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Trauma is an injury to our capacity to feel. When our capacity to feel is injured, we cease to be able to imagine, because imagination depends on emotional literacy, says Dr. Donald Kalsched, who for 20 years has been crafting a model of the dissociating psyche.

This model describes various unconscious archetypal powers arranged in a dynamic system of defense that attempts to protect a sacred, innocent psyche from further violation. In order to leave this enclave, we need to become emotionally literate, Kalsched suggests, one of the major goals of the work depth psychologists take on. This includes working through grief and despair.

This self-care system and all its constituents is invisible, Kalsched points out. The only way we can engage is by looking for the “tracks” they leave in dreams, in the imagination, or in the practice of active imagination advocated by Jung. The constituents may show up in opposing forms: as a “devil” related to violence, adversary, accuser, critic, or tyrant which can lead to innate distress such as hatred, loathing, or shame; or as a “bright angel,” which suggests essential goodness, safety, bliss, hope, and love…

READ the summary article or LISTEN to the full recording of Kalsched’s keynote address at the June 2017 “Response at the Radical Edge” conference, courtesy of Pacifica Graduate Institute: http://www.pacificapost.com/the-core-complex-of-a-traumatized-psyche