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Donald Kalsched – The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defences of the Personal Spirit

Series: Near Eastern St.;Bibliotheca Persica
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Routledge (November 7, 1996)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0415123291
ISBN-13: 978-0415123297

If you haven’t yet read The Inner World of Trauma you should certainly put it at the top of your reading list. Published in 1996 it had been preceded with several earlier papers by Donald Kalsched on archetypal affects and daimonic elements in early trauma survivors life and clinical situation (see publications list at Its publication constituted a turning point in a Jungian attitude towards working with trauma in analysis, and made it into the canon of required clinical reading not only in Jungian psychoanalysis but also in other fields of psychology. It might be due to its ability to integrate different points of view within psychoanalysis and to show their mutual relatedness – building up his theory of archetypal self-care system Kalsched draws on the findings of analytical psychology and psychoanalysis schools, and is able at the same time to avoid their misunderstandings.

But it is his ability to shed new light on the understanding of suffering and the course of therapy of traumatized patients that is the most important feature of this book. Analyzing psychological defenses against overwhelming suffering that is the result of trauma, Kalsched notices the autonomy and the dynamic of the deep level of psychological defenses that he names „self-care system” – „archetypal traumatogenic agency within the psyche itself” (p. 4). This “second line of defenses comes into play to prevent the ‘unthinkable’ from being experienced” (p. 1). The most often we experience its in the clinical situation as the source of disturbance and severe psychopathology, but at those critical points of life when trauma strikes their activity serves life-saving goals.

Usually when the dreams illustrate those deep, often dissociative activities in the response to trauma, no-one is listening, notices Kalsched, and adds: „In depth psychotherapy, we try to listen.” (p. 3) This ability to carefully listen is present throughout the whole book, leaving the reader deeply impressed with a deep respect towards human suffering that is often a lifelong result of the trauma experience. As such The Inner World of Trauma will be of interest not only for clinicians but also for all readers interested in depth psychology approach towards trauma treatement. Readers that are interested in trauma theory may want as well read the newest book by Donald Kalsched that elaborates deeper relationships between trauma and spirituality – Trauma and the Soul: A psycho-spiritual approach to human development and its interruption. The Inner World of Trauma was translated to several languages with new translations in preparation.

Publications list

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donald_kalsched-220x300Donald Kalsched, Ph.D.

Donald Kalsched is a Clinical Psychologist and Jungian Psychoanalyst in private practice in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is a senior training analyst with the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts where he teaches and supervises.

His 1996 book The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defences of the Personal Spirit has found a wide readership in both psychoanalytic and Jungian circles and has been translated into many languages.

Dr. Kalsched teaches and lectures nationally and internationally, pursuing his inter-disciplinary interest in early trauma and dissociation theory and its mytho-poetic manifestations in the mythic and religious iconography of many cultures.

His new book Trauma and the Soul: A psycho-spiritual approach to human development and its interruption, was published in 2013.

Read more about Donald Kalsched at his website


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