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Hi, this is my first post. In searching for information on transference, I stumbled upon mentalhelp.net. The first and only thread I've read so far has been this one (a long one) on Transference/Countertransference:

My heart goes out to Chisholm, and I would like to chime in. But it looks like I'll have earn my wings to do that. So here I go.

I'm late 40's, male, married close to 20 years and have several children. I lost my left leg above the knee in my mid-teens, so am pushing 3-1/2 decades now as an above-the-knee (AK) amputee.

Here's my very long story...

I grew up the youngest in a large, solid family. But I'm significantly younger than my next oldest sibling. So in some ways I'm a youngest child and in some ways I'm like an only child. My parents and many others encouraged me after my surgery, and though learning to use an AK prosthesis was difficult and painful, I did it. I picked up where I left off in HS, which was as an "A" student, and ended up co-valedictorian of my HS class as well as recipient of a number of awards and college scholarships.

Went to college and was successful on the outside (more achievements, awards, high grades, even won four varsity letters as an athlete). But college was very difficult for me. Being on a large campus I had to walk three to four miles per day. I soon abandoned my prosthesis for crutches and ended up living that way for three-and-a-half years on campus (my final semester was off-campus).

I was a shy kid from a relatively small town and always preferred having just a few friends to having many relationships. In college, however, I had just two friends... my first roommate and my girlfriend. My roommate left less than halfway through my four years. My girlfriend and I dated for over three years.

Shortly after I graduated, she broke off the relationship. I was stunned. I had just lost my best friend, and really my only friend. Looking back, I'm sure I went into mild but very functional depression.

I took my first full-time job in the fall and started wearing my prosthesis again, and wearing it all the time for that matter. I also started a second job (3-6 hours per week), and shortly thereafter took a third job playing keyboards in a band. The band rehearsed weekly and averaged 7-8 jobs a month. For several years I lifted two 81-pound keyboard amps and a 100-pound keyboard in and out of vehicles, on and off stages, up and down stairs... BY MYSELF. I am not a large guy (around 6', small-boned and skinny).

Not only that, but I took up golf again, something I had done from age 8 or 9 until losing my leg. Since my primary job offered me summers off, for several seasons I played 90 to 100 rounds each season, usually carrying my clubs on my back.

Do you know what it's like to lift 80 or 100 pounds repeatedly over the course of three years using only your back and arms (I couldn't really use my knees or legs)? That's what I did. Or to walk two-and-a-half or five miles (9 or 18 holes of golf) on an AK prosthesis that wasn't fitting right (when the back pain became excruciating I finally saw a chiropractor, who measured me over an inch short on the left side)? That's what I did.

I killed my back, and myself. By my third year out of college I missed 26 days of work in four months. I suffered constant excruciating pain, severe depression and total exhaustion. And I didn't even know it was depression because back then depression wasn't something I'd ever heard about, so of course I wouldn't know to seek treatment.

For some reason, though I was "killing" my body for over three years, I didn't care. It may have been simply pride. Perhaps I was too proud to fail, no matter what the cost. The problem with that mindset is that if the cost is too great, (which it certainly turned out to be here) you WILL fail. I found that out the hard way. Stupid bullheadedness. :mad:

Or perhaps it's something else. I've never thought about it much until recently, but it seems like maybe I hated myself. I suppose this is possible, given the trauma of both the radical body image change and the radical functional change I experienced right in the middle of adolescence. And certainly having no close friends does not help matters. Was I choosing to isolate myself because I felt awkward, different, a misfit due to the loss of a limb and the inability to wear my prosthesis in college?

Well, things got better for me. I quit all those jobs, stopped wearing my leg except when absolutely necessary for many years, started working one job only, and began to heal. In the late '80s I met the girl I would one day marry. About a year later I started waking up around 2:30 or 3:00 every morning and could not go back to sleep. After a month or so of that, I naturally became totally dysfunctional. I started an antidepressant and it worked well. I started sleeping again and soon felt better. Eventually I was able to wean almost all the way off of it, though I had to stay on at a very low dose or I would start waking up in the middle of the night again.

Soon I married, had kids and life was much better than just a few years back. I still had constant back and neck pain, but it had subsided significantly from the peak years.

Then about ten years ago my wife and I had a significant disagreement about something very important to me. I'll spare the details, but I was dumbfounded and distraught that she couldn't see things my way. Over the course of the next two or three years we butted heads until finally I became severely depressed. I felt like she didn't love me. In fact, I felt like she hated me and was out to make my life miserable. (She wasn't.)

Ever since, I have been on antidepressants and have never gotten "above water". It improved some but would probably still have been considered moderate depression until about three years ago. That's when the chronic pain I had been experiencing for years in my back (25 yrs.), neck (25y), shoulders (25y) and foot (11y) worsened noticeably. By 2008 I became nearly incapacitated and severely depressed. I forced myself to work, but had absolutely no life outside of work, and was able to work very few hours per week at that point.

Then I had neck fusion surgery in late 2008. I tried coming back to work in early 2009 and it was a total disaster. By April 2009 I was placed on temporary disability (TD). In June I came off TD and tried to work again. I could only work a few hours per week and finally in October 2009 I was put on TD again.

(continued next post)

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Love Story? Transference? (Part 2)

In December I was hospitalized by a psychiatrist who specializes in people with pain and depression. He took me off all my old meds and put me on a new cocktail for pain and depression. It was a disaster. By January I ended up right back where I started from seven years prior... on Effexor for depression and two medications for sleeping. (Oh yeah, BTW, I've had to use medication for sleep for over twenty years. If I don't take something, I don't really sleep and am totally useless after two or three days.)

The psychiatrist is part of a larger multi-disciplinary practice (I'll call it "ABC") that specializes in the treatment of people with chronic pain. In January I started seeing a psychotherapist at ABC regularly. Then in mid-March I started seeing their OT (occupational therapist... I'll call her "Traci") and their PT (physical therapist... I'll call her "Priti").

My wife, who is not prone to overstating things, tells me that I've been in severe depression for well over two years. She's right. We moved to Florida in 2008 for about a year. When we got there, I was flat-lined for almost two weeks. Couldn't help unpack, couldn't help settle in, couldn't help enroll the kids in school... nothing. Then I had the neck fusion surgery in FL (mentioned earlier) and that set me back even further. Excruciating pain for days, severe pain for weeks, significant residual pain for ??? (still painful).

When we moved back in 2009, I was flat-lined for three weeks. Couldn't help unpack, couldn't help settle in, couldn't help enroll the kids in school... nothing. I went completely down the tubes in October and was pretty much flat-lined for FIVE MONTHS. I remember so little about those five months - literally just a handful of things - that it is frightening to me.

Then I started OT and PT.

At the first appointment with each therapist I poured out my story of how I had destroyed my body in my early- to mid-twenties and how I've never been the same since. As I verbalized to them how my body just seems to be falling apart these past several years, they both listened well and compassionately. When I walked through each of their respective doors that day I was a total basket case. I was virtually without hope. When I walked out of those doors, I had a tiny glimmer of hope.

At my second appointment Priti had a printout of exercises she wanted me to start based upon both my and her assessment that I needed some core strength. First she helped me get on the therapy table (I was so slow and sore with every move I made that just lying down or rolling from side to side was extremely difficult and painful). She was so gentle in helping me, and she often asked me, "Are you okay?"

I didn't know it yet, but Priti was from India. She spoke with little inflection and a quiet, resolute yet tender tone. Sound is extremely important to me as a musician. Some sounds move me with their beautiful sonority, while others are like fingernails on a chalkboard. Priti's voice definitely fell in the former category for me.

Then she performed manual therapy on my back, neck and/or shoulders. If you've never had chronic back and neck pain for 25 years, with portions "on fire", others stabbing with pain, and muscles immobilized from disuse, you cannot know how precious it is to find someone who can work your back without making things worse - indeed, someone who actually can and does make it feel better. When you are in extreme pain, this kind of relief is far more desired and appreciated than anything else I can think of.

I also began faithfully doing the exercises right away, and though improvement was slow, it was steady.

I began looking forward to my appointments each week with Priti. It was the only thing I really looked forward to in my life for the first two months of therapy. That's one more thing than I'd been looking forward to for a couple years or so.

It's kind of a strange thing, but I always felt extremely comfortable talking to Priti. I can't think of another person ever in my life with whom it's been easier for me to lock eyes for long periods of conversation and just feel comfortable. Weird.

And we would converse. A pattern developed where we would usually catch up for a few minutes at the beginning of the appointment on whatever personal things we had talked about the previous week. And we did talk about a lot of personal things. Each week when I was on the table for 35 or 40 minutes, we would talk and talk and talk. I always came with an armload of questions in my head, usually about India, which captured my fancy right away. Priti was a great conversationalist.

About five weeks into therapy I went to my best friend and accountability partner "Jake" and confessed to him that I thought I might be developing a crush on my PT. (Nothing like this had ever happened to me before in all my years of marriage.) I knew it was the right thing to do, and I did it right away. He thought it wasn't too big a deal, just be sure its nipped it in the bud, he said. Which was exactly why I shared it with him. For my sake, my wife and children's sake and Priti's sake.

I was still very depressed at that point, but my heart seemed to be stirring from its multi-year slumber. One week later, I felt compelled to sit down and write out my thoughts about Priti and all I'd experienced so far. I wasn't quite prepared for what happened next, though.

My thoughts turned into poetry with music... a song. Six hours after sitting down with a notepad and a pencil, I remember thinking, "This song expresses every major thought and feeling I've had to date." Four days later my lovely wife found a stray copy I'd inadvertently left lying in a pile of papers. Ouch.

From that point on, things got really interesting. I immediately went to my best friend who I'd told about the crush the previous week and showed him the lyrics. Didn't tell him anything, just asked what he thought. After a long silence he replied, "Wow, this really has a lot of heart."

Yes, I suppose it did, I thought. "That's it?" I replied.

"Well," he continued, "it's a love song." Ouch again.

Was I really in love with my physical therapist?

(continued next post...)

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Love Story? Transference? (Part 3)

Several days later I brought in my other accountability partner "Joe" on the happenings. This became one of the topics at my weekly meetings with Joe and with Jake and they guided me through the troubled waters.

A couple weeks later I was goofing around on my piano and came up with kind of a pretty melody. I fleshed it out a little and before I knew it, another song came forth about my PT. It might interest you to know that while I've previously written music for other people's lyrics, I'd never before written a song where both music and lyrics were mine. Now I'd written two in less than three weeks. What's up with that???

I went to Joe and told him I was still struggling with how much I looked forward to my PT appointments and how much I enjoyed talking to Priti. He gave me a simple piece of advice that changed my mindset and allowed me to feel free for the next several weeks or so. "Free" meaning I stopped thinking about Priti liking me and simply focused on having a healthy, professional relationship with her. I cared about her and still looked forward to seeing her, but the self-interest was gone.

My marriage (from my viewpoint) was going better since my wife had found the lyrics (after about a week or so cooling off period). That incident woke us both up and we started being much more intentional about cultivating our marriage relationship. We also attended several weddings over the summer and heard some pretty inspirational messages on marriage as well, so that helped.

As I experienced some degree of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing, my "crush" phase had passed. But I still had very strong feelings about Priti. Can you understand what a special place she would have in my heart, since she practically resurrected me from the dead? (Being that I believe in God, I now realize that any "resurrection" is of course not really her doing but God's. But I wasn't necessarily thinking that way when all this happened.)

I have no sisters (lots of sisters-in-law, though). But I found myself thinking of Priti like a sister. (It can sometimes be tough, though, because in a weaker moment you may remember those early feelings and doubt.) I think it really comes down to choosing your path, and I had chosen mine.

Then in mid-June I found out I would be having my last OT appointment and just a few more PT appointments. And the doubts set in. Was I really going to be okay? I expressed general concern about coming to the end with both my OT and with Priti. Both assured me the concerns were normal with patients and that they would be there if I ever needed to come back and see them.

And something really crazy started happening. I became fixated on the first song I had written a couple of months earlier and found myself singing it all the time when others weren't around. At one point I voiced my distress to Joe and told him it was driving me crazy. Perhaps, I suggested, I just needed to sing it for someone. No one had ever heard this song, and I think I just wanted someone to hear it. (I certainly couldn't sing it for my family!) Joe said he'd be willing to listen to it if I thought it would help. It might have. But we never did get together.

At my "next-to-last" PT appointment I was feeling really down by the end of it. I knew the next time would be my last with Priti and I was really going to miss her. At the end of the session, she sensed I was down and cooed her classic "Are you okay?" I muttered something about how after my next appointment I guessed I wouldn't see her again. She reassured me that I could always come by and say hello and that of course she'd be there if I ever needed additional therapy. Then she told me I was going to be okay. I must have expressed doubt, because she reiterated her opinion that I was well-armed with solid tools and that I would do just fine.

Something about the way she said it made me feel really good and gave me confidence. I brightened and blurted, "By the way, did I ever tell you I wrote a song for you?"

Long story short, in the next several minutes it was determined that at my last appointment there would enough time after my final evaluation for me to sing the song for her and my OT Traci. This was good, I thought, because Traci has the same spiritual beliefs as I and we had often encouraged one another in this area. I wasn't sure I would have been comfortable with just Priti there, and I wasn't sure she would be, either. Knowing Traci would also be there was reassuring to me.

Well, Song Day came and I had equipment problems. I had some important comments to make before the song so that it would be taken as a song from an appreciative patient who thinks of both his PT and his OT as if they were sisters. The comments were actually going to be quite long and detailed. I was going to tell how Priti has so much in common with my daughter who would like to be a PT and actually shadowed me one day so she could observe both Priti and Traci. I was going to tell how Priti's temperament and several other qualities remind me of my lovely wife. (Weeks after Song Day I even realized that she's the same height and weight as my mother, similar body build and carries herself similarly to my mother.)

But with the technical snafu I ran out of time to give my introduction. So I had to make a decision. Pull the plug on the whole thing and probably never get another chance, since this was my last appointment. Or go for it and fill them in later on the important comments. I chose the latter.

I mumbled to them something about having some introductory comments I wanted to make but since was time was so short I would just have to sing the song and fill them in on the comments later. Then I barged ahead with the song. I was anxious and excited. A seasoned performer on keyboards, I rarely become the slightest bit nervous. But I am NOT a singer, I never sing in public, and there I was attempting to sing a song for two people I cared about very much who had brought great healing in my life. (Not only was my PT brilliant but my OT was quite brilliant, too.) I really wanted them to like the song and I hoped my vocal frailties wouldn't ruin it for them.

Once I got into the song a ways, neither therapist looked particularly comfortable. I wasn't getting a lot of eye contact back, especially from the OT who shares my spiritual convictions and who had been such an encouragement to me over the months. (Like me, Traci has suffered chronic pain for well over 20 years. She's an overcomer and a real inspiration.) So I was concerned.

The song ends with "I love you" sung in Priti's native tongue, a nice flourish to finish things out, I thought. But probably not wise, even with telling them beforehand that I think of them as and love them like sisters. But of course I hadn't had time to say even that. I gave no comments to set the context. Well, I guess you can see that my emotional hemisphere was ruling the roost that day while my rational hemisphere was AWOL!

When I finished, they each gave me a big hug. Traci gave me somewhat half-hearted kudos on my talent and musicianship (nothing about the song, though), and that's the last time I've seen either of them.

The following morning I had an IV therapy appointment for pain at ABC. Right in the middle of it my psychotherapist came in and told me to see him immediately upon finishing. I figured it was about the song. It was. I was talked at for three minutes. No questions, no interest in hearing from me, nothing. I listened. I was instructed to stay away from the PT/OT area, and if I saw Priti or Traci in the hallway when I was in for counseling or IV therapy to simply say hello and nothing more.

I was shocked. I went home, typed and printed what I had planned to say before the song, rushed the introductory comments over to ABC and left copies for Traci and Priti at the front desk. Then I drove back home and told my wife what had happened. She was distraught. Then I was distraught because I didn't see singing the song as a big deal. Of course I knew how far I'd traveled with Jake and Joe and how I viewed my PT much differently than when I'd written the song. My wife didn't know all that. Plus, in my mind, the song is pliable and can mean different things depending upon the context in which it is presented.

I was having such a hard time understanding why my wife was so upset that the next Monday I told my whole story to a good female friend who I trust to give good advice and keep things confidential. She did not disappoint. She gave me lots of great feedback. And she helped me see why my wife was so hurt.

The next day my friend Jake took me out just to let me talk about the whole situation. I had spent five-and-a-half hours with him over the weekend and six hours with Joe because I was so distraught and near-suicidal. I told Jake about how I had shared my whole story with my female friend, and he thought that was fine.

But he had a word of caution for me. He started telling me about emotional self-control. He shared how musicians often place a high value on authenticity, being "real". Nothing wrong with being real, he said, but it does not necessarily mean it's good to be totally transparent with everyone all the time. One has to select the proper time, place, audience, message, etc. He was cautioning me about the dangers of sharing too much of the ordeal I was going through with too many people because it could start the rumor mill churning. He continued, telling me that when we of the musician bent share something personal, oftentimes it can really be more about us and our need to share than it is about the other person.

As he explained that, we were strolling on a path in a large park (well, I was crutching:)) when I was figuratively smacked in the gut. I came to a dead stop, turned around and took a few steps in the other direction. I stopped again, and...

(continued next post)

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Love Story? Transference? (Part 4 of 5)

...after catching my breath for a few seconds, turned back toward Jake and continued walking. I asked him to finish his story. When he was done, I shared what had hit me so hard.

"That's what I did to Priti [and Traci] with my song."

He agreed. He hadn't thought about it in that context, but I was right.

As I continued to ponder the implications of Jake's emotional self-control talk, I gradually realized over the next few weeks that the pre-song comments I had rushed over the next day were actually a more egregious lack of emotional self-control than was the song itself, which was mild by comparison. Naturally I had avoided writing about the early "crush phase" part of my story. But I did write about all the similarities between Priti and my daughter, and between Priti and my wife. The detailed thought processes I shared, while important to and sensible to me, were probably quite a shock to the therapists (if indeed they ever got the comments) and perhaps even scary. They were intimate. Not romantic intimate. Just deeply personal intimate. Too deep to be sharing with your health care professionals. And they probably didn't make any sense to them, either.

Yes, Priti and Traci were much more important to me than I'm sure I was to them. After all, they almost singlehandedly gave me a little bit of life back, both in my heart and in my physical capabilities.

And this brings me back to Chisholm and her thread I mentioned at the beginning of this post. In http://community.men...?t=5070&page=14, Post #136 she writes, "My personality tends towards 'feelings' first and then frantically tries to control them by intellectualising them."

It's easy to do, especially if you are struggling with mental and/or emotional health. I've read about depression and/or chronic pain can each/both cause chemical changes in the brain that raise the tendency of emotions to control our decisions instead of rational thinking. If you'd like to know more about that, I could find the links to the articles I've found and post them here.

Later in the same post, Chisholm writes, "The way I see it, I sit with 2 alternatives, hanging onto self blame and believing him (John) when he denied everything or letting go of that blame and trusting and believing myself (and all the others and the objective evidence - the list is endless!)."

Chisholm, could there be a third way? Is it be possible that each of you bears some responsibility for what has taken place? My psychotherapist has heaped all of the blame for everything that happened upon me. For quite awhile I took all the responsibility upon myself. I don't know if he has an ego the size of Mount Everest or if he simply doesn't understand psychotherapy, specifically, patients with severe pain and depression. I now realize that any number of people, including my therapists, my friends and my wife all played a part in the ongoing saga.

Very early on when I was extremely depressed and not thinking very clearly, I asked my PT something spur of the moment that I thought nothing of. Much later I realized I shouldn't have asked her what I asked. She could simply have responded that she would have to decline because it would go beyond the practice's professional boundaries. Instead she indicated an interest. Because of this, I asked her twice more and she never declined, though I finally had enough sense to realize she really wasn't interested but was just too polite to tell.

Both of my therapists did things that by the letter of the law would I'm sure be stepping over ABC's professional boundaries. This never bothered me because I took them as expressions of normal affection one would have for a friend or perhaps a brother. For example, both ladies hugged me after I sang my song. At my final OT appointment, when I entered Traci's tiny office, she "ran" across the room (all of two or three steps!) with a huge smile on her face, gave me a big hug and excitedly said something about it being my graduation day. No problem. We "share the faith" and have had some very meaningful, albeit short, conversations over the course of three months.

(By the way, I love to get and receive hugs. My "Love Language" — Google it — is physical touch. But I mostly love it nowadays because when I get a really good bear hug from someone, it usually spells "R-E-L-I-E-F"... as in some measure of PAIN relief for my back and/or shoulders, even if only for a few seconds. I wish I could give myself back massages, because if I could, I'd probably spend a good two or three hours a day doing that! But I digress.)

I would sometimes give my PT a little one-arm, bodies-well-apart side hug at the conclusion of our appointments. Two or three times I shook her hand or held her hands briefly while I thanked her. Other times I intentionally did nothing because I didn't want to overdo it and make her feel uncomfortable. One of the times that I did nothing, she came to the door and as I started to walk out she took an extra step and put her hand on my arm to say good-bye. This was pretty early on, probably still during the "crush" phase. It meant a lot to me because it caused me to think she liked me as a fellow human being, that she wasn't just treating me kindly because professionally she had to and then sighing with relief once I was gone. I certainly never took it to mean anything romantic, and I'm 99.999% sure it wasn't.

When my wife found the lyrics, she - and then my two friends - left the decision about whether to continue with my PT or switch to another to me. Since Priti was the only PT at the practice and my treatment was part of a comprehensive, multidisciplinary one-stop shop approach, I decided I'd better continue treatment with her and that I'd be okay. Of course, any of the three could have advised otherwise.

Finally to transference, the whole point of this post/thread. It has been really strange working with my psychotherapist since Song Day. As I mentioned earlier, I wonder sometimes if he has a clue. It seems just a mite odd that someone who uses thirty or forty lines following his signature to list all his degrees, specialties, areas of expertise, etc. (takes up nearly the whole darn page) would not recognize this as transference, particularly in the case of someone who was doing as miserably as I was when I began PT and OT.

Everything I did for and gave to the therapists - the song, the comments, even a little tribute album I made for Priti, I gave to him because I had nothing to hide. I was thankful for and excited about the amazing part she had played in my healing, and wanted to encourage and affirm her to carry on and help others to heal as she had me. I was confident that once everyone understood where I was coming from, they would breath a sigh of relief and all would be well in the world. Alas, that never happened.

As I said earlier, the comments were more deeply personal than the song. The countless allusions about Priti reminding me of my daughter, my wife and my mother all seem to point toward transference. Having read just an hour or so about it online, I believe this is what happened.

I have a hard time imagining I'll ever meet another woman in my life that has the magical power to evoke such a powerful multi-transference of the three women in my life nearest and dearest to my heart. Extremely bizarre. :eek: Indeed, truth is stranger than fiction.

Incidentally, I came extremely close to overdosing on drugs two days after Song Day, in great part because of the way my psychotherapist handled me during his terse three-minute monologue the day after. I have NEVER been anywhere close to taking an overdose before, despite years of depression and chronic pain.

Several weeks later, upon finding out just how negative Traci's reaction was toward me because of the song, I bawled. I have cried numerous times since then, something I hadn't even been able to do for at least two years before meeting Priti despite my incredible physical pain. One night I wailed uncontrollably for fifteen minutes. Scared the hell out of my wife — she wanted to take me to the emergency room — and I don't know what my kids thought of it.

Why? Why all the emotion? Sure I've cried because I miss being able to pop in, say a quick hello and update Priti and Traci on my progress or regress. But far more so I've cried because of the knowledge, second-hand though it may be, that they were uncomfortable, hurt and perhaps even scared. The thought of them feeling that way deeply troubles me, and it disturbs me to no end to know that those feelings came because of the thoughts and feelings I so enthusiastically but misguidedly shared with them.

How could I be so blind, so insensitive?

(continued in Post #12, which is the final post)

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Hi Rapha. Welcome

I think your story is quite beautiful and it definitely sounds like transference played a hand. Although the closer I have looked at the concept, the less mysterious it has become in my eyes - quite natural and more common than most people realise.

I am curious though, what do you feel is the similarity between your situation and mine?

I think what I meant when I said

My personality tends towards 'feelings' first and then frantically tries to control them by intellectualising them."

was that I seldom get round to actually expressing or verbalising my feelings because the intellectualisation has always stifled them.

In what way would I be partly responsible for what happened between my therapist and myself?

Just curious and quite open to suggestions. I look forward to reading the last post.

X Chisholm

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Just a few comments Rapha... I have loved some of the people who have helped me over the years. I've probably loved some of the people I've helped. But I admit, there was a time when I was terribly confused about that love business, particularly when it came to the opposite sex. Although I had female friends that I loved, I'm heterosexually-wired so when it came to loving any male friends, there was a part of me that wanted to place that love into a sexualized/romantic mold. I was confused. I didn't know how to not see men in that light. Fortunately, I have since had a number of friendships with men that are both platonic and loving.

Meantime, what helped me make sense of my own experience was coming across the work of Carl Jung and his discussion of the Anima and the Animus. According to Jung, everyone has a part of their personality that is the opposite of their outer gender: males have an inner feminine and females have an inner masculine. I'll share just a brief blurb with you as a form of introducing you to that concept...

Anima: The inner feminine side of a man. (See also animus, Eros, Logos and soul-image.)

The anima is both a personal complex and an archetypal image of woman in the male psyche. It is an unconscious factor incarnated anew in every male child, and is responsible for the mechanism of projection. Initially identified with the personal mother, the anima is later experienced not only in other women but as a pervasive influence in a man's life.

Jung distinguished four broad stages of the anima, analogous to levels of the Eros cult described in the late classical period. He personified them as Eve, Helen, Mary and Sophia.

In the first stage, Eve, the anima is indistinguishable from the personal mother. The man cannot function well without a close tie to a woman. In the second stage, personified in the historical figure of Helen of Troy, the anima is a collective and ideal sexual image ("All is dross that is not Helen"-Marlowe). The third stage, Mary, manifests in religious feelings and a capacity for lasting relationships. In the fourth stage, as Sophia (called Wisdom in the Bible), a man's anima functions as a guide to the inner life, mediating to consciousness the contents of the unconscious. She cooperates in the search for meaning and is the creative muse in an artist's life...

Source: The Jung Lexicon

It's worth nothing that projection and transference are very similar -- some people even use the terms interchangeably. Also noteworthy is that another term for the anima/animus is soul image...

Soul-image. The representation, in dreams or other products of the unconscious, of the inner personality, usually contrasexual. (See also anima and animus.)

Wherever an impassioned, almost magical, relationship exists between the sexes, it is invariably a question of a projected soul-image. Since these relationships are very common, the soul must be unconscious just as frequently.[Definitions," CW 6, par. 809. ]

The soul-image is a specific archetypal image produced by the unconscious, commonly experienced in projection onto a person of the opposite sex.

For an idealistic woman, a depraved man is often the bearer of the soul-image; hence the "saviour-fantasy" so frequent in such cases. The same thing happens with men, when the prostitute is surrounded with the halo of a soul crying for succour.[ Ibid., par. 811.]

Source: The Jung Lexicon

I think it's possible that Priti served as an anima figure for you. In fact, your language surrounding the image you have of her is very consistent with that of anima development: The countless allusions in my comments about Priti reminding me of my daughter, wife, mother point toward transference. You see? She didn't serve as a representation of just one woman, but rather, several females of great significance in your life -- wife, sister, daughter, mother. So too, the male I encountered, (once I was down to just the projected image), was also a composite figure made up of significant males in my own life. I had projected that image upon a male friend of mine because there was some common ground between him and that image -- this is usually all that's required to "hook" a projection and hold it in place.

If any of the above rings true for you, you can continue to follow up on your own.

Meantime, it's worth noting that something about your encounter with this woman brought you back to life and also reconnected you to some intense emotion -- you speak of crying for the first time in years and also of feeling love and aliveness. I would call this a positive encounter with the anima because it has produced healing and brought hidden aspects of your personality to the surface.

My own encounter with the animus (a woman's inner masculine) was also very positive and also helped facilitate some healing of my own.

Music of the Hour:

(This is such a good accompaniement to a post on the Anima and the Animus)

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Rapho: Shortly after I graduated, she broke off the relationship. I was stunned. I had just lost my best friend, and really my only friend. Looking back, I'm sure I went into mild but very functional depression...

This descriptor may also be of possible interest ...

Abaissement du niveau mental. A lowering of the level of consciousness, a mental and emotional condition experienced as "loss of soul." (See also depression.)

It is a slackening of the tensity of consciousness, which might be compared to a low barometric reading, presaging bad weather. The tonus has given way, and this is felt subjectively as listlessness, moroseness, and depression. One no longer has any wish or courage to face the tasks of the day. One feels like lead, because no part of one's body seems willing to move, and this is due to the fact that one no longer has any disposable energy. . . . The listlessness and paralysis of will can go so far that the whole personality falls apart, so to speak, and consciousness loses its unity . . . .

Abaissement du niveau mental can be the result of physical and mental fatigue, bodily illness, violent emotions, and shock, of which the last has a particularly deleterious effect on one's self-assurance. The abaissement always has a restrictive influence on the personality as a whole. It reduces one's self-confidence and the spirit of enterprise, and, as a result of increasing egocentricity, narrows the mental horizon ["Concerning Rebirth," CW 9i, pars. 213f.]

Source: The Jung Lexicon

See also: The Anima and Animus at Midlife

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More for you Rapha...

The Anima, or Men and Their Feelings

As a general rule men’s feelings are less developed than those of women. ... They are less conscious, or put in another way, more immersed in the unconscious, and this gives men’s feelings many of their outstanding characteristics. There will be men, for example, who will deny they have any feelings at all, or minimize the value of the feelings they do have, and the role they play in their lives. They pride themselves on being rational, of making use of logic, of advancing by well-reasoned judgments. And it is often true that this part of their personality is more developed and accessible to them. But paradoxically, the more men pride themselves on their logical and rational natures, the more powerfully, albeit unconsciously, they can be effected by their feelings. It is as if there is a fundamental psychological rule: acknowledge your feelings and give them a place in their life, or else they will enchant you or bedevil you, and somehow have their say.

It is this realm of men’s feelings, especially in as much as they are closely bound to the unconscious, that Jung called the anima. More formally we could say that the anima is the feminine side of a man, or more graphically, inside every man is a woman whom he must come to terms with. And it is one of the great works of a man’s life to try to relate to this woman. Indeed, we could say that a man could not have a relationship with any woman, without this interior woman becoming activated and wanting to have her say.

Is all this some bizarre fantasy which is the product of Jung’s unbalanced mind? Not at all. It is, in fact, extremely practical. Clearly there is no woman inside in the sense of an actual person. Rather, a man’s feelings to the degree that they are unconscious and immersed in the unconscious take on a certain life of their own and act as if they have a kind of autonomous nature, a partial personality, if you will. They form an energetic center, or archetype, that Jung calls the anima. ...

This anima cannot simply be ignored because it is connected to the ego and forms one energetic system with it. Deny the anima, that is, your tender feeling side, and that is not the end of the matter. She will become offended and strike back, and can make your life miserable. This is not hyperbole, but rather a simple fact. Not to give the anima her due is to reject a vital dimension of our very psychological being. If we push away the anima we cause her to become negative and hostile towards us.

There are many facets to a man’s anima. He can be happily married and yet besieged by fantasies in which he is trying to relate to other women. These fantasies are the other faces of the anima, and if he fails to understand that they are interior aspects of his own personality that must be integrated, and begins to act out these fantasies, he can destroy his own happiness and that of his wife and family.

Source: The Anima, or Men and their Feelings

See also: Falling in Love

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Thank you so much for your great posts, spiritual_emergency. I've given them a cursory initial reading and I'm guessing you're pretty spot on about the anima. (I'll have to go back, click on the links you've provided and read in greater detail about everything.)

About a month before "Song Day" I started becoming conscious of many similarities between my wife and Priti. Prior to then they were obviously at the subconscious level. One of the most interesting similarities is their Myers-Briggs Temperament and Type. At my mid-June appointment I asked Priti what books she had been reading lately. Though she had had a bit of a dry period in recent weeks, she told me she had finally started one about intuition and how developing our intuitive skills can help us in life. She was quite fascinated with the book.

I immediately thought of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator assessment. I asked her if she'd ever taken it before. She hadn't. I told her about the Sensing or Intuition dichotomy (I happen to score quite heavily toward the Intuition side), and the other three dichotomies as well. She sounded interested in knowing more, so when I got home I dug out several old MBTI assessments my wife and I have taken over the years.

As I thought through the dichotomies, I realized that my wife and Priti are almost certainly the same Type. The detailed description in the MBTI booklet of their Type nails them right on.

Reading through my wife's Type that night reminded me of all the great things I love about her. It also gave me some good ideas on how I can help bring out the best in her.

Once I became aware of all the wife/Priti similarities, one of the most powerful things ever to happen to me happened. In my original posts I mention how eleven years ago my wife and I didn't see eye to eye on something and it created a lot of tension in our marriage. Eventually I got severely depressed and have struggled ever since.

When I saw how similar Priti is to my wife in Temperament and combined this knowledge with the memory of the emotional "crush" I had on Priti earlier this year, I suddenly realized that if I had to live my life all over again, I would fall in love with my wife all over again and marry her, flaws and everything, all over again! Whoa!

I don't know if that makes sense to you or not, but I think it probably plays right into the whole archetypal thing you mentioned, spiritual_emergency. Priti is a representation of my wife, with identical temperament and a host of other similarities. The crush on Priti represents the crush I had years ago on the woman I eventually married! You don't know how incredibly reassuring this has been to me after so many years of struggles in our marriage. In a strange, mystical way it confirms to me beyond a shadow of a doubt that I indeed married the right woman, the one I was uniquely designed to marry, because given a chance to do it over again, I'd be attracted to exactly the same person.

What's even more crazy is that Priti was exactly the same age when I met her as my wife was when I met her. Truth is stranger than fiction.

Here's one for you. Do you know why, after my wife found the lyrics to my song about Priti, she did not insist that I change therapists? (I just learned this a month ago.) According to my bride, it's because I had been so severely depressed for so long, and "[Priti] was the only thing that seemed to be helping." This brings tears to my eyes. I am so incredibly blessed to be married to such a selfless woman as my beloved.

Finally, when I put everything together — the initial attraction (never sexual, but always very emotional), the daughter/wife/mother similarities, the resurrection of my heart — I so badly wanted to put into words for my friends Jake and Joe what I was experiencing. But I couldn't. It just seemed impossible. I knew if I tried to verbalize it I would stumble over my words and they would chastise me for still having "a crush". But it wasn't that at all.

In searching for the right word, I was forced to go to the Greek language, where there are at least three words for the one English word "love". They are eros, philia and agape. Philia was the word I thought would best fit. But it was more than philia. So was it eros? I didn't think so. My understanding was always the eros implied erotic or sexual attraction, and I never experienced that. This was a pure, indescribable love that lifted me up to be a better, more peaceful yet more alive, more selfless person.

Then I looked more closely at the Wikipedia definition for eros. Aha! Several lines leaped off the page:

Éros does not have to be sexual in nature. Eros can be interpreted as a love for someone whom you love more than the philia, love of friendship. Plato refined his own definition: Although eros is initially felt for a person, with contemplation it becomes an appreciation of the beauty within that person, or even becomes appreciation of beauty itself. Plato also said eros helps the soul recall knowledge of beauty, and contributes to an understanding of spiritual truth. Lovers and philosophers are all inspired to seek truth by eros.

THIS WAS IT! This described exactly what I believed happened to me through my four-and-a-half month journey with Priti. After the initial crush, she became a beautiful person to me, then the personification of beauty itself. Everything and everyone seemed more beautiful because of knowing her, especially those close to me like my wife and children. I believe God used Priti to reawaken my soul to beauty... and to Him.

I think she was an anima figure for me. What do you think?

Soul-image. The representation, in dreams or other products of the unconscious, of the inner personality, usually contrasexual. (See also anima and animus.)

Wherever an impassioned, almost magical, relationship exists between the sexes, it is invariably a question of a projected soul-image. Since these relationships are very common, the soul must be unconscious just as frequently.[Definitions," CW 6, par. 809. ]

The soul-image is a specific archetypal image produced by the unconscious, commonly experienced in projection onto a person of the opposite sex.

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Love Story? Transference? (Part 5 of 5)

- - - continued from post #4 - - -

I hope they're okay. I'm sure they are. I imagine this has hit me much harder than it's hit them, simply by the fact that they were such a big part of my life through the summer, whereas I'm just one of forty patients they see on a weekly basis. For the past eighteen months, I've seen one adult on a more or less daily basis - my wife. I've seen two other adults once per week, my friends Jake and Joe. And from March through July, once per week I spent 45 minutes each with two of the most wonderful, professionally gifted and caring therapists this world has ever known. My adult world is 40% smaller now.

(Incidentally, I've been cleared to return to work soon, though I tend to get SAD in the winter months so it will not be without its challenges!)

Yes, it felt good to finally sing my song for someone, especially for the person I wrote it about. But it didn't turn out so well for Priti and Traci. As we all know, sometimes what feels good at the moment isn't always the wisest course.

It matters not how deeply you've been touched by someone, how moving your story of redemption is, or how noble your intentions may be in sharing that story. You still must have the wisdom to discern when, where, with whom and how much of that story to share.

This may be easier said than done. From what I've read in the past week, recent studies show that both chronic pain and stress can actually shrink the prefrontal cortex and the thalamus — parts of the brain associated with cognitive thinking and problem solving. The longer subjects said they were in pain, the more their brain volume decreased — translating to about 1.5 cc's of brain volume loss for every year of chronic pain. The brain tissue of those with chronic pain averaging 6 to 7 years showed shrinkage equivalent to the amount of gray matter lost in 10 to 20 years of normal aging. The rational portions of your brain can become significantly less active over time while the areas of the brain related to the emotions can exhibit heightened activity, causing you to make decisions out of your emotions rather than your intellect. This has been my personal experience quite a few times in the past decade.

Yes, it hurts that Priti and Traci will most likely never know the amazing story behind the story. And even if they did, I'm not sure they'd care. I hope they would, at least given enough time, because of the kind of people they are. They're caregivers, and caregivers care. True caregivers are tough and resilient, gentle and compassionate. I believe that's the type of people Traci and Priti are.

Hang in there, friends. It's not easy to pick yourself up off the floor and keep going after you've been knocked down so many times. But stay in the battle. The victory goes to those who stand at the end, even if they're battered, bloodied and bruised.

I am slowly recovering. In some ways I wish things could go back to the way they were before. But in many other ways I'm thankful. This experience has given me much deeper insight into my psychotherapist. My wife joined me for my final appointment with him and we interviewed him about the nine months I've spent as his patient. Very enlightening. I won't be returning to him.

This experience has brought physical healing.

It's jump-started my heart, my emotions. (Crying has never felt so good.)

It's helped my brain re-engage.

It's also taught me that I need to be more cautious in the future about how I treat my health care professionals.

When I look back at some of the things I did that were expressions of caring and appreciation, perhaps they were a bit over the top. The three of us - Priti, Traci and I - had a lot of fun together. Each used to tease me that I liked the other therapist better... I think they had a lot of fun with that one.

One week I brought them a half-dozen cookies each that I made for them. A couple times I took my laptop to show Priti family vacation pics because she loves traveling. Another day I brought my camera and another ABC caregiver photographed the three of us together. Later I Photoshopped a scene from Yellowstone Park in place of the dreary office backdrop, printed two photos, bought two inexpensive picture frames and gave each therapist a framed photo of the three of us. Each seemed genuinely pleased, promptly and enthusiastically displaying it in her office.

It's fine to be kind, but don't overdo it. And don't look for close relationships at the doctor's office. Your caregiver is there to give you medical care, not to become your close friend or, as I liked to think of Priti and Traci, "the sisters I never had".


--- Rapha

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This experience has brought physical healing.

It's jump-started my heart, my emotions. (Crying has never felt so good.)

It's helped my brain re-engage.

It's also taught me that I need to be more cautious in the future about how I treat my health care professionals.

Love is powerful medicine.

This has clearly been a very powerful experience for you, Rapha -- a form of personal miracle. It was that way for me too.

It seems to me that you have been digesting and integrating this experience over a period of many months. I have no doubt that you will find the information on the Anima to be of interest and that this may further your own understanding -- not only of what this experience was, but also, what you are to do with it now.

~ Namaste

See also:

- Types of Love

- Divine Madness: Romantic Love and Love of God

Music of the Hour:

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Oh. Dear. I'm not certain if this post belongs here but here is where it seems to want to be...

Rumi was a Sufi. If you have heard anything of the Sufis, you have heard of the dancing, the whirling ecstasy of the dervishes. Dervish literally means ’doorway.’ Sufism, a mystical branch of Islam, takes many forms. The dervish dancing or “The Turning” is most often associated with the Mevlevi order that Rumi is said to have founded.

According to Coleman Barks, Rumi was walking through the gold smithing section of Konya “when he heard a beautiful music in their hammering. He began turning in harmony with it, an ecstatic dance of surrender and yet with great centered discipline. He arrived at a place where the ego dissolves and a resonance with universal soul comes in.”

The dervish doorway symbolizes the place of union with divine love, union with the Beloved Friend. This is the emotional, mystical, spiritual place that the dancers seek. The dance itself is a highly developed discipline based on meditation on the love of God. Generally small kettle drums, cymbals, a reed flute, stringed instruments and the voice accompany the dancers who position themselves around the sheikh who is the axis (qutb) of the dance. The dancers, or Friends as the practitioners are called, raise their right arms upward toward heaven to receive God’s mercy. This passes through their hearts and into their left arms which are pointed down so that the mercies may flow to the earth. One foot remains firmly on the ground while the other crosses it and propels the dancer in circles to the rhythm of the world “Allah, Al-lah, Al-lah...” The dancers turn on their own axis while moving in orbit around the centre post. [internet, exact citation missing]. You can hear the ecstasy of the dancers in this poem, Say I am you:

I am dust particles in sunlight.

I am the round sun.

To the bits of dust I say, Stay.

To the sun, Keep moving.

I am the morning mist,

and the breathing of evening.

I am wind in the top of the grove,

and surf on the cliff.

Mast, rudder, helmsman, and keel,

I am also the coral reef they founder on.

I am a tree with a trained parrot on its branches.

Silence, thought and voice.

The musical air coming through a flute,

a spark of a stone, a flickering

in metal. Both candle

and the moth crazy around it.

Rose, and the nightingale

lost in the fragrance.

I am all orders of being, the circling galaxy,

the evolutionary intelligence, the lift,

and the falling away. What is

and what isn’t. You who know

Jelaluddin, You the one

in all, say who

I am. Say I

am You.

This is the axis, the centre point of Rumi’s teaching, the absolute, utter, union of all things, of each with the Ultimate and the ultimate with each. “Turning” as the dervish dance is called, “is an image of how the dervish becomes an empty place where the human and the divine can meet.”. The goal, teaches Rumi, is to dissolve one’s self and enter into this union, if only for a moment. Here, at the end of the path, the worshipper experiences love and, finally, annihilation into God.

Source: Small Particles in One Great Turning

Music of the Hour:

Anyone who has danced with those higher levels of the Anima/Animus will surely appreciate the poetry of Rumi. Ahhhh. Memories. I still dance there whenever I can.

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Rapha: I believe God used Priti to reawaken my soul to beauty... and to Him.

It's not that I'm trying to turn you on to Sufism or Rumi -- I wouldn't particularly care which path you choose -- it's just that Sufism/Mysticism... they capture aspects of this experience well. I find resonance there. I don't know if you might find the same...

... Someone's saying a prayer, for all humanity, for mercy and compassion. Bodies and minds that appeared deadened, numb, incapable of life or love, begin to sway to the soft, gentle tune. There's more movement as the fog moves, casting its misty aura that makes things look ethereal and somehow, more human. Heads turn, eyes look skywards in supplication, and then to the chest, inviting a descent into the heart…

Arms begin to link, and the spirit of dance and music, of rapt engrossment, discipline and responsibility, and yet, of joy in togetherness, of the mind and body unity, of harmony and celebration of God consciousness begins to touch more and more, drawing and encompassing all together in a loving swirl.

Shapes and hues are mystically dissolved in the one, pure and white. A whirlpool of longing and invocation, of hope and faith… round and round, imitating the great cosmic choreography, speeding up without respite, until the sky bends down to kiss the earth and all life itself seems to merge on the horizon in a single spiral of ecstasy. There is magic and enchantment, self-discovery and self-forgetting, to learn the lesson of oneness and compassion… the forgotten message of the prophet. This is how the dance happens…

Sufi Dervish Dance

Dance, when you're broken open.

Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.

Dance in the middle of the fighting.

Dance in your blood.

Dance, when you're perfectly free.

- Rumi

The spirit of Shams and his disciple, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi lives on in the dance of the dervish, as cherished spiritual heritage preserved in its pure form in Turkey. Rumi is the spirit of the dance and Rumi's is the breath upon the pines that calls the sufi upon the path, through poetry and love, expressing longing for the beloved, the one and only, who serves to give meaning to the path.

Source: Call of the Sufi...

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Love is powerful medicine.

This has clearly been a very powerful experience for you, Rapha -- a form of personal miracle. It was that way for me too.

It seems to me that you have been digesting and integrating this experience over a period of many months. I have no doubt that you will find the information on the Anima to be of interest and that this may further your own understanding -- not only of what this experience was, but also, what you are to do with it now.

~ Namaste

See also:

- Types of Love

- Divine Madness: Romantic Love and Love of God

Music of the Hour:

Thanks so much for your post, spiritual_emergency. That's how I've viewed it, too... as a miracle of sorts. Trying to describe this to those closest to me would be uncomfortable for me and even more so for them, I imagine. It's certainly felt liberating to get it off my chest here in this forum. Putting my thoughts in writing seems to unstick the broken record that replays the past over and over in my mind and frees me to live the life that's in front of me today.

You're 100% right, I've been "digesting and integrating this experience over a period of many months". I've made so many important discoveries along the way. The input I'm receiving here is reinforcing what I've sensed and reassuring me that something deep, even spiritual, happened in me. I don't feel so crazy now!

I can't remember if I mentioned this before so pardon me if I'm repeating myself, but the lyrics to the second song I wrote back in mid-May are quite fascinating to me as I look back on things now. It is full of spiritual implications. Even the title — An Angel's Eyes — evokes heavenly imagery. Here are a few phrases from the song:

(from verse #1)

...I dream of your unending grace...

(from verse #3)

How I long to...make one simple, small demand,

"Will you be real? What do you feel?"...

(from verse #4)

How I trust your dark brown eyes.

Always tender, always wise,

So pure and whole,
they move my soul

(from the final verse, #5)

How I long to feel your love.

Innocent, you are a dove

As white as snow. But do you know

You're a gift sent here from heav'n above?...

I shake my head and wonder who I was really writing this to. Was it to Priti? Or was it to God? At the time, of course, I thought it was to Priti. But months later I look at it and believe that it may have been subconsciously to God.

Unending grace? Unfailing tenderness and wisdom? Unblemished purity and wholeness? Unstained innocence as white as snow?

Do you know anyone possessing these qualities to this degree? The only person I can think of to whom such absoluteness of character has ever been ascribed would be Jesus Christ as portrayed in the Christian Holy Book.

The lyrics seem to describe a perfect Deity rather than an ordinary woman, don't they? Interesting. What, or Who, was I really seeing in Priti?

"Will you be real? What do you feel?"

When I wrote this (just days before the crush phase met its demise), I wondered whether she might have any feelings for me. She was so kind, so gentle, so skilled and so incredibly comfortable to talk with. Did she feel what I felt? If so, would she tell me? Would she be "real" with me? My rational side said no. My intuition said no. Yet my heart hoped. The peace and joy I experienced while together with her in her tiny therapy office was a beautiful, refreshing oasis, a respite from the turbulent, pain-filled journey I'm on called My Life. I wanted it to continue.

My plea — "Will you be real?" — may be a cry of hope that God really Is, and if so, that God would show up and rescue me from my misery. I believe in God. But sometimes I wonder why in the world God allows things like the Holocaust and 9/11... or disability and chronic pain. It doesn't seem rational. It goes against my intuition. And yet deep down in my heart I hope that God Is, that God is loving, and that God loves even me.

"What do you feel?" Do you ever wonder how God feels about the world? How does God feel about the Holocaust and 9/11... or disability and chronic pain... or about the things that trouble you most in your life? How does God feel about you? Or me?

How I long to feel your love.

Rarely have I felt God's love in recent years. But I long to. How about you?

But do you know you're a gift sent here from heav'n above?

These words were penned months before I understood the resurrection of my heart to be a divine miracle. Was Priti truly a gift sent here from heav'n above? It seems like it. Some, though, might argue she was a curse from the "other" place. I think I'm a better person for having known her. She inspired — and inspires — me. And I'm definitely alive in a way I hadn't been for a long time before we met.

Just the fact that I can feel again, can think with a bit of clarity, depth and passion again, or can sit and write for more than a few minutes at one time again has so much to do with her impact upon me physically as a healer plus mentally, emotionally and spiritually as one used miraculously by the Healer. (Near the end of therapy, I thought about telling Priti how much our talks lifted my spirits each week and "warning" her that if my psychotherapist ever found out she was running her own little psychotherapy practice just down the hall from him, he might get jealous! I think she would have laughed! And appreciated the encouragement.) I believe Priti was a gift sent here from heav'n above.

...they move my soul...

Would gazing into An Angel's Eyes move one's soul? Was I gazing into An Angel's Eyes? Trustworthy. Always tender. Always wise. Pure. Whole. Was I gazing into the eyes of God?

_ _ _ _ _

I look forward to your thoughts. And remember the thread topic.

So post away...

...and Namaste! (Sorry, couldn't resist!:()

--- Rapha

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Rapha: I believe God used Priti to reawaken my soul to beauty... and to Him.

It's not that I'm trying to turn you on to Sufism or Rumi -- I wouldn't particularly care which path you choose -- it's just that Sufism/Mysticism... they capture aspects of this experience well. I find resonance there. I don't know if you might find the same...

I clicked on the link and read about Rumi and Sufism. Absolutely fascinating. As my mother used to say, you learn something new every day.

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Hi Rapha

Have been following the interactions with much interest. Forgive me for repeating the post below (don't know if you saw it) but I am very curious to understand the parallels btw my situation and yours?

Hi Rapha. Welcome

I think your story is quite beautiful and it definitely sounds like transference played a hand. Although the closer I have looked at the concept, the less mysterious it has become in my eyes - quite natural and more common than most people realise.

I am curious though, what do you feel is the similarity between your situation and mine?

I think what I meant when I said


My personality tends towards 'feelings' first and then frantically tries to control them by intellectualising them."

was that I seldom get round to actually expressing or verbalising my feelings because the intellectualisation has always stifled them.

In what way would I be partly responsible for what happened between my therapist and myself?

Just curious and quite open to suggestions.


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Good Morning Rapha, Chisholm!

I just wanted to say Rapha, that your story makes perfect sense to me. Transference, projection, anima/animus dynamics, have the potential to lead us to a spiritual awakening and to our transpersonal cores. Your story is a beautiful one. And it helps a great deal to find some kind of affirmation or sense from others along the way, because these dynamics also have the potential to lead us into deep confusion and despair if we don't quite connect up. In your story, your psychiatrist stands out to me as the one who doesn't get it! :( It is dangerous to mistake a person for your anima, especially if you are determined to take possession of her. He seems to only have been concerned about that danger, missing the opportunity to find a real connection to yourself that you find if you keep following the process unfolding....

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Hi Finding

Not too sure what you mean here? :(

In your story, your psychiatrist stands out to me as the one who doesn't get it! It is dangerous to mistake a person for your anima, especially if you are determined to take possession of her. He seems to only have been concerned about that danger, missing the opportunity to find a real connection to yourself that you find if you keep following the process unfolding....

What do you mean by "if you are determined to take possession of her"?

Know a little about the anima/animus but not enough to grasp what you mean.


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I was referring to Rapha and his story, but it can be true for anyone. Inside a man is his inner feminine, his anima, that he can be quite oblivious of, or in poor relation to.... under those circumstances it can then be projected out onto another person, a woman (usually), and the man will be powerfully drawn to her. When this happens it is important to become conscious of what is happening. It is a gift to discover this part of you by getting to know what is projected onto this person, and you treat it with respect. If you are confused and think that these traits are synonymous with the person you've projected onto, you will be desperate to be in relation to this person and have to "have" them in your life. To be cut off from this person will feel like you are cut off from yourself. An extremely vital part of yourself that you cannot afford to lose.

The same is true of a woman and her animus. It is our task to become consciously related to our inner masculine and the powerful draw that compels us to our totality. Healthy relationships are supposed to help us with that. Even if they didn't happen growing up, I believe it is never too late, and we can still find our way through this stuff at any point....

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Love is powerful medicine.

This has clearly been a very powerful experience for you, Rapha -- a form of personal miracle. It was that way for me too.

It seems to me that you have been digesting and integrating this experience over a period of many months. I have no doubt that you will find the information on the Anima to be of interest and that this may further your own understanding -- not only of what this experience was, but also, what you are to do with it now.

~ Namaste

See also:

- Types of Love

- Divine Madness: Romantic Love and Love of God

Thanks for the great links you always provide. I'm learning so much as a result.

Finally referenced the two links above. I just finished Chapter 1 of Divine Madness: Romantic Love and Love of God. I found the following to be quite powerful:

The demonic power of the anima or animus resides in its bewitching mask. When we can see through that to the psychological realities that it symbolizes, our intuition can "hear the spirits talk." Our ego and our Self are acting in unison, linked by our anima or animus. When we hear the spirits talk and understand what they are saying, we acquire a more profound understanding of what is before us. The spirits belong to the archetypal world of the collective unconscious. They have a broader perspective than that of our conscious ego. Whereas we tend to understand things in the context of other mundane events, they see things against the background of the largest possible reality, the All. The spirits know the All, and they appreciate every object, person, and event in the context of that Wholeness.

Though I wasn't particularly pleased with the psychotherapist that I've seen the past nine months (and to whom I'll not be returning), he did provide me some food for thought in the final two months. One of his parting shots was, "I don't think you know yourself." Or perhaps he said, "I don't think you know your Self." Regardless, this whole concept of anima/animus is supremely fascinating to me in light of that comment.

If my experience with Priti was the unearthing for me of my anima, perhaps something really, really good will come of all this. Recently I've wondered if I've been in certain ways stuck at an adolescent stage of growth. (My own son, a teen of few words, said to me when I told him about all that happened after Song Day, "It's always amazing to me to see grown-ups act like adolescents.") Maybe losing my leg triggered it all. While many of us grow by leaps and bounds in our sense of self during this period of our lives, discovering our identity along the way, perhaps I was so radically rocked by the sudden, lifelong change to my physical self that I simply got stopped in my tracks. I was in a sense ambushed at one of the most critical points in our passage from childhood into adulthood. Am I way off here?

I've been reading recently about the psychological effects of losing a limb. They are often profound. Losing a limb has been described by some in the medical community as an extreme trauma. The counselor I saw briefly back in 2008 once wondered aloud if perhaps I was suffering from PTSD. I stopped seeing him shortly after he said that and never found out what prompted the statement. A week ago I read about STSD, Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder. That seems more likely, as my dysfunction has grown considerably in recent years.

Perhaps as I work through all that's happened this year, and over the past thirty-four years since losing my leg, I will finally grow up! Of course this is really a lifelong process that we never quite attain. But maybe I'm having a major growth spurt... and that would be really nice right now. The final paragraph of chapter one encourages me here as well:

Anima and animus lead us on a path of recreating ourselves. This book describes the psychological and spiritual dimensions of that path. It is both archetypal and personal. We all have a great deal in common as we pursue this course, but it is in each case an individual journey. The guidelines are found within, in our development through anima and animus of a confident relationship with Self.

Maybe there's hope for me yet!

As always, thanks for reading... and for caring.


--- Rapha

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~ Sajaja bramani totari ta, raitata raitata, radu ridu raitata, rota ~ Sajaja bramani totari ta, raitata raitata, radu ridu raitata, rota ~ Sajaja bramani totari ta, raitata raitata, radu ridu raitata, rota

(I'm still grooving on that tune.)

Rapha: I look forward to your thoughts. And remember the thread topic.

Keeping that in mind, here's an excerpt from the summary of my own experience...

I committed myself entirely to whatever came next. Whatever the experience of Story required of me, wherever it took me, I would go. I drove back home, closeted myself in my home office, and locked the door behind me. I had no intention of coming back out until I'd done whatever it was I needed to do. I told my husband I was having a breakdown and my children that I was writing a story.

“What kind of story is it?” my youngest child asked.

“It’s a love story,” I said.

Source: Psychosis, PTSD and Story as a Vehicle of Healing

To very quickly bring you up to date on my own experience Rapha, several years ago I had what could kindly be termed, "a breakdown". In that experience, I went into another world and in that world was a male who served as my companion through that experience. In Jungian terms, he was my animus but to me, at that time, I thought he was a friend of mine that I had lost -- someone I could talk to, and I needed so desperately to be able to talk to someone. I believed, at that time, that somehow my lost friend had managed to come into that space with me, if only in spiritualized form. Although, almost from the very beginning he did things that were out of character for my friend and this puzzled me. As an example, my friend did not drink coffee but Gallagher (my name for that man in that space) did. In the months after that experience I later realized that Gallagher contained characteristics of my friend, such as being empathic and a good listener, as well as many of the positive traits of my husband, my father, my brothers, uncles, celebrities, all the males I had known. (There was a second male in that space who took on the negative qualities of the same as well. That's the Shadow Animus. There is a Shadow Anima, as well.)

Gallagher and I "talked" for an extended period of about six weeks -- Chisolm, this is where my experience may be of interest to you because Gallagher became my "therapist" and of course, I fell in love with him and later in the experience, did something you're not supposed to do with your therapist, albeit, with some hesitation but a large degree of willingness as well. It was something I very much wanted to do even though I was terribly confused by it all.

Meantime, this is how I understand projection/transference to work. I'll do a demonstration with smilies...

:o ---------------------------------------------------------------------------> :(

If I'm the yellow smiley and the object of my transference is the somewhat discomforted fuschia smiley, the transference itself is to be found in the space that exists between us. The projection from self to other is fuelled by lived-life experience but also unconscious beliefs and yearnings. In a typical therapeutic relationship there may also be a counter transference that takes place, from therapist, back to client...

X <---------------------------------------------------------------------------


And that would be the therapist's own beliefs and yearnings. In my case, there was no counter-transference because no one else was in that space with me. In truth, what existed in that space was me, in a very damaged state, and my projection which, as a true archetype, took on a life of its own.

:) >---------------------------------------------------------------------------<

fmw: Inside a man is his inner feminine, his anima, that he can be quite oblivious of, or in poor relation to.... under those circumstances it can then be projected out onto another person, a woman (usually), and the man will be powerfully drawn to her. When this happens it is important to become conscious of what is happening. ... The same is true of a woman and her animus.

And of course, this was what I had done without being aware that I was doing so. This was why the loss of that friend was of such significance, particularly, coming as it did on the heels of my mother's death. I think if Life had stopped there, I could have had a nice little midlife crisis of my own but the situation was amplified by the presence of the "Negative Animus," the deaths of those other people, and the loss of a friend I called Limh. (The loss of Life and Limh.) It was all those stressors, occurring over a span of 10 months that produced ego collapse/fragmentation. With the ego out of the way, the Shadow, Anima/Animus and Self have the opportunity to come forth in full blazing technicolor.

Still the Music of the Hour:

[Note: In my pictogram above, I had to change one of the images to an X because there is, apparently, a restriction of 4 images per post. Now, I've also learned something new today.]

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Rapha: I clicked on the link and read about Rumi and Sufism. Absolutely fascinating.

Here is a beautiful love story in its own right, taken from Sufism...

Sufi literature has the greatest discussion of femininity in Islam. Sufi stories have transformed ordinary love stories into the most sublime levels of meaning. The love story of Layla and Majnun is the best-known of all. It originated as a simple love story in Arabia, but Sufi literature elaborated it into the most beautiful love story ever put into Persian poetry. It symbolizes not only the love of man and woman in Allah, but the love of man for Allah.

In these poems the heroine is elevated to symbolize the Divine Reality itself. The Divine Reality is spoken of in terms of female beauty. The hero goes in quest of the Divine, which is a masculine act. In contrast to Christian mysticism, in which God is actively masculine and the devotee is passively feminine, Sufi love stories depict the Beloved as a woman who is a Presence waiting in stillness while the hero is in quest for her.

The name Laylá comes from the word layl meaning 'night'. Night represents the Unmanifest. In the Arabian desert, the night is a reality without boundaries: forms are dissolved, no sand dunes or camels or anything else visible, all is formless, nothing but darkness. This is direct symbolism of the unmanifested aspect of the Divine Nature, Allah as Unmanifest. Blackness absorbs all light, as it is above manifestation, so it symbolizes the Beyond-Being.

In the poem, Layla was named for the blackness of her hair and the beauty of the night. By extension, it in fact refers to the beauty of the Divine Reality beyond this world, beyond the act of creation, and therefore the supreme goal that the Sufi seeks to reach. The name of Majnûn literally means 'crazy', but here it means someone not in an ordinary state of mind, symbolizing a person in quest of Allah. In this world in which most people forget Allah, the person who remembers Him is considered crazy. As the male figure, Majnûn symbolizes the aspect of yearning and striving, going out in quest of Layla, while she is just sitting and combing her hair. The one who undertakes the journey, longing and crying for Layla, is the soul of the Sufi.

Source: Islam and The Divine Feminine

Music of the Hour: Finger Eleven ~ One Thing [The conductor in this video bears no small resemblance to "Gallagher".]

See also: The Unmanifest Absolute

The Kabbalists, the Gnostics, the Sufis, the Christian mystics, even the Buddhists -- they all have such stories although we do have to look outside of the mainstream and search for them in the mystical arms that extend out of the core theological doctrine.

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The only way to spiritual fulfillment is through relationship.

- Carl Jung


The spiritual quest is always realized through relationship.

- Joseph Campbell

Chisolm, I haven't followed your own experience very closely although I do understand that you felt some transference and counter-transference came into play between you and your own therapist. I don't know if you have examined what you brought into the relationship yourself and what your own transference had to say about what you were seeking/needing from him. It can be discomforting to look at such things.

I am aware that many women and men become attracted to their therapists and may consciously or unconsciously long to "come into union" with them. I don't know if Anima/Animus issues are a factor in every case but when we are looking at relationships between people who are biologically wired to mate with the other, I think the partnering element often does get stirred up to some degree. Perhaps the critical element is to hang in there and not act on those urgings but rather, to work upon them, understanding that these feelings represent aspects of our selves that are crying out to be addressed. Many of us do long to feel loved, to feel unconditionally accepted, to find completion in another. Our most significant relationships in life will be with our parents, our partners and our children. It is these most intimate relationships that often get dragged into, re-enacted, and healed in the container of therapeutic relationship.

A brief blurb from Jungian psychiatrist, John Weir Perry in that regard...

... Speaking in very general terms, the intention of such therapy is to honor what the other person experiences with a readiness to receive her whole being, to relate to all that is in her, and thus to share in her psychic life and be in it with her during this critical period of growth. This entails attitudes of regard, respect, interest, concern, and partnership in the developmental process, with a full range of emotional experiences. Thus, as Jung has put it, psychotherapy consists of two whole psychic systems interacting in depth, in which action each is deeply affected by the other.

The analogies here to the relation of loving feeling between two persons cannot escape the eye. It is very difficult for the profession of psychotherapy to know what to do with this awkward circumstance. The way to ease the tension around the issue has been from the beginning, to take refuge in the fact of the "transference," which, holding vestiges of previous, parental relationships, minimizes the validity of the presently growing relationship that exists in its own right. The ardor that springs up has been made even more safe by perceiving it as the "transference neurosis," needing a lot of interpretation to keep it under control and finally, to dispell it. A term that has been used for this effort is the graphic phrase, "crushing the transference," thereby telling the whole story in epitome.

There are advantages in acknowledging the therapeutic relationship as one of loving feeling. Chief among these is that the emotional charge and heightened intensity induce at the same time a dramatic activation of the unconscious psyche in great depth, so that the archetypal affect-images become vivid and dynamic. They are stirring in this atmosphere of mutual trust and mutual enthusiasm. It is characteristic of love relations that the archetype of the Center is constellated between two individuals.

Much of the synthesizing and organizing action of the psyche goes on at the level of the unknown, that is, of unconscious process, long before it is a matter of conscious insight - long before it reaches the ego. This unconscious process is essentially emotional in its quality and hence the play of emotion is best allowed to do its own work. Too early a recognition of meaning, and formulation of it, may scotch this subtle process that goes on beneath the surface.

The central archetype is the factor in the psyche that, according to all the evidence in our observations, has the capacity to transform the self. This change involves not only the self-image in the usual sense, but also the structure of the personality as a whole. The means by which this is brought about in the psychotic episode are those that I have described as the "renewal process." When I speak of this kind of "ideation," it should not be thought of as a fanciful play of symbolic ideas. Rather, they occur as powerful, even overpowering, emotional and spiritual experiences. That is the reason for my preferring to refer to these archetypal phenomena as "affect-images," since they are made up principally of emotion and image together as aspects of the same entity.

This means that there comes through this process a new valency, so to speak, for relating in depth. This term is borrowed from chemisty but is also very apt for the psychology of relationship. In chemistry, it means the quality that determines the number of atoms that a particular element may combine with, thus a readiness to unite. This readiness of the individual in the "pychotic" process to relate in depth imperatively requires a corresponding readiness of the therapist to do likewise. Both centers must be prepared to combine, again, a chemical metaphor. When this does occur, the two centers become involved mutually and together undergo an experience of transformation. Things go well as long as the individual and the therapist are able to tolerate the play of the emotions that are released - rage, love, agony, exhaltation, and so on - no matter how intense, as well as the play of all the imagery - mythic, religious, political, and so forth - no matter how unfamiliar.

In the Jungian framework, these two modes belong to the general category of experience that we call "Eros" and "Logos" respectively. Eros tends to move toward entanglement in relationship, Logos toward abstracting out of experience the meaning and understanding. For balance and wholeness, both should come into play and receive their due.

Source: Trials of the Visionary Mind: Spiritual Emergency and the Renewal Process

I want to add -- I understand that neither you or Rapha are "crazy" or "psychotic". I'm not too fond of those terms for myself either. The common ground between these three apparently disparate experiences is in relation to those Anima/Animus figures, the issues of transference/projection and the potential for deep healing.

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