Sunday, November 25, 2007

Jung Love Review: Kathrin Asper's Abandoned Child Within Deepens My Interest

Asper, Kathrin. (1993). The Abandoned Child Within: On Losing and Regaining Self-Worth. (Translated by S. E. Rooks.) New York: Fromm International Publishing.

Asper is the real deal -- a Jungian trained at the Jung Institute in Zurich,Switzerland. The book is out of print, so thank goodness for university libraries. When a book makes a deep impression on me, I copy long passages from it. That was the case with this book. I often had to stop to emotionally digest her words and examples. Writing out passages further helped me to make sense of this work.

Asper identifies a disorder she terms narcissistic self-estrangement. The analysand must first heal the wounds of this disorder before embarking on the Jungian journey toward integration of ego and spirit through individuation. According to Asper, this type of person invests a lot of energy in developing a persona that can get along quite well in the world. However, this person is not truly anchored in herself. When something happens externally that is upsetting, such as loss or disappointment, the person responds with
rage, resignation, or depression. Even when life is going well, they experience alienation and emotional detachment.

Asper writes, "There are two ways that insufficient mothering is expressed in adult behaviors -- clinging or a false self-sufficiency. People with faulty attachment behavior are extremely sensitive to separation and tend to be anxious about loss and to deal pathologically with grief" (p. 45). The narcissistically wounded person must learn to feel her feelings, instead of denying them or striving to do something about them, and thus remaining cut off from feelings. As in other emotional recovery programs, one must allow oneself to fully feel before one can heal.

Narcissistically wounded people must learn compassion for themselves and to celebrate their victories and joys. Of course, such awareness is good medicine for all spiritual journeys. My interpretation of Asper does not give full credit to the depth of her work.

This is a serious work of Jungian study, intended for professional analysts. It also is a revealing study that may resonate with many people for whom popular books about the abandoned child within have seemed simplistic.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this review!! Very helpful indeed.

Craig said...

I've read this book too and it had a profound effect on me. It was painful for me to read it because I recognised myself (and my mother) as someone with what Asper calls a "narcissistic wound" or as she also describes it "a disturbance of self-love". She strikes me as a analyst capable of taking the greatest care with her clients. This is important as it seems the only way to "cure" this "condition" is to painstakingly help the client to revisit the cause of the "narcissitic wound" which can lead to what she calls "flooding from the unconscious", basically a psychotic episode. I admire her enormously.

TropiGal said...

Thanks, Craig, for your thoughtful response. Asper's tone does shine through as a sensitive and caring analyst.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky to know Kathrin Asper in person since she was my Analyst while I studied Psychology in Zurich in the 80ies. It was a wonderful experience that enriched my life tremendously! All her books are a very good read.