The current Coronavirus Pandemic has been called the “Umbra Mundi”—a shadow passing over the world, and we can all feel the heightened fear and vulnerability that this shadow of death constellates in the personal as well as collective psyche. This heightened fear constellates the unconscious in both its positive and negative aspects. On the one hand it can renew feelings of gratitude for the beauties of life and the relationships that sustain it. On the other hand, it triggers early unbearable traumatic emotion, and defenses against these emotions. This can make certain people and groups unusually vulnerable to underlying fears and anger that can easily overwhelm and destabilize, spilling over into racism, nationalism, and a variety of other “us vs. them” polarizing divisions that can fragment, and lead to often violent “othering.” The perspectives of Depth Psychology are needed as we try to understand our current traumatogenic national culture.
Donald Kalsched, Ph.D., is a Jungian psychoanalyst and clinical psychologist. He is a senior faculty member and supervisor with the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, and teaches and leads workshops nationally and internationally. His celebrated book, The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit, explores the interface between contemporary psychoanalytic theory and Jungian theory as it relates to clinical work with survivors of early childhood trauma. His recent book, Trauma and the Soul: A Psycho-Spiritual Approach to Human Development and its Interruption, explores the mystical dimensions of clinical work with trauma-survivors.
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