Integrating Shadow Dynamics Handed Down From Parents: Collective Unconscious Embodied in An Epoch

Integrating Shadow Dynamics Handed Down From Parents: Collective Unconscious Embodied in An Epoch
Saturday May 24, 2008

Hello Alice:

As the Subject box states above, I’m interested in how one may inherit unconscious tendencies from one’s parents; which may dovetail, as an overlay, to one’s own creativity and vitality–shaping one energetically from what gets handed down, from one generation to another. I’ve just come through an 8-year process of assisting both of my parents go through their final years of life–attending to their death and dying process, by assisting the gradual process of letting go; all of which brought me closer to them, confirming the value of my buddhist spiritual practices, while at the same time revealing family of origin dynamics reeling through both of my other two brothers, and the internal suffering they’ve been carrying around and consequently projecting onto me.

So with this as an introduction, I’d like to ask how one may work with these family of origin dynamics–especially when there are family members locked up by their own vital energy, and awareness, being repressed and denied. Your work has opened up and illuminated numerous insights for me, but I’m still wondering how to best integrate or work through these latent traits of discontent–from first my parents dynamics, and then the seemingly recurring psycho-emotional patterns of my siblings, and at times peers. So I’ll describe a bit of what I’ve grown through.

For the past thirteen years I’ve been reading and studying all I can about the Shadow and early childhood development. And when I read Thou Salt Not Be Aware, I cried from feeling so touched by your words of truth–expressing what no-one had ever said to me before. On the inside, I felt how accurately you described how one’s vitality gets shut down–for protecting one’s vulnerable self for feeling so at risk emotionally, at risk for losing what little love or for the chance of it ever existing could occur.

Atmospherically, when growing up, I could feel my father’s anger and fear, which he’d attempt to hide in his silence. And yet, out of this silence, I’d avoid his angst ridden vitality by staying away from him–which only subjected me to further disrespect from him; first for how he treated me out of humiliation, and second how he rarely showed any affection towards me, my two brothers, or my mother.

So when I read For Your Own Good, a key line phrase which summarized, by description, Adolf Hitler’s childhood psyche and stood out as a tell-tale marker to how a child’s unconscious potentially inherits the shadow of one’s parents: Pg. 180, “Only a child’s unconscious can copy a parent so exactly that every characteristic of the parent can later be found in the child.”

So I’ve continued to read and study your other books, but have come to realize this incidence of the parents unconscious being inherited by the youth is a timeless tale of cross-cultural suffering. Outside of personal therapy, of one working on one’s own awareness, to cultivate loving kindness for one’s own being and then others, how can I assist alleviating others whom I love–who reel from now their own internal sufferings?

I post this following link to an article which reveals this is a cultural dynamic, one which wakes me up to a greater cause than myself or immediate family:

So with this, I wish to thank you for all that you’ve written so far. You’ve helped assist me see through these dark times which human life seems to unleash.

I look forward and welcome any response.

Sincerely, G. S.

AM: As children, we may potentially inherit the “shadows” of our parents, but as adults who dare to feel our truth and try to understand our feelings we can liberate ourselves from these shadows exactly by becoming conscious of them and rejecting them. If we no longer think that we must love a father who humiliated us, we become more and more free from his coldness, his cruelty, and his confusion. Then nobody can make us imitate him.
I read also the article you made a link to. “Ergophrenia” may be a good name for describing the madness of a dangerous politician, but playing with diagnoses does not explain ANYTHING about the CAUSES of this madness. In my opinion, these causes are ALWAYS hidden in the endured but denied cruelty of a childhood story. Unfortunately, as the article clearly shows, not only the Buddhist but also the Jungian “spirituality” help to stay blind towards the cruelty raging in the “best” families. I think, however, that there is no other way of liberating ourselves from lies and confusion than becoming aware of our own suffering in childhood and by taking seriously the often tragic or even horrific reality of our fate. By denying this reality, as does the article of a well known psychiatrist, we must fear during our whole life things that actually did happen in our past but are not going to happen again, simply because we no longer are children. But all mad and ergophrenic dictators are driven by humiliations they endured as children without consciously remembering them but revenging them all the time on scapegoats.