James Hollis -Swamplands of the Soul

we drag
expensive ghosts
through memory’s unmade bed

Paul Hoover
Theory of Margins

It is a widespread misconception that much of psychotherapy is spent blaming parents, or socio-economic conditions, rather than dealing with the present.

While much of our character is in fact shaped by those formative experiences, the essence of therapy is the acknowledgement of responsibility for one’s choices.

Such recognition may be humbling, even shattering, but further denial or unconsciousness adheres one to the past without hope of change.


Jung has written eloquently of the healthy acknowledgement of guilt. It does not signify denial or avoidance, and it is certainly not remaining stuck in the past.

Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow he has done something real for the world.

He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved social problems of our day.

How can anyone see straight when he does not even see himself and the darkness he unconsciously carries with him into all his dealings?


Part of the legitimate development of the individual is the appropriate acknowledgement of guilt, which is to say the acceptance of responsibility for one’s choices, however unconscious one was at the time.

The essence of Greek tragedy was the recognition that there are forces within the individual which bring one to make choices through which others may suffer.

In most tragedies the Chorus witnesses the workings of Fate in setting up possibilities and wounding the protagonist. As a result of what the Greeks called hamartia – often translated as “the tragic flaw” but I prefer “wounded vision” – the individual makes choices whose consequences cannot be foreseen.

Through suffering, the individual may then come to redemption by acknowledgement, penance and a reconstitution of right relationship to the gods.

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