Pamela L. Travers and The Wounded Child Archetype

 

pamela-l-travers

In this week’s post, I will discuss how Pamela L. Travers’s early childhood wounds activated the Wounded Child energetical pattern in her psyche. There are probably other ways of seeing, understanding, and explaining Pamela’s inner workings: however, as I was reading her biography and watching the documentaries about her life, the concept of the archetypal energy patterns (as developed by Caroline Myss) kept coming to mind.

♥ And to be honest, I fancy the idea that Pamela would like to be analyzed through an archetypal lens; archetypes populate myth and that is the space where she loved to dwell.

So, I am going to use Caroline Myss’s model of the different aspects of the Child Archetype (and throughout this blog, other archetypes from her gallery of archetypes) to explain my understanding of Pamela’s personality and her psychological blockages.

To begin with, an archetypal energy is seen as being essentially neutral. The polarity of its attributes arises depending on our awareness of its presence within us or our lack thereof. If a person embodies consciously all her/his archetypal energies then it is the light, positive side that will manifest in that person’s life. If on the other hand, the person is unconscious of the archetypal energies in play, then there is a fragmentation of the whole being and the negative aspects of these energies are activated. The shadow within arises.  

I believe we all come into this world with our own innate nature, personality traits, and archetypal energy patterns and then this inner configuration begins to interact with the outside world and the innate natures of others. Out of this interaction our self-identity unfolds.

♥ The way I see it, the result of Pamela’s early interaction with her caregivers was the shattering of her Child Archetype into separate fragments. Pamela appears to have had the aspect of the Magical Child and the Nature Child in her energetic system, but as she grew older, these fragments became gradually overpowered by the shadows of the Wounded and the Orphan Child aspects present in her psyche.

I also believe, and that belief has been reinforced by so many personal encounters, that some people never grow up, never truly mature. For different reasons their inner child remains fragmented and unconscious of its shadow’s needs. The physical age of our bodies has nothing to do with our self-awareness.

As a young child, Pamela L. Travers knew her parents loved her. They must have. Why would they otherwise keep her warm and fed? As a teen, she knew her aunt loved her. She must have or why would she pay for her boarding school and typewriter. But the love Pamela received was disfigured by her caregivers’ own emotional scars. Because of their own baggage (and probably totally unintentionally), they made her feel inadequate, not good enough, not appropriate enough, not sensible enough, not pretty enough, not smart enough, and not helpful enough.

But they loved her… despite her many flaws…She knew they loved her but she didn’t feel loved.  If that was not the case why would she, in her sixties, write:

What was a black sheep, I asked myself. Obviously, in the general view, one full of iniquity. If so, might I not be one myself, in spite of the tireless efforts of parents, teachers and friends.”  And “Can I have been one of the Devil’s party. Was I bereaved of light?

Pamela’s Wounded Child held the painful memories of the verbal abuse and the emotional neglect, as well as the memories of the traumatic early experience of her father’s death and the suicide attempt of her mother. All these experiences occurred when Pamela was very young and highly impressionable; and thus, they created a lens of sorrow through which afterwards she viewed the circumstances of her life.

Childhood wounds from the father – Experiencing feelings of inadequacy followed by the experience of loss and grief. (Pamela’s First Gods Part I)

Childhood wounds from the motherExperiencing betrayal, feelings of abandonment and then the burden of becoming her mother’s pillar. (Pamela’s First Gods Part II)

Childhood wounds from the auntExperiencing feelings of inadequacy and not being part of the tribe. (Pamela’s First Gods Part III)

Carolyn Myss’s model of the Wounded Child holds that if the wounds are successfully processed the painful experiences of the Wounded Child archetype can awaken a deep sense of compassion and a desire to find a path of service aimed at helping other Wounded Children. She also suggests that from a spiritual perspective, a wounded childhood cracks open the heart and the learning path of forgiveness.

Unfortunately, Pamela remained unable to transform the negative attributes of the Wounded Child Archetype into positive ones. 

I do not count myself amongst the teachers, however, but as one who is speaking to a brother seeker. Another un-knower, not necessarily an ignoramus.

♥ I believe that her failure to heal her wounds is partially due to her refusal to blame her parents for her misfortunes.  I believe that first she had to get openly angry with them to bring into her conscious mind her unsatisfied needs. Then she needed to understand that her parent’s wounds made her feel inadequate and unlovable; that these feelings were not an objective image of herself. It all had to do with her parent’s inner suffering. Her intrinsic value was not theirs to determine. She had to truly forgive them and then learn to love herself, to be her own mother and father.  Instead, she developed a strong and abiding sense of self-pity which is another shadow aspect of the Wounded Child. 

By its nature, self-pity is an interpersonal emotion, it directs its feelings toward others with the hope of attracting attention, empathy, and help. Pamela’s unconscious need to have others recognize her wounds underlies her childish unconscious belief that healing and wholeness will come from an outside event, person, or experience. This eventually led to a downward spiral of issues such as broken relationships, alienation and depression.

The same face, the same garments, the other aspect of myself – and I had rejected it, believing, in my ignorance, that I could go on my pilgrimage unshadowed and alone. I could have lightened the load I carried by delighting in herself delight, taking part in her varying rounds, sitting beside her   – friend to friend, compassionate – so that her self-pity could turn about and become its healing opposite, the pity for all that is.  By failing her I had failed myself.

And, what does “pity of all that is” mean? It means that Pamela was hopeless. Her depression made her believe that something was not only wrong with her, but wrong with life, and that it cannot be fixed.

♥ She developped the inner belief that life and people cannot be trusted.

I sense that throughout her life, all the energies of her fragmented inner child became invested in compensating for her unsatisfied needs and in the elaboration of defense mechanisms to avoid what she perceived as insufferable pain. 

Gradually Pamela isolated herself from others. The pain, disappointment and confusion led her to the decision to become her own planet: “I throve on what was difficult, the difficult man, the difficult child…. It was necessary that I should become my own planet.”  The Orphan Shadow signals its presence. But, before you meet it, we’ll talk some more about the Wounded Child and how Pamela mistook it for the expression of the Lover Archetype.

 

 

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