I’m not sure when the view of my work began to change; it was a slow process. I stopped seeing my patients as clinical entities. St. Gregory stated, “A soul in trouble is near unto God.” I started to see my patients as souls in trouble and to sense that they were indeed near unto God even though they often did not feel it. They often seemed to be in a holy battle, a herculean struggle. I started to see them as heroes who had far more resilience and courage than I could ever imagine. They were far more than patients with symptoms. In fact, in this book I will never again refer to them as patients, nor will I talk about symptoms or treatment. There are a million books about therapy out there.
I stopped feeling like a psychologist, but instead like a guide or companion, and near the end of the process more like a midwife who would assist the person through his or her darkness into a new life, a midwife for a rebirth. Each one of them will endure this psychological crucifixion. Their old self will have to die for the new self to be born. This is a very painful and emotional experience. For this to happen, I have to earn their trust. They have to have confidence in me. For people who have been abused, traumatized, or betrayed this is no small feat. Trust is in short commodity for these people. For some reason, I can usually earn their trust, gain their confidence, and we can get to work.
At times I felt compelled to pray. Once the need to pray started, the change became more profound for me. I prayed for them while they were in agony. I fasted for them, and really began to feel a much greater and deeper empathy for them. I prayed for them all. Once I started to pray, the work became holy for me, not dry, or sterile, but rather sacred, holy, and mystical.
Of course they are unaware of all of this. This is the first time I have ever mentioned my praying to anyone. I never imagined I would pray in my office, or fast for people in the hopes of easing their burden. They do not teach you this in graduate school. There is a lot they do not teach you there.
It just seemed as if there was nothing else for me to do. With EMDR these heroes go it alone. I just watch and make sure they’re safe. I say no words of wisdom; I just shut up and allow them to go back into their pain, ironically to be free of it. So I do what I can, which isn’t much. I pray.
I stopped thinking about the person’s family of origin as dysfunctional. It was not simply a dysfunctional family system, but a place where evil resided and set up shop to destroy lives and souls. I would often feel rage well up within me against these perpetrators. It was hard to shake this rage sometimes. I experienced this evil by proxy; the more I heard the more I hated. More about this later.
Somewhere in the transformational work with a number of these people I began to notice a parallel between the transforming power of EMDR and what C. G. Jung describes as the individuation process. Jung suggests that individuation is a never-ending movement of the self to change and grow throughout the lifespan. Of course one can decide to avoid this process altogether and learn nothing new throughout a lifespan. One does not have to look very far to encounter people who seem to have learned nothing about themselves, or anything else for that matter.
EMDR manifests the Jungian model of the psyche, or, if you will, it activates the soul. It accelerates the individuation process. When using EMDR to enhance the individuation process, well, it is like Jungian depth psychology on steroids. It moves very fast, and changes occur in a person’s life quickly.
The parallel between the EMDR transformational outcome and Jung’s goal of an individuated self is profound. Most importantly, the transformational work with EMDR perfectly mimics the Passion of Christ that Jesus of Nazareth modeled. Both of these transformation models exist in the EMDR process, the Christian idea of the crucifixion and resurrection as well as the individuation process of Jung, who talks about these stages without mentioning Christ. I am bravely or perhaps foolishly, going to talk about God throughout this book, identifying the six Christian stages and how they manifest themselves in this work. We will also compare this process to the Judaic mystical practice of Kabbalah and the Islamic tradition of Sufism. It is surprising to see just how similar these practices are and how much we as humans all want the same thing; we want to be at peace, to feel productive, and to know God.