“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” This quote by Carl Jung demonstrates the statement that one can heal from trauma to become integrated and whole. Oftentimes, the healing of trauma and traversing the “many dark nights of the soul” can increase one’s capacity for love and service, as well as heightened spirituality, transformation and integration. In this paper, I will address these issues from a psychodynamic viewpoint, namely integration theory by Carl Jung (1962) . I will substantiate this statement with quantitative studies as well as writings of qualified authors in the field of trauma, spirituality and integration, and explain the concepts of trauma, post-traumatic growth and spirituality.
Negative life events (trauma) challenge one’s concept about self, others, the world and God (Janoff-Bulman, 1992; Kaufman, 2002). After experiencing a traumatic event, individuals must resolve the paradox of why a God, who is all-loving, knowing and, and powerful, allows suffering to occur (Webb, Sink et al 2010). This struggle can strengthen or strain an individual’s relationship with God (Shaw, Joseph et al 2005).
Post-traumatic growth, according to O’Rourke et al (2007), who reviewed 12 quantitative measures, and facilitated clients’ transitions through adversity, state:
“ post-traumatic growth is a salient human experience for those who are interested in spirituality and religiosity. Post-traumatic growth is also an important component to understanding trauma because it defines the possibility of positive outcomes from traumatic experiences that had previously been considered only in their relationship to subsequent distress and dysfunction.”
I will further explain Spirituality as defined by Wikipedia:
… in a narrow sense, concerns itself with matters of the spirit. A perceived sense of connection forms a central defining characteristic of spirituality — connection to a metaphysical reality greater than oneself….Equally important, spirituality relates to matters of sanity and of psychological health. Spirituality may involve perceiving or wishing to perceive life as more important (“higher”), more complex or more integrated with one’s world view; as contrasted with the merely sensual. Many spiritual traditions, accordingly, share a common spiritual theme: the “path”, “work”, practice, or tradition of perceiving and internalizing one’s “true” nature and relationship to the rest of existence God, creation (the universe), or life), and of becoming free of the lesser egoic self (or ego) in favor of being more fully one’s “true” “Self“.
Integration according to Carl Jung (1962), who went through his own personal experience with trauma, tragedy and introspection, defines it as ” individuation is a process of transformation whereby the personal and collective unconscious is brought into consciousness (by means of dreams, active imagination, free association) to be assimilated into the whole personality. It is a completely natural process necessary for the integration of the psyche to take place.”
Besides achieving physical and mental health, those who have advanced towards individuation are those who tend to be harmonious, mature and responsible, with values such as freedom, justice with a good understanding about the workings of human nature, the universe and the Divine.