The trauma theory of schizophrena

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Transcendence therapy for Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a severe and chronic mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. It is characterized by distortions in perception, cognition, emotion, and behaviour, often accompanied by hallucinations, delusions, and negative symptoms. One of the possible causes of schizophrenia is trauma, especially childhood trauma, which can disrupt the development of the brain and increase the risk of psychosis.

The trauma theory of schizophrenia proposes that traumatic experiences can trigger biological, psychological, and social factors that contribute to the onset and maintenance of schizophrenia. In this thesis, I will review the evidence for the trauma theory of schizophrenia and explore how it can inform a therapeutic model for the healing of schizophrenia.

I will also integrate Jungian psychotherapy into this model, as well as self-transcendence theory, to suggest a method whereby individuals’ with schizophrenia could potentially make a full recovery. This therapeutic proposal builds on the theories proposed within my theses of the human condition; The wholeness theory of self-esteem, the human multiplicity theory, and the personal transcendence theory.

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Note: This therapy represents the thinking of one person who has studied psychology extensively and has brought together several established psychological and spiritual theories, together with their own to create a cohesive theory explaining human behaviour and spirituality, this should not be seen as anything official and has not been peer-reviewed or published in any established journals.


In this thesis, I review the trauma theory of schizophrenia as well as Jungian psychotherapy and self-transcendence theory. I then propose that the symptoms of schizophrenia may be directly, or indirectly, caused by traumatic personality dissociations. That these dissociations have been passed into the unconscious shadow, from which they influence the schizo typical mind to cause psychoses and other symptoms often reported with schizophrenia.

I also suggest that there are also dissociations and influences which are, in effect, caused by past-life karma. Furthermore, I suggest that much of the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia are the result of the influence of Jungian archetypes. I propose that trauma caused schizophrenia is a combination of suppressed aspects of self (dissociations) and mystical influences of the archetypes.

I also propose that these symptoms can be addressed by carrying out a reintegration of the individuals’ personality with those unconscious-based dissociations and those archetypal aspects using a combination of traditional Jungian shadow work and various self-transcendent techniques and ways of thinking. In addition to making these proposals, I include practical advice as to how self-transcendence therapy for schizophrenia can be implemented by the therapist, and suggest that this is enabled by fostering a combination of intrapersonal and transpersonal viewpoints within the individual.

Definition and diagnosis of schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may experience delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech or behaviour, and negative symptoms such as reduced emotion, motivation, or speech. These symptoms can interfere with their ability to function in daily life, work, study, or socialize[1].

To diagnose schizophrenia, a mental health professional will use a diagnostic checklist based on the criteria from the International Classification of Diseases-10 (ICD-10) or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 (DSM-5). According to the ICD-10, schizophrenia is diagnosed if the person has one or more of the following symptoms for at least one month:

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  • Hallucinatory voices giving a running commentary on the person’s behaviour, or discussing the person among themselves, or other types of hallucinatory voices coming from some part of the body.
  • Thought echo, thought insertion or withdrawal, and thought broadcasting.
  • delusions of control, influence, or passivity, clearly referred to body or limb movements or specific thoughts, actions, or sensations.
  • Persistent delusions of other kinds that are culturally inappropriate and completely impossible, such as religious or political identity, or superhuman powers and abilities.

Or if the person has any two of the following symptoms for at least one month:

  • Persistent hallucinations in any form, when accompanied by fleeting or half-formed delusions without clear affective content, or by persistent over-valued ideas, or when occurring every day for weeks or months on end.
  • Breaks or interpolations in the train of thought, resulting in incoherence or irrelevant speech.
  • Catatonic behaviour such as marked stupor, excitement, posturing, negativism, rigidity, or waxy flexibility.
  • Negative symptoms such as marked apathy, paucity of speech, blunting or incongruity of emotional responses.

According to the DSM-5, schizophrenia is diagnosed if the person has two or more of the following symptoms for a significant portion of time during a one-month period [2]:

  • delusions
  • hallucinations
  • Disorganized speech
  • Grossly disorganized or catatonic behaviour
  • Negative symptoms

And at least one of these symptoms must be delusions, hallucinations, or disorganized speech. The person must also have a decline in their social or occupational functioning since the onset of the disorder. The symptoms must not be due to substance use, medication, another medical condition, or another mental disorder[3].

trauma theory of schizophrenia: main concepts and evidence

The trauma theory of schizophrenia is a model that proposes that exposure to traumatic events, especially in childhood, can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia or psychotic symptoms later in life [4]. According to this theory, trauma can cause changes in the brain and body that affect the levels and functions of neurotransmitters, hormones, and immune system.

These changes can impair cognitive processes such as memory, attention, and executive function, and trigger or worsen positive symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions [5]. The theory also suggests that the type and severity of trauma may influence the specific psychotic symptoms that manifest, and that some symptoms may reflect the content of the traumatic experiences. For example, some people with schizophrenia may hear voices related to abuse or neglect they endured as children [6].

The trauma theory of schizophrenia is supported by various studies that have found associations between childhood trauma and schizophrenia, as well as gene-environment interactions and brain structural and functional alterations in people with schizophrenia who have a history of trauma [7]. However, the theory does not imply that trauma is the sole or direct cause of schizophrenia, as other factors such as genetics, prenatal stress, and cannabis use may also play a role [8].

The theory also acknowledges that not all people who experience trauma develop schizophrenia, and that not all people with schizophrenia have a history of trauma. Therefore, the trauma theory of schizophrenia is a complex and multifactorial model that aims to explain how trauma can contribute to the vulnerability and expression of schizophrenia in some individuals.

The evidence to back up the trauma theory of schizophrenia

The trauma theory of schizophrenia is based on the evidence that people with schizophrenia report higher rates of childhood trauma than the general population, and that trauma affects the brain structure and function in ways that may contribute to psychosis. Some examples of the evidence are:

  • A meta-analysis of 36 studies found that childhood trauma was associated with a 2.8-fold increased risk of psychosis, and that the risk increased with the severity and frequency of trauma (Varese et al., 2012).
  • A study of 60 patients with schizophrenia and 26 healthy controls found that childhood trauma was associated with reduced volume of the hippocampus, a brain region involved in memory and emotion regulation, and that this reduction mediated the relationship between trauma and psychotic symptoms (Popovic et al., 2019).
  • A study of 22 patients with schizophrenia and 22 healthy controls found that childhood trauma was associated with altered functional connectivity of the parietal cortex, a brain region involved in working memory and attention, during a cognitive task (Schmitt et al., 2016).

These studies suggest that trauma may impair the development and function of brain regions that are implicated in schizophrenia, and that these impairments may increase the vulnerability to psychosis. However, it is important to note that trauma is not a sufficient or necessary cause of schizophrenia, as many people who experience trauma do not develop psychosis, and many people who develop psychosis do not report trauma. trauma is likely one of many factors that interact with genetic and environmental influences to affect the risk of schizophrenia.

Recognizing childhood trauma

Childhood trauma is a term that refers to any adverse or potentially harmful experiences that occur during the developmental period of a person’s life (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Childhood trauma can take many forms, such as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, neglect, exposure to violence, or loss of a loved one. These experiences can have lasting effects on the psychological and physical wellbeing of the survivors, such as increased risk of mental disorders, chronic health problems, and impaired social functioning (Briere & Scott, 2015).

One of the possible consequences of childhood trauma is dissociation, which is a disruption or discontinuity in normally integrated psychological functions, such as memory, consciousness, perception, sense of self and agency, or sensorimotor abilities (Şar, 2020). dissociation can be seen as a coping strategy that allows people to distance themselves from a trauma that may otherwise be unbearable. dissociation can affect any psychological faculty, but it often involves memory impairments, such as amnesia or fragmentation of traumatic memories.

Dissociated memories in childhood trauma are memories that are not consciously accessible or retrievable, even though they remain stored in the brain and influence the person’s behaviour and emotions (, n.d.). Some gaps in memory can result from deeply distressing experiences, especially in childhood, that were too extreme to process.

Children are especially likely to use dissociation to manage the inescapable pain of family problems that lead to complex, developmental, and relational trauma. Such problems can include ongoing abuse, neglect or disorganized, avoidant, or insecure attachment (Tull, 2023).

Neglect is a form of trauma that involves the failure to provide adequate care, attention, or emotional support to a child. Neglect can have severe and long-lasting effects on the child’s development, such as impaired brain growth, cognitive deficits, emotional dysregulation, and attachment difficulties (Briere & Scott, 2015). Neglect can also contribute to dissociation by creating a sense of detachment from oneself and others, as well as a lack of coherent identity and agency.

There is also a form of trauma, which is seen by the child as self-inflicted, and can be hidden behind a wall of shame and denial. This can happen when the child feels it was their decision to create the trauma event. For example, where in the child’s eyes, it was their own actions which caused their trauma to occur. Such events can also be hidden behind dissociative memories.

Dissociated memories can make it difficult for survivors of childhood trauma to recognize or acknowledge their traumatic experiences. They may have only partial or vague recollections of what happened to them, or they may have no conscious memory at all. They may also experience flashbacks or intrusive thoughts that are triggered by reminders of the trauma. These symptoms can cause confusion, distress, and impairment in daily functioning.

Some examples of dissociated memories in childhood trauma are:

  • A woman who was sexually abused by her father as a child but has no conscious memory of the abuse. She only remembers feeling afraid of him and avoiding his presence.
  • A man who was physically abused by his mother as a child but has repressed his memories of the abuse. He only remembers feeling angry and rebellious towards her.
  • A woman who was emotionally neglected by her parents as a child but has minimized the impact of the neglect. She only remembers feeling lonely and isolated.
  • A man who witnessed his father being killed in a car accident as a child but has dissociated his memories of the event. He only remembers feeling numb and detached.
The problem of false memories

One of the most controversial topics in psychology is the phenomenon of recovered memories of childhood trauma, especially sexual abuse. Some people claim that they have no recollection of being abused as children until they undergo some form of therapy or encounter a trigger that unlocks their repressed memories. Others argue that these memories are false and fabricated, either by the influence of the therapist or by the person’s own imagination.

One theory that attempts to explain how childhood trauma can sometimes be hidden behind false memories is the betrayal trauma theory (Freyd, 1996). According to this theory, children who are abused by someone they depend on or trust, such as a parent or a caregiver, may dissociate from the traumatic event and forget it to preserve their attachment to the abuser. This is a survival strategy that allows the child to cope with the conflicting emotions of love and fear, and to avoid the consequences of confronting or exposing the abuser.

However, this theory also suggests that these dissociated memories are not permanently erased, but rather stored in an inaccessible part of the mind. They may resurface later in life when the person encounters a cue that reminds them of the abuse, or when they feel safe enough to explore their past.

These recovered memories may be accurate or distorted, depending on various factors such as the age of the child at the time of the abuse, the frequency and severity of the abuse, the presence or absence of corroborating evidence, and the influence of external sources such as therapists, media, or other survivors.

The validity and reliability of recovered memories of childhood trauma are still debated among researchers and clinicians. Some studies have found evidence that supports the existence of genuine recovered memories, such as cases where the abuse was documented or corroborated by independent sources (e.g., Goodman et al., 2003; Williams, 1994).

Other studies have shown that false memories of childhood events can be easily created or implanted by suggestive techniques or misinformation (e.g., Loftus & Pickwell, 1995; Porter et al., 1999). The challenge is to distinguish between true and false memories, and to avoid causing harm to either the survivors or the accused.

It can be seen, therefore, that establishing the link between trauma and schizophrenia is not always going to be straightforward. Indeed, the case which inspired this thesis, did not discover their “root” trauma, which happened at the age of six months, until a period of 14 years had elapsed from the start of therapy.

This trauma was hidden behind hidden dissociated memories, resulting in an inability to remember the event at all. Then two sets of false memories, through which the “trauma child” hid from itself its shame at having rejected its mother. This suggests that recovered memories, can be false, but also that they can hide other true memories which the child is trying to protect itself from or is in denial of.

Critiques and limitations of trauma theory of schizophrenia

trauma theory is not without its critiques and limitations. Some of the challenges that trauma theory faces are:

  • The difficulty of establishing causality between trauma and schizophrenia, given the multifactorial nature of the disorder and the presence of other genetic and environmental factors that may interact with trauma (Kansteiner, 2004).
    The lack of consensus on the definition and measurement of trauma, as well as the potential for recall bias, underreporting, or over-reporting of traumatic experiences by individuals with schizophrenia or other mental disorders (Kansteiner, 2004; Leys, 2000).
  • The possibility of reverse causation, whereby pre-existing psychotic symptoms or vulnerability may increase the likelihood of experiencing trauma or perceiving events as traumatic (Leys, 2000).
  • The ethical and epistemological problems of applying postmodern trauma theory to schizophrenia, which may entail a denial of objective reality, a fetishization of trauma as a sacred object, a confusion of victim and perpetrator roles, and a disregard for empirical evidence and therapeutic practice (Rothe, 2016).
  • The oversimplification of the relationship between trauma and schizophrenia, which may neglect the diversity and complexity of individual experiences, coping strategies, resilience factors, and cultural contexts that may mediate or moderate the impact of trauma on psychosis (Weilnböck, 2008).

Therefore, while trauma theory may offer some insights into the understanding and treatment of schizophrenia, it also requires further refinement and validation, as well as a critical examination of its assumptions and implications.

Comparing the trauma theory with the other theories of Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a complex and heterogeneous disorder that affects about 1% of the world population. It is characterized by a range of symptoms, such as hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, negative symptoms, and cognitive impairments. The causes of schizophrenia are not fully understood, but various theories have been proposed to explain its aetiology and pathophysiology. In this paragraph, we will compare and contrast the main theories of schizophrenia with the trauma theory of schizophrenia.

The main theories of schizophrenia can be broadly classified into biological, psychological, and sociocultural perspectives. The biological perspective focuses on the genetic, neurochemical, neuroanatomical, and immunological factors that may contribute to the development and expression of schizophrenia. For example, some studies have identified specific genes or gene variants that are associated with increased risk of schizophrenia, such as DISC1, NRG1, COMT, and MTHFR.

Other studies have suggested that abnormalities in neurotransmitter systems, especially dopamine and glutamate, may underlie the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. Furthermore, some brain imaging studies have revealed structural and functional alterations in brain regions involved in cognition, emotion, and perception, such as the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, amygdala, and thalamus.

Additionally, some researchers have proposed that schizophrenia may be influenced by prenatal or perinatal infections, inflammation, or stress that affect brain development.

This psychological perspective emphasizes the role of cognitive processes, personality traits, and emotional factors in schizophrenia. For example, some cognitive theories suggest that schizophrenia is related to impairments in attention, memory, reasoning, and metacognition.

These impairments may lead to difficulties in interpreting reality, filtering out irrelevant information, and coping with stress. Other psychological theories propose that schizophrenia is linked to maladaptive personality traits or defence mechanisms, such as schizotypy, paranoia, or dissociation.

These traits or mechanisms may reflect an attempt to cope with adverse experiences or emotions. Moreover, some emotional theories argue that schizophrenia is associated with dysregulation of affective states, such as depression, anxiety, or anhedonia. These states may result from negative self-evaluation, social isolation, or lack of motivation.

The sociocultural perspective highlights the impact of environmental factors, such as family dynamics, social support, cultural norms, and stigma on schizophrenia. For example, some family theories suggest that schizophrenia is influenced by dysfunctional communication patterns or high expressed emotion (EE) in the family environment.

These patterns or EE may create stress or conflict for the individual with schizophrenia and affect their symptom severity or relapse rate. Other social theories propose that schizophrenia is related to social disadvantage, discrimination, or marginalization. These factors may limit the opportunities or resources for the individual with schizophrenia and affect their quality of life or recovery.

Furthermore, some cultural theories argue that schizophrenia is shaped by cultural beliefs, values, or expectations. These beliefs, values, or expectations, may influence how the individual with schizophrenia perceives their symptoms or seeks help.

The trauma theory of schizophrenia is a relatively recent perspective that proposes that exposure to traumatic events or situations is a key causal factor in the onset or exacerbation of schizophrenia. According to this theory, trauma can be physical (e.g., abuse), sexual (e.g., rape), psychological (e.g., bullying), or environmental (e.g., war).

trauma can occur in childhood or adulthood and can have acute or chronic effects. The trauma theory of schizophrenia suggests that trauma can induce biological changes in the brain (e.g., alterations in neurotransmitters or hormones), psychological changes in the mind (e.g., distortions in cognition or emotion), and social changes in the environment (e.g., disruptions in relationships or roles) that increase the vulnerability or trigger the symptoms of schizophrenia.

The trauma theory of schizophrenia shares some similarities with other theories of schizophrenia but also has some differences. For example:

  • The trauma theory of schizophrenia is compatible with the biological perspective in that it acknowledges the role of genetic factors and brain abnormalities in schizophrenia. However, the trauma theory of schizophrenia also emphasizes the role of environmental factors and epigenetic mechanisms in modulating gene expression and brain function.
  • The trauma theory of schizophrenia is consistent with the psychological perspective in that it recognizes the role of cognitive processes and emotional factors in schizophrenia. However, the trauma theory of schizophrenia also stresses the role of experiential factors and coping strategies in shaping cognition and emotion.
  • The trauma theory of schizophrenia is congruent with the sociocultural perspective in that it considers the role of family dynamics and social support in schizophrenia. However, the trauma theory of schizophrenia also highlights the role of interpersonal factors and attachment styles in influencing family dynamics and social support.

In conclusion, the trauma theory of schizophrenia is a comprehensive and integrative perspective that incorporates elements from various other theories of schizophrenia but also adds new insights into its aetiology and pathophysiology. The trauma theory of schizophrenia has important implications for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of schizophrenia, as well as for the understanding and acceptance of people with schizophrenia.

Structural dissociation theory

The Structural dissociation theory is an influential psychological theory that suggests trauma may cause personality dissociations. This was developed by Onno van der Hart, Ellert Nijenhuis and Kathy Steele. According to this theory, trauma can disrupt the integration of the personality into a coherent whole, resulting in different parts that have different levels of emotional and cognitive functioning (van der Hart et al., 2006).

These parts can be either apparently normal parts (ANPs) that are focused on daily life and avoid traumatic memories, or emotional parts (EPs) that are fixated on the trauma and express overwhelming emotions. The theory proposes that the degree of dissociation depends on the severity and timing of the trauma, as well as the availability of attachment figures and coping resources.

It proposes that the human personality can be divided into different parts or states, each with its own sense of self, emotions, memories, and behaviours. According to this theory, trauma can cause these parts to become disconnected or dissociated from each other, resulting in a lack of integration and coherence in the personality.

Some symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hearing voices, having delusions, or experiencing identity confusion, could be explained by structural dissociation theory. For example, hearing voices could be interpreted as the communication of dissociated parts that are not fully recognized as belonging to the self. delusions could be seen as the attempts of these parts to make sense of their reality and cope with their distress. identity confusion could be caused by the switching between different parts that have different roles, beliefs, and preferences.

Structural dissociation theory is not widely accepted by mainstream psychiatry, and there is limited empirical evidence to support it. However, some clinicians and researchers have found it useful to understand and treat some complex cases of trauma-related disorders, such as dissociative identity disorder or complex post-traumatic stress disorder. It is possible that structural dissociation theory could also offer some insights into the aetiology and treatment of schizophrenia, especially for those patients who have a history of trauma or abuse.

However, within the context of this thesis, we propose that in the case of schizophrenia, this is precisely what is happening. That trauma is creating personality dissociations, which show up as significant aspects of the negative symptomology of schizophrenia. Indeed, some researchers have suggested that structural dissociation theory could be related to certain symptoms of schizophrenia, such as hallucinations, delusions, and identity confusion (Poletti & Raballo, 2023; Hart et al., 2010).

Internal family systems

Internal family systems therapy (IFS) is a model of psychotherapy that views the mind as composed of multiple parts or sub-personalities, each with its own beliefs, feelings, and characteristics (Sweezy & Ziskind, 2013). IFS assumes that there is a core Self that leads the internal system and that can access qualities such as compassion, curiosity, and clarity (IFS Institute, n.d.).

IFS helps clients to identify and understand their parts, especially those that are wounded (exiles), protective (managers or firefighters), or extreme (Schwartz, 2021). IFS was developed by Richard C. Schwartz in the 1980s, based on his observation that clients often had conflicting parts within themselves that interfered with their healing process.

IFS proposes that there are three main types of parts: managers, exiles, and firefighters. Managers are parts that try to control and protect the system from harm, often by adopting rigid or perfectionist behaviours. Exiles are parts that carry the pain and trauma from the past, and are usually suppressed or rejected by the managers. Firefighters are parts that act impulsively or destructively to distract or soothe the system from the feelings of the exiles.

IFS also assumes that there is a core Self that is the essence of who we are, and that has the qualities of compassion, curiosity, clarity, courage, and creativity. The Self is not a part, but rather the natural leader and healer of the system. The goal of IFS therapy is to help clients access their Self and develop a harmonious relationship with their parts, by understanding their positive intentions, unburdening their wounds, and restoring their natural roles.

IFS therapy uses a six-step process to achieve this goal: 1) accessing the Self; 2) getting to know a part; 3) unblending from a part; 4) discovering the part’s role and history; 5) witnessing the part’s pain and unburdening its beliefs; and 6) integrating the part into the system. IFS therapy is based on systems thinking, which recognizes that each part affects and is affected by the whole system, and that changing one part can lead to changes in other parts.

IFS therapy also draws on attachment theory, which suggests that our early relationships shape our internal working models of self and others, and influence how we relate to our parts. IFS therapy has been shown to be effective for various issues, such as depression, anxiety, trauma, eating disorders, addiction, and relationship problems.

Comparing IFS and SDT

IFS and SDT have some similarities and differences in how they conceptualize the multiplicity of the mind. Both models acknowledge that trauma can cause the development of distinct parts or alters that have different roles and functions in the personality system. Both models also emphasize the importance of working with the parts or alters in a respectful and collaborative way, fostering their communication and cooperation, and facilitating their healing and integration (Fisher, 2017).

However, there are also some differences between the models. For example, IFS suggests that everyone has parts, regardless of their trauma history, while SDT suggests that parts or alters are a result of trauma-induced structural dissociation.

IFS also proposes that there is an innate Self that can lead the internal system, while SDT does not assume the existence of such a Self. Furthermore, IFS views parts as sub-personalities rather than full personalities, while SDT views alters as having their own sense of identity and agency (Fisher, 2017).

Both theories provide clues as to the formation and existence of an individual’s dissociated personality aspects and whilst this thesis does not endorse either theory, it does lean on these concepts to suggest that the mind of an individual with schizophrenia has, in-effect, multiple personalities, created as a result of trauma and which interact with the individual with schizophrenia to create the majority of their symptoms. I will now look at the theories of transcendence and Jungian theory to propose a method of understanding, working with and ultimately healing those symptoms.

Transcendence theory

Transcendence theory is a branch of philosophy that explores the concept of transcendence, which means going beyond the limits of ordinary experience or knowledge. Transcendence can be understood in different ways, depending on the historical and cultural context, as well as the philosophical perspective. Some of the main questions that transcendence theory addresses are:

  • What does it mean to transcend the physical world, the human mind, or the rational understanding?
  • How can we know or experience something that transcends our ordinary perception or cognition?
  • What are the implications of transcendence for ethics, religion, art, science, and other domains of human activity?

One of the earliest uses of the term transcendence in philosophy was by Gottfried Leibniz, who distinguished between transcendental and transcendent properties of beings.

Transcendental properties are those that are common to all beings, such as existence, unity, and truth. Transcendent properties are those that go beyond the categories of beings, such as infinity, necessity, and perfection. Leibniz argued that only God possesses transcendent properties, and that human knowledge of God is limited by our finite and contingent nature.

In modern philosophy, Immanuel Kant introduced a new meaning of transcendence, which he related to his theory of knowledge. Kant defined transcendental as the condition of possibility of knowledge itself, and distinguished it from transcendent, which means that which goes beyond any possible knowledge.

For Kant, transcendental knowledge is not about objects, but about the way we can know objects a priori, before we experience them. Kant identified several transcendental principles that govern our understanding of space, time, causality, and other categories. He also argued that there are some ideas that we cannot know empirically, but only think of as regulative ideals, such as God, freedom, and immortality. These ideas are transcendent in the sense that they exceed the limits of our reason.

Another influential approach to transcendence in philosophy is phenomenology, which is a method of studying human experience from a first-person perspective. phenomenology was developed by Edmund Husserl, who aimed to reveal the essential structures and meanings of phenomena, without relying on any presuppositions or theories.

Husserl proposed the concept of transcendental phenomenology, which is a way of accessing the pure consciousness that constitutes all phenomena. Husserl claimed that transcendental consciousness is not a thing or a substance, but a dynamic and intentional act of relating to objects. Husserl also introduced the notion of epoché, which is a suspension of judgment or belief about the reality or existence of phenomena. By performing epoché, Husserl argued that we can transcend the natural attitude and reach a more authentic and rigorous understanding of ourselves and the world.

Transcendence theory is not a unified or coherent field, but rather a collection of diverse and sometimes conflicting perspectives. However, some common themes and challenges can be identified across different approaches to transcendence. Some of these are:

  • The tension between immanence and transcendence: how to balance the recognition of both the immanent and the transcendent aspects of reality, without reducing one to the other or ignoring their interrelation.
  • The problem of verification: how to justify or validate claims about transcendence, given the limitations and uncertainties of human knowledge and experience.
  • The role of language: how to express or communicate something that transcends ordinary language or logic.
  • The ethical and existential implications: how to live in accordance with transcendence, or how to cope with the absence or loss of transcendence.

Transcendence theory is an ongoing and open-ended inquiry that invites further exploration and dialogue from various disciplines and perspectives.

self-transcendence theory

self-transcendence theory is a psychological framework that describes how people expand their sense of self and connect with something greater than themselves. It is based on the idea that human beings have a natural tendency to transcend their physical and mental limitations and seek meaning and purpose in life. self-transcendence theory has been influenced by various disciplines, such as humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, spirituality, and existentialism. Some of the main contributors to self-transcendence theory are Viktor Frankl, Abraham Maslow, Pamela G. Reed, C. Robert Cloninger, Lars Tornstam, Ken Wilbur, Alfred Adler, Paul Wong, and Scott Barry Kaufman.

According to self-transcendence theory, there are different dimensions and levels of self-transcendence that people can experience. These include:

self-transcendence theory has several implications for human development, wellbeing, and health. According to this theory, self-transcendence can enhance one’s sense of meaning, fulfilment, happiness, and resilience in the face of adversity. It can also promote positive behaviours such as creativity, spirituality, altruism, and social responsibility. Furthermore, self-transcendence can have beneficial effects on physical and mental health, such as reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and pain, and improving immune function, coping skills, and quality of life.

The self-transcendence theory is supported by empirical evidence from various fields of research. For example, studies have strongly suggested that self-transcendence is positively correlated with psychological wellbeing, spiritual wellbeing, life satisfaction, happiness, and post-traumatic growth. Additionally, studies have found that self-transcendence can moderate the effects of stress, chronic illness, ageing, and death anxiety on psychological outcomes.

self-transcendence theory is not without limitations and criticisms. Some of the challenges that this theory faces are:

  • Defining and measuring self-transcendence in a valid and reliable way.
  • Distinguishing self-transcendence from other related concepts such as Self-actualization, spirituality, religiosity, mysticism, and flow.
  • Explaining the mechanisms and processes that underlie self-transcendence and its effects on human functioning.
  • Addressing the ethical and moral issues that may arise from self-transcendence, such as the potential for self-deception, fanaticism, or escapism.

Despite these challenges, self-transcendence theory offers a valuable perspective on human nature and potential. It suggests that human beings are not merely driven by biological needs or psychological motives, but also by a desire to transcend themselves and connect with something greater than themselves. By doing so, they can enrich their lives with meaning, purpose, joy, and peace.

Intrapersonal transcendence

Intrapersonal transcendence is one of the dimensions of self-transcendence, a concept that refers to various ways of transcending one’s self-boundaries. self-transcendence is a process that promotes or supports wellbeing, especially in situations of increased vulnerability. Intrapersonal transcendence involves expanding one’s self-awareness and self-understanding through introspective activities and perspectives that enhance one’s beliefs, values, and dreams. Intrapersonal transcendence can help people cope with stress, find meaning and purpose in life, and achieve personal growth and fulfilment. Some examples of intrapersonal transcendence are meditation, journaling, art, music, and spirituality (Reed & Haugan, 2021).

According to Reed’s theory of self-transcendence, intrapersonal transcendence is influenced by personal and contextual factors, such as age, gender, ethnicity, education, illness intensity, life history, social support, and environmental conditions. These factors can either facilitate or hinder the development of intrapersonal transcendence and its impact on wellbeing. Reed’s theory also suggests that intrapersonal transcendence can be measured by using the self-transcendence Scale (STS), a 15-item instrument that assesses the degree to which individuals experience intrapersonal, interpersonal, temporal, and transpersonal transcendence (Reed, 1991).

Intrapersonal transcendence has been studied in various populations and settings, such as older adults, cancer patients, nursing home residents, and hospice care workers. The results of these studies have shown that intrapersonal transcendence is positively associated with wellbeing outcomes, such as quality of life, life satisfaction, happiness, hope, optimism, and resilience. Intrapersonal transcendence has also been found to mediate the relationship between vulnerability and wellbeing, meaning that it can buffer the negative effects of vulnerability on wellbeing (Reed & Haugan, 2021).

In conclusion, intrapersonal transcendence is a salutogenic process that can enhance wellbeing in cognitively intact individuals across the lifespan. It is a dimension of self-transcendence that involves expanding one’s self-conceptual boundaries inwardly through introspective experiences. Intrapersonal transcendence can be influenced by personal and contextual factors and can be measured by using the STS. Intrapersonal transcendence has been empirically supported as a positive predictor of wellbeing and a mediator of vulnerability.

Transpersonal transcendence

Transpersonal transcendence is one aspect of self-transcendence that involves the experience of spiritual or transcendent aspects of the self, such as identifying with the universe as a whole, having mystical or peak experiences, or feeling a sense of unity with nature or a higher power.

According to Cloninger (2004), transpersonal transcendence is one of the three character dimensions of personality, along with self-directedness and cooperativeness. Character dimensions are learned and influenced by social and cultural factors, and they reflect how people conceptualize themselves and their goals. Transpersonal transcendence is measured by the self-transcendence scale of the Temperament and Character Inventory, which has five subscales: self-forgetful vs. self-conscious experience, transpersonal identification vs. self-isolation, spiritual acceptance vs. rational materialism, enlightened vs. objective, and idealistic vs. practical.

Transpersonal transcendence is related to various psychological outcomes, such as wellbeing, happiness, creativity, altruism, and resilience. It is also associated with different forms of spirituality and religiosity, such as meditation, prayer, yoga, and faith. However, transpersonal transcendence is not necessarily dependent on any specific belief system or practice; rather, it reflects a general openness to the possibility of transcending the ordinary sense of self and reality.

Some of the challenges and limitations of transpersonal transcendence include the difficulty of defining and measuring such a complex and subjective phenomenon, the potential for confusion or misinterpretation of transcendent experiences, and the risk of losing touch with reality or becoming detached from one’s personal and social responsibilities. Therefore, transpersonal transcendence should be balanced with other aspects of personality development, such as self-awareness, self-regulation, and social integration.

Relating transpersonal transcendence to schizophrenia, it has been widely acknowledged that there is a relationship between mystical experiences and psychosis, which tends to indicate that there is already a relationship between transpersonal transcendence and schizophrenia. It has been suggested that there is a crossover between these two extremes indicating that in some cases, at least, experiences interpreted as schizophrenic psychosis may have been mystical Self-transcendent experiences.

The application of self-transcendent concepts within this thesis
Reintegration of dissociated personality aspects as intrapersonal transcendence

Intrapersonal transcendence is related to how the individual see’s themselves in relation to their self-awareness and self-understanding. It therefore follows that the process of identifying one’s hidden personality aspects, such as dissociations resulting from past trauma, can be considered a factor of intrapersonal transcendence as identified in self-transcendence theory.

Self-transcendent practices which allow the individual with schizophrenia to carry out self-introspection and focus on their inner world in an accepting and caring manner may therefore help those individuals’ gain additional insight and understand of aspects of self which may appear to them as external or unwanted. Fostering a viewpoint which is open to the ideas of self-love, acceptance and self-unity may be a key to allowing the individual with schizophrenia to reintegrate those rejected and dissociated aspects of self, which may in turn reduce the negative symptoms of schizophrenia.

Self-transcendent thought: Everything is connected

One of the key concepts in self-transcendence theory, which relates to transpersonal transcendence, is the idea of all being connected. This concept refers to the recognition that one is not separate from the rest of existence, but rather part of a larger whole. This can be experienced as a feeling of unity, harmony, or interdependence with other living beings, nature, the cosmos, or a divine source. All being connected implies a shift in perspective from a narrow and egocentric view of reality to a broader and more inclusive one. It also implies a shift in values from materialism and individualism to altruism and spirituality.

self-transcendence theory has been developed and applied by various researchers and practitioners in different fields, such as psychology, nursing, gerontology, and palliative care. Some of the influential figures who have contributed to this theory are Viktor Frankl, Abraham Maslow, Pamela Reed, C. Robert Cloninger, Lars Tornstam, and Scott Barry Kaufman. They have proposed different models, measures, and interventions to understand and facilitate self-transcendence in various contexts and populations.

Within this thesis, I have extrapolated this concept into a number of self-transcendent truths which propose that each individual is both connected to all of one’s self, including any dissociations, and also connected to everything else. I use these transcendent truths to form a basis for a proposed self-healing truth, which realised within the schizophrenic individual, will allow them to reduce feelings of paranoia as well as fostering a self-purpose of integration and acceptance. The suggestion being that such beliefs, if actioned within the schizophrenic individual, will enable them to better relate to their symptoms, increasing the potential for inner peace and healing.

The self-transcendent approach to healing trauma and its proposed impact on schizophrenia

The self-transcendent concept in relation to trauma that is proposed in this thesis, is that trauma and other self-denial events create dissociative aspects of self which create a hidden inner conflict, which presents itself to each of us in many ways. For many, these inner conflicts turn up as negative thoughts about self and negative self talk. However, in Schizophrenics these negative experiences can be amplified into certain “magical” types of experience. The individual with schizophrenia, for example, can experience phenomena such as thought broadcasting, or being able to hear the thoughts of other people, they can experience certain psychosis events, they can feel that they are being attacked by demons.

The self-transcendent approach understands that everything is connected, and such experiences may have a basis in truth. However, the underlying mechanism behind the experience is actually being triggered and instigated by those inner conflicts. In effect, each dissociated aspect of self is either directly influencing the experiential world of the schizophrenic to give them those negative symptoms, or they are enabling a bridging function to other aspects of the wider self that would not normally get involved in that individuals’ life.

This concept goes on to suggest that if we can resolve those inner conflicts by connecting to and reintegrating those dissociations, then the individual’s experience will become more manageable and better understood by the schizophrenic to allow them to cope with their experiences and lead a normal life.

Reintegration of those self-aspects may not mean, for example, that the individual will no longer have voices. It is suggested that once a dissociation is created, then this continues with a life of its own, still deeply connected to its creator, but still continuing to exist after it has been reintegrated into the individual’s self-concept. The difference, is that after integration, this voice will be generally supportive of the individual, it will tend, for example, to keep quiet, to speak, when it’s spoken to, and to only initiate contact, when it’s appropriate to do so. It will tend to pass messages of support, offer suggestions that are in accordance with the individual’s goals and aspirations. It will become a loyal helper.

It is suggested that this approach applies to all negative experiences of schizophrenics; that healing dissociations, rejections and denials within self (including such aspects of self which include past-lives and archetypes), will ultimately provide a profound level of healing for the individual with schizophrenia.

To this end, a combination of self-transcendent techniques and philosophy, plus Jungian psychotherapy can be used to provide a holistic therapeutic approach for schizophrenia.

Jungian psychology and schizophrenia

Jungian psychology, also known as analytical psychology, is a school of psychotherapy founded by Carl Jung. Jung was interested in the unconscious mind and its relation to the conscious mind. He proposed that the unconscious consists of two layers: the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious. The personal unconscious contains the individual’s repressed memories, feelings, and complexes. The collective unconscious contains the inherited and universal patterns of human experience, called archetypes.

According to Jung, schizophrenia is a result of a dissociation between the conscious and the unconscious parts of the psyche. The schizophrenic person loses contact with reality and becomes overwhelmed by the contents of the unconscious, especially the collective unconscious. The hallucinations and delusions are expressions of the archetypes that emerge from the depths of the psyche. Jung believed that schizophrenia is not a disease, but a natural process of psychic transformation. He called this process individuation, which is the integration of the conscious and the unconscious aspects of the self.

Jungian therapy for schizophrenia aims to help the person understand and relate to their unconscious material, rather than suppress or ignore it. Jungian therapists use various methods, such as dream analysis, active imagination, art therapy, and symbolic interpretation, to explore the meaning and significance of the psychotic symptoms. The goal is to facilitate the development of a more coherent and balanced sense of self.

The Jungian Shadow

It is a mistake to deny the shadow. If you do, a reaction from the collective unconscious will loom up from the dark in the form of some personification. C.G. Jung

The Jungian theory of the shadow is a psychological concept that refers to the unconscious aspects of the personality that are repressed, denied, or projected onto others by the conscious ego [9]. The shadow can be seen as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos, and the unknown [11]. Jung believed that the shadow is a source of creativity and potential, but also of conflict and danger. He suggested that the shadow can appear in dreams or visions and may take a variety of forms, such as a snake, a monster, a demon, a dragon, or some other dark, wild, or exotic figure [11]. Jung also argued that the shadow is not only an individual phenomenon, but also a collective one, as it reflects the shared unconscious patterns of a culture or a group [10]. According to Jung, the integration of the shadow is a necessary step for achieving individuation, which is the process of becoming a whole and unique self [12]. However, integrating the shadow is not easy, as it requires facing and accepting one’s own flaws, fears, and impulses. Jung proposed that art therapy can be a helpful tool for discovering and working with the shadow, as it allows the expression of unconscious material in a symbolic and creative way [8].

Jung’s concept of archetypes refers to universal, inherited patterns of thought or images that are present in the collective unconscious of all human beings (Jungian archetypes, 2023). These archetypes are the psychic counterpart of instinct and are the basis of many common themes and symbols that appear in stories, myths, and dreams across different cultures and societies (Verywell Mind, 2023). Jung proposed four major archetypes: the Self, the Persona, the Shadow, and the anima/animus. He also identified other archetypes such as the King, the Magician, the Warrior, and the Lover (Healthy Way Mag, 2023). It is likely that these universal archetypal models become visualised within each individual as specific mystical characters. For example, Jung suggested that Christ is an example of the archetype of the Self, as he embodies the union of opposites, the central source of life, and the image of God in man (Jung, 1959/1969). Jung believed that archetypes are not learned, but inherited from our ancestors. He opposed the idea that the human mind is a blank slate at birth and suggested that archetypes are innate potentials that are expressed in human behaviour and experiences (Jungian archetypes, 2023).

Jung’s concept of the shadow archetype refers to the unconscious aspect of the personality that does not correspond with the ego ideal, and that contains repressed instincts, impulses, and emotions (Verywell Mind, 2023). Jung also called the shadow archetype the ‘Id’, following Freud‘s terminology, and considered it as the entirety of the individual’s unconscious or everything of which they are not fully conscious (Know Your archetypes, n.d.). The shadow archetype represents the ‘dark side’ of the psyche, where one stores the most primitive and selfish parts of oneself, as well as the potential for evil (Exploring Your Mind, 2023). The shadow archetype is projected onto one’s social environment as cognitive distortions, and it can also manifest as archetypical figures, such as the trickster, in the collective unconscious (Wikipedia, n.d.). Jung suggested that integrating the shadow archetype into one’s conscious awareness was a necessary step for psychological growth and individuation (Verywell Mind, 2023).

We suggest that in the mind of the schizophrenic, often, these universal archetypes become specific individual spiritual characters. Some of whom the individual may form an attachment with and may even recognise themselves as that specific entity, i.e., Jesus, in the case of someone with a messiah complex. Other entities they may reject and be fearful of, i.e., the devil, Lucifer, or demons.

How effective is the Jungian shadow for working with Schizophrenia?

Some researchers have suggested that the Jungian concept of the shadow can be a source of healing for people with schizophrenia. Schizophrenia may be seen as a manifestation of the personal and collective unconscious, which contains archetypal images and symbols that are shared by all humans (Jung, 1964). By exploring these images and symbols through therapy, art, or spirituality, people with schizophrenia may be able to access their inner resources and reconnect with their true self (Short, 2021). However, this approach is not widely accepted or practised in mainstream psychiatry, which relies more on medication and cognitive-behavioural interventions to treat schizophrenia (Verywell Mind, 2021). More research is needed to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of Jungian therapy for people with schizophrenia.

Critiques and limitations of Jung’s concept of shadow

Some of the critiques and limitations of Jung’s concept of the shadow are:

  • The concept is vague and ambiguous, and lacks clear definitions and operationalizations. Jung did not provide a systematic or consistent account of how the shadow is formed, identified, integrated, or manifested in different contexts and cultures (Stevens, 1994).
  • The concept is based on Jung’s personal experiences, intuitions, and observations, and lacks empirical evidence or scientific validation. Jung did not test his hypotheses or predictions about the shadow using rigorous methods or data. His theory was more descriptive than explanatory or predictive (Zappia, 2018).
  • The concept is influenced by mysticism and occultism, and relies on metaphors and symbols that are not easily accessible or understandable to modern audiences. Jung borrowed the term “shadow” from Nietzsche, and used archetypes and myths to illustrate the universal patterns and themes of the shadow. However, these sources are not necessarily reliable or relevant for contemporary psychology (Zappia, 2018).
The trauma informed Jungian shadow

One possible way to understand dissociations caused by trauma is to consider them as animated aspects of Jung’s shadow. The shadow is the part of the psyche that contains repressed memories, qualities, and impulses that are hidden from conscious awareness, but still influence behaviour and emotions (Jung, 1959). According to Jung, the shadow is not only a source of conflict and suffering, but also a potential for creativity and transformation, if it is integrated into the whole personality (Jung, 1963). trauma, especially in childhood, can promote the formation of autonomous complexes in the psyche, which are clusters of images and affects that are dissociated from the ego and act independently (Jung, 1934). These complexes can be seen as manifestations of the shadow, which protect the ego from being overwhelmed by traumatic experiences, but also prevent it from accessing its full potential (Skea, 1995). By bringing these complexes into consciousness and acknowledging their origin and meaning, one can heal the wounds of trauma and reclaim the lost parts of the self (Edwards, 2022).

Viewing intrapersonal and transpersonal transcendence as forming the contents of the Jungian Shadow to create a therapeutic model for schizophrenia

Intrapersonal and transpersonal transcendent viewpoints are two perspectives that can help an individual achieve individuation, which is the process of integrating the conscious and unconscious aspects of one’s personality. Jung (1959) defined the shadow as the dark and unknown part of the psyche that contains repressed, rejected, or neglected aspects of oneself. To integrate the shadow, one needs to acknowledge and accept it as part of oneself, without identifying with it or rejecting it.

One way to access the shadow is through archetypes, which are universal patterns or images that emerge from the collective unconscious. Jung (1959) identified several archetypes, such as the anima/animus, the self, the hero, the trickster, and the wise old man/woman. archetypes can manifest in dreams, fantasies, myths, art, and symbols. They can also guide and influence one’s behaviour, attitudes, and emotions. By recognizing and relating to the archetypes, one can gain a more profound understanding of oneself and one’s connection to humanity and nature.

Intrapersonal transcendent viewpoint is the perspective that emphasizes the development of one’s inner potential and Self-actualization. It is based on the assumption that human beings have an innate drive to grow and fulfil their true nature. The intrapersonal transcendent viewpoint encourages one to explore one’s inner world, values, beliefs, and goals, and to express one’s authentic self in various domains of life. An intrapersonal transcendent viewpoint can facilitate the integration of the shadow by helping one to become more aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses, motivations and fears, and aspirations and limitations. These inner viewpoints also include those dissociated aspects of self that have been sent to the unconscious shadow. Therefore, adopting an intrapersonal transcendent viewpoint would accept that these aspects of our unconscious mind are indeed aspects of self.

The Transpersonal transcendent viewpoint is the perspective that focuses on the expansion of one’s consciousness beyond the ego and the personal level. It is based on the premise that human beings have a spiritual dimension that transcends their physical and psychological existence. The transpersonal transcendent viewpoint invites one to experience states of consciousness that involve altered perception, intuition, insight, ecstasy, or unity with a higher power or reality, and also the archetypes which are connected to us. Many schizophrenics are aware of these, but often believe that these are fictions of their mind, or are spirits which are not of themselves formed. The transpersonal transcendent viewpoint can facilitate the integration of these shadow aspects by enabling one to transcend one’s ego boundaries, overcome one’s attachments and aversions, and embrace one’s wholeness and interconnectedness that is the connected mind.

In conclusion, intrapersonal and transpersonal transcendent viewpoints are complementary approaches that can link with Jung’s concept of shadow to create a mindset whereby the individual can gain individuation by the integration of both dissociations and archetypes. This means that a schizophrenic individual can be helped to recovery using a combination of self-transcendent techniques and Jungian psychodynamic therapy.

One particular transpersonal viewpoint that I feel may be highly likely to have positive benefit is the notion that everything is connected. This can also be viewed as everything is a singular one-ness, and that in fact, all is self. This concept may enable the schizophrenic to transcend their fear of the negative characters that they may be connecting to, through the shadow, and move to a unity mindset, where these are all seen simply as other aspects of self, to be integrated into the whole.

By adopting these viewpoints, not only could a schizophrenic recover, but they could enhance their self-knowledge, self-expression, self-transcendence, and self-integration.

For my therapeutic model, therefore, I propose that there are specific modes of thinking, and transcendence and psychoanalytical techniques which could be applied to maximise the opportunities for recovery and transcendence for an individual suffering from schizophrenia.

Suggested modes of thought for recovery

Living with multiple, potentially conflicting truths is not unusual for schizophrenia sufferers. They often have one or more “delusional” views of the world they experience, and they also, in the main, manage to hold on to some notion of reality as it is agreed by others.  In suggesting a preferred mode of thought, we are suggesting that the individual holds in their mind some general ideas of transcendent thought, and entertain the notion that these might be true, and that they might help explain, and resolve their inner conflicts. The concept is that these ideas will form the basis of the individuals’ ultimate truth of self, and that when the task of integrating the shadow is complete, this will allow the individual to exist in society, whilst living a truth which agrees with their own views.

My goal is this; To move from a place where there is conflict between the individuals’ true self, and their persona, which is the cause of their inner conflicts, and also of the schizophrenic symptoms.

The concepts that I present here, do not ask the individual to think that their schizophrenic experiences, symptoms, and often inner truths are wrong and some figment of the imagination. Rather, I suggest that these are based on very real events and experiences of a mystical nature, and that part of the problem is in the interpretation of these experiences, which is often due to the ego not being equipped to properly interpret the information it is receiving. And in addition, often the ego has been programmed to reject or deny this information, even to distort it.

So these modes of thought I propose are simple, to be as clear and well understood as possible. They are to be given at the beginning of therapy with the understanding that they will take time to sink in, and for the individual to learn to apply these transcendent ways of thinking to their own truths, experiences and thinking. The idea is, that as the transcendent and psychoanalytic techniques are put into action as part of ongoing therapy, these truths will become increasingly apparent to the individual with schizophrenia. This will allow their inner conflicts will slowly resolve, which will reduce the schizophrenic symptoms. Over time, the individual’s true-self (conscious plus unconscious) will unite into an integrated, aware, whole. Their persona, and ego will support that whole, without masking or interpretation, thus their transcendent self will emerge and be authentic.

The transcendent “truths”

  • Everything is connected: Everything is connected to everything else. This truth helps to explain a great many schizophrenic symptoms. For example, thought broadcasting; in a world where everything is connected, thought broadcasting is entirely possible.
  • Therefore, all is one: We are a unity. This connection between all that exists effectively means that we are a single entity, some might call this God, some might call it consciousness. The name is not significant, the concept of being one is what is important.
  • Therefore, all is self: Everything that exists, everything you experience, is an aspect of self because we are all connected.
  • Self is to be loved: The goal each of us have, is to completely love ourselves, this is our main purpose; to arrive at a point where all of the self is loved.
  • Every self is to be loved: The selves that you encounter in your internal world are to be loved
  • Every self is to be integrated into self: Every self that you encounter in your internal world is to be integrated into your concept of self
  • Once you have completed this task of loving all internal selves, you will find it possible to love and enjoy the external world, you will move into a flow state, you will move into self-transcendence.

Of course, not every self we encounter in our internal world gives the impression it wants to be loved, many of those aspects of our shadow who have taken a negative position are our challengers and adversaries, they come to kill us, our loved ones, or cause some other negative impact. However, we must realise that these challenges are due to our own misunderstanding of who we are. We tend to believe that we are separate and disconnected, and that some aspects of the one-ness are “evil”, or “bad”. Yet, these are just ways of thinking we have adopted and which these challengers are attacking.

For example, when a challenger suggests you are a murderer, or a rapist, or any other evil or bad thing you feel innocent of. You are forgetting that all is self, and of course, you are every murderer and rapist that ever existed. This does not mean, of course, that you should go out and do such a terrible deed, but seeing things in this way, takes away the impact of the challenge, it is no longer shocking, or something that needs to be defended against. It means you have acceptance, and this in itself can help change the mindset of the challenger themselves.

These challengers will often come with a drama, sometimes a deadly one, which the normal mind will find frightening, and want to avoid. However, if we see that challenge, that drama, as a “get to know you”, courtship dance; something that can be participated in, and which has a positive ending of mutual understanding and unity. Then we can hold in our hearts the expectation of that positive outcome, we can open our hearts to these challengers, and be uplifted when they agree to our mutual unity.

Transcendent techniques for recovery

The concept with the transcendent techniques is that these will be, in the main, homework; they will be done away from the psychotherapy sessions, but will in part be directed by the outcomes of the psychotherapy. We have to recognise here that each person with schizophrenia is an individual, that they have their own unique abilities, viewpoints, preferences and goals. Therefore, this list of techniques is not mandatory but rather a pick list that the therapist can help the individual choose to work with, depending on the skills and abilities identified during the therapeutic sessions. There are also many other transcendence techniques which the individual may find easier, or more appropriate.

The transcendent techniques fall into three categories, intuition, shadow and coping skills. These are not extensive or exclusive lists. Each individual will have their own preferences, and some will suggest they use different techniques they already use and have experience of.

Coping skills

Shadow work and transcendence can be challenging and stressful, especially when facing difficult emotions, thoughts, or situations. Therefore, it is important to have some coping skills that can help one stay grounded, calm, and compassionate. Some examples of coping skills are:

Breathing exercises: These can help one regulate their nervous system, reduce anxiety, and increase awareness. One can practice deep, slow, and mindful breathing whenever they feel overwhelmed or disconnected.

Meditation: This can help one cultivate a state of mindfulness, which is the ability to observe one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment or attachment. Mindfulness can help one detach from their ego and connect with their true self.

Affirmations: These are positive statements that one repeats to themselves to reinforce their self-esteem, confidence, and values. Affirmations can help one counter negative self-talk and align with their higher purpose.

gratitude: This is the practice of expressing appreciation for what one has in their life, such as people, experiences, or opportunities. gratitude can help one cultivate a positive attitude, reduce stress, and enhance wellbeing.

Grounding: This is the technique of bringing one’s attention to the present moment and to one’s physical sensations. It can help one reduce anxiety, dissociation and rumination.

These are some of the coping skills that can help one stay healthy and balanced during the ongoing process of individuation. They can also improve one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. One can try to incorporate them into their daily routine or whenever they need some support or guidance.

Intuition skills

Intuition skills are essential for the individual to develop, they allow the individual to confirm that experiences and understandings as a result of shadow work are true. Intuition is that inner-knowing that one gets when they feel something is right, or wrong. We will rely heavily on intuition, for example when we dance with our shadows. Intuition will tell us our next move, it will also tell us if the dance partner is bluffing.

Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a state of being fully present and aware of one’s surroundings, sensations, thoughts, and emotions, without judgment or attachment. Mindfulness can help cultivate intuition by enhancing one’s sensory perception, emotional intelligence, and cognitive flexibility. Mindfulness can also help reduce bias, anxiety, and impulsivity, which can interfere with intuitive decision-making. Mindfulness can be practised in everyday activities such as eating, walking, listening, or breathing.

Meditation: Meditation is a practice of focusing one’s attention on a single object, thought, or sensation, while letting go of other distractions. Meditation can help calm the mind, reduce stress, and increase awareness of one’s inner state. Meditation can also facilitate intuitive insights by creating a space for the unconscious to communicate with the conscious mind.

Intuitive writing: Intuitive writing is a technique of writing without planning, editing, or censoring oneself, allowing the words to flow freely from the unconscious. Intuitive writing can help express one’s feelings, thoughts, and desires, as well as tap into one’s inner wisdom and creativity. Intuitive writing can be done as a daily practice, or as a response to a specific question or situation.

Divination: Divination is a method of seeking guidance or answers from a higher power or source, using various tools or systems such as tarot cards, runes, astrology, numerology, or pendulums. Divination can help access one’s intuition by stimulating the imagination, opening the mind to new possibilities, and revealing patterns and connections that may otherwise go unnoticed. Divination can also foster a sense of trust and alignment with the universe. For example, a pendulum often gives a yes/no answer to a question. you can develop your intuition by challenging yourself to feel the answer before the pendulum has provided it.

Shadow skills

Shadow skills are those techniques that will allow the individual to perform shadow work. The expectation is that this will be done outside of therapy, and the therapy will be a place to report the latest developments and to agree on progress and next steps. Sometimes the shadow work, for example, seems to come to a standstill or impasse. At times like those, it’s good to talk over the strategy with a trusted advisor; the therapist. In this example, a different approach might be suggested, or, to move on and return to that particular aspect of self later. There is no right path, only the path that works.

Here are some suitable techniques:

Visualization meditation: Visualisation meditation is similar to prayer in that it is a way of creating a focussed communication with one or more aspects of self. We carry out this communication in meditation when we want to place ourselves in a distraction-free environment where we can focus on what is being said.

Dreamwork: Some people get an awful lot of shadow content in dreams. Keeping a dream journal is a great way of reviewing the symbolic messaging in dreams, to better interpret their meaning.

Journaling: Writing down your experiences can be a good way of keeping a record of events, which can be used later in therapy, and also of documenting your ideas about how to move things forward. Remember, ultimately it’s you, the client, who is the expert in this situation, and deep down you have the solution. You can use journaling as a way of trying to find those answers.

Self-talk: This often happens with most schizophrenics, and is often unavoidable. but the idea here is to use that self-talk as an opportunity to develop a unifying one-ness. If the aspect of self you are talking to is adversarial, try to find out what you can do to appease that adversarial relationship, try to find a compromise that works for you both.

Prayer: This is a form of direct communication with your perceived positive higher self aspects, you don’t need to perceive them as God, as such, purely as a positive and influential aspect of self, who you can seek guidance and help from. Sometimes, you will need to use intuition to know what’s being communication, sometimes you will hear thoughts.

Creative art: Many people use creative art and writing to better visualise the aspects of self they are currently working with. this strengthens the connection and better facilitates feelings of mutual respect, honour and love.

Application of Jungian-based shadow therapy for recovery

Jungian therapy aims to help people explore their unconscious and conscious aspects of their personality, and to integrate them into a harmonious whole. This process is called individuation, and it is an integration of all aspects of the self into a single self-concept. Jungian therapy also uses concepts such as archetypes, symbols, dreams, and synchronicity to understand the meaning and purpose of one’s life.

Some of the main concepts and processes behind Jungian therapy are:

The collective unconscious: This is a shared layer of the unconscious that contains archetypes, or universal symbols and patterns, that influence human behaviour and culture. Often for a schizophrenic, these archetypes take on specific personalities or traits, such as demons, gods, angels and spirits, sometimes humans. The task of the Jungian therapist is to allow the individual with schizophrenia to see that these are aspects of their wider self, and to help them integrate them into their concept of self.

The personal unconscious: This is a personal layer of the unconscious that consists of dissociated elements of the true-self. The Jungian therapist will help the individual identify these aspects of self and reintegrate them into their concept of self. Within this thesis, I regard the personal unconscious as containing a combination of aspects of the current self, past-selves and also personal archetypes, and I propose that for individuation to occur, these personal unconscious aspects need to be revealed, understood, loved and integrated.

The individuation process: This is the goal of Jungian therapy, which is to integrate the conscious and unconscious aspects of the personality and achieve a balance between them. Within this text, I often refer to this work as shadow work.

The shadow: This is the dark and repressed part of the personality that contains negative emotions, impulses, and traits that the person is not aware of or does not accept. Shadow aspects can be from personal dissociations or from the archetypes.

The anima and animus: These are the feminine and masculine aspects of the personality that represent the opposite gender of the person. They are often projected onto others and influence the person’s relationships.

The self: This is the centre and totality of the personality that encompasses both the conscious and unconscious aspects. It is symbolized by the mandala, a circular image that represents wholeness and harmony.

Jungian therapy uses various methods to help the person access their unconscious, such as dream analysis, active imagination, art therapy, and sandplay therapy. These methods allow the person to express their inner world and communicate with their archetypes. Jungian therapy also helps the person develop their awareness, insight, and creativity through reflection and dialogue with the therapist. The analyst can also choose to use any of the transcendent techniques for their work on the unconscious and its shadow.

The role of the therapist

The role of the therapist, within my therapeutic model, is to introduce the individual with schizophrenia to the concepts behind this transcendence therapy for schizophrenia. This includes ensuring that the simple transcendent truths are understood and accepted by the individual, and introducing them to the shadow work, which will form the major part of the work going forward. The therapist will also acquaint the individual with the transcendence techniques and ensure they have access to the right training documentation.

As the therapy progresses, the individual is expected to eventually take charge of their own shadow work, and after some time they will have shorter, less frequent therapy sessions where they review progress and address any specific issues or blocks that may arise.

Order of the integration

Each self-aspect has its own character aspects, which the individual absorbs as part of the integration process. Some self-aspects, the archetypes in particular, can have quite a significant influence. This may be concerning, however, the idea is that by integrating the lower self-aspects first, the individual will have already become quite a strong, balanced individual and by the time the archetypes come along, they will have the inner strength and balance to deal with their impact. Also, if indeed integration of the archetypes come, later in the individual’s journey, then they will be able to integrate all of their personal archetypes in a relatively short period of time. This will quickly restore the balance of self.

Therefore, there is a distinct, recommended order of integration recommended:

  • integration of personal dissociations created during this current life
  • Then, integrate any dissociations created in past lives that present
  • Then, the higher-self. This is a particular type of archetype which can serve as a guide and helper in the integrations of the other archetypes.
  • Then, the archetypes
Establishing communication with the unconscious mind

Initially, the therapist will need to help the individual with schizophrenia identify which tools they will use to strengthen their intuition and connect to the aspects of self which lie in their unconscious mind.

Of course, many schizophrenics will already have such connections via voices or thoughts in their self-talk. However, it’s worth at this point providing some suggestions for those that may struggle with this.

There is a relationship between communication with the unconscious aspects of the mind and intuition. If the individual is unable to visualise in their mind a conversation with an unconscious aspect of self. Then they should use the intuition techniques and skills mentioned earlier to strengthen their intuition. This might take some time and regular practice. For an individual with little connection to their intuition, it can take upwards of six months of practice to strengthen the intuition until visualisation of conversations within the mind becomes possible.

Some schizophrenics have an entirely energetic and emotional form of the disorder, and do not get internal communication that they can understand. These should try, for example, to strengthen their communications with those aspects of self by, for example, performing art therapy or intuitive writing. Sometimes the message comes out initially with physical engagement. Other intuitive practices could include divination. One patient used a pendulum, then divining rods and finally a pointing stick, which allowed their internal self-aspects to provide some rudimentary communication which, after some practice, finally gave way to self-talk.

Tarot is another divination practice that can deliver results. Initially, the individual would gain their insights from reading books or websites with information on the meaning of the cards they draw. However, over time they should start to feel the meaning, informed in part by previous readings. In this way, they can hopefully expand their intuition and begin to know what the answer to a question is, without the need for the cards.

Note that in “traditional” terms, this practice could be interpreted as encouraging the symptoms to “get worse”. This is not the case. What we are doing is enabling a full and informed dialogue with the individual’s hidden aspects of self. This is entirely normal, and something which every person needs to aspire to if they are to become self-transcendent and individuated.

Progression of the therapy

Once communication with an inner self-aspect is established, it’s important to understand if that aspect is in shadow, or if they are of a positive disposition to the individual with schizophrenia. this is generally easy to know, since it will either present with some form of negative drama (shadow dance), or it will be positive.

Positive self-aspects

Most people with schizophrenia, no matter how challenged they are, will tend to have at least one positive self-aspect. These positive self-aspects are, in general, the key to individuation of self. They tend to be the gatekeepers, both to other less talkative (more fragile) self-aspects, and also to the negative self aspects that will need to be integrated. In addition, these communicative positive self-aspects can be a great source of information. They will know, for example, how many self-aspects there are to integrate, in terms of the personal dissociations created during the current life. They will know how many are positive, and how many are negative. Although, it should be noted that they may not tell you about certain “secret” self-aspects, which will wait to be integrated at some later date.

The first task, therefore, is to connect to the positive self-aspect that chooses to make itself available, and to allow it to guide both the individual with schizophrenia and the therapist as to how the integration of self should be carried out. This may sound like an uncomfortable situation to be in; there may not be a great deal of trust between the schizophrenic individual and their self aspects; however, it’s just about the only way. So this will be a case of “suck it and see”.

Working with this positive self-aspect is, in fact, the only way to establish trust with it. Let this process take as long as it needs, and be aware that there maybe issues of miscommunication and misunderstanding in the early stages. Remember the self-transcendent truths – we are here to establish love. Love is established through understanding. Understanding, takes time, and patience.

So spend time with this self aspect, and agree a plan for reintegration. With any luck, it will already have one in mind. It’s the expert in the room, and it’s important to realise that. When Carl Rogers spoke about the client being their own expert in person-centred therapy. It was really these internal aspects of self he was hoping to connect to. His approach was to try to get each individual to tune into their intuition to obtain that knowledge. With this approach, we go one step further.

Integrating positive self-aspects

The recommendation for the integration of these aspects of self is that the individual be encouraged to first start with those aspects of self which are most recognizable by the individual as part of themselves, such as those which have been dissociated as part of personal trauma. Also, to try to find such aspects which are not negatively disposed towards the individual. The idea being that once a few friendly aspects of self are integrated, then this will get the individual used to the idea of integration, and help them to see the benefits. Remember, with each aspect of self that is integrated, the stronger the individual’s character and the higher their self-esteem and confidence. Thus, they will be better equipped to cope with future, less friendly self-aspects.

Positive self-aspects are reasonably straightforward to integrate. These aspects of self do not come with a drama which has to be worked through, but they can come with a fear of reconnection. This fear stems from their fear of being rejected again at some future date. The chances are, rather than being sent to the unconscious mind due to trauma, these aspects were probably forgotten as the individual changed their focus from one set of skills to another. This might sound strange, as a way of creating a dissociated aspect of self, but, to the individual who is not awake to their inner self and how it works, all too often, this is what happens; as we travel through life, we “shed our skin”, we let go of perfectly good aspects of self, thinking we’ll never need them again, and they sink into the unconscious mind. In the process, they create a personality dissociation.

To address that fear, the individual with Schizophrenia needs to establish that loving dialogue we mentioned earlier. They need to convince that aspect of self, that in future, they will forever be a loved part of self, they will not be forgotten again, and that the individual will work with them to make sure they will not become lost once more.

The individual with schizophrenia may be unsure if they can commit to this. That’s quite normal. They are probably doubly aware that they may not have full control over their mind, or their future actions. The trick here, is to get the aspect of self in question, to commit to making sure it reminds the individual it’s there, to provide suggestions occasionally as to things they could do. To make sure that connection is maintained. Each aspect of self needs to know it’s a valued part of the inner family of self. It wants its views to be considered. Once they have completed the reintegration, they will take on-board the aims and wishes of the individual who is head of the family. They will always try to provide positive suggestions, as and when they may be useful. Both parties, therefore, need not worry about this family reunion. They just need to follow through on this internal discussion until both are happy about this future life together, and make an agreement of integration. Once agreement and trust is reached, and both parties can commit to each other in loving honesty, the integration will complete.

Negatively disposed aspects of self

Negatively disposed, dissociated aspects of self often come with a drama. For example, they may want to re-enact the trauma which first caused them to become a dissociation. This is because they need to express the emotions and feelings that were originally rejected and suppressed at the time of the dissociation. They also want the individual with schizophrenia to form a new understanding of those events and their actions. Dissociations due to childhood trauma, for example, are often based on the child’s blaming of itself for something that wasn’t their fault. The dissociation takes on this self blame, which becomes reflected to self in the form of future negative thoughts about self. The aspect of self needs to be released from that false prison.

In other cases, the dissociated aspect may come with a death drama. In other words, they may have moved beyond the trauma and simply blame the individual for the dissociation and the pain which that was caused to them, and have concluded that the only solution is for the individual to die. This can be a tricky problem to overcome; the individual wants to reintegrate that aspect of self, however, doing so may cause them the urge to suicide and the reintegration drama will indeed focus on that suicidal tendency. However, this death drama is actually a trust drama. The dissociated aspect wants the individual to die because they do not trust that individual. They do not want to reintegrate with the individual because they do not trust the individual to reject them again at some future point, and so they have concluded the only option is death. The solution to this is to work with that aspect in a way which slowly re-establishes trust. The dissociated aspect needs to hear that its thoughts, feelings, opinions and expressions will be fully supported within the new future reintegrated self. The individual needs to involve themselves in an honest and honourable negotiation with that self-aspect over how they will engage with each other in the future.

It’s important to remind the individual that each self-aspect is fundamentally them, and that their future interactions will simply be “true to self”, and not to fear any potential loss of control, which they may think involve losing part of their self-concept. This whole process is about rediscovering their authentic self, and reintegration is a fundamental aspect of that.

Also, a key part of this process is that we are going to take these negative aspects of self out of shadow as part of the integration process. This means their attitude will perform a U-turn; negatively disposed aspects of self will become positively disposed. They will move from being challengers and antagonists to loving helpers, just like the positive aspects of self already integrated.

Aspects in shadow

When we reject an aspect of self due to trauma, that aspect of self often builds up resentment over time. At the time of the trauma, it was expedient, even instinctive, to relieve oneself of the bulk of that pain by rejecting the internal point of recognition of that pain, and so we fought against its need for expression and sent it to our unconscious mind. Once there, it built up a resentment for being rejected, and this resentment returned to us as negative thoughts, voices, emotions, pain etc. If we as a society knew what we were doing, then we’d know that such trauma rejections of self need to be healed. However, we typically do not recognise this, and instead, the individual continues to suppress their inner pain, until the need for expression bursts forward in some kind of exaggerated schizophrenic symptom, such as psychosis.

However, each aspect of self in shadow holds a secret; secretly, they crave to come back to self, to be reintegrated. They just have a case of seemingly excessive pride, which means they won’t come and ask us directly for reintegration and instead remind us they are there through those negative thoughts, etc. Seemingly, that’s not how it works. They will remind us time and time again they are there, by creating increasingly negative symptoms until those symptoms can’t be ignored any longer. This is why the medication-based approach, that of suppressing these symptoms through tranquillisation, does not work in the long term – the symptoms increase and need ever-increasing amounts of medication to keep them suppressed.

Reintegration of aspects in shadow

As already mentioned, the aspects of self which are in shadow secretly desire to be back in the fold. They want to be an active and positive part of self. However, they are stuck playing out a negative role, and they will persist in that role forever, or until the individual takes active steps to release them from their trap.

The way to do this, is to give them expression, it’s to say to them, “I know you are in pain, I know you are stuck. I want you back on board, and in future, if you feel pain I will hear you, I won’t push you away”. Basically, the dance is a negotiation. They may want the individual to kill themselves. They may have been telling the individual with schizophrenia to kill themselves for years. But now there is the opportunity to turn things around. Remember their secret desire for wholeness. Allow them to express, but don’t allow them to cause hurt, pain or danger. Make it clear that their expression is allowed, so long as it does not threaten the health of the self.

Work with them, let them see that the individual can be trusted. This is all about trust. So long as the individual understands that this is an aspect of self, then they should know deep down this aspect can be trusted. Make sure this point is emphasised and let the dance play out. Make sure it is done in a safe environment. In the end, agreement will be reached and the negative self-aspect will agree to come back as a positive aspect of self.

Blocked emotions

Another aspect of individuation which has an impact on the concept of the true-self, is in the case of blocked, or modified emotions. In this case, the child decided to themselves that their emotions were too much; too extreme, too much to handle, too painful to cope with. They may therefore have chosen to prevent their expression by rejecting them, or they may have modified the true expression of self by suppressing their emotions, or even masking them by expressing an emotion which is false for that particular feeling. Thus, the adult will find themselves laughing in the face of crisis, or feeling numb in place of emotional expression, or simply feeling that their emotions do not feel right.

If the individual is to become their authentic self, it is important that they be able to express their true emotions in all circumstances. When they have denied this true expression in the past, this also results in the creation of dissociations in the shadow. Only this time, the dissociation will be one of a voiceless emotion, which can make them a little more complex to reintegrate back into self.

The classic Jungian perspective on this, would be to identify that emotional lacking, and to find an opportunity to have that lacking expressed. What is meant by this, is that the individual should become aware of the emotion which is missing or is suppressed, through mindfulness and constant monitoring of ones emotional state. Then, at that moment of lacking, to connect into their intuition for the sense of what it should be, and give that feeling expression, true expression. By doing this, the emotional block is released, the part of the brain that is responsible for emotional expression relearns to be authentic, based on the mindful leadership of the individual concerned.

However, this relies on an appropriate moment for expression coming along. It also requires the individual to be mindful and aware enough to spot their opportunity for expression at that specific moment. There is therefore another way to release this emotional block. This alternative way involves recreating within oneself the circumstances for the emotion to arise via role-play. In this case, the therapist and the individual with schizophrenia will work together to create their own drama through which the individual gets the opportunity to express the repressed emotion.

For example, the individual may have learnt to suppress and deny their anger. In this case, one approach could be to use the “two chair” approach and for the individual to imagine that sitting in the opposite chair is an individual who might make them angry. This can be someone from their current life, their past, or perhaps some historical figure who might raise their ire. The individual would then involve themselves in a conversation with this imaginary figure, allowing themselves to become frustrated, and angry at the imagined responses. In this way, they give themselves the opportunity to allow their true feelings of anger to rise, and for them to give them true expression, to remove the block. Note that this method can be less effective than an example which happens in real life and therefore, the individual may have to repeat the exercise several times for it to have the desired effect. Also, it’s important that for this to work, true authenticity is required; the expression of the emotion should be neither too weak, nor too strong.

Once this ability to express our true emotions is re-established, there comes the interesting situation where in real life, we may need to suppress such emotions for self-preservation. For example, it would not be wise to allow ourselves to get angry in a courtroom; even if we were being considerably provoked. What we have done in this exercise, is we have reconnected that link between our intuition and our emotional expression; we again feel through intuition the desired expression, and we have allowed its expression through our words, deeds and actions.

Now that this connection is established, if at some future point we find it expedient and correct to not express the emotions we are feeling, the right thing to do is to acknowledge those feelings internally (rather than simply ignoring or suppressing those feelings), and to communicate to self, that this time, there will be a deviation from that need to express; we choose not to express it now, but instead to allow for that expression at some point later, perhaps when out for a walk or performing some physical exercise. The key here, is that we are once again in tune with our authentic feelings and emotions, and we recognise that these are valid and correct. We are no longer denying them or feeling that they are somehow wrong or a bad thing.

Complexities that may arise


When dealing with the reintegration of aspects of the self, some complexities may arise. One example of this, is where the drama presented includes aspects that seem false. The drama, for example, might include memories which the individual comes to believe are in some way false, and may cause them to question the validity of the approach.

An example of this was when one subject was brought a memory of themselves being abused by an unknown family they were certain they had never met. The memory was clear as day, yet the subject had absolutely no recollection of their existence or involvement with themselves.

On further digging, including finding aspects of the memory which confirmed it was false, the aspect of self who presented that memory changed its story. It turned out that the reason for its dissociation was one where it blamed itself, and it therefore felt shame about it, and had created the false memory as a way of shifting the blame elsewhere.

This situation can be surprisingly common and therefore, the therapist and individual need to be aware of the potential for it to arise, and to be on their guard throughout the integration process.

Shame can in itself be a devastating feeling for an individual, such feelings need to be thoroughly aired and understood with an understanding that often this comes from the child’s aptitude to blame itself for the actions of its caregivers who, often, in the child’s eyes are without reproach. Assuming the individual in therapy is an adult, then it’s a case of their adult self giving to their child self that care and understanding that they did not get originally from their childhood caregiver. Explore with them such concepts as loving understanding, forgiveness and acceptance. They need to somehow see that whilst the events of the past could be interpreted as something for self blame, that in fact, how they reacted was incorrect, and it was the caregiver that was at fault for putting their childhood self into that situation in the first place. Both parties need forgiveness for their past mistakes. The adult individual needs to forgive itself, and also its abuser, this concept needs to be explored.

False memories

Other false memories can be encountered on this inner journey into the unconscious self. It has to be remembered that a child can sometimes use its imagination to create alternative understandings of real events which serve to satisfy childhood desires and needs. These false memories need to be valued as clues to the potential real situation. The child may remember something positive in the place of something negative, and also vice versa. It’s actually quite rare for someone to remember everything from their childhood without embellishment, and in some cases it can become clear that the child has convinced itself of a complete set of fantasies, all aimed at covering up the real situation which at the time the child found too painful or embarrassing to cope with or accept as truth.

In this case, the idea is to remember that these false memories serve as clues. A lie, to be maintained in the long term, often has to have some basis in fact. The task is to dig into these memories, suspending our disbelief, and allow the story to evolve until the truth is realised. By looking into the detail of a potential false memory, often inconsistencies are uncovered. The memory may then change, it may start to become a closer approximation to the truth, further digging may reveal further inconsistencies until eventually something akin to the actual truth is realised.

integration notes

An important part of the reintegration process is to celebrate the successful reintegration of each self-aspect, especially at the point where all the individual’s personal dissociations have been successfully reintegrated.

Reintegration of all aspects of the current self is absolutely a very significant milestone, it marks the point where the individual will come to feel genuine self-esteem and inner confidence. At last, they will be in-tune with their true thoughts and emotions. It is indeed a point the individual will want to remember. This is a particularly significant milestone in anyone’s journey, and is called by some the act of achieving “Christ consciousness”.

Another important point to understand, is that this initial reintegration of each self aspect is not the end of the work the individual will do with that aspect. It’s not a case of “reintegrate and forget”, moreover, each self-aspect carries with it secrets regarding the individuals “truth of self”. These will be communicated to the individual over time, and it’s therefore highly likely that each of these dissociations will need to be revisited over time and that this will be an ongoing process which may last for the remainder of each individuals’ life.

Self-aspects from past-lives

One aspect to bear in mind, is that sometimes our past traumas do not come from this-life, but instead they come from past-lives and form part of that individuals’ karma. The approach here is fundamentally the same as we saw with personality dissociations from the current life; connect to that self-aspect, work through their drama and create the positive circumstances which allow that self-aspect to be integrated with the individuals’ self-concept.

Often, the clues to these past-life dissociations come from our dreams. Sometimes, for example, the individual will have recurring dreams, sometimes nightmares, which provide clues as to lives in the past which have ended whilst still holding dissociated aspects. It’s these aspects that will need to be reintegrated, by way of working through their drama is some way, often, simply having their story told is sufficient to close that chapter.

As part of the therapy, the individual should be encouraged to keep a dream diary and to log every dream they can, no matter how partial or poorly understood. Any dreams which happen between therapy sessions can therefore be reviewed with a view to identifying, among other things, the potential for past-life indicators and clues.

Whilst it’s certainly possible for past-life dissociations to be resolved in dreams, it’s more common for clues provided though dreams and intuitions to be resolved via a more direct approach, for example during an active imagination session. The dream provides a clue about an individual that may need its story to be told, the active imagination session allows for the telling of that story.

Technically, to connect to one’s past-lives, then the connection would need to be enabled by the higher-self archetype. This is one type of archetype which is so close to the individuals’ character, that attempting to connect with it should not provoke any danger of psychological imbalance. So it’s worth, as part of this exercise, attempting to open direct communications with the higher-self. The higher self can provide the individual with advice regarding which past-lives should be contacted first. However, the higher self is not always available, and is not essential to the process of connecting to past-life aspects of self.

It’s important to understand that sometimes it’s the influences of these past-self aspects that have been the cause of the individuals’ “delusions” in so much as sometimes they tell an extraordinary story about self which can prove problematic to accept or understand. They may, for example, see themselves as having lived on different planets, even in different universes, and this information may be at odds with that individuals’ belief system and so cause a form of traumatic response in itself. Also, it’s not uncommon for an individual to remember a possibility for them to be some famous personality.

Sometimes, the individual can become too attached to a particular past-life, they can turn that memory into some kind of ego-based delusion of self-grandeur, and invent for themselves some kind of mission or purpose. This is common, and it’s also a distraction which needs to be avoided if possible. People have a tendency to latch onto such distractions as they see the possibilities for grooming their own ego, as well as it potentially being an easier option than continuing what may be quite a frightening prospect of further self-introspection.

Acceptance is key here: The individual may need to suspend their beliefs and just accept this information for what it is, to complete the reintegration. Over time, they’ll get used to the idea, eventually, they’ll probably come to love this aspect of themselves.

Archetypal self-aspects

Once the individual has reintegrated their personal dissociations and any past-life based dissociations that reveal themselves, they can then move on to the integration of their archetypal aspects. This includes such aspects as their “higher self”, and any personal gods, angels, demons etc.

It’s important to realise that these archetypal aspects may themselves be in negative shadow, and may themselves come with their own dramas. These can be some of the more powerful and overwhelming of the dramas the individual has seen so far and, again, may be a great cause of the individual’s delusions. The individual may, for example, attach themselves to a single archetype excluding the others, taking on that archetypes influence and “spiritual ego” which may cause them to become unbalanced and seemingly unreachable. The archetypal dramas often take on universal themes which in themselves can become overwhelming, themes such as Armageddon, creation and spiritual warfare are common. The individual may become convinced that they are personally responsible for such themes, or that they have a critical role which needs to be expressed and evangelised to others.

At this point, it may help them to understand that such thinking is usually a distraction from their higher purpose, which is to fully self-actualize. And that they need to complete their higher purpose before considering any activities relating to their future. That one becomes overly attached to one particular archetype at the expense of their own growth, which will stagnate. Certainly, each archetype has a higher purpose, and certainly the individual will eventually help to deliver that purpose. However, one must first complete ones own journey, complete their understanding of the totality of their true self before achieving the wisdom to perceive the remaining steps on their own soul journey.

Another point to make is that the archetypes an individual may come across in their self-introspection come from both the collective and the personal unconscious. When they come across archetypes from the collective unconscious, then these may come to reinforce broad, generic themes, applicable to the wider situation. When they come across archetypes from their own personal unconscious, then these come to emphasise entirely more personal aspects of their divine character, and as such are far more integral to the essence of self.

So how does a person know if an archetype is part of the individual’s personal structure? archetypes can be enigmatic, they don’t always come out and say what their relationship is. Some may imply things which later turn out to be not so true. This is the nature of archetypes. They are mystical, they serve a higher purpose, one that we may not be privy to, or be able to fully comprehend.

One source of information can be the individual’s higher-self archetype, and this self-aspect should be engaged for advice. If it is available.

However, the answer to this question may need to come in time, coming as the individual works with the archetypes and travels along with them in their archetypal journey. At some point, it will become clear exactly which archetypes are, for example, the individual’s divine opposite, and which is their source archetype. Patience is required, as well as forbearance because working with archetypes can be confusing and sometimes frustrating. They can seem to make promises that are not kept, they can leave us in the lurch, they can fill us with energy and enthusiasm one day, only to leave us feeling alone and dejected the next. This is not because they are deliberately trying to cause problems, it is simply part of the mystical aspect of this part of your journey into self.

An individual’s source archetype is the archetype which created the oversoul through which the individual was incarnated. This archetype gives the individual their core character, which is then modified by the other personal archetypes. the divine opposite archetype is sometimes called their “twin flame”. This archetype embodies the individual’s anima or animus, depending on their sexual orientation.

Technically, of course, since all is self, then every archetype is a part of self. So this differentiation between personal and collective archetypes is not necessarily as important as it seems. Ultimately, all archetypes will be integrated into the individuals’ concept of self. However, as previously related, the individual’s divine character is based on a combination of a number of specific personal archetypes, and it is these that are essential for integration in order for self-actualisation to occur. This will allow the individuals’ consciousness to be allowed to cross into source. All the other archetypes are not necessary for this journey, and can be integrated into the individuals’ concept of self later, as part of their acceptance of the reality of source.

One clue comes in the form of “guides”, that is, often, one or more archetypes will present themselves as guides for the individual. These can be “light” or “dark”, and may change over time. While it’s true that not all guides will be personal archetypes, it is true that all personal archetypes will be guides at some point.

Dark archetypes

archetypes come in all shapes and sizes. The mix of archetypes that will be involved with the individual is unique to that individual, and are simply a function of choices made by the individual when they set out on this particular phase of their soul journey before incarnation. Some will visit for a moment, others may become seemingly permanent fixtures in the individual’s internal world. Their relationship with the individual is a function of the level of acceptance that the individual has, both for the journey itself, and also for the specific characteristics of each archetype. Thus, the relationship can have friction, or it can be cooperative. As a general rule, the more friction involved in the relationship, then the more likely the individual is to have what we call the negative symptoms of schizophrenia. It’s in the interests of the individual, therefore, to try to remember our set of self-transcendent truths, and to establish a relationship based on love, with each archetype.

In some cases, this can be more problematic than others. A good example, is when the archetype identifies as a demon. As a general rule, most of us have been conditioned with the idea that demons are a bad thing, that they are, for example, evil, and will cause us harm. Whilst it’s true that regardless if our relationship with them is based on love or not, they will still carry out their role as challengers of self. This means they will look to test our boundaries. A large part of their role is to help us establish for ourselves exactly who we are, including what we will and won’t do. This role, is always going to be a deep personal challenge, one that has to be taken very seriously and with great care, and above all, honour. How demons work with the individual is different for each person, but some common themes include; they will send them delusions, they will trigger excessive emotions, they will introduce personal danger, they will introduce the idea of self as being a danger to others, and that others are a danger to self.

Demons will challenge our sense of truth, often by using higher truths, which conflict with our personal truths, against us. This is why often people will say that demons lie. This is usually not the case, they simply tell us higher, often unpalatable truths that we are unwilling to accept. One such truth may be that the individual is God. To the uninitiated, this is a heretic idea, however, to the individual that truly understands our transcendent truths, of course, all is self, and if all that is, is indeed God, then self is God, in fact, all selves are God.

It’s sometimes not possible to understand everything that the demons throw at us, their way is to teach using confusion; they like to make us confused and use the wisdom that through confusion comes illumination. Often when working with demons, it is a case of being able to pass through their zone of influence while maintaining our personal integrity. So long as we keep moving, our knowledge will grow, and in the end, we will pass their challenge. These aspects, too, will become an integrated part of self.

Unusual schizophrenic symptoms

Typically, the dramas which the archetypes present to us last longer and are more intense than anything our personal dissociations will throw at us. But it should be remembered that each personal dissociation can also communicate with the archetypes, and when they are dissociated aspects in shadow, they can call on the archetypes to help them teach us a lesson in some way.

The suggestion, is that this is what leads to many of the more unusual symptoms that schizophrenics experience. Such symptoms as hearing the thoughts of neighbours criticizing or plotting against us, feeling like we are being followed, having unusual negative experiences which the individual was made aware of before it happened. All these symptoms could be caused by the archetypes, either by acting directly, or at the behest of our negative dissociations.

The implication here is that by integrating the individual’s personal dissociations, we can potentially relieve some of those symptoms, however, the full gamut of symptoms will not be relieved until the individual can integrate all aspects of their personal self – both personal dissociations and personal archetypes.

In fact, as the individual is travelling along this journey of individuation, their symptoms will almost definitely change and in some cases, they will get worse. In so much as, as they climb their own personal ladder of self understanding. Lesser symptoms caused by their personal dissociations will give way to more significant symptoms caused by the archetypes.

However, it must be remembered that this a journey that is all about love, and acceptance. The more the individual can love the aspects of self they meet along the way, the more they will fall in love with the journey and the less negative it will be. In effect, it is our expectation that “bad things” will happen, which increases the negativity of those things.

Spiritual self-actualisation

Spiritual Self-actualization is the process of reintegrating all aspects of self into a unified whole. It’s the task of creating a self-concept that is in accordance with their true-self, their true spiritual self.

This is, of course, exactly what we have been doing. It’s the process of rediscovering all aspects of self, be they personal dissociations, past-life dissociations, higher self, or archetypal aspects, then loving and integrating them.

It does not mean we need to become aware of every aspect of self we ever created. Many of these are already on-board, and do not need to be rediscovered unless their existence has some impact on our higher purpose or the current journey of self-transcendence. In the main, the only aspects of self that need to be consciously integrated, are those that have a trauma related drama, those that have direct influence on the individuals’ life, or those that may be needed at some future point. Often, people can become obsessed with finding out about all their past lives, for example. In the main, this is a mistake and a distraction from the individuals’ path of self-actualisation. Overall, the self-aspects that need to be integrated will present themselves, at the right time.

Similarly, because of their pre-existing religious or cultural beliefs, they may think that only certain archetypes are valid or can interact with them. This approach will tend to hinder their journey. They need to understand that what they get, is what they get, not what they want, they need to be open to any possible interaction, from whoever or whatever direction it may come.

It may be informative at this point to review the structure of self of an individual who has already self actualised.

Note: Each structure of self is unique to the individual concerned. Knowing the structure of self for someone else does not provide one with a map that can be followed, but it does give an idea of what the journey ahead may look like. This is an important point – each of us has a different truth, whilst one individual can look deep within and find their personal connection to God, another can do the same and find there is no God. Both viewpoints are equally valid. In fact, the more unique the truth, the more it has been informed by self-introspection, rather than external input, the closer it is likely to be to that individual’s true-self.

My suggestion, is that the task of the therapist is to help the individual reach the stage of consciously being accepted back into the source levels, or their equivalent. And that involvement beyond that stage is probably not required, though it may, of course, be fascinating.

Based on the included structure of self, the point where the individual passes into source comes after they have reintegrated all self, past-self and archetypal aspects and has passed through what they call the “God-head” or entry point into this physical existence. We’d suggest that the therapist, in their interactions with clients, they keep an eye out for when this stage, however it may look for the individual concerned, is reached.

Evidence of efficacy of the approach

There is limited evidence on the effectiveness of Jungian shadow work or self-transcendence techniques for schizophrenia remission. However, some studies have explored the potential benefits of these approaches for people with psychosis or related conditions. For example:

  • A 2017 study by Nelson et al. found that a Jungian-based group therapy program improved self-esteem, empowerment, and quality of life in people with psychosis.
  • A 2018 study by Lysaker et al. found that self-transcendence was associated with lower levels of negative symptoms and higher levels of recovery in people with schizophrenia.
  • A 2019 study by Lemos-Giráldez et al. found that a mindfulness-based intervention increased self-transcendence and reduced psychotic symptoms in people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.

These studies suggest that Jungian shadow work or self-transcendence techniques may have some positive effects on people with schizophrenia or psychosis. However, more research is needed to confirm their efficacy and safety, as well as to identify the mechanisms and moderators of their outcomes.

Implications for other mental health conditions

This thesis has provided analysis of the trauma theory of schizophrenia, and how this could be used to inform a self-transcendence based therapy for schizophrenia which integrates Jungian psychotherapeutic practices. However, many of the same concepts could also be applied to a significant number of mental health conditions, including some of those which are considered to be the most complex and problematic, such as personality disorders.

The general concept is that it is trauma which triggers our biological, social and cognitive responses which in turn result in the disordered outcome, and that the solution is to resolve those traumas by applying a therapeutic approach based on self-transcendence and Jungian concepts. It therefore follows that the same approach could be applied to almost every other mental health condition which has trauma as part of its causation.

Additionally, there is the suggestion that trauma, recognised or not, is at the core of almost every mental health condition. We suggest that overall, we do not recognise the forgotten trauma of childbirth as something which could actually affect all individuals, whether they have apparent mental health conditions or not. And that many people who consider themselves to be normal and successful are actually simply good at masking their problems, even from themselves.

I suggest that further research and analysis be carried out to explore the potential of applying this approach to other psychological problems, and to produce more specific and tailored therapeutic solutions informed by that research.

Implications for other therapeutic models

This therapeutic model is largely based on the Jungian therapeutic model, and is informed by self-transcendence theory and practices. Some of the more common types of therapeutic models include cognitive-behavioural therapy, Dialectic behavioural therapy and acceptance and commitment therapies. Within this section, I will review those approaches and understand how the Jungian model could be incorporated into existing practice to provide a trauma informed recovery model for a range of conditions.

This transcendence-focussed Jungian therapy aims to help people discover their true selves and integrate the conscious and unconscious aspects of their personality. transcendence-focussed Jungian therapy uses techniques such as dream analysis, art therapy, intuitive writing, and active imagination to explore the symbolic meanings of the client’s experiences and thoughts. The trauma theory enhances this model by recognising that the personal unconscious will contain personality dissociations, created as a result of trauma. The model is then further informed with self-transcendent modes of thinking, and practices which enhance the Jungian psychoanalysis which is at the core of the approach.

cognitive-behavioural therapy, Dialectical behaviour therapy, and Acceptance and commitment therapy are three types of cognitive-behavioural therapies that share some common features with Jungian therapy, but also have some significant differences.

CBT is a short-term and goal-oriented approach that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviours that cause emotional distress. CBT helps clients learn coping skills and problem-solving strategies to deal with their challenges.

DBT is a modified form of CBT that was developed by Marsha Linehan to treat people with borderline personality disorder and other complex mental health issues. DBT combines CBT techniques with mindfulness, acceptance, and dialectics, which are ways of balancing and reconciling opposites. DBT helps clients regulate their emotions, reduce impulsive behaviours, and strengthen their interpersonal skills.

ACT is another variant of CBT that was developed by Steven Hayes and his colleagues. ACT uses mindfulness, acceptance, and values-based action to help clients increase their psychological flexibility and live a meaningful life. ACT helps clients accept their thoughts and feelings without judging them or trying to change them, and commit to actions that are aligned with their personal values.

One of the main differences between Jungian therapy and CBT, DBT, and ACT is the role of the unconscious mind. Jungian therapy emphasizes the importance of exploring the unconscious mind and its contents, such as archetypes, complexes, and the collective unconscious. Jung believed that the unconscious mind is a source of creativity, wisdom, and healing, but also of conflict and neurosis. Jungian therapy aims to help clients access their unconscious material through symbols and images, and integrate it with their conscious awareness.

CBT, DBT, and ACT, on the other hand, do not focus much on the unconscious mind or its contents. They are more concerned with the present moment and the observable thoughts and behaviours of the client. They do not use symbols or images to access the unconscious mind, but rather cognitive techniques to challenge and reframe negative thoughts. They also do not aim to integrate the unconscious mind with the conscious mind, but rather to help clients cope with their current difficulties and achieve their goals.This means that these therapies, whilst excellent in terms of helping individuals create thought models that allow them to cope with their dissociation inspired thinking, do not deal with the core problem – the dissociation itself. The implication being that although the dissociation may seem to be under control for perhaps a short while, it will most likely change to defeat the coping thought system developed as part of the behaviour therapy. It’s also suggested that the condition, as a result of this potential change, could, in fact, worsen, and the individual may suffer more stress and illness. The transcendence-focussed Jungian model, could therefore be used immediately after the CBT has taken the individual out of crisis, to follow up the CBT-based coping with therapy that seeks to treat the core condition.

Another difference between Jungian therapy and CBT, DBT, and ACT is the duration and structure of the therapy. Jungian therapy is usually a long-term and open-ended process that can last for years or even decades. Jungian therapy does not have a specific agenda or protocol, but rather follows the client’s unique journey of self-discovery and individuation. Jungian therapy is also more flexible and creative in its use of techniques, depending on the needs and preferences of the client. However, whilst most Jungian therapy is indeed long term, the transcendence-focussed Jungian model given here is based on the idea that once the client has been shown the basic principles of self-integration, they can begin to carry out their integrations without the need for therapeutic consultation. So whilst the overall process may indeed take some time, it will not have such a resource heavy impact in terms of consultation hours required.

It should therefore be possible to incorporate this transcendence-focussed Jungian therapeutic model into existing CBT, DBT and ACT practices by using the transcendence-focussed Jungian concepts and techniques as complementary tools to enhance the effectiveness of these therapies. For example:

In CBT, transcendence-focussed Jungian therapy can help clients explore their unconscious thoughts and feelings that may be influencing their cognitive distortions and maladaptive behaviours. By using techniques such as dream analysis, word association, and active imagination, clients can gain insight into their deeper motivations and conflicts, and challenge their negative beliefs from a broader perspective. Jungian therapy can also help clients develop a more integrated sense of self, by recognizing and balancing the different aspects of their personality, such as the ego, the shadow, the persona, and the self.

In DBT, transcendence-focussed Jungian therapy can help clients cope with emotional dysregulation and borderline personality disorder by fostering a dialectical approach to their inner experiences. By using techniques such as art and creative therapies, clients can express and accept their emotions in a non-judgmental way, and explore the symbolic meaning behind them. Jungian therapy can also help clients cultivate a more positive relationship with themselves, by embracing their wholeness and uniqueness, and developing their individuation process.

In ACT, transcendence-focussed Jungian therapy can help clients achieve psychological flexibility and value-based living by enhancing their mindfulness and acceptance skills. By using techniques such as meditation and breathing exercises, clients can become more aware of their present moment experience, and detach from their unhelpful thoughts and feelings. Jungian therapy can also help clients discover and pursue their true self, by identifying and aligning with their personal strengths, interests, and goals.

These are just some examples of how the transcendence-focussed Jungian therapeutic model can be incorporated into existing CBT, DBT and ACT practices. However, it is important to note that these therapies have different theoretical foundations and assumptions, and may not be compatible with all aspects of Jungian therapy. Therefore, therapists who wish to integrate this approach should be careful to respect the integrity and specificity of each therapy, and tailor their interventions according to the needs and preferences of each client.

[1] Definition | Background information | Psychosis and schizophrenia | CKS | NICE

[2] DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria for Schizophrenia

[3] Schizophrenia Criteria: What Makes A Person Schizophrenic?

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Transcendence theory

Leibniz G (1996) New Essays on Human Understanding. Cambridge University Press.

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self-transcendence theory

Cloninger CR (2004). Feeling good: The science of wellbeing. Oxford University Press.

Reed PG (2008). Theory of self-transcendence. In: Smith MJ & Liehr PR (Eds.), Middle range theory for nursing (2nd ed., pp. 105–129). Springer Publishing Company.

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Kaufman SB (2018). Transcend: The new science of Self-actualization. Penguin Random House.

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Wink P & Dillon M (2002). Spiritual development across the adult life course: Findings from a longitudinal study. Journal of Adult Development 9(1): 79–94.

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Intrapersonal transcendence

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Transpersonal transcendence

Cloninger, C. R. (2004). Feeling good: The science of wellbeing. Oxford University Press.

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Self-transcendent theory: Everything is connected

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Frankl, V. E. (1985). Man’s search for meaning. New York: Washington Square Press.

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Implications for other mental health conditions

12 Popular Counseling Approaches to Consider –

Types of therapy – British Association for counselling and Psychotherapy

Jungian Therapy | Psychology Today

Structural dissociation theory

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

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van der Hart, O., Nijenhuis, E., & Steele, K. (2006). The haunted self: Structural dissociation and the treatment of chronic traumatization. W.W. Norton & Company.

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Internal family systems

American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).

Fisher, J. (2017). Healing the fragmented selves of trauma survivors: Overcoming internal self-alienation. Routledge.

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Sweezy, M., & Ziskind, E. L. (Eds.). (2013). Internal family systems therapy: New dimensions. Routledge.

Van der Hart, O., Nijenhuis, E., & Steele, K. (2006). The haunted self: Structural dissociation and the treatment of chronic traumatization. W.W. Norton & Company.

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