C.G. Jung wrote, "When a patient begins to feel the inescapable nature of his inner development, he may easily be overcome by a panic fear that he is slipping helplessly into some kind of madness that he can no longer understand" (The Philosophical Tree 1945/1954 CW 13, 325). When patients first enter depth psychotherapy, it's not uncommon that they are panic stricken. Their lives seem as if they are falling apart. "I'm tumbling down a deep hole, into an abyss," one person shared, their look utterly pained.
I remember when I first entered deep therapy. Pressures in my life rushed in on all sides. A dream came with an angel sweeping his numinous wing wide and gathering me into another realm of seeing, one that was at first dark and forbidding and then mysterious and nurturing as I adjusted to this depth.
My therapist, a man trained by C.G. Jung, offered, "So, it's time to turn within." He smiled gently and knowingly. I had no idea what I was in for, just that I needed help and sensed myself tumbling inward, a madness of sorts since few understood this compelling need.
I understood that the madness had meaning, discovered its meaning, and responded to it in a practical and transformative way. For many years to come I acquainted myself with the mysteries of the unconscious mind. This ongoing exploration helped me, and continues to help me, to further my healing journey. I've seen that it's not only the big moments of madness, those of crushing stress, but the day-to-day moments of madness that offer us a chance to go deeper.
Day-to-day moments of madness hit when things feel too much. We can cave into anxiety about all that comes our way; or, we can take time to listen and feel our way through the stress, what it has to teach us, to tell us about ourselves and others. Slipping into everyday madness, for sensitive souls, means quieting, turning within, and listening to what the storm has to teach us.