By Ann Ulanov,
This paper explores the inevitable pain that integration requires in our individuation process. The unspeakable agony we defended against in order to survive we now experience consciously, including moments of going out of existence at the core of our madness. Clinical examples are given of these ‘extinction points’ and the abject helplessness analysand and analyst suffer in the face of this destructiveness. The first and second witness to this process (usually the analyst and the psyche itself) and the primordial creative life force are recognized in the process of recovery, a recovery that recoups the blessings of our finite human living.
Jung’s work is permeated with the goal of integration as the positive ideal of individuation: becoming all of who we are. This process gathers the parts of us to live from their taproot in our unconscious into relationships with others and societies in which we live. But this ideal leaves out the agony of facing madness that has been eclipsed from our living. Contrary to the utopian ideal of composing all our puzzle pieces into a unified picture of who we are, integration is more like Cézanne’s unfinished blue painting (Figure 1) of a woman writing at her desk with big swatches of unpainted white canvas right down the core of her body, imaging a process never completed, including unknown spaces to be lived.
Further, integration as the engine of individuation is a natural, instinctive process that drives us, whether we consent or not, toward psyche centred in Self, not ego, and thus will press to include our traumas, mistakes, unlived parts (Jung 1966, para 186). It is a mark of health to reach for madness in us. For now we suffer consciously, whereas what happened then was not experienced by our too young, too little organized ego, as Winnicott explores on a developmental level, nor could we assimilate the event into Self living, as Jung explores on an archetypal level (Winnicott 1974/1989; Jung 1959a, paras. 1-14, 149-155, 187-190). An analysand approaching near to madness, dreamt, ‘Something terrible happened but I pretended it didn’t’.
But reaching for our madness means agony. For now we suffer consciously the pain that was consigned to our unconscious that provoked us to split-off, dissociate, displace or project it to defend against intolerable anxiety. And thank God we erected those defences for they allowed us to survive, but with the flag at half-mast. One man dreamt of bodies in the freezer he must take out to be thawed back into living. So now we feel fragmented or abysmally confused, erupting with rage or cut-off from body, abandoned by soul or buried alive in sadness.
The worst has already happened in the event of madness. But we feel it is worse now because we are consciously feeling the anxiety and the emotions madness inflicted. An analysand with aggressiveness imploding into consciousness was shocked when she identified with 9/11 terrorists flying planes into office buildings to kill as many citizens as possible. We are alive to intolerable affects that we had shut off so they would not kill us. Now we can afford to feel them and struggle to find representation for the unbearable. It is agony.
Why would we undertake this painful, never-completed integrating process? Why not just ignore those swaths of white unpainted canvas in Cezanne’s painting? Or ingest a substance to benumb pain? We can see why a collective defence against agonizing work of integrating is to minimize psyche as only a subset of the brain, or to objectivize it as a commodity to be fixed in so many sessions and markers of progress dictated by the insurance company. That impingement contrasts with letting something grow from within, ignoring Jung’s insight, ‘Only what is really oneself has the power to heal’ (Jung 1966, para. 258).
Something more presses us to take down our wall of defence, to discover where our soul has been hiding, to see others as they are, freed from the cloak of our projections. Jung writes this is ‘a force as real as hunger and fear of death’ (ibid, para. 403). Or a life-crisis convinces us we do not want to die before we escape this half-life; we want to get all of us back, to receive all we are given to be. Or, we see the cost of pushing so much out of consciousness falls into our body that, like a faithful dog, carries our burdens for us and gets sick. Or, we discover our neglect of dealing with our anxiety complex hurts our children whom we love. For them we take on our task of integrating. Or, a positive event of falling in love happens, or a new idea or an original possibility comes into view that we dare to accept. Attempting intimacy of any kind requires every bit of strength from every part of us. In short, life forces us to face up, though we still are free to say yea or nay. Even if we fear we have no courage to do so, life presses us to find the courage to do so.
To our amazement, our struggles to integrate what belongs to us, includes new life that floods in – chaos as plenty, multi-perspectives in place of one ‘ruling principle’, and our ‘incapacity’, that Jung later calls our inferior function, brings with it ‘the fountainhead of the unconscious’ (ibid. 366; Jung 1954a, para. 408). New perceptions surprise us – of ideas, connections, possibilities we want to develop. We see how challenges from the upending of archetypal foundations of our culture in our 21st century upend ways we think, patterns of feeling we took for granted. In America for example, we suffer cultural anxiety that structures of our democracy are being undone. Does this upending go forward to new equalities? Or to anchor back to their honoured beginnings? Not knowing makes us feel shaky, but also, unexpectedly, liberated from the way things should be, as if doors are flung open to new ways to think, new imaginings of how to devise our government. But can we stand the ingress of multi-possibilities, not sure which, if any, are best?
psychic wholeness will never be attained empirically, as consciousness is too narrow and too one-sided to comprehend the full inventory of the psyche. Always we shall have to begin again from the beginning … the work does not prosper without the greatest simplicity. But the simple things are always the most difficult.
(Jung 1977, p. 145) Can we stand it? Whom do we thank? Praise? Integration thus includes becoming aware of what we believe in and what we experience as the largest reality believing in us; we matter. We have something to contribute. Jung writes, ‘The man at peace with himself, who accepts himself, contributes an infinitesimal amount to the good of the universe. Attend to your private and personal conflicts and you will be reducing by one millionth of a millionth the world conflict’ (Jung 1977, p. 145).
And if we do not participate in the process of integration, we miss the boat: ‘To the extent that a man is untrue to the law of his being and does not rise to personality, he has failed to realize his life’s meaning’ (Jung 1954b, paras. 314, 315).
Jung described his process of integration as being ‘smelted anew’ feeling unbearable emotions that now grow together anew in a different form that demands giving our blood (Jung 2009, pgs. 229, 247, 345).
I want to focus on a hardest thing to integrate that causes us agony. I have come to name it an ‘extinction point’ – a moment of madness where we feel extinguished, dropped out of existence, eradicated for seconds, engulfed in anxiety of psychotic proportion. We quickly surround that injury by defences in order to survive, to give scope to the primordial life impulse to recover our living. I focus on this great danger of integration, the one that threatens us at any moment with going ‘poof’ right out of existence, gone from living. Individuation drives to include all the parts of us. If we tackle a ‘presenting problem’ and see it through, it can take us down to its deepest meaning to introduce us to forces of creativeness and destructiveness operating in us. For those of us who suffer trauma, the extinction point appears usually through that door. But for any of us, it is an impulse of health to reach for the X of madness. It shows itself idiosyncratically as if custom-made in each of us, and requiring the first witness, usually an analyst, as a necessary other who validates our forming and communicating its narrative. We fear reaching this X of madness and project it into some terrible future, as a patient said: ‘I fear I will not show up for the rest of my life.’ Jung used images from alchemy to express this danger of confronting these forces: ‘The integration of contents that were always unconscious and projected involves a serious lesion in the ego. Alchemy expressed this through the symbols of death, mutilation, or poisoning’ (Jung 1954a, para. 472). Jung’s journey soon leads to descent into his particular hell (Jung 2009, p. 237 ff).
He later elaborates:
The scope of integration is suggested by the ‘descensus ad infernos’. The descent of Christ’s soul to hell, whose work of redemption also encompasses the dead. The psychological equivalent of this forms the integration of the collective unconscious which represents an essential part of the individuation process.
(Jung 1959b, para. 72)
Our individual effort to assimilate bits of ourselves is collective too and contributes to all of us. An example is the Lynching Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. It calls us to become more aware of our wound as a people, an acknowledgement that leads toward healing. One blessing of finitude is to gain a sturdy ego, here as ‘a collective consciousness’ that knows of danger and protects against it (Jung 1963a, para. 756).
Still further, we must face that the whole way of communicating with what presses for integration requires a different epistemology. As Jung emphasizes, the Self perspective surrounds the ego on all sides, above and below, as if seeing the whole of our reality and our placement in reality as a whole. Whatever is pressing does not present itself in terms to which we are accustomed – reasoning, reflection, position papers. The psyche dramatizes itself and shows what is from its point of view. The psyche itself is the second witness to our individuation process. For example, beginning with what feels like a lesser threat than extinction – our ‘incapacity’ that Jung later calls our inferior function that has lain neglected and undeveloped in us – now requires redemption. Jung said his ‘incapacity’ was his feeling function (Jung 2009, p. 240). But those intellectual words come way after his shock discovering a beheaded, violated little girl left in the bushes, and the command to ingest part of her liver! (ibid, p. 290). Jung’s revulsion, and initial refusal, displays how we register something inferior in us as a destructive horror. This murdered child is not a matter for reasonable discussion, nor weighing up pros and cons about the command to cut a piece of her liver and eat it. This discarded small girl images Jung’s mangled feeling function. The command to atone with this healing act by partaking of her flesh surely forms a challenge of the creative.
An analysand dreams of sitting in her living room – her room of living what was a full life with husband, child, job – when a commando guy bursts in. Standing before her in his soldier fatigues, he unstraps a tiny baby that has been fastened to his thigh – even in battle. He hands the infant over to her and departs. She must care for it now. This helpless baby says with intensity: ‘more milk!’ On waking this woman feels fear – caring for this infant will upend her life! And what about her past life when this tiny part could only survive if strapped to a soldiering commando, even in fighting battles? Yes: destruction and creativeness. What will come of their linking?
My point is the new, left-out, unguessed part arrives. And it confounds in its style: it appears, does not explain; it demands, does not reason. We cannot think our way through, nor prove its scientific verifiability. It is such as it is. Now what? It does not present logic, nor persuasive argument, but dramatizes its point of view (Jung 1960, para. 421). We must take its impact, admit it to consciousness, make something of it making something of us. Only then might we translate it into conscious terms, without substituting our version for its animal life. The danger comes from ignoring it, or falling into identification with it, or feeling persecuted by it. It really is inferior, slow, clumsy (see Ulanov 2013, pp. 87-102). The surprise is that it brings the wealth of the unconscious with it – the ‘fountainhead’ (see Jung 1954a, paras. 408-09).
Madness, and blessings of finitude
But, much more vexing, are frank examples of madness that terrorize us. If engulfed in psychosis, we split-off emotional and reality testing reactions to divorce ourselves from madness, while becoming engulfed in it. Jung feared psychosis happening to him – utter destruction. Yet in the midst of that danger he made a discovery that changed his work (Jung l963b, pp. 176, 188, 192, 196, 199). He saw that these threatening psychic elements and patterns belong to all of us, thus previewing Bion’s later statement that we all have psychotic and non-psychotic parts of our personality. I have found this so in my clinical work too. If a person’s presenting problem entering analysis persists in seeking full resolution, those psychotic parts will surface. Further, the reigning metaphor is not container/contained, important as that is, but, I suggest, interpenetration between those parts (Ulanov 2017, pp. 58-61).
The difference between psychosis that falls on us like lava of uncontrollable fantasies from an irrupting unconscious, and our voluntary intention to integrate missing chunks of ourselves, is the ego. Here are found blessings of finitude. The fantasy material is the same in both cases but ‘the insane person falls victim because he cannot integrate it but is swallowed up in it’. With a finite ego, equipped with willingness and effort to understand, we aim to assimilate what we can of compensatory unconscious images, affects, impulses, not only for our own personality, but also in relation to ‘the collective situation of consciousness’. We thus contribute into our social atmosphere our individual experience of what is denied collectively. The ego has limits. We do what we can and sometimes a dream helps. A man dreamt he was shown a room full of dead bodies to be dug up, but over there in the corner was one not to be dug up, one to leave buried. Having a finite ego makes possible a decision to do what we can; and let go what we cannot ‘and thereby produce a whole meaning which alone makes life worth living and, for not a few people, possible at all’ (Jung 1963b, p. 756).
The fact that integration is an unending process, never complete, can add to our dread. What if no form ever takes shape to emerge out of the formlessness of the specific madness besetting us? This arouses intolerable anxiety and renders us helpless. We are utterly without resource. That helplessness is an extinction point, I suggest, found in us when reaching for the unknown ‘X’ of the specific madness we suffer. Helplessness, I suggest, is an extinction point in any of the varieties of madness that result in splitting-off an experience of going out of existence that was not registered. We vary in what we split off – for some, it is relation to the world, so that we prematurely adjust to expecting nothing from others as protection against being utterly let-down, dropped. For others, it is our body which is eclipsed and that leads to psycho-somatic distress. For some, it is unlived aggression that arouses the intolerable anxiety and can lead to outbursts of rage. Still others harbour a small child who never found and formed her or his true voice, and its lack impairs any sense of self-worth and self-authority. In all varieties of craziness we must look into the anxiety, take it apart and track it down or it will ‘blot out’ the taproot of our psychic energy (Rodman 2003, p. 347).
Whatever the specific unregistered part, I suggest, we land in utter helplessness. We reach the end of the road of self-effort, the bottom of the barrel to make things better. We hit a dead-end and fear we will be ending dead. Yet we dimly sense a familiarity; we have been here before and finally now land fully. Bad as it is, we may feel some relief now to have hit bottom. Here I stay: I do not know what to do, feel, hope, nor how to find sense in the non-sense, meaning in meaninglessness, orientation in the no-where space, some companionship in this no-one space. But I have no idea how to do any of that. Helplessness pervades instead.
As analysts we, too, are helpless, and in the transference the patient tells us so. We do not come up with the constructive word, let alone effective interpretation. We are told we are useless, not helping. The limits of finitude press hard. Analysis as a profession comes into question too. What good is it when nothing can be offered to this descent into helplessness? Theory and technique do not hit the mark. The analyst who knows this, accepts arriving as another human living together with the analysand through experience of the end of the road, having no effective word. A danger is that, as analyst, we succumb to panic, or hidden narcissism, or omnipotence, trying to remedy what is going on, and yank the patient out of facing destructiveness of everything that has been built to counteract the madness event that happened. Then the analysand misses the chance to reach the X. Non-sense meets sense here, meaninglessness meets meaningfulness, futility with hope. Forces of destructiveness and creativeness coincide.
What is left is analyst and analysand together living an experience of this Nothing space. We each retain our roles but in addition are present as simply two human beings facing the extinction point where primal absence faces us. Further, as analyst, we arrive there by the route of our own experiences of primordial life force and destructive death-dealing entanglements, not by what the analysand sketches out for us in subjective-object transferences. We are thus simultaneously both the object of transference roles and a fellow human being facing life and death forces, a sister companion in the face of creative and destructive elements. We are not in charge of the bad nor can we banish it.
The philosopher Iris Murdoch’s words come to mind: what is goodness good for? Goodness is good for nothing (Murdoch 1969, p. 254). It still makes me laugh with its truth that, oddly, points to something more there outside our finite powers. A blessing of finitude is that we see our limits and may glimpse what exceeds them. That relieves us of overconscientiousness as if the outcome of analysis is entirely up to us. No. Can we yield to dependence on that something more? Like Winnicott’s ‘discovery of spontaneous, accidental beauty in the ordinary’, or Bion’s counsel to reach for O, the ultimate reality, the godhead, the infinite, in each session? (Rodman 2003, p. 272; Bion 1970, pp. 26 & 69).
Symptoms mark the descent into the X of madness. If analysis is working well, the analysand’s symptoms will not only increase but magnify the desperate sense of loss, meaninglessness, refusal, no words. It helps to remember it is an impulse of health to reach toward the X of one’s madness, that individuation is driving to include a pivotal experience that did not register in the past and is now making its way toward consciousness. Like a mythic descent into hell, we are stripped of what worked in the past – one effective defence after another undone until we face our utter helplessness. We cannot make it better. Nor can the analyst. We arrive at the No-thing space, No-where, No-one (Ulanov 2013, pp. 218-19). We live now in the present what happened in the past, that we could not experience fully then because our ego was too undeveloped and because there was no supportive setting nor holding of us to experience it, so our defences quickly organized against the unthinkable anxiety. The unendurable anxiety around what has been exiled needs to be explored, taken apart, rescued into life. For that anxiety covers the taproot of psychic energy that has dwelt in us waiting for us to retrieve and integrate it with living.
Hence, when analysands reach this deserted space, they also feel immense relief and even gladness. Examples circle around the creative happening right next to the destructive. A blessing of finitude is incarnation into this body of mine here, now, able to house this living moment instead of disappearing into ‘the black hole of formless infinity’ as Lombardi describes it when emotions intensify endlessly to overwhelm the ego in psychosis (Lombardi 2016, p. 43; Lombardi 2017, p. 147 ff.).
Heidegger describes Dasein, our mortal, finite being, ‘as a clearing, like an open place in a forest where the light gets through’ (Heidegger 1962, p. 171; Macquarrie 1968, p. 20). We glimpse this space in getting near to ‘the split second in which the threat of madness was experienced’, which arouses unbearable anxiety so defences against registering madness are immediately organized (Winnicott 1965/1989; see Rodman op.cit. p. 299). It is a relief to gain the place of clearing, where we can perceive and assimilate and spontaneously recover from what could kill us.
A blessing of finitude is conscious capacity to approach what happened with understanding. Winnicott has faith in the person showing the point of distress and feeling the relief that the worst they feared has already happened. Experiencing that, they can make spontaneous recovery, or at least blunt the edge of the past breakdown. Jung trusts the self-regulation of the psyche: let psychic events happen and the animal will come forth from the forest thicket. With dependence on the first witness of the analyst, and on the second witness of the psyche, we reach the extinction point and check its destruction by creating a larger whole, with room in our sanity for madness. Jung writes:
assimilation of contents of the unconscious contents leads us back to ourselves as an actual living something, poised between two world-pictures and their darkly discerned potencies. This ‘something’ is strange to us and yet so near, wholly ourselves and yet unknowable, a virtual centre of so mysterious a constitution that it can claim … kinship with beasts and gods … I have called this centre the self. Intellectually the self is no more than a psychological concept … that transcends our powers of comprehension. It might equally be called the ‘God within us’. The beginning of our whole psychic life seems to be inextricably rooted in this point, and all our highest and ultimate purposes seem to be striving towards it. This paradox seems to be unavoidable … when we try to define something beyond our … understanding
(Jung 1966, paras. 398, 399)
One analysand, when connecting with the X of her madness, said ‘there is nothing to say at all’. She felt utterly shorn; stripped of defences to keep herself alive – of protecting vulnerability behind a wall of dissociation, of splitting into parts, overdoing, as if pedalling her bike faster and faster to do work, chores, appointments, activities to keep herself in being. In her long analysis, we uncovered that she had not been lost by her family, but rather never found, held in mind, with loving interest in her. Because this lack happened from birth, she accepted it as ‘the way it was – reality’. Thus it was her job to cope with not being held in another’s loving mind, and with the cumulative trauma of living in a family and feeling utterly alone. Confusion reigned. A primal absence was her lot. Her reaching out spontaneously was met by the other replacing it with their need and expectation of her compliance. She saw when very young that she could not make the other want to be interested in her, nor, as she grew up, make the environment in word or recognition validate the beauty of her being alive. This loss of not being found lived in her but bypassed consciousness. What she was conscious of was the compelling necessity to be busy keeping herself in life, while coping with a background threnody that at any time she could go ‘poof out of existence’, or into craziness.
The worst was going to happen. The worst did happen. She prized above all else learning to and becoming a poet. There she felt alive and real and connected with reality. But then, her recording of her work went out of existence in manuscript and machine. It had been deleted and she felt deleted with it. Silence fell upon her as if she lay shorn of life. She knew in her bones she had no idea how to get her corpus of poems back, nor, given the particular circumstances, whom to call with expertise to recover it. It was gone. Poof, out of existence!
She knew right away this loss was a surrogate of her being gone. Simultaneously, she was reliving her extinction point of earliest life of feeling erased with her original family in the past. Now in the present explicit event, not just a flashback memory, she was living through the loss of the corpus of her poems, erasure of her vital connection with being alive and real in the world. Toward both past and present she felt helpless to erase the erasure. Everything she knew from experience to help herself was no longer viable, effective. She lived the feeling of going out of existence. I, too, as the analyst lived it with her. There was nothing to say, to remedy, to offer as encouragement. We dwelt in silence of our helplessness to undo the space of never being found.
The connection she forged to stay alive through becoming a poet was severed. And she felt complicit through her mistake in mishandling the technology for securing copies of all her poems. She somehow erased the corpus that did exist, as if enacting on herself the erasure she had suffered from not being held in the mind of family members, as if she was of no account, hence no accounting was given of this behaviour, or perhaps even noticed. She remembered then a series of dreams from the previous year portraying this danger: ‘hands grasp my throat from behind, choking’; ‘a sharpest blade severs my foot from my ankle’; ‘a woman drips poison into my ear to kill any creative endeavour’; ‘a feral animal sinks its claws into my back’ – all variations of a threat to existence
We stayed in this field of not knowing what to do to help, rather, to let be what is. As sometimes happens, something unexpected occurred that both analysand and analyst know they did not invent. It came from somewhere else. In the poet’s case it came through a dream the night after the disaster of loss and falling silent and shorn. The dream made her burst out laughing. Weirdly, the dream introduced into her helplessness a firm realization: yes, it was true. We are dependent. Whatever made her think we have a shred of control, or it was in our power to give life. She dreamt of her soulmate, lover, spouse, long deceased, coming to her (pun intended), not from or in a distance, as characteristic of her dreams of him since he died, which she thought was because he was dead and she alive. In this short dream he was standing up close, near her, right there in his loving vibrancy. ‘He ejaculated semen all over my body, seeds and seeds of life’, she said, ‘in big blobby whiteness, all over my body! Of course,’ she exclaimed, ‘Not until I reached the place of helplessness beneath all the things I did to keep myself alive in the world, did I grasp that I do not author my life and life could be given all over me, in big clumps of blobby whiteness, seeds of life from my dear one, all over me!’ Here, I felt, was an explosion of creativeness in the midst of destructive erasure and despair, both primordial forces together at once.
Ten days later she dreamt of him again near up, close to her and saying he was tired of masturbating and wanted intercourse with her. She felt the dream annulling the line of death from life, rejoining their closeness. The two dreams led to a tremendous surplus of symbolism of this man whom she knew intimately from their life together, but who also, in himself, portrayed terrific life force, he so very alive with interest in so many things. He symbolized part of her as well, giving her seeds she could not create in her own body; and in the second dream saying in effect, open your body to this penetration, seeds of life to go inside you, within you now. It made me think of the logos spermatikos – the inseminating word crossing the divide of even life and death.
Like other clinical examples, this one presents a blessing of finitude: it is not all up to us. Our limits may make us notice what exists beyond them. Something comes from outside us, like the coincidence of shorn-silent-helplessness and being covered by inseminating seeds (logos spermatikos) from a loving confirming partner. Further, this part of her that he represents does not want to carry this boon all by itself – to go on self-stimulating – but to put the inseminating word inside her, to plant it there as hers, to gestate and grow.
The improbability of both dreams arriving as if in response to her landing in desperate unmitigated helplessness, was what made her laugh. She knew perfectly well one did not cause the other. I thought of synchronistic connection with its powerful spontaneous impact of meaningfulness. Only by reaching the madness of loss of vital connection to life, by living through the going out of life symbolized by the loss of her poetry, was life conferred, or should we say spurted, gushed, fountained all over her body. It was her talent for and discipline in learning to write poetry that was her connection to life. It was what she developed in response to suffering the breakdown to primal absence that was not experienced. She now experienced consciously the agony of a dependence not met and hence life-threatening. Only then did something more break through, portrayed by one she trusted and depended upon, who also symbolized a part of herself that did keep her in mind and represented something beyond death that kept her in mind still.
The limits of the analyst also made room for something given that neither of the analytic pair constructed. The analyst lived through the experience with her, as the first witness, and did not have an answer or interpretation that brought any relief. Nor did the analysis. I embodied both the transference piece of the parent not holding her in mind in the past, and in the present embodied my limits and the limits of analysis. The failure of both to help made space to glimpse something more we could depend on beyond our limits and the limits of our beloved profession. Its appearance also suggested that our trauma over destructiveness may also be finite, limited, not endless. Glimpsing the something more announced itself in laughter.
Synchronistic experience is not manufactured by us; it happens to us and leads associatively to a network of symbolism. The seeds of this analysand’s dream made me think of the signal image in the Christian Trinity of God as Creator, distinguished from Son as redeemer, and Spirit as invisible enlivener of soul in the world (Ulanov 1996, p. 96 ff). The psyche, as second witness to our individuation process, tossed up this fecund image. Creator begets a beginning that goes on all through eternity as the creatio continua. It happens now and exemplifies our dwelling in its creative moment up until death and beyond. Jung writes that synchronistic events not governed by causality must be regarded as ‘creative acts … continuous creation of a pattern that exists from all eternity, repeats itself sporadically, and is not derivable from any known antecedents’ (Jung 1960, para. 967, n. 17).
Jung found his own place in the wholeness of the whole, and his service to God through conscious work on his conflicts of the yea and nay, the destructive and creative (Jung 1963b, pp. 311, 334, 338, 345). Unlike the ‘doctor animals’ who are the best servants of God because they do what they are supposed to do because ruled by instinct, we humans have a hyphen, a hiatus, a space where we must add our consent, freely add our yea or nay. Instead of reaching conclusive definition, Jung’s full-hearted embrace of the givenness of his finite life, with all its blessings as well as trials, leaves him at the end of his life a wondrous mystery to himself (Jung ibid, p. 358; see Ulanov 2017, pp. 106-08).
For the poet, the richness of Creator symbolism aided her looking into her anxiety of going out of existence. The anxiety was still awful, yet was now simultaneously in company with the givenness of her life created from another Source through receiving life-seeds. Here the infinite enters the finite and there is mutual exchange of blessings, so to speak. A sense of the whole picture represented by the word infinite says, in effect, trauma is finite too. Though we bear scars, trauma is pressed by the limits of finitude to be located, named, reflected upon, related to, and no longer overwhelming conscious, finite life by limitless unconscious affect. This bigger expanse becomes incarnated in our embodied understanding and that demotes trauma from defining us forever. Madness can be checked by the limits of finitude, just as finitude, with its liability to be stuck in one place, is loosened from stuckness by the multi-perspectives the infinite inspires.
Jung sees we have access to infinite and finite if each is allowed its scope. You know this quotation:
The decisive question for man is: Is he related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his life. Only if we know that the thing which truly matters is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interest upon … goals which are not of real importance. … If we understand and feel that here in this life we already have a link with the infinite … we count for something only because of the essential we embody, and if we do not embody that, life is wasted. In our relationships with other men, too, the crucial question is whether an element of boundlessness is expressed in the relationship.
The feeling for the infinite, however, can be attained only if we are bounded to the utmost … I am only that! Only consciousness of our narrow confinement in the self forms the link to the limitlessness of the unconscious. In such awareness we experience ourselves concurrently as limited and eternal, as both one and the other. In knowing ourselves to be unique in our personal combination – that is, ultimately limited – we possess also the capacity for becoming conscious of the infinite. But only then!
(Jung 1963b, p. 325)
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