WHEN DOES THE WOUNDED HEALER, HEAL? Reflections on Woundology (Part 1)
Woundology is basically the idea that we hold onto our wounds because they are comfortable or familiar. We learn the language of the wound, how it works, why it’s there, but remain within the consciousness that feeds and nurtures its existence. Because that is ‘the new normal’ and it brings with it the opportunity for a shared sense of identification.
The term itself was coined by Caroline Myss, from her book ‘Why People Don’t Heal and How They Can’. It’s probably one of the most-needed concepts in our collective engagement with the term ‘healing’ and the ‘wounded healer’ archetype. Highly recommended. This is my take on her work, especially in light of recent observations and awakenings within myself.
Caroline Myss makes the persuasive case – that for some people – the work of healing gets stunted by an over-dependence on the tools that we initially set out to use to heal. She found that her peers felt more at home attending the workshops, going for therapy, courses, sessions – anything that kept that experience of the wound and its need for healing alive. They reacted badly to the idea of moving out of those spaces (at some point) and that they could develop a sense of self, community and kinship not anchored within their wounds.
In other words, they had become attached to the ‘healing process’, rather than the end-state or goal (if you can call it that) of ‘healing’.
But why would someone do that, you might ask? Why would someone become ‘comfortable’ with their wounds and engage a healing journey that never seems to end?
Myss’ argument is that having certain wounds and going on a shared journey of healing makes it possible to relate to others and create shared bonds of identification. The rationale was that if the wounds no longer existed, they would lose such – I’m calling it – ‘families of healing’.
Hence .. the tool becomes a crutch.
It’s a similar kind of dynamic when you see a person who knows they’re in pain, but, at a deep and profound level, does not wish to heal despite what they say on the surface.
In toxic relationships, it’s the same kind of behavior you see when one partner shifts their level of consciousness to something healthier, and the other partner completely loses it. They become angry, accusative, irritable and make the partner searching for something better into the ‘villain’.
The unspoken accusation is this:
How dare you shift the carefully calibrated balance we’ve built up around our wounds?
And let’s face it, some people, friendships & families stay together just keep their wounds alive – not because it’s pleasurable, but because it’s what they know. And so the same goes with an over-dependence on certain spiritual tools, concepts, paradigms and circles. We get attached to those families of healing. We subconsciously begin to fear losing them and forget their original purpose. And in that fear, we forget that human relationships thrive when they have to evolve and discover new ways of being, together.
The question is whether we want bonds that are forged through shared wounds (which is alright in itself as a starting point), and whether those bonds can survive healing out of those wounds (which is the big question). If the recovering self fears losing these ties, it’s going to make sure that it doesn’t have to face that eventuality. If you’re in a relationship where your partner does not want you to heal, he or she is going to feel threatened by your efforts to do so.
So – in other words – Woundology – as a concept – reveals to us how we may be self-sabotaging the healing process, irrespective of (externally) how much efforts we appear to be making. It speaks to those who seek healing from others – and – those who heal others themselves.
As facilitators, it is important for us to question whether our work feeds into our own/others’ needs to ‘keep the wound in place’. Much like the band-aid that provides temporary relief or the palliative that allows us to manage without shifting the roots of things.
Does the work we do actually lead to a shifting of/away from those wounds – be it for ourselves or our clients?
Does the work we do encourage attachments born of the wound, but unable to survive – or evolve through – its transcendence?
I ask myself these questions (of me, and of the clients I work with) before consenting to do a session. If I feel my session will simply keep them in the same vibe/head-space of ‘wanting to heal, but not really’, I decline to conduct the session and explain my reasons for it.
It brings a greater sense of clarity to the focus of the work and the shifting that it facilitates. I highly recommend this moment or practice of reflection to others, should they resonate with it.
Blessings To All,
PART 2 – Victim Consciousness and Ways of Moving through It
PART 3 – What is the end goal of healing – is there such a thing as ‘transcending the wound’?
5-minute video discussion on ‘Wound-Working and Conscious Spirituality’ –
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