The Healing Image

In the Eye of the Storm

An individual response to the Global Crisis

April 3, 2020

Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst

Robert BJ Jakala PH.D., Jungian Psychotherapist

In a storm, the safest place is in the eye of the storm. My colleague BJ and I will share our daily reflections on this centering process from an Analytical perspective, sharing from the repertoire of our personal and professional experience. BJ is a psychologist and a photographer and will pick and image of the day that catches him in this collective crisis. I will amplify it from a Jungian Analytical perspective. We hope that this may offer you a baby step on the path to your own unique response to this chaos.

Patients who possess some talent for drawing or painting can give expression to their mood by means of a picture. It is not important for the picture to be technically or aesthetically satisfying, but merely for the fantasy to have free play for the whole thing to be done as well as possible. (Jung, 1960b, pp. 82-83)

A photo only captures a moment in the process of life. Here is an elderly woman on a tour boat with me. I get busy taking my photographs and I loved the idea of her journaling while taking in the sights. I shoot a variety of landscape photos and decide I want to capture her image. I take the shot rather quickly as to not be imposing. (Although, she is wearing a hat and her head is down. I never really see her face.) It is only that evening I discover the woman was not journaling with words. She sketches her experience to capture it.

Of course, the Jungian influence comes into my mind as I closely examine the image. It is not the light on the page that lets me see what the pen is doing, but the shadow of the artist that reveals more. I can only see what she has drawn in the shadow of her hand. I don’t really know how long she has been drawing, but from the skin on her hands she has lived a long life. I don’t know where she is from, or what language she speaks. I see she makes images in her book to document this boat tour. She has a deeper neurological experience as she moves what she sees through her nervous system to the pen and paper. I imagine her as a living camera.

I must look at the pictures I took on that tour for me to remember the scenery, but the image of her sketching the experience stays with me everywhere I go. I am grateful for her gift that reminds me each of us has our own way of living and being in the moment.

In the present pandemic, each one of us may experiment capturing our experiences in images as well as words. It may be instructive to capture your experience in images that reflect your thoughts, feelings, intuitions and fantasy about it. It is not the Objective Reality but our Subjective Experience of it that has a deeper impact on our Psyche. If we perceive it at traumatic, it may deplete us; if we respond to it as a Spiritual Assignment it heals us and makes us the best version of ourselves. Even trauma can lead to a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or a Post Traumatic Growth Phenomenon. The great ones like Buddha and Christ became the beckons of light in the darkness of the human civilization following traumatic experiences: Buddha was confronted with Suffering and Christ with Crucifixion.

Some points to ponder

How to you notice and remember important moments?

When has a stranger made a positive impact on your life?

Write a short story about the old woman with a pen. What would you reveal about her and what would you want to remain a mystery? What is in her purse?

What are you doing to document this time of stay at home?

What has happened today that you want to remember? How will you ensure you will?

Draw your experience of the impact of the pandemic on you weekly.

Photo taken in London

Jung, C. G. (1960b). The structure and dynamics of the psyche. New York: Pantheon Books.