The Myth of the Wounded Healer.

One of the delights in blogging is that I discover kindred spirits from various parts of the world.  One recent discovery was a blog entitled “Nickle Boy Graphics” in which another man with a fundamentalist-Christian past brings to the table a gentler approach to biblical faith.  He is a talented graphic artist and uses this skill and knowledge of the Christian tradition to kindly and gently chide those Christians who take themselves too seriously.  Here is a link to one of his posts which I found very provocative:

One point this gentleman makes here is that we need to always remember that beneath the surface of someone who is careening in life, appearing to be on the verge of crashing and burning, there is a soul in great pain.  It is so easy to offer, from our font of “great wisdom” a banal kindness and reassurance which, though innocently intended perhaps, fails to include simple recognition of this person’s presence in the world, which I like to describe as “Presence.”  Before we unleash our “fixing” machinery on this person…a tendency we professional care-givers always has ready to unleash on the world…we need to pause and offer simple recognition and acceptance.  We need to lay aside our diagnostic knife and merely recognize, “You and I are here together brother/sister.  We are in this together and I accept you ‘as is’.”  It is easier and simpler to wield diagnostic jargon such as “nuts” or perhaps a sanitized “mentally ill,” or “sinner” or “evil” or “alcoholic” or “drug addict.”  Each of these labels might be quite valid but beneath the label that we so readily foist on the person there is a “Person” who needs to be spiritually/emotionally embraced, as in “accepted.”  And this is not unrelated to the “acceptance” that Christians purport to find in Jesus but closer scrutiny of the scripture reveals that Jesus always has in mind acceptance “as is” without the requirements many Christians demand.  When an individual is offered this “as is” acceptance, described by psychologist Carl Rogers as “unconditional positive regard”, often that individual can find the Grace to begin to address the pain that until that point he had been unable to embrace.

The ability to offer this “unconditional positive regard” comes only with having been through the experience of brokenness oneself and having found someone who proffered this kindness.  It is the ego’s refusal to experience “brokenness” that keeps many professional care-givers from becoming the mythical “wounded-healer” who can facilitate the soul-work where healing is realized.  (Carl Jung is the one who first coined the term “wounded-healer,” perhaps drawing upon Greek mythology.)


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