Saturday, March 17, 2018
8:30am to 9:00am Registration
9:00am to 12:00pm Presentation
Traumatic States and the Phoenix Myth: The Journey From Dissociation to Integration- The Royal Road of Image, Word, and Relationship
Mythology and dreams have most consistently been adopted for use by Jung’s analytical psychology but I will demonstrate their usefulness to contemporary psychoanalytic work by using a relational-systems approach called intersubjective-systems theory. The case involves an analysand whose analysis was abruptly terminated when her analyst ‘disappeared’ leaving her in a traumatized state. Our dialogic exploration of meaning in the myth brought dissociated experience into language and assisted with the integration of the trauma through imaginative use of mental images evoked by the stories.
More than a simple metaphor of self-renewal, the Phoenix myth has a richness of culturally elaborated sub-plots known as mythemes, that relate to the following existential moods and affects - loss of the absolutes of everyday life, a reduced sense of being, alienation, isolation, uncanniness, being-toward-death, traumatic temporality, resoluteness, and solicitude (Stolorow 2007, 2011). These will be described, along with the way mythemes and dreams can assist in the process of bringing dissociated or pre-verbal affect into language. I conclude that this ancient myth’s longevity (pre-dating the pharaohs of Egypt) may be due to a useful psychological function, that of facilitating survivors' ability to integrate catastrophic loss, because its images can aid in the organizing of unformulated unconscious experience.
The Phoenix Myth-
The phoenix was said to be as large as an eagle, with brilliant red and gold plumage. Only one phoenix existed at any one time, and it was very long-lived. As its death approached, the phoenix fashioned a nest of aromatic boughs and spices in the tallest tree, and the nest was consumed in flames. From that pyre miraculously sprang a new phoenix, which, after embalming its parents’ remains in an egg of myrrh, flew to Heliopolis (“City of the Sun”), where it gently placed the egg on the altar in the temple of the Egyptian god of the sun, Ra.