Friday, August 12, 2011

Jess Groesbeck on Cure and the Wounded Healer

"Finally, we must return to the question, what is at the heart of the healing mystery? As described earlier in the myth of Asclepius, being raised by Chiron ‘the primordial science of the wounded healer is nothing more than a knowledge of an incurable wound in which the healer forever partakes’. In attempting to answer these questions, we asked: Why, for the cure to take place, does the healer himself have to have knowledge of his own wounds and actually participate in them, again and again? As we have tried to show through a detailed account of the transference that occurs in the analytic process and other therapeutic relationships, it is only when the healer himself can stay in touch with and experience his own wounds and illnesses as well as confront the powerful images from the unconscious of an archetypal nature, that in turn the patient can go through the same process. For if indeed, true healing occurs, it would appear that, at least in one form, the wounded physician himself must accomplish it; but the analyst must assist. Jung said it in another way (JUNG 14, p. 116): ‘No analysis is capable of banishing all unconsciousness forever. The analyst must go on learning endlessly, and never forget that each new case brings new problems to light and thus gives rise to unconscious assumptions that have never before been constellated. We could say, without too much exaggeration, that a good half of every treatment that probes at all deeply consists in the doctor's examining himself, for only what he can put right in himself can he hope to put right in the patient. It is no less, either, if he feels that the patient is hitting him, or even scoring off him: it is his own hurt that gives the measure of his power to heal. This, and nothing else, is the meaning of the Greek myth of the wounded physician.’

Adler also states the purpose of facing our wounds may be in essence the way to find those healing powers within us (ADLER 1). Possibly this is the motive that attracts people to the healing profession. Like the proverbial fools, they enter in where angels fear to tread. One analyst recently told the author that he would never quit practising and seeing patients because if he did he would get sick again. In substance he is saying that it is only through his own exposure in analytical work with patients that he is able to stay in touch with himself and find the roots and sources of wholeness to the degree that he can stay in some kind of balance.

Though healing ultimately is a mystery, trying to fathom it is a never-ending exciting venture; for in our quest we may come to know something more of ourselves."
(pp. 143-144)

C. Jess Groesbeck (1975). The Archetypal Image of the Wounded Healer. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 20, pp. 122-145


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