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“Going home, at whatever age, offers going back, regression. And the fight against family during these return trips is therefore a displacement of the fight against regression. We don’t want to admit the weaknesses in our characters and the hungers in our desires. We don’t want to admit that we have not ‘grown up,’ and so blame the family both for bringing out the worst and then for not indulging it enough…

The debilitating energy loss strikes everyone alike as if a communal power outage. Everyone caught in repeating, and resisting, old patterns. Nothing changed, after all these years! … These moments attest to the capacity of family for sharing – in a common soul or psychic state, and for containing the regressive needs of the soul.

No one is at fault, no one is kicked out, and no one can be helped. In the paralysis lies the profound source of acceptance. Grandpa can go on grumbling, brother attacking the administration, sister introvertedly attending her exacerbating eczema, and mother go on covering up with solicitous busyness. Everyone goes down the drain because family love allows family pathology, an immense tolerance for the hopeless shadow in each, the shadow that we each carry as a permanent part of our baggage and that we unpack when we go back home.”

–James Hillman in A Blue Fire

Photo: Josh Wedin


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