In Between Places

There’s a lot in this quote from Jungian analyst Murray Stein’s book Transformation.

When a person goes through deep change, from one way of being and living to another, there is a time in between being the old self and becoming the new self, and this time period is confusing, disconcerting, sometimes exciting, and difficult.

Stein calls this period “liminality”–which means a time in between.

“In liminality, a person feels at a loss for steady points of reference. When the established hierarchies of the past have dissolved and before new images and attitudes have emerged fully, and while those that have appeared are not yet solid and reliable, everything seems to be in flux. Dreams during this psychological metamorphosis tend to show themes both of breakdown (images of buildings being torn down, of changing houses, sometimes of actual dismemberment and physical disintegration) and of emergence (images of construction, giving birth, marriage, the divine child). Angst is the mood of liminality. A person is ambivalent and depressed, and this is punctuated by periods of enthusiasm, adventure, and experimentation. People go on living, but not quite in this world. The analyst feels like the old man in the dream quoted above–watching a process unfold, observing the seasons passing, waiting patiently for new structures to emerge and solidify. It is an article of faith that what is under way is ‘a system “developing itself,” a process embodying the whole specific nature of the living creature’–faith that a butterfly will emerge from the cocoon where liminality reigns.”
-from Murray Stein’s book, Transformation: Emergence of the Self.

 

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