This is part of a a continuing series of posts from conversations with Lisa Maechling Debbeler, JD, MA, LPCC about the nature of being a therapist/analyst in a time of quarantine. We began talking on Saturday March 21, 2020 at the beginning of the shut down and are continuing to talk weekly. We were both continuing to work and trying to see as many of our clients/analysands as possible through Zoom or other virtual methods. We were both finding this both unexpectedly and expectedly difficult and wanted to share our experiences with colleagues and friends that we respect.
From Lisa, citing an episode of the podcast This Jungian Life:
The Quarantine/Stay-at-Home order is like the beginning of an alchemical transformation of the ego being broken down. It’s the beginning of a process of relativizing all our usual ego activities to something greater, fearful and not-fully-knowable.
As Jungians we tend to take a very optimistic view of the relativization of ego. We see it as a step in the path toward wholeness. Ego needs to see its proper (small) place in psyche in order for our conscious self to relate to the Self. This process of understanding our egoic limits is put into the context of growth and development.
I see this growth-oriented relativization of ego happening at times in myself and with my analysands even in this moment of uncertainty, fear and loss. I can sense (and my analysands report) moments of spaciousness and a larger peace that seems more available in all the time and quiet we have during quarantine. I feel the important and valuable things – such as family conversations, the friendship of my life-partner, religious and secular ritual, creative work – in my bones. They strike my more-than-usually-open and vulnerable heart and easily bring me to tears. This can be framed as a solutio (the alchemical stage of dissolving a material into its constituent parts) process. Some of the ego defenses have been dissolved by the time-honored methods of being quiet and alone, terror and sadness. This dissolving opens space for an awareness of the larger realities.