Wounds of our Soul

Care of the Soul

In the Eye of the Storm

An individual response to the Global Crisis

ISSN 1939-3407

June 12th,
2020

Ashok Bedi, M.D., Jungian Psychoanalyst

www.pathtotheosoul.com

www.tulawellnessllc.com

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 an 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.

Certain complexes arise on account of painful or distressing experiences in a person’s life, experiences of an emotional nature which leave lasting psychic wounds behind them. A bad experience of this sort often crushes valuable qualities in an individual. All these produce unconscious complexes of a personal nature. (Jung, 1960b, p. 313)


This California Oak has a deep wound in its trunk, yet the tree in all other aspects is healthy. It is a giant tree and when approached from the other side does not appear to be damaged. Its circulation is compromised but somehow it has compensated enough to live amazingly well.

This time of the pandemic and protests is painful and distressing. Our lives have been dramatically changed in our personal and societal lives. It is helpful that we find a way to prevent further damage by finding ways to soothe and mend our wounds. It is time to fully examine the effects of what has happened so far and strengthen our resilience to endure through these difficult times.

A wound is created when an organism’s integrity is lost. The key to healing is knowing the source of the wound (how it happened) and preventing further disruption while caring for it.

Presently, we are all experiencing serious emotional wounding with the dual crisis of the pandemic and racial injustice and its aftermath. Both these crises have impacted the Global Psyche. We are witnessing death, injustice, divisions, overwhelmed medical systems, citizens feeling vulnerable and unsafe. Most of us will be stressed but some of us will be traumatized. When a crisis is manageable by available resources of our Ego or personality, it remains a stress response, which though not benign but unless it becomes chronic may not leave deep wounds in our psyche. However, if the Ego resources of our personality cannot digest the stress, it becomes Trauma and this leaves deep wounds in our Psyche. Trauma needs psychological and psychiatric treatment. If untreated, it causes considerable subjective pain and diminishment of our personality: we live out only a part of our potential, the rest goes into hiding, in the protective custody of our unconscious. (Kalsched, 2013)


Diagnostic Criteria

309.81 (F43.10)

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (American Psychiatric Association., 2013)

Note: The following criteria apply to adults, adolescents, and children older than 6 years. For children 6 years and younger, see corresponding criteria below.

Exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one (or more) of the following ways:

Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s).

Witnessing, in person, the event(s) as it occurred to others.

Learning that the traumatic event(s) occurred to a close family member or close friend. In cases of actual or threatened death of a family member or friend, the event(s) must have been violent or accidental.

Experiencing repeated or extreme exposure to aversive details of the traumatic event(s) (e.g., first responders collecting human remains; police officers repeatedly exposed to details of child abuse).

Note: Criterion A4 does not apply to exposure through electronic media, television, movies, or pictures, unless this exposure is work related.

Presence of one (or more) of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred:

Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event(s).

Note: In children older than 6 years, repetitive play may occur in which themes or aspects of the traumatic event(s) are expressed.

Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content and/or affect of the dream are related to the traumatic event(s).

Note: In children, there may be frightening dreams without recognizable content.

Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks) in which the individual feels or acts as if the traumatic event(s) were recurring. (Such reactions may occur on a continuum, with the most extreme expression being a complete loss of awareness of present surroundings.)

Note: In children, trauma-specific reenactment may occur in play.

Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).

Marked physiological reactions to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).

Persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by one or both of the following:

Avoidance of or efforts to avoid distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).

Avoidance of or efforts to avoid external reminders (people, places, conversations, activities, objects, situations) that arouse distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic event(s).

Negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:

Inability to remember an important aspect of the traumatic event(s) (typically due to dissociative amnesia and not to other factors such as head injury, alcohol, or drugs).

Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted,” “The world is completely dangerous,” “My whole nervous system is permanently ruined”).

Persistent, distorted cognitions about the cause or consequences of the traumatic event(s) that lead the individual to blame himself/herself or others.

Persistent negative emotional state (e.g., fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame).

Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities.

Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others.

Persistent inability to experience positive emotions (e.g., inability to experience happiness, satisfaction, or loving feelings).

Marked alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:

Irritable behavior and angry outbursts (with little or no provocation) typically expressed as verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects.

Reckless or self-destructive behavior.

Hypervigilance.

Exaggerated startle response.

Problems with concentration.

Sleep disturbance (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep).

Duration of the disturbance (Criteria B, C, D, and E) is more than 1 month.

The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., medication, alcohol) or another medical condition.

Specify whether:

With dissociative symptoms: The individual’s symptoms meet the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder, and in addition, in response to the stressor, the individual experiences persistent or recurrent symptoms of either of the following:

Depersonalization: Persistent or recurrent experiences of feeling detached from, and as if one were an outside observer of, one’s mental processes or body (e.g., feeling as though one were in a dream; feeling a sense of unreality of self or body or of time moving slowly).

Derealization: Persistent or recurrent experiences of unreality of surroundings (e.g., the world around the individual is experienced as unreal, dreamlike, distant, or distorted).

Note: To use this subtype, the dissociative symptoms must not be attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., blackouts, behavior during alcohol intoxication) or another medical condition (e.g., complex partial seizures).

Specify if:

With delayed expression: If the full diagnostic criteria are not met until at least 6 months after the event (although the onset and expression of some symptoms may be immediate).

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder for Children 6 Years and Younger

In children 6 years and younger, exposure to actual or threatened death, serious injury, or sexual violence in one (or more) of the following ways:

Directly experiencing the traumatic event(s).

Witnessing, in person, the event(s) as it occurred to others, especially primary caregivers.

Note: Witnessing does not include events that are witnessed only in electronic media, television, movies, or pictures.

Learning that the traumatic event(s) occurred to a parent or caregiving figure.

Presence of one (or more) of the following intrusion symptoms associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning after the traumatic event(s) occurred:

Recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic event(s).

Note: Spontaneous and intrusive memories may not necessarily appear distressing and may be expressed as play reenactment.

Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content and/or affect of the dream are related to the traumatic event(s).

Note: It may not be possible to ascertain that the frightening content is related to the traumatic event.

Dissociative reactions (e.g., flashbacks) in which the child feels or acts as if the traumatic event(s) were recurring. (Such reactions may occur on a continuum, with the most extreme expression being a complete loss of awareness of present surroundings.) Such trauma-specific reenactment may occur in play.

Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic event(s).

Marked physiological reactions to reminders of the traumatic event(s).

One (or more) of the following symptoms, representing either persistent avoidance of stimuli associated with the traumatic event(s) or negative alterations in cognitions and mood associated with the traumatic event(s), must be present, beginning after the event(s) or worsening after the event(s):

Persistent Avoidance of Stimuli

Avoidance of or efforts to avoid activities, places, or physical reminders that arouse recollections of the traumatic event(s).

Avoidance of or efforts to avoid people, conversations, or interpersonal situations that arouse recollections of the traumatic event(s).

Negative Alterations in Cognitions

Substantially increased frequency of negative emotional states (e.g., fear, guilt, sadness, shame, confusion).

Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities, including constriction of play.

Socially withdrawn behavior.

Persistent reduction in expression of positive emotions.

Alterations in arousal and reactivity associated with the traumatic event(s), beginning or worsening after the traumatic event(s) occurred, as evidenced by two (or more) of the following:

Irritable behavior and angry outbursts (with little or no provocation) typically expressed as verbal or physical aggression toward people or objects (including extreme temper tantrums).

Hypervigilance.

Exaggerated startle response.

Problems with concentration.

Sleep disturbance (e.g., difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep).

The duration of the disturbance is more than 1 month.

The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in relationships with parents, siblings, peers, or other caregivers or with school behavior.

The disturbance is not attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., medication or alcohol) or another medical condition.

Specify whether:

With dissociative symptoms: The individual’s symptoms meet the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder, and the individual experiences persistent or recurrent symptoms of either of the following:

Depersonalization: Persistent or recurrent experiences of feeling detached from, and as if one were an outside observer of, one’s mental processes or body (e.g., feeling as though one were in a dream; feeling a sense of unreality of self or body or of time moving slowly).

Derealization: Persistent or recurrent experiences of unreality of surroundings (e.g., the world around the individual is experienced as unreal, dreamlike, distant, or distorted).

Note: To use this subtype, the dissociative symptoms must not be attributable to the physiological effects of a substance (e.g., blackouts) or another medical condition (e.g., complex partial seizures).

Specify if:

With delayed expression: If the full diagnostic criteria are not met until at least 6 months after the event (although the onset and expression of some symptoms may be immediate).

If you or your loved ones are experiencing these wounds of the soul, it would be advisable to seek professional help. Note that no one is immune from these wounds of the Soul. In the present crisis, the first responders including the medical personnel, law enforcement, essential workers would be particularly vulnerable. Also, relatives of COVAD-19 and victims and loved ones of emotional and physical violence are potentially at risk to these soul wounds.

Points to Ponder:

  1. What is painful or distressing during these times?
  2. What action can you take towards prevention?
  3. How do you restore your vitality and hope?
  4. How have you healed wounds of the past?
  5. How can you contribute positively to the collective?
  6. Are you experiencing any symptoms of the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?
  7. Is someone you love manifesting any of these soul wounds?
  8. Are you able to reach out to a Mental Health Support System?
  9. Are you able to reach out to others who are manifesting these soul wounds?
  10. Make a checklist of your Support Systems and reach out to them regularly.

Photo taken in Ojai, California.

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Desk reference to the diagnostic criteria from DSM-5. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.

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

Kalsched, D. (2013). Trauma and the Soul (1 edition (May 16, 2013) ed.). London and New York: Routledge.

© Ashok Bedi, M.D. and Robert BJ Jakala, PH. D