"Integration" - The Process of Psychic and Spiritual Healing
Several months ago, in one of my essays on this web site, I promised to write an explanation of the process of Integration, (cited in #6 in the endnotes for “The Goddess and Gnosticism”). I suspect my procrastination was, in part, due to the daunting nature of defining the subject. Since it is a psychological (and ultimately a spiritual) process, how can I present it to the interested reader without doing a prerequisite review of Psychology, Sociology, and Theology? By that time you, my dear reader, will have moved to a different web site. The subject, nonetheless, is worth tackling. In order to address the term Integration, however, we first need to discuss the relationship between Integration and Individuation. The term, Individuation was described by Stephan A. Hoeller in his book, “Jung and the Lost Gospels.” (1) He defines it as “…the psyche ceasing to identify with and blindly accept rules and laws outside ourselves.” (Hoeller, p 152) Rather, it is a conscious expression of our “Self” as whole. This requires us to take responsibility for our own choices. He also points out that “the steps taken in Individuation always necessitate an effort at liberating the still un-integrated ‘part selves’.” (Hoeller, p 115) I call these “part selves”, personality parts, and they exist in all of us. Short of the diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder, which is a rare psychological state, we are still personalities with a multiplicity of parts. This information comes from my study of Internal Family Systems described and explained by Richard Schwartz. (2) For example: we may have a strong independent streak, but at times be childishly dependent on others’ decisions. Another example: we may be, for the most part, placid and compliant, and yet have a part, which burns with resentment and rage. These parts tend to conflict with each other and leave us dazed with wonder and confusion when we suddenly act in a way which is “not like me” because, “I’m a good girl/boy.” In order to grow emotionally, mentally, behaviorally and ultimately spiritually, we must find a way to bring these disparate parts into harmony with each other and under the guidance and leadership of our “True Self”, (sometimes called our “Higher Self.”). Through this process, we integrate these parts into the “whole” of who we are. Integration, then, as I see it, is coming to an acceptance of these shadow parts of ourselves and ultimately bringing healing to the hurt and pain which created them, thus allowing them to be integrated into our wholeness as human beings. Integration also requires a balancing of the male and female principle in each of us. In an earlier essay in this web site - “The Goddess and Patriarchy” - I described the animus as the male principle in each of us encompassing discipline, order, and rationality. We each, however, (whether male or female), also have a female part - the anima - which encompasses compassion, nurturance and intuition. We, as humans, are underdeveloped emotionally and spiritually if we lack a balance between the male and female part in each of us. This topic is beautifully and clearly illustrated in the book: “The Maiden King”, by Robert Bly and Marion Woodman. (3) The information in this book will be covered later in this essay. First, we need to examine some of the ideas proposed by various authors about how this division of “self” and inner conflict arises in the human psyche. Joan Borysenko, in her book: “Pocketful of Miracles”, (4) quotes Robert Bly: “We spend our life until we are 20, deciding what parts of ourselves to put into a bag (to hide them away), and we spend the rest of our lives trying to get them out again”(Borysenko, p 103) Dr. Borysenko goes on to add: “It takes courage to re-own our lost parts, but authentic spirituality requires that we make that which is divided whole.” (Borysenko, p 103) C.C. Jung (A Twentieth Century psychoanalyst) refers to these parts as our shadow. Jung’s theory is alluded to in “Jung and the Lost Gospel”, by Stephan Hoeller. (Ibid.) Hoeller points out that the repressive nature of the Judeo-Christian mainstream religiosity encourages the “bagging” of the shadow - the unacceptable parts of us. Hoeller then goes on to quote Jung as saying: “the human psyche cannot forgo the effective presence of its shadow for too long. The time always comes when the hitherto rejected and consequently missing portions of our selfhood mightily call attention to itself.” (Hoeller, pp.25-26). We, as human beings, may heal our disparate parts in a process called “Individuation” which has wholeness as its objective. (Individuation refers to the developmental process of separation from the parent into a mature individual capable of self-mastery and self-governance. I prefer the word” Integration”, as a more accurate way of describing this process, because it incorporates healing the internal divisions and conflicts within us, which obstruct our maturation.) To achieve wholeness, I believe we must first be able to separate out these disparate parts and work to heal the issues that created them. The eventual goal is to integrate them into the totality of our personality. How do these parts get formed? In a later passage in “Pocketful of Miracles,” Dr. Borysenko explains this phenomenon. She states that: “From the time we were children, we have been conditioned to put our best foot and face forward. We have been shamed when our behavior was less than perfect or we seemed greedy, arrogant or otherwise naughty. Everything “not good” got shoved into the cellar of the personal unconscious. It is the alter ego that plays (Mr.) Hyde to our (Dr.) Jekyll. Hedge all you want, but its in there, stuffed with everything you deny, hate and disavow. The shadow is your evil twin.” (Borysenko, p 300) In another passage, Dr. Borysenko explains one way we can recognize our shadow: “…when we particularly dislike another person or judge someone we hardly know, we are actually projecting our own shadow.” (Borysenko, p 300) When we focus on someone’s excessive anger, jealousy, obesity, etc., this often represents the parts of ourselves that we judge, reject and hate. Since, however, we deny the presence of these characteristics in ourselves, we are stuck with them. Her advice is to own the truth of these attributes (or parts of ourselves), because what we cannot “see” has power over us. I have come to understand that these powerful unconscious parts profoundly affect our lives in ways we can hardly imagine. Is it worth the effort it takes to face these parts, heal, and then integrate them? The Gnostic philosophy, which I am promoting on this web site, prescribes the idea that our most important life purpose is to look within to find the answers. As it says in many of the Gnostic Gospels, we must look to the “Kingdom of Heaven” within. Inner spiritual insights can then be used to heal our life experiences and our relationship-to-God experiences and to open the path to spiritual maturity. This philosophy is further described in the “Gospel of Mary Magdalene,” (5) to be discussed later. The scope of this essay cannot possibly carry you through to spiritual maturity. I can, however, point you to some reading that will get you started. Even with that under your belt, you may need added assistance through healing groups like the 12 Step programs, spiritual advising and/or psychotherapy. Psychotherapy would be especially helpful if you experienced a highly traumatic childhood, which you may have repressed and not yet worked through. If, however, you are relatively healthy emotionally and mentally, some of the following books can give you a better understanding of the process of integration. “The Drama of the Gifted Child,” by Alice Miller (6) describes the parenting practices that came from our European traditions that drove us toward giving up our “True Self” to survive in the face of repressive parenting styles in the families we grew up in. She very graphically explains how these practices affect the formation of our personalities and how we pass them on to our children in a cultural cesspool of personal repression. She elaborates on the belief by our Victorian (and earlier) ancestors, that children are “little adults” and must act with proper humility, dignity, and deference to their adult caretakers. The child acting too expressively was angrily confronted by the parent and punished. The underlying dynamic in the parent was envy: “Since I could not express myself enthusiastically as a child, you dare not either!” Thus, the tradition gets passed on. Another book worth reading explains the psychological and emotional issues leading to personal multiplicity. The book: “Internal Family Systems Therapy,” by Richard C. Schwartz. (Ibid) The psychological language may, at first, be confusing, but if you slowly work your way through the book, the terminology and ideas will become easier to understand. Schwartz does an excellent job of describing our multiple parts, and how they were created. He shows ways to name and describe each of our different “selves.” Names like “Angry Annie,” “Scared Susie,” “Rebellious Robert,” and “Little Boy,”(names made up by me) give substance to our “exiled” (repressed) parts. Terms like “Freddie Firefighter” are very adept. This is the part that “acts out,” to keep the exiled parts from being exposed to shame and rejection. These “name” metaphors help us to perceive our behavior, feelings and thoughts in a more productive way. He then proceeds to help the reader learn how to differentiate, harmonize, balance and bring these parts under the leadership of our “True Self.” Contemplating the issue from another point of view, you may relate better to “The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book” by dom Miguel Ruiz. (7) Ruiz uses ordinary, direct language to share his understanding of the Toltec teachings of the ancient Mayan culture. Ruiz explains how we are “domesticated” by society and our parents (who themselves were “domesticated’) until we become something we are not. (Ruiz, pp.7-8) He illustrates how our mind carries out these rules from the “Book of Law (which represents in Toltec wisdom, what the culture expects from us), thus coming to agreement with our domestication. This causes us to make exaggerated and very negative judgments of ourselves and others, thus becoming both our own “Judge” and at the same time our own “Victim.”(Ruiz, p 9) He then describes four new agreements we can make to help us overcome society’s programming and become authentic and spiritually mature people. They are: 1) Be impeccable with your words, 2) Don’t take anything personally, 3) Don’t make assumptions, and 4) Do your best. “Of course,” you say. “Elementary!” If you read the book, however, in a mere 138 pages, you will discover that the action of carrying out these four agreements requires clarity, awareness, determination, courage and perseverance. It is a challenging and life transforming process. If you prefer to focus on a spiritual approach, I recommend “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene” by Jean-Yves Leloup, the book I referred to previously in this essay. Leloup, founder of the Institute of Other Civilization Studies, and the International College of Therapists, translates and interprets one of the Gnostic Gospels. The Coptic Christian Church in Cairo, Egypt has preserved the “Gospel of Mary”. This gospel came to light 50 years before the main body of the Gnostic Gospels was found at Nag Hammadi, Egypt in the 1950s. It is now located in the Berlin Museum. (For more understanding of the Gnostic Gospels, see the essay, “The Goddess and Gnosticism,” one of the links in this web site.) “The Gospel of Mary” was written on papyrus and was only 19 pages long, several of which are missing. (Leloup, pp. xii-xiii) Despite its brevity, however, the text is quite enlightening. I quote from page 8: “Attachments to matter give rise to passions against nature. Thus trouble arises in the whole body: this is why I tell you: ‘Be in harmony…’ If you are out of balance, take inspiration from manifestations of your true nature. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.” (Leloup, p 27) And further down on page 8, the Blessed One (Jesus), says: “Peace be with you—may my peace arise and be fulfilled within you. Be vigilant and allow noone to mislead you by saying: ‘Here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ for it is within you that the Son of Man dwells. Go to him, for those who seek him find him…” (Leloup, p 27) I perceive this gospel writer assuring me that the guidance I need for spiritual growth can be found within me and can be found through prayer, meditation, or just being open to “the Universe.” Whoever the “Son of Man” is for you, whether it is Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, Mohammed, Innana, Mary or your own Spirit Guide, it makes no difference. This process illuminates a path for personal growth proposed in, among others, the books previously mentioned in this essay. Leloup, after displaying the Coptic text of “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene”, then translates it and gives his philosophical interpretation. I see his interpretation as a compass pointing to a view of humanity radically different from the theological view of Man (and Woman) as sinful, fallen creatures trying to get back to the goodness of God. He describes humanity as the bridge between the planet and “the fertile void, the uncreated Origin of all beings.” (Leloup, p 75) To do this, he says, the requirements needed to build these bridges demand more extensive work: “…it is when we become bridges ourselves (as individuals) that we have the possibility to be both fully human and fully divine in the image and the likeness of that which the ancients called the ‘archetype of synthesis.” (Leloup, p 75) I envision this as possible through the building of a relationship between our “True Self” (our eternal spirit) and God. The final book I am recommending (and this is by no means a comprehensive list), is “The Maiden King” by Robert Bly and Marion Woodman, also referred to earlier in this essay. This book is an interpretation of “The Maiden Tsar”, an ancient folk tale of Russian origin. How, I wonder, could ancient Russian storytellers know of the temptations of modern materialism and their ability to draw us away from our “True Selves” into the “domesticated” creatures society expects us to be? I leave the answer to this question for you to ponder while reading the book. “The Maiden King” is divided into three sections: the fable itself, an interpretation by Robert Bly and an interpretation by Marion Woodman. If you like philosophy, storytelling, and poetic metaphor, Robert Bly’s interpretation will appeal to you. If you are interested in delving into unconscious drives and spiritual insights, Marion Woodman’s rendition will better fill your needs. Both are well worth reading. Since Marion Woodsman’s Jungian psychoanalytic approach matches my interest in psychological growth through integration of the shadow within and the balancing of male and female attributes, I was especially attracted to her interpretation. In working on my own internal development and through my work as a Social Work Psychotherapist helping clients with their personal internal struggles, I found her insights enlightening. With Woodman’s help, I was able to understand the fable of the Maiden Tsar as a clear and comprehensive metaphor for the unfolding of the process of Integration of our “domesticated” personalities into whole human beings. I believe that the world is going through a metamorphic transition that could lead to increased psychic and spiritual maturity for humanity. We have only to tap into that powerful positive energy to become the truly amazing human beings our Creator intended. Barbara L. Weeks 6/9/05 **************************************** Endnotes: (1) “Jung and the Lost Gospels,” Stephan A. Hoeller, The Theosophical Publishing House Wheaton, IL, 1994, p. 115 (2) “Internal Family Systems Therapy,” Richard C. Schwartz, The Guilford Press, NY, 1995 (3) “The Maiden King,” Robert Bly and Marion Woodman, Henry Holt and Co., Inc, 1998 (4) “Pocketful of Miracles,” Joan Borysenko, Ph.D., Warner Books, Inc., NY, NY, 1994 (5) “The Gospel of Mary Magdalene,” Jean-Yves Leloup, Inner Traditions, Rochester, VT, 2002 (6) “The Drama of the Gifted Child,” Alice Miller, Basic Books, NY, 1997 (7) “The Four Agreements: A Toltec Wisdom Book,” dom Miguel Ruiz, Amber-Allen Publishing, San Rafael, CA, 1997.