards, The Red Book reads like a healing journey — a phrase often used to describe the reclaiming of self after a history of abuse — which is a transformative period that happens for many people committed to overcoming early life trauma. On the way to an authentic self there is first the need to step away from the person one became to survive abuse. Those confronted with this journey often experience a period of ‘going crazy’ on their way to establishing an authentic sense of self.
As The Red Book shows, individuation is a blessed curse. It opens the way to becoming one’s authentic self, and yet also the risk of alienation from the ‘tribe’. Childhood trauma survivors often know this conundrum intimately. Transformation requires a significant reorienting away from the beliefs, feelings, fantasies, and body states that made possible living in traumatizing conditions. Invariably, there is a part of the self that has gone unacknowledged or rejected, and aches to be reclaimed.
In The Red Book Jung found a process for continually rediscovering authenticity. As he often remarked, individuation is an ongoing journey and not an endpoint reached. Jung also intimated the need for what I called in an earlier post leaps of faith: turning away from the larger world’s expectations and towards one’s inner world of wisdom with acceptance and curiosity.
This quote from The Red Book inspires the impulse to creatively go forth into all that you are:
“Woe betide those who live by way of examples! Life is not with them. If you live according to an example, you thus live the life of that example, but who should live your own life if not yourself? So live yourselves.
“The signposts have fallen, unblazed trails lie before us. Do not be greedy to gobble up the fruits of foreign fields. Do you not know that you yourselves are the fertile acre which bears everything that avails you?”
Jung knew such a ‘leap of faith’ is not easy. He also wrote:
“To live oneself means: to be one’s own task. Never say that it is a pleasure to live oneself. It will be no joy but a long suffering since you must become your own creator.”
But he gives helpful advice for the journey, particularly how to live if the world feels contrary to whom you are becoming. Then you must learn to be your own guide:
“To certain things of the world I must say: you should not be thus, but you should be different. Yet first I look carefully at their nature, otherwise I cannot change it. I proceed in the same way with certain thoughts. You change those things of the world that, not being useful in themselves, endanger your welfare. Proceed likewise with your thoughts. Nothing is complete, and much is in dispute. The way of life is transformation, not exclusion. Well-being is a better judge than the law.”
Reprinted in full with permission by the original author Laura K. Kerr, Ph.D, who moderates the blog, Trauma’s Labyrinth: Finding Ways Out Of Trauma. Laura K. Kerr is a mental health scholar, blogger and trauma-focused psychotherapist. [Her] focus is on healing, with special attention to trauma, modernity, and mental health systems of care.
- Lament of the Dead: Psychology after Jung’s Red Book – A Discussion, Part 1 (margaretmikkelborg.com)
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- The Red Book and Psychological Types (carljungdepthpsychology.blogspot.com)
Our society likes to portray obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as a cute quirk, a goofy, if irritating, eccentricity. It is not. For the person undergoing OCD experience, it is a form of mental terrorism.
This terrorism takes the form of what psychologists call ‘intrusive thoughts’ — unwanted, painful thoughts or images that invade one’s consciousness, triggering profound fear and anxiety. This is the ‘obsessive’ part of OCD, and it can arise in even the most mundane circumstances. Sitting here typing, for example, I sometimes feel modest pain in my fingers, and my mind kicks into gear: You’re typing too much and causing permanent damage to your hands. Feel those little irritations at the second knuckle of your left ring finger? Those are the harbingers of arthritis. This is how it starts.
read the rest of the article by Matt Bieber here at Aeon.
Posted in ADDICTION RECOVERY with
In the seven plus decades since AA was formed, the recovery industry has grown by leaps and bounds. While the stigma associated with addiction and alcoholism has not disappeared entirely, society has become much more compassionate toward those who suffer from these afflictions, making it possible for substance abusers to step forward and ask for help without fear of rejection or recrimination.
Treatment for addiction is not a panacea, and only those who are serious enough about recovery to put their hearts and minds and every ounce of energy they have into the process can expect to achieve lasting results. But there is no question that drug and alcohol treatment and rehabilitation centers have provided immensely beneficial services to millions of afflicted souls across the planet, people who might have lost their battles with addiction without the selfless and invaluable assistance of dedicated and highly-trained recovery support networks. There are more than 100,000 people working in the US recovery industry as counselors, administrators, social workers, rehab technicians, and support staff, all of whom made the admirable decision to share their talents, insights, and training with desperate individuals looking to break the chains of chemical dependency.
But what motivates those who choose to work in addiction treatment? Is it just a compassionate attitude in general, or is there another reason for their decision?
From Patient to Counselor: A Chain Reaction of Compassion
Of course the answers to questions like this are always complex. But for many of the 100,000 who have chosen to enter this field, personal experience was apparently a major factor—studies show that more than one-half of all addiction treatment center employees have their own history of substance abuse problems, and this number includes thousands of addiction counselors who, following their return to sobriety, elected to undergo training that would qualify them for work in this blossoming field. Pulled back from the brink by caring professionals, these recovering addicts and alcoholics elected to become counselors themselves, allowing them to “pay their debts forward” by helping others trying to overcome substance abuse find their way back into the light of sobriety.
No one would suggest that direct experience with drugs and alcohol must be a prerequisite for anyone considering a career as an addiction counselor or therapist. Regardless of specialty, a strong knowledge base, good listening skills, and an empathic soul are the essential elements that define an outstanding therapist. Counselors who know first-hand what addiction does to a person’s life and how it actually feels to be inside the addict’s skin may be able to connect with substance-abusing patients on a level that surpasses the ordinary doctor-patient relationship.
In ordinary medical circumstances, the forging of such a bond would not be a priority—few patients going in for cancer surgery would be likely to care whether their surgeons had ever been treated for cancer, for example. But with something as personal and sensitive as addiction or alcoholism, where embarrassment and shame are still often lurking just beneath the surface, the situation is more complicated. For a substance abuser determined to find sobriety, revealing every sordid detail about a history of addiction to a counselor can be incredibly difficult, no matter how much he wants to change. But it is a necessary step, and if an addict in therapy for chemical dependency knows the person he is speaking with has traveled the same path and is unlikely to judge or make unreasonable demands, it could make it much easier for him to open up and tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about what he has been thinking, feeling, doing, and experiencing.
The doctor-patient relationship in a therapeutic setting develops through conversation, as mutual trust and understanding are built up gradually over the course of multiple sessions. While any obstacle that appears could disrupt the development of a productive working association, common life experiences on the other hand can help facilitate a deeper connection, and the addict who has a recovering substance abuser as a therapist will know he is speaking with someone who is equally well-versed in the theoretical andexistential aspects of substance abuse and will not be surprised by anything the addict might reveal. A shared history of addiction can help the patient and the doctor create an atmosphere of healing that is comfortable, relaxed, and controlled, where everything that has happened or that might happen as recovery unfolds can be discussed and evaluated honestly and without hesitation.
Onward and Upward
It is important to emphasize that a highly-qualified addiction counselor with no personal history of substance abuse is preferable to a therapist in recovery whose intentions are honorable but whose skills are lacking. Nevertheless, the desire of many recovering addicts and alcoholics to pay it forward by spreading compassion and healing across the broken landscape inhabited by substance abusers is highly admirable, and it has helped dramatically expand the available pool of talent from which treatment and rehabilitation centers can draw when looking for committed and motivated employees.
Without the eagerness of so many recovering addicts and alcoholics to enter a profession that threw them a lifeline when they were on the verge of drowning, there would not be enough qualified addiction counselors to meet the needs of all the substance abuse victims who want to overcome their problems. So in this case the ‘pay it forward’ concept is clearly working, and in spectacular fashion.
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Melvin has ShizoAffective Disorder. Melvin has no socially constructed ego.
This experiemental, ambient piece depicts the ups and downs, the good days and bad days, the moments when Melvin is “okay” and those moments when Melvin is going through hell. It’s syncopation follows the daily “schizo” moments wherein madness seems to overwhelm the entirety of Melvin’s consciousness and awareness and also those moments of beauty and tranquility wherein the whole of being becomes filled with peace of mind.
This is Melvin’s daily lifestory. Melvin is fine one moment, and in complete madness the next, then after too much of society’s false conventions, platitudes, consumerisms, materialisms, pseudo-complexities, bureaucracies, frivolous and superfluous laws, governments, neuromarketed ego need for shopping and other illusions and imaginary things, for too long, Melvin becomes shell shocked and unable to function. . . like a thousand yard stare.
This Melvin’s dis-ease, this is Melvin’s life. Hit PLAY.
Melvin is a term of endearment given to me by my boyfriend, Stephen. So, this one is personal.
More of my music videos.
[Clips used from the following footage. Some used with permission of CC license and others available in the public domain]:
“Sand City” by Don Whitaker
“sometimes i want to be a monk” from Daniel J Alex
“War Neuroses — Netley Hospital, 1917″ by Wellcome Film
“chicago beach” from doctorfaustroll
“American Look (Part I) 1958″ produced by Handy (Jam) Organization
“The Samaritans – Scream” from HallofAdvertising
“Platinum Fashion Mall, Petchburi Road, Bangkok” from Guido Vanhaleweyk
Image Credit (available through public record from the National Archives):
“Thousand Yard Stare” from The National Archives
I can not underline enough, how very happy I am for all the people willing to share their stories and views of the world with us. I am sorry I have not written a proper introduction to all yet, there is simply to many things to write and too little time. But know I truly appreciate all your posts, and I have to honor especially Judee for also having looked through many posts for grammatical errors (that my Norwegian-prejudiced brain cannot detect). I recently came in contact with the most lovely women, called “Niko”. It touched me how alive and beautiful both her personality and writing was, and emotional softy as I am, her way of describing her inner world, gave me goosebumps and tears in my eyes. I thought: YES! This is how it must be. The slightly (at first) confusing post, made perfect sense since I know many schizoaffectives can have a hard time organizing their thoughts, and have a lot of association here and there. Instead of calling it a “disease” that needs to be “hidden” from view, and just medicated away, I love the thought that also schizoaffective people, like everyone else, have their right to be heard and seen as the wonderful (but sometimes slightly confused) people many of them are.
I am so proud of you, Nico, and look forward to your post as much as I hope rest of you do 🙂
Best regards, Nina (admin and psychologist)
To learn more about me you can check out my About page on my blog, NIKOtheOrb. I also contribute nature videos (on good days, but I have found that being immersed in nature is one of the best medicines for SchizoAffective Disorder) and essays to EXPLORINGtheLATERAL.
- Schizo (nikotheorb.wordpress.com)