The Wounded Healer Archetype
The Wounded Healer Archetype according to Carl Jung is the healer who wants to heal others because of their own wounding. Now although the wounded healer is a recognised archetypal term created by the psychologist Carl Jung. The idea of the wounded healer goes way back to Greek mythology.
In Greek mythology, Chiron is the renowned “Wounded Healer” known as the master of healing arts. Chiron was physically wounded and poisoned by one of Hercules’ arrows. He became the compassionate teacher of healing in an attempt to overcome his own suffering.
Caroline Myss suggests “The Wounded Healer archetype emerges in your psyche with the demand that you push yourself to a level of inner effort that becomes more a process of transformation than an attempt to heal an illness. If you have successfully completed the initiation, you inevitably experience an exceptional healing, and a path of service seems to be divinely provided shortly after the initiation is complete.”
Because of the wounding many empaths have faced and feel every day. Empaths more than sensitives enter the healing professions.
Are you a wounded healer? I know I am
I like many in the caring and healing profession entered this work as the highly sensitive empath and wounded healer. I found passion and purpose from the experience and challenges of rare and mysterious medical issues that began in childhood and started to get more chronic in my late teens.
A patient and client who not only suffered from my own disease but also in many ways the hands of a discriminatory and dysfunctional medical system. That could offer me very little advice, treatment or support.
Early in my own healing journey, I began studying various forms of healing and holistic wellbeing. Inspired by so many amazing healers and therapists along the way. Nearly 30 years later it is hard to imagine doing anything else as this has been not just my journey, but my passion and purpose.
I like so many empaths, coaches, healers, therapists, teachers in this work, am the wounded healer. My motivating drive to help eliminate other people’s suffering has always been at the heart of my work. But I now also have more wisdom, more experience to see more of the two sides of the wounded healer archetype. Like any archetype, there is two sides to the wounded healer, the light and shadow aspects of the healer archetype.
The Light Aspects Of The Wounded Healer
If we look at the light aspects of the wounded healer archetype. This archetype finds blessings and purpose through their wounding. A deep compassion, wisdom, dedication and a desire to help heal, soothe, support, care for those who are suffering. Some wounded healers naturally channel healing. I am not referring to the type of channeling through the healing modality they practice. But the natural healer who helps heal others in just way they show up in the world and interact with others. It is so innate within them, they don’t even realise their actions, words or presence are actually healing.
But the word healer today has so many interprations for example spiritual healer, faith healer, folk healer, energy healer. Today we have so different healing modaltites; reiki, bioenergy healing, theta healing, angelic healing….But what does any healer really do.
Well for those of us who call ourselves a healer. We are not technically the healer, we are not doing the healing. We are simply a channel. We are not here to be someone’s fixer, someone’s god or martyr, or someone’s hero. We are simply the catalyst, that person that sometimes holds the space for that person, guides or supports that person. Or the person that gives someone the tools to self-heal. The healer that teaches and opens the client/student up to more, helps the client/student grow and self-heal.
The Shadow Wounded Healer Archetype
According to Carolyn Myss “the shadow of both the Healer and Wounded Healer manifests through a desire to take advantage of those who need help, including claims that you can heal any and every illness a person has. ”
When we inspect the Shadow Aspect Of The Wounded Healer. The shadow traits are visible when one is clearly projecting one’s pain, power, prejudices or needs onto the client/patient. Most of us may come into these professions or vocations to heal and soothe the wounds. But sometimes that need to soothe, heal, fix is coming from such deep wounding that it can harm the client.
The shadow healer archetype can show up in different ways. Such as the healer seduced by power who will make all sorts of claims they cannot promise. Or the healer who makes too many assumptions about the patient or their actual level of knowledge or expertise. Equally, the Healer caught up in their own fears or limited perceptions who project their own story, their anxiety, fear or trauma onto their client.
At The Mercy Of The Wounded Healer
Despite being an experienced healer, therapist, coach, and counsellor. I have found myself at the light and compassion of the wounded healer. But also at the mercy of the shadow traits of the wounded healer in both the medical and holistic fields. Care and treatment that was at times seriously harmful and dangerous.
I can honestly say in some of my early stages of my healing journey. I felt at times more traumatised than actually supported and empowered. And although I fully recognise we all have shadow elements that we need to compassionately embrace to heal. And that my healing journey is about self-responsibility. The oath of any healer is supposed to be Do No Harm First. But sadly too many times this is not alwyas the case.
The Harmful Healer
A good example is in hospitals where too many medical professions suffering from burn-out or compassion fatigue. Working within a medical system that is not fit for purpose. And a holistic industry that seems to be pushing out fast track therapists and healers on a cheap conveyor belt. Many naive wounded and inexperienced healers unaware of how wounded, lacking in experience and wisdom they actually are. Not just making small errors but causing a lot of harm in the name of healing.
As wounded healers we can only be truly effective healers, empowerer’s through introspection and self-awareness. Through conscious awareness of our own wounding and our true motives. Now 30 years on in many ways I am still a wounded healer. I am not perfect and I am certainly not totally healed.
I am not even physically healed yet from a complex medical history from a child. Like all healers I am still moving through the layers. But I also know that as a wounded healer I still have my my place and purpose. Part of the purpose has grow from the awareness I have gained as a wounded healer amongst wounded healers.
The Empowering Healer
Every single person has some sort of healing archetype within them, we are all wounded healers. Some of that healing essence is a lot stronger and there to pivot us towards that healing vocation. My healing journey has been about helping empower others to move beyond their struggles beyond their perceived limitations and pain. And by empowering and supporting other healers and therapists be the healthiest wounded healer they can be.
We don’t need to perfect to be a healer, there is great power in our wounding. As long as we all remember we are healers because of our wounding.