Denise Grobbelaar:

Wholeness Integration

Jungian Analyst, Psychotherapist & Clinical Psychologist.

What I think is that a good life is one hero journey after another. Over and over again, you are called to the realm of adventure, you are called to new horizons. Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, in the fulfillment or the fiasco. There’s always the possibility of a fiasco. But there’s also the possibility of bliss.

Joseph Campbell - Pathways to Bliss (2004)

The Alchemy of Self-Discovery: The Hero/Heroine's Journey Within and the Unveiling of Your Personal Mythology

In the realm of Jungian psychology, the journey of individuation or self-discovery is likened to an alchemical process—a profound transformation that transmutes the raw materials of our life experiences into the gold of self-awareness – To know and accept yourself deeply! Are you ready to delve into the core of your being to unveil the rich tapestry of your personal mythology.

"The Call to Adventure"

Every individual has a unique and significant life story. Every life is an epic narrative, and within it resides the Hero/Heroine's Journey—an archetypal odyssey that beckons us to embark on a quest for self-realization. The call to adventure echoes in the challenges we face, the transitions we navigate, and the moments of transformation. Are you ready to heed this call, exploring the depths of your personal life story to uncover the heroic threads woven into your personal myth?

"Facing the Shadow" – The guardians at the threshold 

The shadow, that elusive aspects of ourselves we often repress, becomes the guardian at the edge of our consciousness which we must confront to move into our journey of individuation and self-awareness. Jung teaches us that embracing shadow aspects is integral to self-discovery. A safe space is pivotal in facing and integrating the shadow, transforming it from a formidable adversary into an ally on your path to wholeness.

"Meeting the Archetypes"

Archetypes are the timeless living symbols that populate the collective unconscious—the Wise Old Woman or Man, the inner Feminine or inner Masculine, or animal presences, and countless others. As you encounter and recognize these archetypal figures within your own narratives, and engage with these universal forces, you gain insights into the deeper layers of your personal mythology. Who are your inner guides, mentors and protectors? How do they appear in dreams, active imagination, entheogenic journeys, or soul collage cards?

 "Crafting Your Narrative" - The Art of Storytelling

Storytelling is the alchemical crucible in which the raw materials of your life are transformed into a meaningful narrative and a personal mythology by which to live. How do you tell your life story? From what perspective? What kind of story is it? Your personal mythology is not static—it evolves as you do. You hold the transformative power to rewrite and reinterpret your personal myths, reshaping your narrative and reframing life experiences. Within the chapters of your life, there lies the potential to discover purpose and meaning, crafting a story that empowers and inspires. As you engage in this transformative process, you unlock the potential for healing, growth, and a profound connection to your authentic self.

…only one who has risked the fight with the dragon and is not overcome by it wins the hoard, the ‘treasure hard to attain’. He alone has a genuine claim to self-confidence, for he has faced the dark ground of his self and thereby has gained himself. This experience gives some faith and trust…in the ability of the self to sustain him, for everything that menaced him from inside he has made his own. He has acquired the right to believe that he will be able to overcome all future threats by the same means. He has arrived at an inner certainty which makes him capable of self-reliance.

Carl Gustav Jung - CW 14 ¶ 505

Multiplicity: Embracing the Pantheon of the Self - ‘Working with parts’

In the profound exploration of the human psyche, the concept of multiplicity stands as a guiding principle—a recognition that within us resides a complex tapestry of voices, each with its own story, worldviews, core believes, desires, and unique perspective. The journey into multiplicity and ‘working with parts’ is a holistic approach that invites us to explore the richness within. It requires acknowledging and embracing the diverse voices that make up our interior world. Each part carries its own wisdom, wounds, and strengths, contributing to the intricate mosaic of our psychological landscape. You may have observed that in various environments and situations, different facets of your personality emerge.

Jung’s ideas on complexes, James Hillman ‘multiple autonomous intelligences’ and Richard Schwartz’s Internal Family Systems (IFS), provide a theoretical framework to ‘working with parts’ and delving into the multifaceted nature of the human psyche. ‘Soul Collage’ is a creative process that provides a unique avenue for individuals to explore and express the diverse facets of their inner world. Through the art of collage, participants create personalized cards that visually represent different aspects of their psyche.  

Jung’s complex theory

Jung's complex theory is a foundational element in his psychological framework, providing a nuanced insight into the intricate workings of the human psyche. Complexes are autonomous, emotionally charged ‘subpersonalities’ that arise as organized patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Operating as semi-independent entities within the psyche, they possess unique energy, motivations, and internal logic. Complexes have their own agendas and modes of operation and demonstrate a level of autonomy. This is crucial for comprehending certain persistent patterns within the psyche which shape our responses and perceptions. Although linked to the broader personality, they can manifest independently, often triggered by specific situations, memories, or emotional stimuli. These are situations where we often find ourselves behaving in a way that we don't quite understand, often reacting out of proportion to the stressor.

What distinguishes complexes from ordinary thoughts or emotions is their heightened emotional charge. Complexes are laden with emotional energy, often stemming from unresolved experiences or traumas. The emotional charge within a complex intensifies its impact on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviour, creating powerful and sometimes overwhelming psychological states. When we are triggered, we fall into the grip of a complex. Complexes exert a pervasive influence on our mental and emotional landscape. They shape the way we perceive the world, influencing our thoughts by filtering information through their unique lens. Emotionally, they contribute to the intensity of our feelings, colouring our experiences with the emotional charge they carry. Moreover, complexes play a significant role in determining our behavioural responses, guiding our actions in alignment with their internal scripts.

Jung's emphasis on recognizing and integrating complexes is rooted in the belief that these autonomous ‘subpersonalities’, if left unacknowledged, can exert a unconscious and often detrimental influence on our lives and relationships. Recognition involves bringing these complexes into conscious awareness, identifying their patterns, triggers, and the emotional charge they carry. Integration, on the other hand, requires a process of assimilating the energy and insights of the complex into the broader personality, allowing for a more harmonious and conscious engagement with these aspects of the psyche. This is the work of a lifetime.

James Hillman's polytheistic vision

According to James Hillman's revolutionary approach and polytheistic vision, the psyche is akin to a pantheon of gods and goddesses, each embodying diverse qualities, and narratives, and motivations. Hillman invites us to appreciate the autonomy and agency of these archetypal figures, suggesting that their coexistence creates a dynamic interplay within our psychological landscape. Central to Hillman's polytheistic vision is the idea that within everyone, a rich assortment of archetypal figures coexist. These figures are not mere abstractions; they possess distinct personalities, desires, and perspectives, much like the gods and goddesses of ancient mythologies. Hillman invites us to move beyond a reductionist view of the psyche and to embrace the notion that each of these archetypal entities have their own autonomy and agency.

Appreciating the autonomy of these archetypal figures means acknowledging that they are not mere fragments or components of a unified whole. Instead, they are entities with their own existence and influence. Each figure contributes to the psychological landscape with its unique characteristics, playing a specific role in shaping our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. This recognition of autonomy is a fundamental departure from approaches that seek to assimilate all aspects of the psyche into a singular, cohesive identity. Hillman encourages us to appreciate the agency of these archetypal figures—an acknowledgment that they actively participate in the ongoing drama of our inner world.

The term "dynamic interplay" captures Hillman's emphasis on the ever-evolving nature of the psyche. Instead of perceiving archetypal figures as static, Hillman proposes that they participate in a continuous dance of interaction and influence. This ongoing dynamic interplay leads to the complexity of the psychological landscape, where conflicts, tensions, and synergies emerge, enriching the individual's inner world. These figures, far from being passive symbols, actively engage in a dynamic interplay, influencing one another and contributing to the overall psychological experience. This constant dynamic interplay nurtures a sense of richness and complexity within the psyche, as various archetypal entities interact, clash, and harmonize in ongoing dialogue.

In essence, James Hillman's revolutionary and polytheistic perspective invites us to embrace the diversity and vitality within our own minds. By recognizing the autonomy and agency of the archetypal figures populating our psychological pantheon, we gain a profound understanding of the complexity of human experience. Through this lens, the psyche becomes not a monolithic structure but a vibrant, living tapestry woven with the threads of diverse and autonomous archetypal entities.

Internal Family Systems

 Internal Family Systems (IFS), developed by Richard Schwartz, offers an alternative structured framework to explore the multiplicity of the psyche. In IFS, our inner world is seen as a ‘family system’, comprised of various ‘parts’ or subpersonalities. By acknowledging and dialoguing with these parts, we gain insights into their unique roles, needs, and contributions to our overall well-being. The concept of 'parts' in IFS refers to discrete aspects of the self, each with its own distinctive characteristics, emotions, and functions. These parts can be thought of as individual members of the inner family, akin to distinct personalities or voices within our psyche. Each part is associated with specific emotions, memories, and behavioural patterns, contributing to the overall functioning of the internal system.

The process of acknowledging and dialoguing with these parts lies at the heart of the Internal Family Systems model. By adopting an attitude of curiosity, compassion, and non-judgment, individuals can engage in an internal dialogue with their various parts, gaining insights into their unique roles, needs, and contributions to overall well-being. The first step in the IFS approach involves recognizing and acknowledging the existence of these internal parts. This acknowledgment requires a conscious and non-reactive awareness of the different aspects of oneself, avoiding the tendency to judge or suppress certain parts deemed undesirable. Once acknowledged, IFS encourages individuals to engage in a dialogue with their internal parts. This process involves actively listening to the voices or feelings associated with each part and seeking to understand their perspectives. Through this internal dialogue, individuals can uncover the underlying emotions, beliefs, and intentions that drive each part's behaviour.

Through the dialogical exploration of internal parts, individuals gain valuable insights into the roles these parts play within the Internal Family System. Some parts may carry protective functions, shielding the individual from perceived threats, while others may carry the burden of unmet needs or emotional wounds. Understanding the contributions of each part provides a nuanced understanding of one's internal dynamics. The ultimate goal of working with the Internal Family System is to enhance overall well-being and reduce suffering. By recognizing, acknowledging, and understanding the different parts, individuals can foster greater internal harmony, facilitating cooperation and collaboration among different parts, allowing for a more balanced and integrated functioning of the psyche. In essence, Internal Family Systems offers a structured and compassionate approach to navigating the multiplicity within the human psyche.

Alignment with Working with Parts:

The concept of working with parts underscores the importance of engaging with the various facets of our psyche. The goal is not to suppress or eliminate these aspects of self, but to establish a conscious relationship with them. It is not about erasing differences or assimilation into a uniform whole but to foster integration and wholeness. Embracing the multiplicity within us allows for a more comprehensive understanding of our true self. Through this process, we discover that true harmony arises from acknowledging and respecting the diversity of our inner voices. By acknowledging, understanding, and integrating these parts, we pave the way for a more unified and authentic expression of our true self.

In essence, the recognition and integration of complexes or various aspects or parts of ourselves, offers a pathway to psychological wholeness. Embracing the autonomy, emotional charge, and influence of these 'subpersonalities' enables us to navigate the depths of our psyche with increased self-awareness and compassion, fostering a more integrated and harmonious relationship with the multifaceted nature of our inner world. Working with parts involves a profound dialogue with the ‘presences’ residing within. These figures may manifest as distinct personalities, voices, or aspects of our identity. By listening to their stories and understanding their perspectives, we navigate the depths of our psyche with compassion and curiosity.

The journey into multiplicity and working with parts, inspired by the wisdom of James Hillman, the Internal Family Systems, and Jungian psychology, is a transformative expedition into the kaleidoscopic nature of the human psyche. By exploring the pantheon within, we unravel the threads of our internal narrative, fostering a deeper connection with ourselves and unlocking potential for profound healing and self-discovery.

Exploring the Depths:
Shadow Work as the Cornerstone of Working with Parts

The shadow, a concept central to Jungian psychology, encompasses the aspects of ourselves that we repress, deny, or find too uncomfortable to acknowledge. It embodies the unexplored facets of our personality, including gifts, desires, fears, and unresolved experiences. Often viewed as the repository of our unacknowledged fears, desires, and suppressed aspects, the shadow also conceals latent gifts and untapped potentials. Understanding the shadow as a repository of both challenges and treasures is a pivotal aspect of comprehensive shadow work. Engaging with the shadow is not merely an act of introspection; it is a courageous exploration of the hidden recesses of our psyche. Shadow work involves recognizing and embracing these concealed aspects, bringing them into the light of conscious awareness. 

Shadow work involves transforming perceived negatives into opportunities for growth. The challenges held within the shadow are not obstacles to be avoided but gateways to self-discovery. By confronting and understanding these aspects, we harness their transformative potential, turning adversity into an impetus for personal development. Carl Jung proposed that elements within ourselves, deemed unacceptable or uncomfortable, might be projected onto external individuals. Qualities or characteristics in others that trigger irritation or cause intense emotional reactions in ourselves may reflect aspects of our unconscious. Jung believed our unconscious mind projects these elements onto external people or situations, enabling us to evade confronting and acknowledging these aspects within ourselves. The things that trouble us about others, function as mirrors, unveiling elements of our psyche we may be unwilling to recognize. Shadow work involves exploring these projections, untangling the intertwined threads of self and other. By acknowledging projections, we reclaim disowned aspects, initiating essential integration for holistic well-being. Examining and understanding our emotional reactions to others, particularly those provoking irritation or discomfort, provides insight into our psychological makeup. This process contributes to greater self-awareness and personal growth.

Just as the shadow holds aspects that challenge our self-image, it also hides talents and capabilities waiting to be discovered. These may be artistic abilities, intellectual insights, or even emotional resilience that, when acknowledged, contribute to a more expansive and authentic expression of self. The positive or golden aspects of the shadow are the hidden strengths, talents, and virtues that, due to various reasons, have been relegated to the unconscious. These qualities, though concealed, carry immense potential for personal growth, creativity, and self-realization. By acknowledging and integrating the positive shadow, we unveil dormant gifts and illuminate hidden potentials that can empower and enrich our lives, fostering a more integrated, resilient, and authentic sense of self.

The dual nature of the shadow, encompassing both the negative and positive, invites us to embrace the full spectrum of our being. The integration of these dualities fosters a more nuanced and authentic sense of self. By recognizing that darkness and light coexist within, we navigate life's complexities with greater balance and resilience. By embracing both the shadow's darkness and its gifts, we cultivate a more profound connection with ourselves and a deeper appreciation for the complexities that shape our journey.

Shadow work, as part of 'working with parts,' involves engaging in a profound dialogue with our denied aspects. This dialogue is not a confrontation but an invitation—a compassionate exploration of the stories, emotions, and needs residing in the shadow. By acknowledging these aspects, we dissolve the power of the shadow to influence us unconsciously. The journey into the shadow is akin to alchemical transformation—a process of transmuting the lead of unconscious patterns into the gold of self-awareness. As we encounter the rejected parts within, we foster a deeper understanding of our motivations, fears, and desires. This self-awareness becomes the catalyst for personal growth and inner harmony. The integration of shadow elements contributes to a more comprehensive and authentic sense of self. By embracing the denied aspects, we weave them into the fabric of our ‘internal family system’, fostering a more harmonious interplay among the various ‘subpersonalities’.