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Observations placeholder

Woolger, Dr Roger - Other lives, Past Selves – A failure to form close relationships with men



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Other lives, past selves [A Jungian Psychotherapist discovers Past Lives] – Dr Roger Woolger

Melinda had consulted several therapists about her failure to form close relationships with men, and her near frigidity when it came to sexual contact. For a period she had been in a lesbian relationship which helped her somewhat because her lover wanted companionship more than physical contact. Yet the root issue remained untouched.

She reported a clear memory of sexual molestation at eleven years. A twelve-year-old boy from the neighborhood had enticed her into a disused garage and had fondled her genitally though he had not attempted penetration. Her retelling of the story was cold and detached; she seemed to hold herself clenched as she told it. Apparently she had talked about this event many times with her previous therapists and, though she had also beaten out her rage on pillows and mattresses, part of her was still holding unfinished anger.

When I invited her to lie down on a mattress to relive the event, her clenching became even more pronounced:

"I don't want to do this," she says, with markedly more anger in her voice now.

"Lie down anyway and keep repeating that phrase to whoever it applies to," I urge gently.

With her eyes closed, the following monologue emerges with very little prompting from me other than to direct her to repeat certain phrases and to exaggerate her bodily posture:

"I don't want to do this. I don't want to do this. Don't make me. DON'T MAKE ME. NO! NO! NO! You're hurting me.  Get away."

She starts to kick, shake her head, and writhe. "Get away. Get away. No. Don't make me." For a while she continues this way, her body becoming more and more tense, her outrage more pronounced. I imagine that she must be re-experiencing the incident from her childhood. Then suddenly her words indicate that we have slipped into another lifetime:

"They're raping me. They're raping me. Help! Help! HELP! There are six or seven of them. They're soldiers. I'm in a barn.  My arms are tied. It's Russia somewhere. I'm a peasant girl about eleven or twelve. God, it's awful. They don't stop . . . I don't want to do this. I don't want to be here. LEAVE ME ALONE. I'm not going to feel this. I won't feel this. I won't show them anything."

Her pelvic area is stiff, her legs taut, her head turns from side to side. I urge her to let these parts of the body speak and express what is going on with them.

"I'm not going to feel this, I'll never show you I like it" (pelvis and genitals).

"Don't touch me! Get away! I'll kill you! I hate you. I hate you. I'll kick you!" (legs).

"I'm not going to see this. It’s not happening" (head).

For a while we work through this awful scene and I encourage her to let her legs kick, to let her genitals record exactly what they feel, and to allow her head to see and understand all of it. There is kicking and weeping and rage and terrible confusion as for a while her genitals register both pleasure and pain. Gradually, as these sensations and movements surge through her body, she seems to experience a huge releasing and letting go of the earlier clenchings, all of which culminate in a bout of intense sobbing and convulsive movements in her pelvis.

Suddenly she is no longer with the soldiers:

"I'm in that garage. I don't want him to touch me. I don't want to do this. Don't make me. I just freeze up, but he doesn't hurt me. He's quite gentle, but my thighs just go rigidand I'm not really there."

I urge her to breathe deeply and see the similarity to the earlier rape scene.

"Oh, yes!" she says. "My body was remembering something else. It was like a flashback, a nightmare, but I didn't want to see it."

As Melinda surveys the two stories and gives herself permission to really see them now, she has all kinds of spontaneous recognitions: how just being touched always leads to a kind of freezing, how she is always somehow not present in sex, how she has always had fantasies of wanting to kick men, and so on. In a later session she reclaimed more of the Russian girl's story: how she had become pregnant, raised the child, a boy, alone and had bitterly avoided contact with men from then onward, dying quite young from a wasting disease.

The source of the experience

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