Saturday, October 15, 2011

Schwartz-Salant - Abandonment Depression

"To begin with I should like to focus upon two qualities of consciousness that inform our work as Jungian analysts. One quality allows us to experience events within a space-time matrix. Another allows us to experience the nature of the archetypes and the collective unconscious. Within the transference-countertransference process we can move back and forth between these different modes of consciousness. As has often been stressed, personal and archetypal dimensions cannot be separated but they can be experienced as related aspects of an indivisible process (Williams, 19, Eigen 2). To use Jung's metaphor, the sea is the carrier of the individual wave (Jung 9, para. 354).

Jung describes the soul as ‘the living thing in man, that which lives of itself and causes life’ (Jung 10, para. 56). There are, however, deeply alienated areas of the soul, which, as a result of the experience of abandonment, appear to be lifeless. The process of integration of these split-off ardeas highlights the importance of seeing the organic linking of personal and archetypal dimensions within the transference-countertransference process.

Abandonment is a catastrophic experience, different, as Michael Fordham emphasizes, ‘From other forms of separation in which sadness, pining, and grief are experienced’ (Fordham 4). On the one hand, the abandoned one suffers a consummate betrayal, the loss of a loved and needed person. On the other hand, persecution by that same person is experienced. As a result, one's sense of reality is totally threatened: the good has become the bad, the nurturing has become persecutory. From a seeming state of well-being a chaotic state of panic becomes imminent because the entire fabric of one's perception of reality has come into question.

A frantic search for a good object immediately takes over, but the persecutory despair remains so intense that the search is doomed to failure, undone by the chaos and pain which defies the attempt at restitution. The individual's makeshift reality is threatened with each additional possibility of abandonment, and a deep-seated depression, the abandonment depression, dominates the inner world.

In general, the difficult act of engaging this depressed and persecuted quality of a patient's inner life must include establishing a heart-centered, imaginal awareness within which one can experience the dread suffered by the soul. A contact can then be made, but only when the analyst becomes astutely aware that his or her own soul suffers that which the patient suffers. Before this is possible, however, a tortuous path must be traveled, one which is dominated by interactive fields that preclude empathy or any real contact (Schwartz-Salant 18)." (pp. 143-144).

Nathan Schwartz-Salant (1990). The Abandonment Depression: Developmental and Alchemical Perspectives. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 35, pp.143-159.


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