Dr. Thomas Kirsch has just written a review of my book on Amazon. A respected elder in the Jungian world, past president of the San Francisco Institute and former longtime vice president and president of the International Society of Jungian Analysts, Dr. Kirsch writes: "I am writing a memoir myself, but it is much less personal than this one. The author writes about her falling in love with her patient and what she did about it. She went to a lot of therapy and supervision, and she was still in love with the patient. She ends up marrying the patient. She is an excellent writer, and she describes her process very well. Unfortunately, this happens too often in depth psychotherapy work. A good read if the subject interests one."
I am honored that Dr. Kirsch reviewed my memoir in spite of the line “Unfortunately, this happens too often in depth psychotherapy work.”
I rather find it unfortunate that those who practice depth psychology are unable to openly accept and honor the mysteries of love and the ways of the Self when that translates into an intimate relationship conceived in analysis and born outside its boundaries. Dr. Kirsch acknowledges this happens often. “Too often,” he says. Who knew?
It is time to ask how this happens, and how often. And why it is never discussed?
Every trained therapist knows about transference and the ethical mandate regarding the boundary between the personal and the professional. Analysts work within the tension of power and love, a tension that weaves between responsibility and compassion inside a frame of time and fee for service. The patient’s welfare, healing and individuation must be front, center and the essence of the work.
But what happens when that tension breaks the analytic vessel, when the psyche of the patient and the psyche of the analyst converge in a depth of connection that defies professional boundaries?
I know enduring and loving relationships can and do evolve out of every kind of psychotherapy. It would be interesting to hear the stories of those whose fate has led them down this road. But a vast silence surrounds these stories.
Jung wrote that truth needs a language that alters with the spirit of the times and that as our consciousness increases we are confronted with new situations that require new ethical attitudes.
One could argue that indeed our greater consciousness around abuse and power has informed our contemporary collective ethical codes, but what of love and healing and the individual experience of the archetype of the Self? What would a more finely differentiated ethical attitude that holds the tension of those opposites look like?
It is so easy to judge where you haven’t been.