James Hollis, PhD, has written many books and his most recent (2013) is Hauntings: Dispelling the Ghosts Who Run Our Lives. In it he considers how we are all governed by the presence of invisible forms—spirits, ghosts, ancestral and parental influences, inner voices, dreams, impulses, untold stories, complexes, synchronicities, and mysteries—which move through us, and through history. Actually, sometimes the ghosts are absences rather than presences.
These ghosts that haunt us, that unconsciously determine so many of our choices each day, are powerful influences. What is one’s reaction to not just his/her mother, but to mothers in general, and indeed to anyone that triggers the concept or prototype (archetype in Jungian terms) of mother? For example, Hollis writes “Remember that Jung said when he heard the word mother he thought unreliable and when he heard father he thought powerless. Where did he come by these associations other than by having had a history in which these entities were loaded up with valences?” (Hauntings, p. 40).
The abiding task in most forms of depth psychology is to somehow access those deeply imprinted influences, to bring them to conscious awareness, and thus to make it possible to consciously choose behaviors rather than re-enacting old patterns. We have found hypnotherapy invaluable in that task, which allows one to go back through age regression to early formative experiences, bringing to light what has until now been lurking in the shadows.
Hollis is clear that “we are also haunted by absences. . . . absences are still presences and that death, divorce, or distance do not end relationships.” (Hauntings, p. 135). For example, a looming influence in one’s life could be the absence of a parent who died in childhood, or the disheartening loneliness of unrequited love. And, as Hollis quotes Kierkegaard, “The most painful state of being is remembering the future, particularly the one you’ll never have.” Both unresolved past and unattempted future are huge obstacles in our ability to be present for our life experience.
A significant conclusion made by Hollis is that the “greatest haunting we all suffer is the loss of relationship to the soul, to the original mode of being that proved too costly for us to sustain beyond age two or thereabouts.” (Hauntings, p. 140).
James Hollis, PhD, is Executive Director of the Jung Center of Houston, TX, a practicing Jungian Analyst, and author of at least a dozen books.
The Association of Heart-Centered Therapies is proud to be presenting Dr. James Hollis as keynote speaker for its 8th International Conference in Oak Brook, Illinois June 19-22, 2014. Dr. Hollis will be speaking on “The Clinical Applications of the Wounded Healer Archetype” and “Dark Selves: Shadow Encounters in Our Personal and Professional Lives.”
The theme of the Conference is “The Archetype of Protector and Saboteur – Embedded in the Nervous System.” We will focus on how traumatic shock states are the somatic correlate of emotional pain and psychic disturbance. As Hollis says, “when the energy of a complex is activated, it always manifests in the body.” (Hauntings, p. 50).