The Cut of our Diamonds

I thought we could celebrate imperfections today, and consider our “flaws” as facets of the gems that we are.  I took this metaphor from an article on psychopathology and Jungian analysis by Sandner and Beebe (1995).  Psychopathology refers to an aggravation of maladaptive patterns or complexes to the degree that it seriously limits our lives through symptoms of mental illness.  However, the existence of complexes is what makes us human.  They are created when the worlds of family and circumstance clash with the world of Self.

But pathology in the Jungian model is not considered as simply an “illness,” or a blip on our life’s radar that has to be squashed for as quick a return to the status quo as possible. Sandner and Beebe (1995) highlight; ‘In the Jungian model, the patient endures the illness in order to become well; the illness contains the ‘germs’ of wholeness” (p. 303).  They continue:

“The nucleus, the dynamic origin of every complex, is connected to the collective unconscious and a part of the Self.  This relationship to the Self introduces a paradox: the production of complexes not only leads to a divisive injuring but also provides a new way of achieving integration. Complexes participate in the Self’s effort to replace an initially unconscious state of unity with a conscious state of wholeness.  Their dual nature explains how splitting, even to the point of psychic injury and neurosis, is necessary for the evolution of consciousness and ultimate personality integration.” (p. 302)

The woundings and response patterns are different for each of us.  Some of us might be sensitive to circumstances that others don’t think twice about.  And we each have our own modes of coping.  But this, too, is a sign of our own unique journeys.

 Hence, the cut of our diamonds.  Sandner and Beebe, describing complexes and our reactions to them, write:

It takes many different forms in different individuals, much as a sharp blow with a hammer on one diamond will cause quite a different fracture line than it would on another.  Variations in internal structure, planes of structural weakness, and basic temperamental disposition make the difference.” (p. 301)

So no comparing ourselves to others, thinking, why does this bother me so much, while so-and-so has smooth sailing? Instead, think of our lives as flawed but unique gems that capture light and shine in their own sparkling and subtle fashion.

Have a good week!


The Living Psyche

Hi community –

 Still trying to get a regular schedule in place for posting the weekly blog.  I am thinking Friday afternoons, but that may shift as it becomes a bigger part of my routine.  So please bear with me, and know it is our intention to keep this blog fresh and consistent.  I encourage all of you to explore the RSS Feed tabs if you are interested in being notified of posts and comments through your email inbox.  Enough logistics.  Let’s shift to the great inspirer (and also disappointer), Psyche.

 Coppin and Nelson (2005) summarize psyche as “the great repository of ideas, images, emotions, urges, and desires that appear in the world, whether its source is personal or collective, conscious or unconscious” (p. 5).  Psyche includes the archetypes, and their expression through symbol and myth, that exist within the collective unconscious.  It is the “capital S” knowing Self of our unconscious that seeks to guide our “lower case” ego selves in our process of individuation.  Dreams are the stuff of psyche reaching out to us.  One of its most amazing qualities is that psyche is not bound by the time-space continuum that we, as humans, must serve.  Instead, it has the uncanny and precocious ability to pre-date us, exist without us, and, at the same time, be co-constructed in partnership with us.  Synchronicity is the expression of this impossible simultaneity. 

 We often forget that psyche is not only meant to help us in our personal, ego-oriented individuation.  Instead, psyche exists as a potentially healing, guiding force for the collective.  Therefore, we must also be in service to psyche.  If we nurture psyche, it may not only help us along through our personal relationship of self to Self, but also help the collective energy of our community.  It is a true partnership and relationship.  The more open we become, the more open it becomes.

 Relationship to psyche is at the root of our psychological work from a Jungian perspective.  I particularly love a description of this relationship provided by Coppin and Nelson (2005).   They write:

Psychological life is what Socrates called piety and what we have described as reverence toward all living things, including the living psyche in its many forms.  Psychological life is devoted to continual inquiry, relishing the pursuit of wisdom more than the possession of it.  It is the willingness to learn from everyone and everything by reflecting on others’ ideas without defensiveness.  It is the ability to be deeply moved by what one sees, hears, and feels, accepting the full impact of living in complex emotional bodies.  It is tolerating periods of personal doubt and confusion created by meaningful engagement with other perspectives.  It is looking past the surface of things to their interior depths and their transcendent source.  Finally, it is holding ideas, images, and beliefs lightly so that one can witness and learn from their inherent playfulness.  In other words, once one declares that psyche is real, one grows increasingly aware of the actual complexity and fluidity of lived experience. (p. 148)

 Let’s not forget the playfulness over the coming week.  Relationship is not just hard work.  It should also be fun, playful, and full of joy. 

Hallie Durchslag, LISW



Coppin, J., Nelson, E. (2005). The art of inquiry: A depth psychological perspective. Putnam, CT: Spring Publications, Inc.