Boundary & Space
Saturday June 15,
(CPD Points will be awarded)
11am-5pm, Buswells Hotel, Molesworth Street, Dublin
Book tickets now:
Read some of Jasbinder's articles:
An Introduction to Dreams
The integral harmony of boundary and space is the bedrock of psychological health and of individuation. Boundaries which function well create the dynamic inner mental space which produces symbols as well as thinking, since they allow us to work through the process of mourning for the loss of the good breast or object. In this way the paradox of boundary and space provides the form-giving limitation necessary for a healthy ego and for self-realization. It is also the basis of creativity.
It is our earliest developmental experiences which create the container for the birth of selfhood. The very earliest of these is the sensation of the nipple in the mouth, which turns the no- breast into the breast, meaning that the void of the empty mouth is now full of loving, active goodness, not a static container, but one which, like the Cosmic Egg or the Golden Womb, is buzzing and fizzing with the birth of new worlds – of new configurations, integrations, connections, and adaptations. This is the feeling of aliveness which belongs to the real self as opposed to the compliant deadness of the false self.
A one-day Practical Workshop - led by Ireland’s leading Jungian Psychologist Jasbinder Garnermann
What we'll cover in this Workshop -
This workshop will explore the origin, development, and disruption of personal boundaries as well as the archetypal dimensions of the experience of sacred and profane space and the creation of the temenos.
Boundaries give containment. Our mother’s, eyes, touch, smell, voice, and even thoughts form the cradle in which we survive and thrive. Through Holding, Handling, Personalization and Object-Presentation (presenting reality to us in bite-sized chunks), the good-enough mother protects us against impingement and knits us together into a unit of selfhood. Winnicott termed this attainment of the baby’s psychosomatic existence which takes on a personal pattern, the psyche indwelling in the soma.
The Psychic Envelope
This is the limiting membrane created by the holding. It is equated with the surface of the skin and gives us the experience of having an inside and an outside, a body-scheme from which the personal or inner psychic reality is created. This psychic or ego-skin performs five functions: containment; excitation screen; delimitation of the internal psychic world and the perceptual world; double connection with the internal world and the external world; and differentiation of the surface of the self.
Our early environmental failures leave us exposed to the most profound feelings of abandonment and helplessness. These form the fault-lines which become re-activated by the traumas and crises of our adult lives, pitching us into intensified states of panic and terror. Winnicott identified four aspects of these developmental wounds – Nameless Dread, Falling Forever, Annihilation Anxiety and Going to Pieces. To protect ourselves against these we develop a whole range of ego defences - from the psychotic through the neurotic to the mature defences of sublimation such as altruism, humour and creativity.
The Alpha Container
With repeated experiences of the good breast, we begin to introject the mother’s ability to neutralize and transform our raw and painful feelings of shame, rage, guilt, greed and fear into goodness, love and empathy. Bion called this ability the alpha container and its opposite the beta container. Instead of passively experiencing primitive parts held together by the skin functioning as a boundary, the introjected good breast gives us our own construction capable of protecting our inner world from intrusions and also creating an internal space for symbol-formation and thinking.
No Breast, therefore a Thought
This is the birth of the symbol-making ability, and also of thinking and mental space. With repeated experiences of the alpha container, we begin to develop the ability to let go of the actual breast, and replace it with a hallucinated or symbolic good breast. This involves a period of mourning and the ability to endure the loss of the primary experience. In archetypal terms, this loss has been symbolized as the Fall or the expulsion from Paradise. However, it is this very separation from the original wholeness which propels us into consciousness – giving us the freedom of the symbolic, and the instinct and mental space for curiosity and knowledge.
The Language of Symbols
With the symbol-making capacity we possess an Alpha Container for life, enjoying it in art, literature, music and ultimately in spiritual fulfillment. Symbols hold the tension of opposites in our daily lives, enabling us to create order out of the ever-increasing complexity of our inner and outer worlds, producing new and stunning takes on reality. This is most clearly seen in the unifying symbols that our psyche produces to heal opposites such as love and hate, new and old, I and thou, inner and outer, masculine and feminine, body and spirit, fantasy and reality, ego and Self. Jung termed this the Transcendent Function, and it allows us to find our true North, through ever-new and creative fulcrums of balance in our daily lives.
Boundary and Space Malfunctions
Disturbances in our psychological well-being are caused both by boundaries which are too porous and leave us to bleed out, or those which are so tight that they encase us in concrete sensation, with no room for symbol formation. Some of these disturbances are: claustrophobia, agoraphobia, addictions, anorexia, skin and other psychosomatic disorders, autistic and schizoid barriers, false-self formations, obsessive compulsive disorders and abandonment anxiety.
However, it is these very fault-lines that offer us a second chance at healing developmental wounds and becoming whole. The symbols in our dreams, and also the archetypal themes in mythology function like the kibisis, the magic bag given to Perseus which can contain even the beta horrors of Medusa’s severed head. With this kibisis we can descend into the underworld of the beta elements with their gargoyles and demons and make the realm of shades spring back into roaring life.
As Jung writes, ‘Regression, if left undisturbed, does not stop short at the “mother”, but goes back beyond her into the personal realm of the “Eternal Feminine”, to the immemorial world of archetypal possibilities where, “thronged around with images of all creation”, slumbers the divine child, patiently awaiting his conscious realization.’ (Collected Works, Volume 5, para. 508)