Into the Darkest Places: Working with Early Relational Trauma and Borderline States of Mind

Product Code: CLASS-West-Darkest-Places
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Into the Darkest Places: Working with Early Relational Trauma and Borderline States of Mind

Marcus West

Friday, December 13, 2019 | 9:00am-4:30pm

These talks will explore the way that early narcissistic wounding becomes embodied in, and significantly structures, the individual’s identity, personality, and ways of functioning, and how this manifests and can be addressed in the consulting room.  

The morning talk will call on contemporary trauma theory, infant development and attachment theory, and an extended understanding of Jung’s concept of the complex, to explore how these narcissistic wounds/traumatic complexes, which fix and limit the individual’s development, can be most safely, effectively, and compassionately worked through. This requires both analyst and client to traverse some of the darkest places of the psyche, and calls on the analyst’s deep involvement, and development, through the process, as Jung so brilliantly described. 

The talk will relate this to mammalian defensive systems, Stephen Porges’ polyvagal theory and Jaak Panksepp’s understanding of the emotional systems of the brain. It will look at how early relational trauma is reconstructed and co-constructed in the analytic relationship and will explore why this is so powerful and difficult to work through. The talk will be illustrated with clinical material.

The afternoon session will concentrate on the particular pressures on the analyst and will address how, in addition to the trauma-related structures, the most primitive narcissistic defenses need to be worked through. This entails working through the analyst's own narcissistic defenses, which evacuate what the analyst can't bear and can disrupt and foreclose the analysis if not addressed. The talk will relate this to working with what Michael Balint called "malignant regression." It will also explore issues around self-disclosure and idealization, which are central to working with this client group. 

Recording: This program will not be recorded. We hope you are able to attend!

Jungianthology Podcast: Listen to an interview with Marcus through our free podcast

Learning Objectives

As a result of attending this course, participants will be able to:

1. Explain and expand their understanding of, and capacity to engage with, individuals who have experienced early relational trauma;

2. Recognize and explain how this has become embodied in the individual’s personality, relating this to psychoanalytic categories such as narcissistic, borderline, schizoid, hysterical, and obsessional personality organizations;

3. Reflect upon and describe their own countertransferential states and relate them to the client’s early experience;

4. Summarize how this is related to primitive mammalian defenses, Porges' polyvagal theory, and Panksepp’s emotional systems: the RAGE, FEAR, PAIN/GRIEF, SEEKING, LUST, CARE, & PLAY systems;

5. Summarize how traumatic complexes, relating to early experience, can be worked through;

6. Work with reconstruction and co-construction as it appears in their practice;

7. Explain the role of idealization in working with trauma;

8. Recognize, assess, and understand the particular pressures put upon the analyst and address and work with those in a safe, effective, boundaried, and ethical manner;

9. Delineate the underlying narcissistic defenses and appreciate the challenges posed by them;

10. Recognize and describe their own narcissistic defenses and how these can affect the analysis; and

11. Relate these things to their own practice and describe how the process of analysis allows these dynamics to be worked through. 

Grace Place Episcopal Church
637 S Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60605

$115 | Members $92 | Students $75 | 6 CEs $15


Marcus West is a Training and Supervising Analyst of the Society of Analytical Psychology, London, and is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Analytical Psychology. He is also a Trained EMDR practitioner. He has taught and lectured widely and written a number of book chapters and papers, one of which was the joint winner of the Michael Fordham Prize in 2004. He has written three books: Feeling, Being and the Sense of Self: A New Perspective on Identity, Affect and Narcissistic Disorders; Understanding Dreams in Clinical Practice; and Into the Darkest Places: Early Relational Trauma and Borderline States of Mind. He is currently working on a fourth book for Routledge, provisionally titled The Early Relational Roots of Narcissism...and Its Resolution. He works in private practice in Sussex, England. More information about him can be found at