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(47) Hellblau

A concept that has done more harm than good is the expression, coined by CG Jung, “the wounded healer”. The idea derived from a brief crisis Jung had around the time he split from Freud during which he “fell into himself”; he saw a vision of Europe bathed in blood as far as the eye could see—the vision presaged WWI. This crisis period was his “wound”. The notion then grew up that in order to heal people you have to be “wounded” yourself—the idea is related to Nietzsche’s observation that only people who have suffered can be profound.

As the 20th century wore on, the concept of the “wounded healer” was elaborated in greater depth—the fact that shamans are said to have their bodies torn apart and then reconstituted became another element in the tale. It became fashionable to be “shamanic”, analysts and psychologists pitched themselves as “Western shamans”—drugs were added to the mix, especially DMT and LSD, as ways to “split apart” the shamanic body.

What started as one man’s brief personal crisis blossomed into the notion that in order to make people better—psychologically, anyway—you have to be ill yourself. Therefore, the madder the better—the mad man will save you. This went along with a general move to the left that celebrated weakness in all its forms—and was accentuated by fashionable artists among the intelligentsia like Artaud, a man who spent time in an asylum (and, of course, Nietzsche himself was mad). Often, as at the chic Esalen retreat, the “wounded healer” was mixed with esoteric ideas—plus a few drugs on top. Generally, however, it is held that people who take esoteric routes should be sound in mind and body—people who “went mad” were specifically excluded (very elitist). The reason is that contact with the “other realm” can disturb, can open a person, especially in a weakened state, to malevolent entities—and yet such wounded healers are taken as our spiritual leaders.


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