(Article by Anna Dimou, Psychologist)
By looking at the archetypes of a myth, one may be able to interpret aspects of the world that surrounds us. Mythology is a useful tool we can employ to identify features and aspects of the human soul.
In Greek mythology, Chiron was the wisest of the Centaurs (creations that were half Men and half horses) and could be considered as the 'wounded healer'. His pupil, Achilles, during a battle...
, accidentally hit him with an arrow that was soaked in the blood of the Hydra. Chiron being immortal lived on wounded by with pain. In an effort to find his own cure, he learned to help and ease the suffering of others. This discovery, ie the teaching of others how to treat themselves, was a mean to relieve his eternal pain.
Everyone of us at some point of our lives will inevitably pass by tests. We may experience physical pain, illness, mental confusion, trauma or even perhaps confronted with existential angst. All these difficulties are likely to teach us to sympathize in sorrow and pain of our fellow men.
Carl Jung believed that the disease of the soul could be the best form of training for a therapist. The pains and difficulties one carries and finally overcomes, are the source of a greater wisdom and healing power.
The 'Wounded Healer' understands how the patient feels because he has gone through the same pain. Furthermore, the healer through his experience is capable to feel, by placing himself in place of the other and not only just to be compassionate. The patient from the other side, perceives this action even on a subconscious level. Because of this experience the substance of the relationship is transformed. From 'expert', the therapist becomes the companion* with his patient, thus opening a spiritual path that connects them.
Finally, the patient suffering and cared by the therapist simultaneously contributes to the healing of the healer. The interaction can play a key role in the treatment of both.
In conclusion, the myth of Chiron teaches us that we are able to overcome the pain by converting it to power and knowledge. Through such an experience everyone can become a 'Wounded Healer'.
"Man needs difficulties. They are vital for his health." Carl Jung (1875-1961, Swiss psychologist)
* A term used to Irvin Yalom's patients.
Anna Dimou, Consultant - Psychologist (www.annadimou.com)