Healing

Heinrich Racker wrote, “Psychoanalytic cure consists in establishing a unity within the psychic structure of the patient.” What does that mean? What I will say now may come as a surprise to many of you, because, strangely, the implications of our work are often not spelled out in ways that reveal the radical practice that psychotherapy really is. So here goes.
Every image we have of another person outside us is a projection of what is inside us. To be cured, we must re-establish the equation: not-me = me. What I see in you is in me. The disavowed humanity I judge in you is my exiled humanity, which I judge and send off to you for safekeeping. In contrast, when I identify with you, I overcome an imaginary division between us, and finally recognize the ever-present, pre-existent identity that we are. That is why when I truly know you, your humanity, as me, that knowledge is love, for, as Racker tells us, “To understand, to unite with another, and, hence, also to love, prove to be basically one and the same.”
As the ancient Roman playwright Terentius said, “Nothing human is alien to me.” Thus, that which we comment upon, judge, reject, mock, or dismiss in others is ourselves re-located in them (at least in our imagination). To be healed, we, as therapists, must own our projections, judgments, letting our disavowed soul-birds migrate home. And to heal, we must help patients re-marry those aspects of their humanity, which they have tried to divorce.

2 thoughts on “Healing

  1. Francois

    If I say to my partner, “you hurt me when you criticized me in front of the kids, you raised your voice and used unkind words, and that felt painful to me,” then I am judging her behavior, and commenting on what I don’t like about her at that moment.” I suppose the difference is that while I must let her know that she hurt me, or else neither of us will grow, it is important not to think that I would never do what she just did.
    Sometimes one can judge “you’re too blunt, too messy, too lazy” and this may be a projection, but sometimes that bluntness, messiness, or laziness can hurt the other, or is unfair. We all need others to address our rough edges and let us know when we hurt them. If your bluntness or criticism hurts me, and I point that out, that does not mean that I don’t have my own bluntness and critical side in check.
    There will be other areas where my partner calls me on my rough edges.

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  2. Jon Frederickson

    If you comment to your spouse about the impact her words had, you let her know the impact her words had on your relationship. And you invite her to consider that. And that is good. We need to talk and reflect on the ways we relate to one another so we can co-create the kind of relationship both of us want. Likewise, we hope our spouses will be honest with us, so together we can co-create the kind of relationship we want, rather than let habits create our misery.

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