Psychotherapy with the unconscious in Mind

Attachment and Individuation

Attachment and individuation are in many ways the warp and weft of the fabric of personality woven together through living. Whether or not they are directly addressed, they may become emphasized during psychotherapy while exploring personal history, power dynamics, or symptoms in the body. Although they seem to represent contradictory goals, attachment and individuation are in fact interdependent. Attachment as a process happens through alterations of connection and disconnection with others. Individuation is the unfolding of the unique self as it encounters the world and its inhabitants in ever deepening and broadening complexity.

Potentially, depth oriented psychotherapy creates a relational field in which narrative is created and images emerge revealing new ways to understand and experience oneself in the world.  When Freudian based psychologies focus on Oedipal energies and patterns, they are using the Greek mythological story as a portal into matters of attachment style. Personal boundaries, identity coherence, and styles of emotional response and expression are elements of personality that are influenced by and reflect an individual’s attachment style. Fluctuations in the level and flow of energy in the body and mind give clues about how these elements are affecting the whole person. These characteristics are assumed to develop in typical ways over time in Western cultures. But when they are markedly outside culturally typical development they likely create friction between the person and the world, thus creating disharmony in relationships, career, and within the person. This may lead to the person being given a mental health diagnosis. But Jung considered such conflict with the world a necessary element of individuation. That is, it is a kind of adaptation from the norm that surely causes considerable discomfort to the person while enabling transformation within the collective. Archetypal psychology further understands the Oedipal “portal” as only one among many possible beginning points in which richly detailed multiple worlds of psyche are revealed as soulful images grounded in lived, sentient experience.