Dr. Kristina Brode
“We are approaching the level of an archetypal consciousness.” Stanislav Grof, 2011
My experiences with the Psychosynthesis Egg-Diagram
I love the Egg-Diagram. And people love to be taught this model. I see myself at a bedside in the hospital introducing myself and my work there to the cancer patient waiting to have surgery the next day. One of my first sentences is: “I work with psychosynthesis to reach our goals here: to minimize your distress, let you find more inner peace and remind you of the strength that you have proved so often in your life.”
The question that always comes back is: “Never heard of this, what is psychosynthesis?”
With my writing pad on my knees I draw the Egg with its dotted lines and boundaries and describe our inner life of often conflicting subpersonalities (who does not know “the two souls in his chest”), their dependency and connectedness. I explain how, through befriending them, inner conflicts can be ended, new coping-strategies offered and inner peace found.
This explanation always provokes an “Aha-Effect”.
Even colleagues from other therapeutic faculties are impressed by its simplicity and possibilities for understanding it brings to phenomena such as countertransference, our shadow and the higher aspirations in our psyche.
The Egg provides a very helpful picture of the strategies we develop to cope with life and our store of personal experiences and memories become clearer. In this realm of the Egg we work with the memory of the body, the brain and sometimes at the depth of the cellular level.
Contact with Material from Outside- Regression and Past Life work
During therapeutic work I have observed that, when the client sees and transforms old personal patterns, a channel or connection to the Higher Self is activated and with that an openness to material that seemingly comes from former lifetimes. Without being intended, by me as the therapist or by the client, spontaneous pictures arise, which, at first sight, have nothing to do with this lifetime. These images open up a symbolic way for clients to understand their situation, enabling disidentification on a much wider scale to take place.
These pictures and the distance of centuries can even enable us to look at very dark material.
I am not a Buddhist and I do not care if there is such a thing as personal former lifetimes or if you just “download” symbolic and meaningful experiences from the Collective Unconscious that help us to a better understanding of our problems in this life. As long as it helps it does not matter for me. I was lucky to have David Bach, from Monterey, MA, as my guide and therapist and later as my supervisor in these first years of encountering psychosynthesis. His non-judgemental openness to all that came up was so helpful. Bach called his work Karmic Psychology and he worked with a certain Regression Ritual that we later completed with a healing process.
During the almost 30 years of my life as a therapist I have found working this way has yielded many symbolic gifts for patients including:
– Further disidentification (by means of large distance in time and place)
– Giving a broader context and perspective of the client’s problem
– Release from repetitive compulsions
– Solving deep fears and phobias
– Releasing old core beliefs lead to a deep understanding of me being as I am
– Taking responsibility rather than falling into resignation
– Coming out of the victim status.
– Employing ritual to heal at a deep soul level (soul loves rituals)
The more open the guide is towards past life work, the more the client dares to live it through, whereas a judgemental attitude stops the process.
For a long time therapists, including psychosynthesis practitioners, kept their distance to this kind of work. More recently, however, we have been confronted with a real boom in ‘Regression- and Reincarnation’ literature, with the market becoming flooded with books on the subject. Even famous Jungian therapists and psychiatrists such as the late Roger Woolger (1987, 2004) or Brian L. Weiss (1988, 1992) have written several bestsellers on the subject. It seems, as if material from this realm is longing for expression, soul-memory wants to be seen.
So What Keeps Us from Working this Way?
As therapists we always try to be intellectual accepted. And to me Psychosynthesis even strives harder for that acceptance. “Where is the scientific proof?” is always the question.
But how will you ever proof – with tests and questionnaires – people’s experiences with inner pictures and symbols which shrink when you try to put them into words which are already secondary symbolizations. From experience – to picture – to word is the inner way. Experiences are always diminished and cut smaller by words.
The biblical pronouncement “In the beginning was the word!” (John I:I) should perhaps also be questioned: Is that true or is it also only another male fiction from a churchman (Luthers bible translation)?
I Would Like to Invite You Even Further Out or Further Down: Into the Collective Unconscious
Since Jung proclaimed the Collective Unconscious over 70 years ago, little has been written and even less research done in this field.
The roots of Collective Unconscious lie in an archaic-mythological thinking and refer to humanity’s inheritance, the store of its history which provides psychic ground of every human being.
And very like the biological body developed by evolution, formed and imprinted by its experiences, the Collective Unconscious has become a component of the whole species. While we find inside the Egg at the personal level behavioural and coping patterns that have been built as answers to shock and trauma or just to manage life, so is outside in the Collective Unconscious the memory of whole humanity with its shocks and traumata stored.
In our training at the CIRCADIAN Institute (near Cologne,Germany), when we teach the EGG-Diagram and we describe what is outside the dashes, I say always: You must imagine there the Collective Unconscious, the store of humanity’s experience which is passed down through the ages in myth, legends and fairy tales. This realm seems to be the home of the archetypes, basic psychic pattern of humanity.
Archetypes would be then „inhabitants“ of the Collective Unconscious and we could understand them as being similar to subpersonalities.
C. G. Jung (1984) postulates that the frequent and perseverative psychic patterns which form basic pattern or archetypes, also structure the psyche of the individual as well. They are numinous, having an involuntary power that the individual psyche cannot resist.
Jung sees the appearance of motifs in fairy tales, myth, dreams and art as proof for the existence of archetypes.
Roberto Assagioli saw archetypes as living beings, each having its own wisdom, and expressing qualities such as Beauty, Energy and Love.
Stanislav Grof (2011) said: “We are approaching a level of archetypal consciousness”, meaning that we are going towards a kind of world-consciousness.
Out of my 18 years of working with mythology I feel forced to change the sentence into:
“Archetypes are approaching us to change our consciousness”.
I could make an analogy to my therapy sessions: during a session subpersonalities sometimes call strongly for our attention. When several clients present the same problem in therapy, it is time for me to have a session with my supervisor to clear my ‘stuff’ and make sense of the emerging pattern!
Something Wants to be seen!
If we ask: “What in the outside world wants to be seen so terribly urgently at the moment?” we are given many hints. The lies and untruthfulness we live come more and more to the surface. Wickileaks, Vaticanleaks, Edward Snowdon’s uncoverings are good examples for this trend. Truth wants to be seen. Lies show up in all areas, uncovered by courageous people who are questioning politics, business and capitalism. The fictional visions of Huxley’s Brave New World, Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four have long been overtaken by everyday life. Are we ready to listen and to take responsibility for this? That is what the Collective seems to be asking from us at the moment.
So the logical question is how can we work in and with this realm? Archetypal Psychosynthesis seemed to me the answer.
What do We Mean by Archetypal Psychosynthesis?
We have to approach the Collective, this realm beyond or outside our personal psyche, with even greater care and a more respectful attitude than we would our subpersonalities, in order to find answers to these more planetary issues. As with the human body, the need for healing is also shown by the symptoms, in this case strife, greed, war….Healing on this wider plane, then, requires the same willingness for change, openness and responsibility for our own actions as would be the case in addressing personal symptoms.
How I Came into Contact with This Realm
It started with my first travel to Ireland in 1994. In this country the “veils” between realities seem to be very thin. Coming across mythological sites by chance I had strong experiences and “knew” instantly what had happened in these places. Only later I learned by studying the history of the places, by reading the myths, that my “knowing” had substance. The occurrences (sometimes battles, murder or deceit) seemed to be imprinted in the earth, in the landscape. Is there such a thing as memory of a place, akin to Rupert Sheldrake’s Morphogenetic Fields? The memory of the place seemed to be talking to me.
First I doubted my mind. Then I sought a quiet place to integrate the experiences and later to read all I could get about Irish Mythology.
When you reach into the realms of Mythology and Archetypes you have to go deep down and under “the official, correct, historical record“. “Dive behind and go deep down” as Mary Ellen Carne put it in her talk at the World Conference of Psychosynthesis in San Diego in 1996. It is a good advice, because the stories were passed on in oral tradition and had been deformed and then quite distorted by being written down from the 8. Century onwards by Christian monks. And we know what that means. The mythological figures were pressed in a total different value system.
A few years later I brought participants of my workshops to the same world-history soaked places. Without having been given any previous information they had the same deep experiences as I had. Now after a long time of working with “root-myths” in many different countries I know: touching and exploring the field “outside”, going deep into the collective experiences is enriching and enlarging life-enhancing as more levels of consciousness are discovered.
But the main question was and still is: Is there something that needs healing? How could healing be possible? And how can we be of help?
My experience was that there were always spells and curses in the myth that needed to be healed and resolved. The history of mankind is up to now HIS-Story. HER-Story has never been written. But we need the feminine goddess consciousness to find different models for peacemaking and reconciliation, releasing the potential that is stored in the collective unconsciousness. Healing our divine Anima, releasing feminine qualities could heal national patterns as well.
So Archetypal Psychosynthesis means going back to our imprinted world heritage, to the wisdom of our souls. Bringing us back to the humbleness of medieval mystics accepting experiences for that our language is too limited to put it into words. World soul wisdom asks us to no longer be ashamed of such childlike simplicity. We stand in a long tradition and could know better about our interconnectedness and oneness on this universal level:
• 2500 years ago Buddha taught the unity of all living
• 2000 years ago Jesus Christ told us: “We are all children of God, we are one”
• Almost 100 years ago, long before Transpersonal Psychology claimed it, Assagioli had insights about our oneness
• Over 80 years ago, Jung calling it the “Numinous” and postulated Archetypes and Collective Unconscious as the place of our common heritage
• Over 80 years ago, Quantum Physics, as the physic of relationship, proved that the observer changes the observed object. Imagine: What that means for our work as therapists. What real influence we have: How I look at someone already changes him. And what responsibility that means as well.
I recently came across a book about an exchange of letters between one of the greatest Quantun-Physicists, Wolfgang Pauli and C.G Jung (Meier, 2007). Pauli, like most of the great Physicists came to a point in his life when he became spiritual: There is something greater behind everything, something that cannot be described.
Pauli and Jung discussed the Collective Unconscious, about archetypes and working on the idea of synchronicity. Pauli had many dreams about his “Inner Magician” and about alchemy. and also undertook a course of Psychoanalysis. Both were greatly interested in the connection and parallels between Quantum Physics and psychology, Pauli saying: “What is still older is always the newer” (ibid, 2007)
Nowadays we were so happy when Neurobiology and Neuropsychology provides proof that supports our work: demonstrating how the brain works, how we learn, how enthusiasm is fertilizing learning processes and especially how we process inner pictures into our cells and influence cell-functions with thoughts, thus demonstrating the effectiveness of Psychosynthesis interventions. We have learned about mirror-neurons and other resonating phenomena: I feel what you feel. We learned about our connectedness – our influencing each other – about the implied truth, the permeable lines of our Egg Model shows!
How Could We Work in This Area and What Could be the Benefits?
Firstly, some precautions you have to keep in mind:
1. Mind how I look at the client: My eyes tell the truth: Giving him credit or looking at him with fearful eyes, through the lens of statistics, telling him with my eyes about the hopelessness of the diagnosis. It is dripping out of my pores. And it is reaching him.
2. Mind my words: The so-called Nocebo-Effect (Latin for ‘I will harm’) has been the object of recent research. Opposite to the Placebo effect, where sugar pills have healing effects, it suggests that negative messages can harm or kill the person receiving them. Perhaps we should stop reading the information on the side-effects of our medicine to avoid this!
3. Mind my thoughts: I have responsibility not only for my looking, speaking and doing – but for my thinking as well. Although there is not as yet scientific evidence of the impact of our thoughts on others, the permeability of the Egg-Diagram we can be sure that there is an influence. Even if we do not belief in that, we should take responsibility for what we put into the “net”.
How Can Archetypal Psychosynthesis Help Us in Our Work?
To know mythology is knowing the history of humanity. By ‘diving in’ – finding places, finding wounds, finding curses, finding treasures and releasing the wisdom and healing potential with the tools of Psychosynthesis – we could serve the wellbeing of our planet. Taking myths serious will sometimes unlock the truth of a place’s history: Heinrich Schliemann took the writing of Homer very seriously and, as a result, discovered the objective, touchable treasures of ancient Troy. But less tangible treasures could also be found such as solving the karma of entire nations.
All over the world we can find sure signs of unreleased history of nations and the healing needed, in centuries-old grudges and successive wars fought for long forgotten reasons. Ireland is a good example, the enmity between Singhalese and Tamil people in Sri Lanka, the isle of light, is another. In each mythology we always find treachery and a curse.
The way out is to first pacify the iarchetypal figures involved in a symbolic way.
The work will open us more and more to the thought of unity and oneness, for our interconnectedness. Our contact to this realm has to be respectful, humble and with the innocence of a beginners mind. One of my teachers Jungian Gregg M. Furth warned us in our training: “They (the Archetypes) can kill you.”
The gains are manifold:
• In accepting this interconnectedness we accept our power
• Loneliness changes to Connectedness
• Division and separation is loss of paradise
• Fear, competition and mistrust no longer rule
• I am more than myself – I go over my borders – there is boundless plenty
• Energy is generated by remembering and releasing old patterns
• Core wounds I brought into this life are healed
• National wounds can be healed
• We have the choice what we teach: fear or love
I think time is pushing us: We have to make a decision. Do we together want to survive collectively or collectively cease to exist in the madness of envy, greed and war? With Psychosynthesis we have the means to choose. Transformation can happen through a whole variety of techniques and exercises. Our Choice is to work for:
• Peace of heart
• Peace of soul
• Peace in the world
In her novel Miriam (1984) Luise Rinser lets Jesus say to Mary Magdalen:
“Go ahead, teach the oneness of all living beings – teach love”. That could be our Credo.
The Hourglass-Model (Brode’s Enlarged Egg Diagram)
When I tried to give my experiences in a visible form what emerged looked like an hourglass.
I drew a three level Egg Diagram to show the different layers of therapeutic effect:
1. Inside the Egg – personal history and memories
2. Up to the Higher Self – transpersonal history and memories
3. Collective Unconsciousness – universal history and divine memory
My curiosity does not stop here. I would like to invite you to take some risks:
• Risk thinking outside the box.
• Risk seeming simple-minded
• Risk loving and see what happens.
Evolution is Provocation. I hope I really provoked you.
ASSAGIOLI, Roberto: C.G. Jung and Psychosynthesis. Available from www.psychosynthesiscenter.org/articles/0119.pdf
BRODE, Kristina (2015): Making Peace With My Body. Re-visualizing Cancer. The Psychosynthesis Guide o a New Life. Preface by Piero Ferrucci. Amazon
JUNG, Carl, Gustav (1984): Archetyp und Unbewusstes. (Gesamtwerk Bd. 2), Walter Verlag, Olten.
MEIER, C.A. Ed., ( English Version in Print, June 2014): Atom and Archetype: The Pauli/Jung Letters from 1932-1958. Princeton University Press
RINSER, Luise (1984): Mirjam. Fischer Verlag, Frankfurt.
WEISS, Brian L. (1988): Many lives, many masters. Simon & Schusters, New York.
WEISS, Brian L. (1992): Through Time into Healing. Fireside, New York.
WOOLGER, Roger (1987): Other lives, other Selves. A Jungian Psychotherapist discovers Past Lives. Doubleday, New York.
WOOLGER, Roger (2004): Healing your Past Lives. Sounds True Inc., Boulder/Colorado.
Published in 2014 by The Institute of Psychosynthesis:
Essays on the Theory and Practice of a Psychospiritual Psychology. Vol. 2
Ed. by Steve Simpson, Joan Evans, Roger Evans