May 26, 2008

Psychoanalysis – analysis of the Psyche.

Psychosynthesis – synthesis of the Psyche.

One of the more common search strings that people enter and arrive here is “Loyal Soldier.” I learned of the LS from Bill Plotkin and Dianne Timberlake when I participated in the Sweet Darkness Intensive with the Animas Valley Institute. Of all the courses, workshops, intensives, classes etc. that one continues to reverberate in my psyche. During that time I was introduced to the work of Angeles Arrien and David Richo among others. Although I had heard of Jean Houston, it was here that I learned to practice becoming my larger story. Arriving at the intensive, I already had a deep relationship with the soul poets – Rilke, Rumi, Oliver, Whyte, Wagoner. Being with a community of seekers allowed me to share those emerging parts of myself that I had yet to claim. I came away with the seeds of a four direction practice that I continue to use. AND I came away with a fascination for psychosynthesis – I just didn’t know what it was yet.

A few weeks ago I came across the work of Richard Schwartz in Internal Family Systems. There was an immediate zing! of recognition. Reading his work I felt myself coming home to myself. He speaks my language. As I began to gather more information – I read that his roots are entwined in Jung and Psychosynthesis! No wonder I felt so at home.

Salmon boy once teased me and said “We are all multiple personalities” when I was trying to work something through with various subpersonalities. In IFS – Schwartz refers to these as parts. There is a part of me that wants to do X and a part of me that is afraid of X and the crux of the work is to disidentify with the parts to make room for the Self. The Self is that wise part of us that acts in our best interests – not in the interest of our ego – even if it is a healthy, differentiated, individuated ego!

This is the same Self that speaks in dreamwork – the part of us that always comes in service to our mending.

In IFS, subpersonalities can be managers, firefighters, or exiles. Just the words chosen evoke archetypal imagery for me. There are parts of me that manage anxiety, rush in during emergencies, and parts of myself that are cutoff and languishing in the shadows – exiles whose energies are not available to me – exiles that keep my manager parts and firefighting parts really busy!

One of the things that appeals to me about the psychosynthesis model is the incorporation of a gratitude practice. Instead of exterminating, killing off, disowning, or maiming the parts of ourselves that cause us interpersonal difficulties or intrapsychic pain, we befriend them. We ask what they need from us. We thank them for protecting us – that is what a Loyal Soldier does – protects us.

The Loyal Soldier is the internal part of ourselves that developed at a young age to protect us from the vicissitudes of an uncertain world where our literal lives depended on us figuring out how to conform. It is such an ancient part of our being and so ingrained and entrenched, that it often becomes invisible to us – we think it is “just who we are.” And it is! It is a part of who we are – and there are other parts. AND this part of us needs our gratitude AND this part of us needs our adult Self to help it grow up and learn to be of service to us in a different way – a way more appropriate to our lives as nurturing parents or generative adults or wild indigenous explorers.

There are no shortcuts! There is no Bluebeard in the psyche that can be exterminated and then we are free! Gratitude practice takes patience and persistence and devotion and practice, practice, practice. Did I mention this is a practice?

Psychosynthesis is one of many paths to Self and it is path that resonates and reverberates with my worldview – we speak the same language and use the same shortcuts for ideas and ways of being.

What path calls you to devote yourself to a daily practice?
PS Although I first heard of the Loyal Soldier subpersonality from Dianne and Bill – I believe that Molly Young Brown was the first to use the story of the actual soldier to create the energy of the subpersonality. Does anyone have different knowledge?



  1. Psychosynthesis greatly attracted me some years ago, and when I encountered SoulCollage(R), the two ideas dovetailed for me into a means of discovering, honouring and integrating the sub-personalities within me. I greatly valued that concept of seeing each subpersonality as having a self-protective reason for being, and not viewing any as “negative”, but just in need of understanding. The loyal soldier is a lovely term, which I hadn’t really noticed before.

  2. Interesting. I just wrote something briefly mentioning psychosynthesis as one of the modes for healing that I had investigated in the past. (That post is scheduled to publish soon, I think.) I’ve a massive 3-ring notebook somewhere with seemingly a thousand pages in it printed from websites.

    I might disagree with psychoanalysis as “only” (my word, not yours) analysis of the psyche. The old form, yes (was, really, quite an awful method for many). But Modern Psychoanalysis is dramatically different and is deeply, intensely interested in “synthesis”, fully and wholeheartedly.
    Thanks for this piece,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: