The Warrior, the Healer, development, and Shadow
The Warrior, the Healer, and the Man of Wisdom are universal archetypes that inform our personal evolution in countless ways. They are intertwined in our adaptive unconscious--our Shadow selves. Recently I had a fun conversation with Mike Marschhausen on his podcast, The Healthy Empath, about these and other archetypes. https://www.healthyempath.com/post/drkeithwitt.
Mike inquired in detail about my initiation into a new self at age 15, when I was hospitalized for depression and crippling anxiety, for five weeks receiving 23 electroconvulsive shock treatments and psychotherapy. During each treatment I was strapped to a gurney, given IV valium, and blasted with electric current through my frontal and temporal cortexes, kindling a grand mal seizure resulting in amnesia, disorientation, and brief, blessed relief from depression and anxiety.
In indigenous tribes, the Shaman's apprentice often endures death and rebirth at age 15 through ordeal and instruction. Those days in the Wells Neuropsychiatric Clinic in 1965, repetitively experiencing shock, amnesia and clarity, shock, amnesia and clarity...again and again, constellated my death and rebirth. I love telling this story--I believe we all can choose love at any moment, no matter how dark the world seems.
The Warrior stands up for his principles in the face of adversity and at risk to himself. As the Warrior develops and expands, he eventually hungers to serve and teach more than to compete and strive. This marks the transition into the Man of Wisdom. Generally men at peace with their Warrior nature do better with relationships, work, competition, sexuality, spiritual practice, etc, becoming more authentic and present as they live their principles. This increasing authenticity and integrated consciousness leads into the Man of Wisdom.
As I discuss with Mike, human development, often driven by shame emotions which are intensely relational, leads us towards self-transcendence, love, and joy. Appropriately processing shame emotions can help us love, grow, and thrive. To process shame emotions, we need to develop increasingly positive and productive relationships with our adaptive unconscious, our Shadow selves. Mike and I discuss a number of methods for processing destructive Shadow, which often arises from shame dynamics continuously programmed since before birth. All these techniques help us clean up our lives and become more integrated, while simultaneously encouraging us to wake up to new ideas, perspectives, and even new self-identities.