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  • Psychotherapy and Life Events… Consciousness and Aloneness

    Truly wise case studies knows that you can have an experience of life events, that changes your consciousness but at the same time leaves you in a state of profound aloneness.  Karin Dubois wrote of such an experience in her essay Friends on the Other Side in the Globe and Mail of April 13, 2011.

    As a very young woman, Karen was diagnosed with a serious form of cancer.  She describes in graphic terms how psychologically isolating that experience was for her.

    Most of my friends were worrying about exams at school while I was paralyzed with fear that my next CT scan would light up with cancer.  We couldn’t relate.

    When Others Have No Idea

    What a profoundly difficult experience for someone to encounter.  Yet, there are many people who have experiences of this kind, which make that person aware of aspects of life of which many other people have no idea.  An illness, yes, or a child born with a disability, a parent with an addiction, a major economic setback or family bankruptcy in an affluent community — the list is endless.  There are many, many different types of experiences that can change a person’s consciousness.  The problem can be that, when we have those experiences, especially if they involve deep pain or insight, it may make it very difficult for others to connect or understand.

    The Fundamental Need to Reach Out and Connect

    When someone is at a point like this, it can be essential for that person to connect with someone who sincerely strives to understand, and who listensmost carefully to his or her story, in all its uniqueness.  Oftentimes, we also need to hear ourselves talk about such experiences, with a receptive witness, to get beyond aloneness.   This is because we truly need to know that our experience, while uniquely ours, is something human, something that others can relate to, understand and appreciate.  Entering into real case studies can bring this dimension of reality and acknowledgement to our experience, connecting us powerfully to the entire human race, while leaving us standing in our unique human dignity.  That’s the power of /a-midlife-transition.

    I welcome your inquiries and comments.

    Wishing you deep and fundamental human connection on your journey to wholeness,


    PHOTO CREDIT:  © Rafael Mengual Caucera |
    © Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near  Mississauga )
    1. Ted Snyder
      April 20, 2011 at 10:09 pm -

      You bring up a good point, which i haven’t quite considered before. Although not the same as psychotherapy by any means, sometimes in my life I’ve been able to feel that sense of connection from certain books or stories, especially, in my case, some of Hermann Hesse’s writing (and perhaps that came from Hesse’s intense feeling of being different… One can only wonder what his sessions with Jung were like).

      1. Brian C
        April 21, 2011 at 6:53 am -

        Thanks very much for your comment, Ted. I certainly see what you mean about feeling that intense connection through the works of Hermann Hesse. Like you, I’ve certainly cherished Hesse’s writings, and I think they are one of the very best examples in literature of someone who is aware that his consciousness is different — that he perceives things in a fundamentally different way than many people around him. The great paradox is, that when many people read Hesse, they feel “understood” by his books, if that makes any sense. I think that Hesse was profoundly influenced by his encounters by Jung, and by the Jungian analysis he had done with another Jungian back prior to the time when he wrote Demian. While not a substitute for analysis, I think that Hesse conveys in his books a strong sense of encounter with the depths of the self (or Self, if you prefer). Thanks very much for your stimulating insights, Ted!

    2. Esther


      April 21, 2011 at 2:26 pm -

      Great pain can create such isolation. It takes one beyond the trivialities. Like death, pain touches your soul. Therapy is a bit like a bandage, anti-depressants a bit like a splint for broken courage. My way out of hell was intiation into the myth of my life. A total ‘eclipse of the heart’. If you survive, you are never the same. That was the point from the start.

      1. Brian C
        April 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm -

        Thank you for your comment, Esther. I certainly agree that there is something centrally important in the individual coming into awareness of his or her own personal myth. This is especially true in any situation of human extremity. One of the things I most strongly appreciate about Jungian analysis is its capacity to open up this area of depth in the individual person.

    3. jamenta


      April 23, 2011 at 12:30 am -

      After great pain a formal feeling comes–
      The nerves sit ceremonious like tombs;
      The stiff Heart questions–was it He that bore?
      And yesterday–or centuries before?
      The feet, mechanical, go round
      A wooden way
      Of ground, or air, or ought,
      Regardless grown,
      A quartz contentment, like a stone.

      This is the hour of lead
      Remembered if outlived,
      As freezing persons recollect the snow–
      First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.

      -Emily Dickinson

      1. Brian C
        April 23, 2011 at 12:41 pm -

        Thank you for your comment, John. This incredible Emily Dickinson poem has such eloquence and such a ring of truth. This “formal feeling” — what is it that is contained in it? Dickinson alludes to an awareness that can be gained in no other way — and which can perhaps never be fully put into words. I find it somehow very appropriate that you should post it right after what is Good Friday in the Christian tradition. This seems to me, at least, to be a poem about all the personal Good Fridays contained in the journey of the individual self.

        Thanks very much for this.

    4. jamenta


      April 24, 2011 at 11:15 am -

      Thx Brian. I recall reading this poem many years ago and being overwhelmed with it’s potency. Emily seems to capture some of the emotional impact of great pain with but a few sentences. Amazing.

      1. Brian C
        April 24, 2011 at 4:15 pm -

        Emily Dickinson is an incredible poet, and this is such an eloquent poem. Thank you for posting it, John!

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