Enantiodromia

16 Dec

It is an old, unbreakable rule from the beginning of modern psychoanalysis: the therapist must first undergo analysis and treatment before being authorized to practice healing.

Dr. Ted Core, in compliance with the requirement, signed himself in for personal consultation at the Enantional Treatment Center. There was no way for him to avoid the task. It was necessary for obtaining his license to deal with mental problems and disorders.

The new doctor prepared himself through extensive reading about what he might expect in going through this hurdle in front of him.

When he arrived for his first appointment with Dr. Carl Sons the would-be analyst believed himself fully ready for what was to come.

The two men sat opposite each other, a low mahogany table separating them.

“Where shall we begin?” smiled Sons. “Why don’t you describe for me how you understand the enantiodromic approach to human personality?”

Ted recited the principles that his education had planted firmly in his memory in the last several years of study.

“Each and every human mind has the potential for a polar opposite of his personality to develop within itself, a twin or counterpart completely unlike the original patterns. The inner self consists of a series of reflective mirrors in which opposite images can arise. The other will be a shadow completely opposite to the existing ego. It will possess qualities that the ego cannot identify itself with. Such an alter ego can be described as what a person has no wish to become. The original ego fears becoming the opposite that it knows it will hate and despise. Yet this polar extreme is born in the reflections between the mirrors of the mind.

“But this negative inner shadow can haunt and torture the conscious ego and drive it into mental conflict and illness. It may grow and develop into a malignant force of destruction.”

“Go on,” urged Carl Sons. “Give me some specific examples of the enantiodromic process.”

“The polar opposite can fall into any of the Jungian archetypes, as long as it is the contrary of the original ego image. For instance, a Builder type of person could have a wild, anarchic Destroyer form reflected within the personality. An intellectual Philosopher might have a daredevil Gambler grow forth as its opposite. A Visionary could shape part of itself into a deceitful Trickster, as defined in the seminal work of Carl Jung. Many different such reversals are, in fact, possible.”

Sons waited awhile before he asked a question.

“How can such opposing components of a person be connected and coordinated?”

Ted thought about the matter before he gave an answer.

“There exists what is called in the literature a silver-blue cord between the ego and its reflected twin. The two can be close, even adjacent to each other. But they can also exist as differing identities distant and distinct from each other. These latter cases are the most difficult for us to deal with in psychoanalytic practice.”

“And how should psychotherapists deal with such critical divisions and differences between them?”

Ted drew a deep breath before replying.

“The more that a patient comes to understand the split and its results, the greater the chance of reconciling the entiodromic opposite with the original ego of the person.”

Sons gave an affirming nod. “I believe that you have a good comprehension of what we are attempting to accomplish here at the Center,” he declared with evident satisfaction. “You should be proud of your knowledge and mastery of entiodromic psychotherapy.”

At their second session together, Carl Sons presented a rapidly formed, initial diagnosis and interpretation of the state of mind and personality of the aspirant to the status of anantiodromic analyst.

Ted quickly read the single-page summary of what had been discovered about him. He digested every word about his inner duality with interest and surprise.

“The dominant pattern in Dr. Ted Core is the archetype of a Cosmic Adult. Reason, skill, ability, and self-sacrifice are characteristic traits. The main personality has been a positive one that faced and overcame adversities. Adam and Horus were its models.

“But then there appeared an image of a negative opposite, the Eternal Boy.

“Chaotic and immature, with narcissism and escapism describe that side of Ted Core. Peter Pan is the new model for his unconscious unpredictability and rebelliousness.”

Only after Ted returned the flimsy sheet to Sons did the latter begin to speak.

“I believe that you have a difficult problem within yourself, my son,” sadly said the senior analyst. “How can you hope to treat and cure others when you are suffering a burden of juvenile unpredictability, an anarchic wildness of temper.”

Ted frowned. “What in the world can I possibly do about such a situation?”

Carl Sons looked at him with large, piercing eyes of solid black.

“You have to tame your enantiodromic opposite. I cannot teach anyone how to do something as personal and unique as that. You will have to find your own pathway. That is all I know.”

His mind spinning, Ted rose to his feet and left the room.

He was on his own now and he knew it. What is to be done? wondered the novice psychoanalyst. How am I going to deal with this wayward, potentially dangerous extension of myself?

It appears to be impossible to cut away or destroy the Eternal Boy in me.

He thought on the problem long into the following night. No sleep came to the worried young psychoanalyst who aspired to work at the preeminent enantiodromic institution of that era.

As if out of the darkness of night, an idea occurred to him.

My brother John, he is the one who can help me, the only one.

John knew me the closest when I was at home growing up. He might have the answer to my problem hidden somewhere in his memory of those early years.

The following morning, the sleepless doctor went out to find the one he had not seen or heard from in six years.

John had been the baby of their family, then grew up to become the black sheep. Every vice he met with, this younger brother had taken to with joy and alacrity.

His present residence was in a century-old slum, in a low-rent, crumbling tenement.

Ted recalled how his brother’s bitter quarrels with their parents over his wild style of behavior had led to his angry flight from the family home. John had refused to attend the funeral of either his father or his mother.

All his four siblings had broken all contact with this prodigal relation.

But a series of discrete inquiries allowed Ted to learn his brother’s current address in the slum warrens of the great city.

I must go there to him and see what I can learn about the development of our two personalities, so seemingly contrary in many ways.

Three knocks on the plywood door of the backstairs flat and brother John appeared. His ruddy face had aged noticeably seen last seen by his older brother. He was now a pale and thin individual. The hair had begun to fall from the top of his head. Changes were starkly visible and undeniable in the black sheep of their family.

“Ted!” said John in nearly a whisper. “I have not seen you in a long time. You look quite all right, though. What is it that brings you to look me up after so many years?”

Ted was silent for several seconds as he formulated what he had to say if he wished to gain his younger brother’s confidence. How am I to convince him to cooperate with what I have in the back of my mind? That was not at all clear in the thoughts of the visitor, despite his long hours of consideration of the difficulties in such a task. He had concluded that he would have to apply the analytic methods he had picked up in his psychological education.

“I need your help, John. Let me come in and explain to you what I mean.”

The suddenly bewildered occupant stepped out of the doorway and allowed his brother to enter. He pointed to a small round table where the two of them seen sat down across from each other.

“Tell me what is bothering you, Ted,” suggested the younger sibling, studying closely the face of the unexpected visitor.

“It is a complicated matter not easy to describe to you,” slowly began the therapist. “I have a certain psychiatric problem that I have decided you alone can help me treat and handle. I find it hard to deal with it by myself.”

John gave his brother an extremely critical look full of doubt. He seemed to be questioning the truth of the words that he was hearing. Ted went into a brief explanation of the theory of enantiodromia and its effects on personality. “I have been led to believe that this invisible mental process is causing severe imbalance in my thinking and feeling, as well as behavior,” concluded the psychoanalyst.

Confusion and uncertainty were visible in the large brown eyes of John Core.

Ted decided he had to be more specific and explicit in order to win the other’s willing cooperation.

“I have to rid myself of the Eternal Boy personality within me,” continued the older brother, attempting to smile. “Because we two are genetically similar and both grew up in the same household with the same family influences, we tend to share certain intangible character elements. But what is dominant in one of us, is commonly subordinate within the mind of the other. And vice-versa, as well. Do you understand what I am getting at? Although the Eternal Boy is only the secondary factor that composes my personality, it appears to have been the dominant archetype in your life, dear brother John.”

The two stared fixedly at each other, directly into the eyes of the other.

Finally, Ted made a definite proposal to John.

“I appeal to your conscience to assist me in making a pioneering experiment. I am trying out the hypnotic techniques that I learned in my medical training in making a psychic transfer from my inner self into that of another. In other words, I wish to attempt to make myself harmonious and self-consistent by transporting what I contain of the Eternal Boy archetype into another person’s mind and personality. That individual would be my closest family relative, you.”

John found it difficult to continue speaking, yet asked the important question weighing on his mind. “Is something like that possible, Ted? How do you propose to carry out that amazing trick?”

“I believe that I possess sufficient hypnotic skill that I can apply to the both of us. That, I believe, can serve us as the transporting bridge that can take the Eternal Boy out of myself and place it inside your personality, where it already appears to be the ruling archetype. Does that make logical sense to you?”

John hesitated for a few seconds before announcing what he had decided.

“Very well, let’s begin,” said the Eternal Boy.

After three hours of effort with his younger brother, Ted was compelled to reach the conclusion that he had successfully transferred his own subordinate archetype that resulted from the process of enantiodromia to John. He had hypnotized both himself and his sibling in order to facilitate such an unprecedented psychological change. What would the outcome of his efforts be? the therapist asked himself over and over.

John appeared to have fallen into a deep trance of mental receptivity and passivity. There were no outward signs of resistance on his part.

The novice psychoanalyst excused himself and left the flat, telling his brother to take some rest and refrain from any strenuous activity for the rest of the day.

Ted now faced the task of being retested by Dr. Carl Sons so as to establish the fact that his personality had now reached an effective balance and was no longer plagued by a secondary archetype of the Eternal Boy. Was his dominant Cosmic Adult now liberated from its direct opposite within the psychic mirrors of his mind and personality? Was his central archetype now a pure and unadulterated one, without a shadow image attached to it?

The testing took several days, with written examinations and interviews a part of the process. A final report was compiled by the staff of the Center and sent to the office of the director.

Ted Core, anxiously waiting the results, received a call summoning him to see Dr. Carl Sons. Would the report confirm his belief that his contrary archetype had been removed by hypnosis and given over to his brother, John?

Once Ted was seated, Sons went quickly to their immediate business.

“Your tests are now completed and written up, and the results are astonishing, a total surprise. They turned out to be something that no one could have foreseen. Let me explain.

“Instead of your losing your opposite archetype to another, the second personality has transferred his own dominant archetype over to you. This was inconceivable. You were the one who practiced the therapeutic hypnotism, yet you are the one who received the new addition, not the other person involved.

“Your personality is now under the control of a dominant Eternal Boy. What had been secondary before has now become primary. That image has conquered you and has become your new psychological identity. The reverse of what you desired and expected has come about. It is hard to explain or rationalize. But there can be no question that you are a receiver rather than a giver in what you attempted to achieve.” Sons paused for breath a moment. “Have you experienced any changes in how you feel? Any new emotions of any kind?”

“No,” gulped the suddenly overwhelmed doctor. “None at all.”

“They will come. It will happen to you as a primitive wildness descents upon you. What was a contrary opposite that you carried as a secondary supplement will burst forth within you as the dominant influence. This will, of course, affect your future career.”

“I will not be allowed to work and study here at the Center?” desperately asked Ted.

Dr. Sons reluctantly shook his head no.

The defeated Ted Core was left uncertain what might have caused his defeat and the victory of his younger brother’s Eternal Boy.

Somehow, his brother’s prevailing archetype had been magnified and strengthened when transferred to himself. The unwanted Eternal Boy had become the reigning archetype for both siblings who had previously been so unlike each other in thought, emotions, and personality.

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