The Wounded Healer
Painting Credit: Mark Henson
More often than not, I hear the term the ‘Wounded Healer’ used in negative connotations. The term was coined by psychologist Carl Jung in an attempt to describe a phenomenon where physicians, healers and the like choose their profession and careers out of a deep emotional or psychological personal need to cope and heal their own wounding whether they are conscious of those or not.
Jung further explained that the danger lies in the potential of the healer either projecting their own reality on their patients or risking opening their own wounds while examining those of another.
The phrase ‘Physician heal thyself’ is often used in this subtext as well. As an invitation for the healer to deal first with their own emotionality, their own pain before attempting to heal others. I often read authors mention the common airline instruction of “Please place your own oxygen mask over your own mouth before assisting others”.
I often hear from close friends who are either healers or teachers, or on their path to become ones, that they fear teaching as they are aware and witness their own challenges and wounds. “How can I possibly teach when I have all these issues my self”, “How can I offer a healing, when I am the one actually needing it…”
The shift in paradigm is actually much more profound. It lies within our understanding of spiritual concepts and healing modalities. Old school spirituality and the way wisdom has been carried in the last few centuries have put the emphasis on the healers/teachers being a perfected instrument. Whether hollow or complete, but perfect. Constantly polishing their skill and persona. The concept of a saint able to transcend human tendencies and even in some cases human abilities was the norm. This perspective has been so damaging to the human spirit. To our fragile encapsulated souls. It inherently implies that teaching means you have either mastered/transcended your humanness and the subject of sharing or if that isn’t the case, it means you teach only that which you have no personal relation to and is in the pure theoretical or philosophical realm. We subtly imply that there is no in between nor that someone who is carefully examining their own wounding doesn’t have infinite intrinsic wisdom to share from their our journey and process.
In relation to Jung’s claim that the danger lies in the healer either inflating their ego by projecting their own wounding or risking their own sanity with opening those with examining those of another I have to bring forth another point of view. As long as the healer doesn’t have the need to hide their own wounding, nor pretend that they are pain-free, there is another option. An opportunity where their truth, experience and expertise will actually benefit both the healer and those who seek to be healed. A mutual journey into curiosity and discovery is at hand. Instead of subscribing to the saying “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, to add the possibility of might… “Power might corrupt and absolute power might corrupt absolutely”. If we don’t leave an open door to the possibility of transparency and truth, healing will never be possible on a grander scale. Not between individuals and definitely not between nations and countries.
One of the core mystical truths is that nothing needs healing or fixing per say, because we are not inherently broken. Yet, acknowledging and unearthing our latent fears, wounds and shadows is of great importance. Our tendency to see our pain and challenges as destructive is a big part of our inability to allow and accept ourselves fully. It is an underlying byproduct to viewing life in dualistic terms of black and white.
When we say we aren’t broken, we don’t necessarily imply that we have neither pain nor wounding. All that is implied is that our pain, our challenges and difficulties are a natural consequence of being human and still alive. Most of our human suffering actually comes as a result of our attempt to “shorten our winters”. To escape our pain and run after our pleasure. We aren’t broken to the extent that we allow and accept all that lies within us. The perceived good and the perceived bad. Offering curiosity and exploring both equally.
If we look at our own body’s ability to heal, we will see that the healing process is a combination of cells rejecting the old, protecting and recreating the new. Almost with any type of injury, the body leaves either scars of at least cellular memory of the damage incurred. That natural behavior should be a guiding light for our emotional process as well. We often express our wounding as relating to emotional scars. Those, we often say, might never heal. When we offer a non-judgmental outlook at our wounding, we’ll understand that these scars are incredible reminders, teachers, offering great wisdom and compassion. To ourselves, and to others. In effect, having been wounded or hurt in the past might only imply greater wisdom for the future.
Mystically and spiritually speaking, the great masters are not those who have never erred, quite the opposite. They are those who failed more than most of us were willing to try. A mystic is someone who is willing to marvel at her or his inabilities. Exploring their fears and vulnerabilities. Expressing openly of their wounding, hoping that in their sharing, they will inspire others to feel safe within their own skin.
Marie Louise Von Franz, said “the wounded healer IS the archetype of the Self, our wholeness, the God within and is at the bottom of all genuine healing procedures. Our planet is ruled with fear. With a masculine trait that expressing our vulnerability is in some odd way opposing our strength. Our infinite potential to hold each other in truth.
I have a dream… I dream of a world where weakness and strength fall in love with each other. I dream of a world where soft and hard go hand in hand. A world where our wounds are our teachers, our history and our future do not oppose but compliment. Our deepest of fears are brought out to the light to be celebrated, and in turn our brightest bravery is made into art.
I have a dream… I dream of a world where we fear equality. We fear uniformity. We celebrate our diversity, our differences, how deeply unique we all truly are.
I dream of a world where our healers sing of their wounding, teach of their own life and experience. Share from a place of permitting, allowing others to marvel together at the greatness it is to proclaim and express – I – Am – As – Human – As – It – Gets.