Blessings and Gratitude

6BB54E9A-B5DA-4174-896D-A56CDA967176

Join us online Thursday, November 16th at 5:30pm

Please join us online at 5:30pm on Thursday, November 16th to learn more about the Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices program at Pacifica Graduate Institute! It will be a really nice opportunity for you to get to us a bit, to ask questions or make comments, or simply to quietly be present. Pacifica Courtyeard

Dreams and Integrative Therapy in Our World Today

https://www.pacifica.edu/degree-program/integrative-therapy-healing-practices/dreams-integrative-therapy-world-today/?utm_campaign=DPT&utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social

Distinctions in Sexual Misbehavior

I am quoted in this article by Ruben Castaneda in U.S. News entitled Is there a Link Between Sex Addiction and Sexual Harassment and Assault?

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/mind/articles/2017-10-26/is-there-a-link-between-sex-addiction-and-sexual-harassment-and-assault

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/mind/articles/2017-10-26/is-there-a-link-between-sex-addiction-and-sexual-harassment-and-assault

white leaf in PR rainforest

Integrative Therapy and Healing November 16th Online Info Conversation

Dreams and Integrative Therapy in Our World Today

Please join us at 5:30pm on Thursday, November 16th, for an online information session offered through Pacifica Graduate Institute’s new program focusing on Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices. I will be one of those present on the call to speak a bit about the program and answer any questions. If you are simply curious or feeling a powerful call to apply, we welcome you to join us in a conversation together. Pacifica Courtyeard

https://www.pacifica.edu/degree-program/integrative-therapy-healing-practices/dreams-integrative-therapy-world-today/

Conference at Pacifica Graduate Institute

Come and see Andrew Samuels, Oksana Yakushko, Michael, Sipiora, Fanny Brewster, Jason Butler, Eva Blodget and others speak at an important conference at Pacifica Graduate Institute this weekend! Here is the link for details

Www.pacifca.eduIMG_3974

Non-Consensual Sex on College Campuses

Hands and hair

Non-Consensual Sex on College Campuses

Betsy De Vos has communicated that she intends to rewrite the rules regarding campus sexual assault investigation. This is cause for some concern among many of us. It took years for the phenomenon of campus non-consensual sex to be taken seriously and the types of changes proposed may have detrimental effects on survivors of sexual violations. Controversial discussion is stirring up the pot. Things are out in the open and in the media and voices may speak. Whether they are heard or not, remains to be seen.

In a December 2014 issue of the New York Times, Susan Dominus wrote an eloquent and personal piece about the nuances of non-consensual sex http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/07/magazine/getting-to-no.html?_r=0. I think Dominus articulated something quite important when, while reflecting back on her own experience that occurred at a college party, she wrote “The language we use for a given experience inevitably defines how we feel about it. I could not land on language that felt right—to me—about that encounter. I still cannot.” Many don’t understand what holds people back from immediately speaking about these painful and confusing experiences. Often, when individuals finally do come forward with disclosing after a long period of time has passed, their offerings may be dismissed or disbelieved. It is not uncommon for people to assume that there is some ulterior motive such as financial gain, for instance.

Dominus is not alone in having been the recipient of nonconsensual sexual attention in the context of college life. Current statistics demonstrate that nonconsensual sex occurs in astounding numbers for young adults in college. For example, a recent study with 207 female undergraduates found that 71% had experienced an attempted rape, while 81% disclosed that they had experienced a completed rape (DeCou, Cole, Lynch, Wong, & Matthews, 2017). Northwestern University did a U.S. survey of reported college assaults as well. In their study, they found a similar trend of large numbers of non-consensual sex. With these kinds of numbers, wouldn’t it behoove us to more thoroughly explore the systemic issues that lead to such actions and to how we may collectively address the depth of disregard in our culture for those who have been affected?

In the face of her perpetrator’s six month jail sentence, the woman who had been at a Stanford fraternity party and sexually assaulted behind a trash bin by star athlete swimmer, Brock, did attempt to speak of her feelings in the aftermath of the assault with “I stood there examining my body beneath the stream of water and decided I don’t want my body anymore. I was terrified of it.” She further read in the courtroom “I wanted to take off my body like a jacket and leave it at the hospital with everything else” (as cited in New York Post, Associated Press, June 6, 2016)

Before the electronic age, we had myths shared verbally and then written into story form that were shared among families and cultures. Many often look now to the media for models of the beliefs and behaviors that represent the bell curve of the national or global norms and the stories we live by.

Western Mythology is abundant with messages that are to be taken as metaphorical in the context of the whole self, and there have been myths in the Western world that have included such things as the “rape and slaying of the maiden” (Neumann). Sometimes certain myths end up being passed down intergenerationally on an unconscious level and acted upon literally, such that conquest and domination are valued in a subculture of men, for instance, and myths are skewed in their meaning while violent behavior is perpetuated. This type of attitude appears to be prevalent in clusters of individuals who aspire to a “club” sense of mentality and a focus on “winning.” It isn’t coincidental that many rapes take place at fraternity parties, where group or special club characteristics are present. As Robert Johnson has said, if someone wins it is often at the expense of others. Thus, this preponderance of sexual assault may reflect unconscious drives that aspire toward self-mastery, initiation, and wholeness, but that, tragically, have gone awry, such that we are all wounded by the selfish actions of dominance over others. At some level, the perpetrators of non-consensual sex may feel a deep sense of isolation in regard to their own lack of integrity for right action. However, they may not yet be able to necessarily point directly to the source of this psychic discomfort due to overall societal messages that implicitly condone sexual assault, evidenced by outcomes of court proceedings and media representations and other ways of continuing the messages valuing the conquest and control of the feminine.

The entertainment industry represents our major carrier of current mythological motifs through media, film, and other ways of conveying stories, symbols, images, and meanings. We can measure broad attitudes by those portrayed through media. It is easy to decipher cultural norms by how the entertainment industry responds to non-consensual sex. Over and over again, we learn that power and privilege over-ride any repercussions of sexual wrongdoing.

Meanwhile, some of these individuals may then be stigmatized as the kind of individuals who are eager to give of themselves sexually in an indiscrete manner. If they choose to attempt to speak about initial or repeated non-consensual sexual experiences, the social responses towards them may further their shame. Social response is a common fear for the college student who has had the first experience of nonconsensual sex. Indeed, in DeCou et al’s (2017) article, they refer to a study by Ullman et al. (2007) with 636 sexual survivors, in which “negative social reactions to sexual assault disclosure were associated with higher levels of PTSD symptoms and also self-blame and avoidance coping.” Further, they assert “the importance of considering post-assault experiences such as negative social reactions to disclosure among sexual assault survivors as potentially contributing factors to subsequent psychological distress” (p. 167), not to mention silence.

Here is a segment of an article with references included that was recently written by Krahe and Burger (2017) from the Trauma Psychology journal:

It has long been established that the experience of sexual assault may have severe and lasting effects on survivors’ physical, mental and sexual health (Koss & Harvey, 1991; Martin, Macy, & Young, 2011). Among these adverse outcomes, heightened levels of depression and posttraumatic stress disorder have been demonstrated by many studies in both male and female survivors of sexual assault (E.g., Aosved, Long & Voller, 2011; Walsh, Galea, & Koenen, 2012. In addition, specific negative outcomes of sexual assault have been widely demonstrated in relation to survivor’s sexuality, including a heightened risk of experiencing further victimization (Classen, Palesh, & Aggarwal, 2005; Littleton & Ullman, 2013).Given the strong association between sexual assault and self-blame as well as feelings of shame (Amstader & Vernon, 2008; Campbell, Dworkin, & Cabral, 2009), it is not surprising that the experience of sexual assault has been found to significantly affect survivors’ sexual self-esteem (also referred to as sexual esteem). Sexual self-esteem is conceptualized as an individual’s self-evaluations of worth as a sexual being (Buzwell & Rosenthal, 1996) and established as a critical part of the overall sexual self-concept (Deutsch, Hoffman, and Wilcox, 2014).” P. 147

While most of Jungian Analyst, Donald Kalsched’s, work refers to the complex/interpersonal trauma of childhood abuse, there are elements that may be shared by those who have survived sexual assaults in early adulthood, particularly around the concept of shame turned inward into punitive voices of self-hate and the defensive patterns of withdrawal until, through establishing a different kind of relationship with oneself that includes compassion, a new “child” in the self structure may emerge through dreams and waking experiences.

Family of origin and cultural messages about sexuality and gender in the context of punitive religious views about such are crucial to consider, as psychological vulnerability and a punitive self-care system to begin with will certainly augment any suffering that occurs in sexual contexts. In addition, those types of early experiences of punitive sexual messages may impact one’s feelings of safety in disclosing non-consensual sex occurrences as well, which only adds to the complicated and nuanced nature of each person’s unique experience and the outcomes of such.

Many years later, if and when it feels safer to explore sharing certain experiences, the pendulum swings and pent up anger and even hatred and vengeance toward the perpetrator can emerge before the experience is potentially integrated.  Dream material can amplify the struggle towards integrating the experience as well. It is not uncommon for people to awaken from a dream screaming, for instance. Therapy that takes dreams seriously and supports active engagement with the material that arises, such as depth psychology, can be among the most powerful avenues to integrating difficult experiences and perceptions of the self.

Some psychologists support the idea that once trauma occurs, one is vulnerable to further trauma. In some cases, people trust those who should not be trusted, as if to try to mend the original wound by hoping for a better outcome to a similar situation. Sigmund Freud developed a term called “repetition compulsion” for this kind of thing. Shame and blame become a part of the mosaic. The compassion necessary to enter into an authentic relationship with the self (or others) becomes elusive. More blame is added on if substances were involved with such self-berating inner statements as “If I hadn’t been drunk, this wouldn’t have happened. It’s my fault.” What started out as a very unfortunate event often turns into an inner narrative of self-blame and an unnamable experience of ongoing shame and escape into fantasies of revenge or redemption in “some other world” where invincibility is possible (Kalsched).

One must not use considerations from the last paragraph as if they are written in stone and/or to add insult to injury for those who have been violated. There are narratives that emerged in the literature on rape twenty to thirty years ago that we still see carried over into today’s contexts, emphasizing the often unchallenged idea that some people are predisposed to vulnerability to being raped. We must be careful that we do not blame the victim by reading about these studies in an uncritical manner. For instance, the following quote by Krahe and Burger’s (2017) could be interpreted as leaning in that direction: “Depression may undermine the ability to resist an assault, send out signals of vulnerability to perpetrators, and give rise to coping behavior that increases the risk of sexual victimization, such as alcohol use or engaging in sexual behavior as a strategy for handling negative affect (Orcutt, Cooper, & Garcia, 2005). Depression may be both an outcome and a predictor of sexual victimization.” (p. 148).

Let us be mindful of how we reflect on statements like those.

Because of the global history of the treatment of and attitudes about woman, there is a particular concern for internalized objectification and lack of voice in advocating for oneself in the context of sexual experience when one is a woman. Indeed, as DeCou et al (2017) state:

 “Moreover, it may be that assault-related shame remains an intractable barrier to disclosure for some survivors of sexual assault, and thus policy initiatives aimed at addressing assault-related shame via trauma-informed approaches to reporting procedures and due process may assist in increasing sexual assault reporting among female undergraduates….it is imperative that researchers, policy-makers, and clinicians attend to social reactions to disclosure that may exacerbate assault-related shame, which may in turn predict greater levels of psychopathology and ultimately thwart individual and institutional efforts to identify and address incidents of completed and attempted sexual assault” ( p.171).

There is much along the continuum of what would be considered “date rape” or nonconsensual sex, from the clumsy, impulsive, often shared-inebriated moment of youthful misunderstanding in the context of mutual attraction (but not consent to sex) to the premeditated or impulsive active undermining of a person’s agency by someone exerting power over an unsuspecting or confused victim. It is difficult for some to understand that “No” means “No”, yet nonconsensual sex occurs even within marriages. A definition of sexual assault has been posited to include “any form of unwanted sexual touching, attempted or completed sexual coercion, and/or attempted or completed rape” (DeCou, Cole, Lynch, Wong, & Matthews, 2017). Nonconsensual sex is not confined to any culture, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic status, yet those who are not bestowed with privilege or power are much more vulnerable to initial and subsequent non-consensual experiences. One rather sad indication of this is the plethora of evidence for the exploitation of youth in sex trafficking circles.

Some discover that they are able to enter a process of healing by integrating the experiences into the larger mosaic of their being-ness and may make movements toward dialogue and forgiveness and even, in certain contexts, reconciliation, bringing an opportunity for the perpetrator to make apologies and take responsibility for past actions, such as Thordis Elver and Tom Stranger. For instance they have shared a video on you-tube and a book about their experience of having been the survivor and perpetrator of date rape, such that others may be inspired to follow suite and address wrongdoings and wounds in a restorative justice framework. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gyPoqFcvt9w&feature=youtu.be

Many struggle to find a path toward healing and may not be privileged to certain conditions that allow for opportunities to come to terms with the past. Having worked in a psychiatric hospital in the past, I heard young adolescent girls who had been raped say profoundly hateful things about themselves such as “Well, I’m just a whore so I may as well act like one. Nobody cares anyway.” Often, those are, believe it or not, the echoed words of parents, who have blamed the victim for “putting herself in the position.” Lives can spiral out of control where one gives up on any sense of propriety and tumbles chaotically from one sexual encounter to another, further damaging self-respect. Alternately, one holds the secret of rape inside and become more and more rigid around any kind of sexual expression or movement toward real intimacy. Somatic symptoms and even postural patterns and weight considerations that silently communicate “Don’t touch me!” are often seen in those who have not felt safe enough to explore their pain with another (Woodman).

On rare occasion, but unfortunate ones at that, these exploitations are perpetrated by psychotherapists themselves, the very people whom one has come to for solace and help. Andrew Samuels highlights this with “Female clients who find that they cannot say “no” are victims of the abuse of power, and therapists who misuse their positions are increasingly being understood as suffering from some kind of deficiency or shortfall in a feeling of authentic potency. But the necessary pathologization of such therapists should not be allowed to disguise the political implications of what they have done” (p. 133). Look at our current political climate and the implicit and sometimes quite explicit views about women and we see that women are still at the very bottom of the hierarchy of worth and respect. Some women know very well how to say no, but the wounding is in the process of actually being heard.

It is clear to me that we are experiencing a collective quagmire. How is it that with all of our layers of developmental complexity as we have evolved over time as a species, this lack of basic relational sensitivity occurs so often—more often than many of us can even conceive?

My Chumash colleague tells me that there is talk of the “Coming of the Grandmothers.” It is time to honor the contributions of the feminine and what Jung has referred to as the “feeling function” or “feminine fourth” which completes the unfinished circle of Trinitarian and male dominated structures of belief and turns to compassion and care, to what Jungian analyst and Curandera Clarissa Pinkola Estes refers to as “fierce compassion” of a Kali-like nature that both passionately protects and loves deeply. This “fierce compassion” invites the feminine in all of us to dignify ourselves against the us versus them mentality that is commonplace and to beckon to what Ken Jones has called a “higher third” a place where we may collectively face our transgressions and explore together where our center of gravity is, while holding the space for and emergence to the next level of psychological and spiritual growth. That is an ideal that is held out and one which does seem to be transpiring, as our current political and social angst has propelled many into action who have never been inclined toward activism in their past. The Women’s March is a great example of such, where no violence occurred across the globe at any of the venues of pink hats and multigenerational, multicultural, and multi-gender action.

There is a term coined by Albrecht, an ecopsychologist, called solastalgia, which basically means being homesick in one’s own home territory because of environmental transgressions. It can be translated over to one’s body home and a deep feeling of loss and homesickness for the integrity of such. That is why trauma dreams are often of a child neglected or abused and we can see the status of one’s relationship with oneself and with Self or spiritual ground by the quality of the experience of the child in the dream, such that when a child is cared for, loved and appears vibrant in a dream, we know that “beginner’s mind” is being cultivated once again in one’s life and one can open to feeling and a sense of embodiment.

A particular Greek myth that offers some metaphorical richness to ponder. Written by Aristophenes, the myth/play presents a rather farcical scenario where, led by Lysistrata, all the women of Greece decide that they will not make their bodies sexually available to men unless they stop fighting in the Peloponnesian War. It is an attempt at establishing a unified, peaceful community rather than one that is structured on ideas of conquest and power-over. This myth symbolically offers the idea that by withholding something, the value of what is being withheld is reflected on more deeply and the wish to have it back, at its deepest level, involves a relational and heart-centered need for human reciprocity. It is really a story of wholeness, of integrating parts of ourselves so we don’t abuse, neglect, or invalidate others, nor do we do so with ourselves.  It is a call for an upper coniunctio.

We all know that these complexities of human nature go way beyond gender. We also know that women have more often than not been the focus of exploitation and sexual aggression for hundreds of years. Jungian theorists, such as Erik Neumann, speak of a “fear of the feminine.” This can refer to the fear to the “feeling function” within oneself such that senseless acts are perpetrated on others, harming them profoundly, and ultimately this wounds the self as well.

Another Jungian theorist, John Beebe, proposes that if there ever were to be a true definition of “evil” it would be understood as the undermining of others, which may snuff the voice, the soul, right out of a person. This loss of voice is why a survivor of sexual abuse may remain silent for many years. These transgressions always occur within a sociopolitical context. How could they not? Wise feminists have given us an important message: “The personal is political.” We may ask, in our political consideration of those moving from childhood into young adulthood on our college campuses, how we may aspire to compassion for all beings in our political policies and reflect this in what is put forth to honor and support each other. Where is our collective “child” at this time in history, not the childishness that we see so often in impulsive and harmful action, but the childlike nature of beginners mind that can gaze at another with curiosity and genuine relational care and bring that quality back to oneself and even to strangers?

Non-Consensual Sex in the Entertainment Industry

hand

 

Non-consensual Sex in the Entertainment Industry

Ronan Farrow has just written a piece in The New Yorker (10/10/17) entitled From Aggressive Overtures to Sexual Assault: Harvey Weinstein’s Accusers Tell Their Stories https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/from-aggressive-overtures-to-sexual-assault-harvey-weinsteins-accusers-tell-their-stories

The article describes classic strategies that Weinstein and others have used to impose themselves on those working within the entertainment industry or attempting to establish themselves in the field. Countless entertainment executives, directors, and celebrities are involved in what may be considered a certain shadow subculture within the entertainment industry that not only engages in serial non-consensual sex, but actually condones it either explicitly or implicitly. There are many within the industry who have a fine quality of character and who live and work with the utmost integrity. And then, there are others….

A recent article written by Sady Doyle for Elle magazine, spoke to this in light of Academy Award nominees and recipients, featuring Casey Affleck as someone who has been known to sexually harass employees on film sets and naming others who have been in the media for similar transgressions. It was a good article, pointing out how often these types of things are overlooked within the entertainment industry and kudos to a magazine like Elle, not typically associated with feminist stances, to bring this forward. Many survivors of sexual abuse have expressed an ill feeling in their stomach when they see someone being congratulated for having contributed to a particular charity or awarded for directing or producing a film about important social justice messages  or for a sensitive and vulnerable portrayal of a character in a film, knowing and staying silent about what that person is known to have perpetrated non-consensually behind closed doors. It is sad, indeed, that many who find themselves in positions of power apparently cannot resist the temptation to harm others, to become inflated, and to abduct the feminine in themselves and others and close the vault to the relational.

Sexual violence can be subversive. The silent abuse of power-over may be hidden to all but the perpetrator and victim in emotional blackmail and entrapment. In the entertainment industry, youthful bodies are often seen as a dime a dozen and a commodity to be used up and tossed away. David Lynch’s film Mulholland Drive serves as a hauntingly creative piece about women, in particular, internalizing this culture and, while being consistently objectified, often finding themselves giving up and giving in to this objectification. They may so thoroughly numb themselves that they may not even realize the depths of their suffering and the resulting life events that emerge from their shattered world until years later when they ask “What on earth happened to me? What am I actually feeling about all of this?” They often blame themselves for having been violated. The shame can be staggering.

Farrow quotes Lucia Evans in relation to a sexual assault by Weinstein and writes: At a certain point, she said, “I just sort of gave up. That’s the most horrible part of it, and that’s why he’s been able to do this for so long to so many women: people give up, and then they feel like it’s their fault.” Further quotes: “Evans said that, after the incident, “I just put it in a part of my brain and closed the door.” She continued to blame herself for not fighting harder. “It was always my fault for not stopping him,” she said. “I had an eating problem for years. I was disgusted with myself. It’s funny, all these unrelated things I did to hurt myself because of this one thing.” Evans told friends some of what had happened, but felt largely unable to talk about it. “I ruined several really good relationships because of this. My schoolwork definitely suffered, and my roommates told me to go to a therapist because they thought I was going to kill myself.”

Farrow quotes another woman, Asia Argento, writing: “At some point, Argento said, she stopped saying no and feigned enjoyment, because she thought it was the only way the assault would end. “I was not willing,” she told me. “I said, ‘No, no, no.’ . . . It’s twisted.”

Within the entertainment industry, as in other contexts, there is also a socioeconomic bias. Few speak out about the abuses of power and privilege in the film industry. However, brave souls like Ashley Judd and those in Farrow’s article as well as the recent disclosures in the media about Bill Cosby and others, have recently made the leap. It happens in other countries’ entertainment meccas as well. Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, has shared about ‘Weinsteinian’ tactics in India, in reference to power and privilege distinctions in the Tamil film industry. Some, like her, risk their careers by calling out this subculture of sexual exploitation. Others may not feel as confident in taking that risk, especially if they are in a vulnerable socioeconomic situation and are relative “unknowns” in the industry. Indeed, Sarathkumar speaks about those in vulnerable socioeconomic positions who are the most common prey, as nobody will listen to their voices, should they even take the chance of speaking out.

The following is a poem written many years ago by a woman who has given permission to share and whom, for purposes of confidentiality, will be called Danielle. At 21 years of age, very attractive and with a wide-eyed innocence, after having received many awards in High School for her theatre performances, Danielle had expectations about a future in the acting business. Encouraged by friends and teachers and with a few thousand dollars saved in order to secure an apartment lease, she left her lower middle class religious family in the suburban Midwest to come to Los Angeles to pursue a film or television career. She then worked minimum-wage jobs to support herself and began to go on interviews for roles in television and film. One day, she responded to an ad in the popular weekly publication that advertised where auditions were occurring for student films, plays, the occasional low-budget film, and things like that. This ad, apparently, stated that someone was sought for a role in a low budget film that fit her description. It wasn’t uncommon in those days for film, advertising agencies producing commercials, or fashion companies to lease a suite of rooms at a hotel for their panel of interviewers to set up tables and chairs and do their auditioning and vetting before setting up actual production offices. Occasionally, auditions for certain things were even scheduled at an estate or other venue outside of the typical office building or studio lot.

Danielle responded to the ad and was given the address of the audition. When she showed up, she was a bit surprised to see that she was entering the driveway of a large Beverly Hills estate. A middle-aged man greeted her and engaged her in conversation, saying that he liked her headshot and theatre experience and wished to speak to her get a feel for her personality for the role. She has described how she did not sense anything terribly askew, as he seemed friendly and appropriate. She described how she met with this man a couple of times and he seemed “somewhat parental” towards her, as if he truly wanted to help mentor her into the profession. He told her that the film was still in the beginning phases and the script wasn’t completed, so it was on hold for the moment, but that she was a great candidate for the role. She was flattered and hopeful. She began to trust him and experience him as a friendly advocate on her behalf. On a certain occasion he offered her a glass of wine and she accepted and took several sips. He then began to make sexual advances, which she gently, but firmly rejected, feeling confused and a bit frightened by the shift in his behavior. After those few sips of wine, she felt a bit dizzy and her body began to feel slack and she noticed that she was slurring her words but couldn’t stop herself from doing so. He then began to touch her more aggressively and pull her into a bedroom. As he was pulling her into the bedroom, he actually admitted that he had drugged her, telling her that “since you were being so uptight, it was the only way to loosen you up.”

She emerged from that experience blaming herself in many ways, calling herself naïve for having bought into the false story of a movie deal and believing in the honorable intentions of this older man. Feeling “soiled” by what had happened, confused and violated, she began to feel apathetic and somewhat hateful towards herself and in regard to her own body esteem and sense of worth. In a paradoxical way, and one that is often seen with survivors of sexual violence, there is a vulnerability to either shutting off completely or being re-victimized or a variation of both. Danielle describes how she lost confidence in herself and in her own judgments and found herself engaging in sexual encounters with a variety of men who turned out to have questionable intentions. Not believing that “any normal person would want” to be with her, at that point, she continued to seek love and attention from partners who were ultimately unavailable, resulting in a shattering of meaning and continued lessening of self-worth. She used alcohol in excess “for the very purpose of numbing out,” and wished that she could “not feel the pain anymore.” She also became aware that she was fostering a deep bitterness and cynicism about romantic relationships in general and there was a part of her that fantasized about exerting power over those who had hurt her. She often experienced suicidal thoughts. This is a bit of journal writing that she shared from those early days in Hollywood:

“Used, used…

I’m tired

I’m sick

Always the victim of a trick.

The devil got loose and decided to

Take out his abuse on me

What did I do but give in to all this nonsense

What am I turning out to be?

I think I’ll kill myself, then everyone

Can read my notes that don’t make any sense.

 

What to do…What to do…

I’ve lost it! I tell you, I’ve lost it.

I’ve paid my dues and I’m ready

I’m ready to conquer the world with power

Leave me alone! Just leave it!

Find some other prey to devour.

 

I’m sad and lonely and lost.

How much does a new heart cost?

My body’s been tried and had

And I’m the one who turns out bad.

 

I’m going to sink away in my hideaway castle

And no-one will know where to find me.

I’ll do away with my life and the hassle

To a place where only I can be.”

 

Donald Kalsched’s (1996) concepts and case studies around the inner psychological/archetypal experience of the “self-care system” in the context of trauma elucidate what we can see in the passage above as a turning away from life, a wish to go into a fantasy “hideaway castle” in defense of a dangerous world and isolate from social engagement. Danielle’s example shows us that a wounded “self-care system” that has been overcome by what she describes as “the devil” who “decided to take out his abuse on me” may take some time to heal and may require therapies that rely more on implicit processes in which memory is stored and released through somatic and creative engagement rather than by purely rational approaches. She relied on poetry to express these inner experiences and these writings were kept privately.

Ten years after her initial journal entry which is shared above, Danielle was still immersed in the Hollywood scene and living with a wealthy boyfriend who was, at that point, supporting her financially, but who would also engage in sex with her upon his whim, even when she was not wanting to, and who would emotionally abuse her with words such as “You’d be nothing without me!” Reluctantly going with this boyfriend and some friends to a trendy nightclub, Danielle described how, while becoming more and more inebriated, she found herself reflecting on how uncertain she was of her own self-worth and how she had, on some level, deliberately attempted to “not feel” as she allowed herself to be “treated as an object over and over again.” She felt trapped and did not know the way out, yet longed for something different for herself, for another chance. Haunted by unconscious images of shattered glass cutting on skin and sexual encounters gone awry, she scribbled the following words on a paper menu as she sat at a table in a reflective yet inebriated state, drinking and unnoticed by the others who chatted and danced to the loud music:

“Crystal chandeliers cutting at my skin

Arching, arching, arching to the slicy silence

Bleeding, arching, opening body

Too much—too soon.” 

The palpable pain in her words emerged from what she shared in further discussion as a feeling of not having a place to share her experiences in a coherent way, of sensing that nobody would listen or care, or that she would be blamed and judged for the direction her life had taken after the initial rape. The words for the initial experience still eluded her and this inability to recognize and articulate the nuances of feelings that emerged from that experience or even how to describe the scenario in which it occurred in such a way as to not incite immediate judgment, eluded her. The years forward only augmented the dissociation and sense of alienation from herself and others. She did not find meaning in the world she was living in anymore and longed for respect and normalcy in her life. She had longed for the kind of spiritual life she had experienced as a child as well, when she looked at the role model of Christ as a guide for compassion and containment and to the sense of awe while in nature or with the animals on her family farm, but she did not identify with the fundamentalist stance of her family of origin, which believed in a punishing God and demeaned women who represented sensuality or assertiveness, even in biblical stories, such as Mary Magdalene, for instance. She could not speak to her mother or anyone else in her family about her experiences, as she felt that they would surely misunderstand and think of her as “sinful.” Danielle was someone whose own family and fundamentalist religious background amplified her shame, but even without such a background, people of any gender who have survived non-consensual sex, experience shame and are vulnerable to further victimization. I recommend reading some works by Marion Woodman, who beautifully articulated the unconscious aspects of wounding in our bodies.

Shortly after her piece about the cutting glass was written, Danielle shared that a friend introduced her to some workshops which inspired her to continue to attend seminars and to learn meditation. During this time, she also entered into psychotherapy. She worked with dreams and with becoming aware of how and where she held emotion in her body and of the rage at the injustices that she had been unable to express in the moments of her initial abuse and thereafter. She began to feel moments of a sense of “awe” again in her life, rather than the chronic low grade depression and flatness she had gotten used to, and to feel more of a relationship to her own power, self-respect, and grace. She discovered new and unique ways of experiencing a relationship with spirituality that embraced notions of love over punitive dictates. She shared another piece that she wrote several years after having been in therapy. Her journaling and poems now had phrases such as “a bright orange dawn calls me to action, not out of fear but out of compassion” and about “seeing and hearing” her own heart speak and “not being able to go back” to treating herself with disrespect.

I am reminded of a course I once taught where I asked the students to create masks to represent their outer personas and their inner selves. One woman, whom I will call Susan, for the purposes of this description, walked to the front of the class to do her presentation and she had prepared an art piece that represented a large role of toilet paper as her inner self/mask, with the implied reference to its touch of private parts and wiping away of excrement. As she unraveled the long stream of paper, she had scribbled images and words for timelines and markers in her life that led her to return to school. Part of her path had involved prostituting herself in a city known for its casinos and entertainment/night life. The trigger for such a life was an early sexual assault and an inability to escape that left her confused and devaluing herself, such that for a time she succumbed to invitations for sex in exchange for money. As she shared with the class, she said that she felt that she had “lost” her “innocence.” The art work that Susan presented as her representation of her “mask” was extremely creative, exquisitely well thought out and well organized, and filled the room with a deep sense of care and wonder. The feedback that she received was that the child in her that is able to experience what is newly emerging was evident in her creativity, honesty, and vibrancy, and that her presentation showed that her “innocence” or inner child, as it were, was not “lost” but was generative, creative, and authentic. She listened to this feedback and was clearly moved. Later, she shared that the experience in class, in which she disclosed those intimate details of her life story through the medium of art, impacted her in a very positive way for accepting and moving beyond narrow perceptions of herself.

There are so many similar stories to Danielle’s and Susan’s from the entertainment industry that contribute to feelings of loss of hope, low self-worth, and trust gone awry. Along with the stories of rape or attempted rape are the stories of those who have successfully escaped rape, only to deal with physical threats, being ostracized, or a direct threat to career and reputation. These perpetrations on an interpersonal level can leave one numb, untrusting, zombie-like, walking into the same traps over and over or avoiding many things, trance-like and moderately dissociated, feeling what some indigenous elders refer to as soul-loss. Some never speak about having had these experiences. When they do, it is often many years after such experiences. Whether in the context of the entertainment industry or other context, it is often difficult to even find the correct words to describe such experiences and the feelings that go along with them. Bringing voice to one’s pain and allowing an openness of heart that reveals not just a secret, but the secrecy itself is a powerful path toward healing. When those among us are silent for some time, rather than dismissing disclosures of non-consensual sexual experiences when they finally emerge, perhaps we may find it in ourselves to be moved to consider these voices of disclosure. Women such as Danielle and Susan are among those who, because of, but not limited to, the context of the entertainment profession, are often taken lightly, as if they were privy to or even colluding with the intentions of their perpetrators.

I have heard many more tragic stories from others of all genders and I have a couple of experiences myself in this context which have informed my path in life.

Recent allegations in the media are only the tip of the iceberg. It appears that a climate of activism is emerging. As frightening as it can be to come out with stories, the greater reward is authenticity and a sense of service, in that what was once private is now exposed. Healing and change can only come from individual and collective relational care. Voices are beginning to be listened to. May we not stop here…

 

 

“Should I Also Make A Garden Out of the Desert?”; Camus’ Story of Janine

Goddess Fountain

I have a paper in the current issue of Psychological Perspectives: A Quarterly Journal of Jungian Thought which is published by Taylor & Francis and sponsored by the C.G. Jung Institute Los Angeles. It is entitled “Should I Also Make a Garden Out of the Desert?”: Camus’ Story of Janine. Here is a link to the journal page:

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00332925.2017.1350805

 

 

Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices at Pacifica Graduate Institute

DPT for my webpage3

This Integrative Therapy and Healing Practices program is a relatively new program focus at Pacifica Graduate Institute (http://www.pacifica.edu) for their Depth Psychology offerings for doctoral degrees. I am moving into more involvement with the program this year and in my leadership role with the program, I invite applicants with master’s degrees from a variety of backgrounds, including but not limited to MFTs or MFTi’s, LCSWs, LPCs, Health and Medical Professionals (Nursing, Physicians, Allied Health Providers), Jungian Analysts and Psychoanalysts, Psychotherapists and Psychologists, Specialized Addiction and Treatment Counselors, Expressive Arts Therapists, Spiritual Directors and Pastoral Counselors, Health and Wellness Practitioners with Advanced Training, Ecotherapists, Consciousness Studies Professionals, and other qualified consultants and counselors who are interested in this cutting edge innovative work. For details, please go to  https://www.pacifica.edu/degree-program/integrative-therapy-healing-practices/

and/or contact Alexander Clarke, Admissions Advisor

Phone (805) 879-7306

Email:  aclarke@pacifica.edu

You can always contact me at my Pacifica office as well:

(805) 679-6139

jrohdebrown@pacifica.edu

 

 

Imagery International Conference October 20-22, 2017

Screenshot

Come and join a wonderful group of people in the healing arts who honor and work with imagery. There are CE’s available for professionals too.

Next »