A Friendly Challenge

Because of the split archetype, destructiveness in the sense of the archetypal shadow, the unconscious, etc., is no longer primarily the therapist's problem; he has shaken it off and experiences it only in projections, so that by and large he enjoys something resembling inner peace.

He is merely confirmed in what he already knows. His blind spot prevents him from seeing the decisive dark areas of his own being; or, if he grasps them intellectually, he is still not emotionally gripped by his self-knowledge.

In order to break free of this vicious circle the therapist must expose himself to something which touches him deeply, something un-analytical (he is already too much the master of analytical technique) which repeatedly throws him off balance, stimulates him, shows him time and again who he is, how weak and pompous, how vain and narrow.

It is surely not by chance that Socrates sang the praises of friendship.


Friendship, loving but forceful encounters with one's equals, to attack and be attacked, to insult and be insulted - all of this strikes again and again at the psychic center of those involved. What the analyst needs is symmetrical relationships, relationships with partners who are up to his mark, friends who dare to attack him, to point out not only his virtues but his ridiculous sides.

Many analysts maintain that they cultivate intensive friendships, when what they actually do is gather a circle of disciples around them and bask in the admiration [...]

Friendship intensely lived - and intensely suffered - saves many a therapist from inextricable entanglement in his own dark and destructive side. Hatred and love flow back and forth between friends; love circles around the positive potential, and hatred around the negative.

The psychotherapist must be challenged by something which cannot be either mastered or fended off by his analytical weapons and techniques. Works of art may shake one, the study of history may stimulate, an interest in natural science may lead to tortured questions. But the clever analyst finds it all too easy somehow to press all such things into the analytical framework.

Friends both male and female, wives or husbands, brothers and sisters, children, relatives - all of these often have the power to challenge the analyst and the ability not to fall victim to his clever attempts at deterrence.

But in these cases there must be awareness of the danger that therapist-friends often become therapist-accomplices, cleverly assisting in the battle against individuation, careful not to challenge the other in order not to be challenged themselves, and thus providing additional weapons against further psychological development.

An analyst may have the most serious confrontation with those closest to him; and as long as he remains open within the love relationship, he must take these reactions seriously. This brings him into ever-renewed contact with his own shadow.[Contact with the shadow stimulates the individuation process] by bringing new movement to a psyche grown rigid. The soul opens up once again.

The experience of eros between two people, and its fructifying effect on the psyche, cannot be described in dry psychological terms, but only represented artistically. Once it has taken place, of course, it can again be put into analytical terms and grasped that way. But those psychological concepts must in turn be repeatedly relieved by the immediacy of erotic experience. And this can only be effective - fully and deeply effective - when it takes place between people who love each other, rather than between doctor and patient, analyst and analysand, or master and pupil.

The point is that he must actively, painfully and joyfully come into direct contact in his dealings with his fellow men. He must somehow find a way to once more expose himself to the most difficult challenges. He must be shaken. The senile "I know, I know" must become the Socratic "I don't know."

The tools with which he can aid others may spell his own psychic doom. He can fend off any challenges; his patients are no match for him, and even the challenge of religion can be depotentiated by his mastery of analytical concepts.

Only through the emotional interchange with those to whom he stands in a relation of love can a new dimension be brought into his benumbed world. If he fails to achieve this, if he succeeds in using his psychology to drain and empty his interpersonal relations he becomes a tragic figure.

[Adolf Guggenb├╝hl-Craig]
Power In The Helping Professions, p.134-6, 148-155

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