In working with trauma it became apparent to me early in my work that the traumatic experience itself opens the person's psyche up to the unconscious. The pain is too unbearable for survival without some kind of defense, and Don Kalshed (Inner World of Trauma) talks about what he calls the Self Care System which is a kind of inner guardian of the soul. This guardian is put in place to protect the individual victim from the impact of the trauma, and it accomplishes this through the mechanism of dissociation. My experience in milder forms of traumas is that the initial impact of the trauma-particulary in children - is to land the individual in a kind of safe haven or fantasy land where they are protected from the real world. They may exercise special powers which are based upon universal myths or stories which we Jungians call archetypes. Most often there is a central myth or archetype which sustains the individual in a kind of limbo or mythopoetic kind of existence, in which they are neither mad nor psychotic; but neither are they grounded in the real world. This condition may exist for years depending upon the actual conditions of the individual both internally and especially externally. If, for example, the person is re-traumatized repeatedly or if the trauma is too great, they may be unable to remain in the safe haven where unconscious contents are helpful. Instead the Self Care System is breached and all the fury of hell is unleashed. This is the fate of the person suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, (PTSD). You can read about this process in my book, PTSD and the Archetype Of Job, which documents the journey of a courageous woman back to the sacred and thus to her own healing.
Donna Cozort is a clinical psychologist, artist and Jungian analyst in Dallas Texas, whose search for meaning in the healing arts took her to the C. G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, where she lived and studied for six years. Returning to the states in 1998, one of her greatest challenges was working with the traumatized combat nurse whose story her book, PTSD and the Archetype of Job, documents. A Diplomate of the C. G. Jung Institute of Zurich, Dr. Cozort is a training analyst for the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analyst and the Texas Seminar, where she served as Director of Training for four years. She is the professional sponsor of the Jung Society of North Texas and a member of the Dallas Institute, A.G.A.P., and I.A.A.P.