Moving Into A New House: The Impact on Psyche
Moving into a new house is a big life event and a major life transition. It has a huge impact on the psyche of the individual.
We have an extremely strong psychological connection with the particular place where we live. In addition, in dreams and other symbolic material, the house can often be a symbol for the whole of the personality.
In my part of the world at this particular point in time, so many people are involved with moving into a new house, or consumed with planning for the time when they will move into a new house. Immense psychological energy swirls around this whole subject.
Why is where we live so important to us psychologically? How does moving into a new house affect us so profoundly?
The Bond of Home
People are immensely bonded to geographical locations that have figured prominently in their lives. This is especially true of places that they have called “home“.
The research of Prof. Jerry Burger of Santa Clara University with hundreds of people who had returned to see their family homes from the elementary school years bears this out powerfully. As he says, “Among the unexpected findings to emerge… was the depth of emotion many people feel for their childhood home… [O]ne in five people cried… Many brought photographs to share with us.” He goes on to say something of profound importance:
One’s home is a part of personal identity for many people… an extension of their self.
This consciousness of home can be further amplified symbolically and mythologically. In an important sense, our first “home” is the maternal womb, and anthropology shows that many of the first homes that humans devised were, in the words of the Book of Symbols, “intimate, encompassing, womblike”, like African mud huts formed like female torsos, with vaginal slits for entrances. Home can be all of: jail-like, or a sanctuary; a place of domestic harmony, or domestic violence; a symbol of the nurturing of the self, or of most profound violation. Home is a symbol of the complete Self, the symbol of a final destination, and of spiritual and psychic transformation. It is this whole, powerful symbolic universe that we conjure with, in moving to a new house.
Floating Above the Psychic Reality?
Yet, we live in a culture that often seems blithely unaware of the profound depths of this symbolism of home. In modern real estate parlance, we “flip” homes, “gut” homes, “bridge” homes, “close” homes, “balloon” homes — and goodness knows what else!
The selling of homes is treated as a business, and most often as a business where there is a great deal of money to be made. That’s fair enough. But what is often not realized are the ways in which this house we’re selling — and, yes, just as much, the house we’re buying — is going to be an enormous presence in our emotional and psychic lives, and will impact us tremendously on the unconscious level.
Often people plunge into the real estate and moving process, with no awareness of the incalculable emotional impact that this transaction is having on their soul, and on the rest of their lives.
The Inner Process of Moving
Moving into a new house is a very major life event, occurring as part of a very major life transition. It has implications deep within the psyche, even though our culture seems to largely ignore this fact.
Exploring the meaning of a major move, either before, during or after it has occurred, and understanding the importance of such a life transition for our whole psyche, can be a very beneficial and healing journey, and one with which /a-midlife-transition can be of immense assistance.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst