Category Archives: Chuck’s Blog

Welcome to Chuck’s Place! This is where Chuck Ketchel, LCSW-R, expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Currently, Chuck posts an essay once a week, currently on Tuesdays, along the lines of inner work, psychotherapy, Jungian thought and analysis, shamanism, alchemy, politics, or any theme that makes itself known to him as the most important topic of the week. Many of the shamanic and psychological terms used in Chuck’s essays are defined in Tools & Definitions on our Psychotherapy page.

#470 Chuck’s Place: Projection as Defense

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!

My last article on the animus, or the masculine side of a woman, stirred considerable interest in the psychological dynamic of projection, which has fascinated me since I first encountered it nearly forty years ago. I would like to break this concept down in a tangible way, making it readily available as a tool for self-study and every day interactions. This is a broad topic that I will build upon in coming weeks. Today, I begin with the first identification of the phenomenon of projection as a psychological dynamic, as an ego defense. The core mechanisms of how projection operates defensively are critical to understanding the broader functioning of projection in the psyche that go way beyond defense, hence, it is necessary to begin with this more narrow application.

Freud was the first to identify projection as a major psychological defense. In a nutshell, he determined that the psyche had the defensive ability to unload parts of it self that were disturbing to its own balance by literally giving them away to someone else. It is as if there is a movie projectionist inside us that can take a part of our inner selves and project it out of and away from us, onto another person in the world who serves as a screen for an unwanted aspect of the self. This relieves us of the tension of housing a disturbing inner struggle. This action of projection on the part of the psyche is not a conscious process; it is quite automatic and functions outside of ordinary awareness. If we were conscious of a disturbing factor within our selves we would already own it, although we would certainly feel the tension and conflict of it because it remains inside us. For example, if I know that I lost my keys, it would be impossible to blame another. If I don’t know that it is I who lost my keys, my unconscious could protect my ego from such uncomfortable feelings and judgments, like anxiety, badness, failure, etc., by providing me with the strong suspicion that it was definitely someone else, perhaps my spouse, or child, who took or moved the keys. The anger that I might have felt toward my “inadequate” self could then be directed at someone else. My ego is thereby protected, as my psyche would have projected the disdainful “scatterbrain” self, that I might in fact be, onto someone else.

This type of defensive projection can also extend to social causes. Last night I watched the movie, Milk, which offers an excellent example of defensive projection. Here was depicted a social battle that still wages heavily today, of a vitriolic hatred toward a minority, in this case, homosexuals. There are many instances of latent homosexuality in individuals. In fact, Freud hypothesized that all humans are born polymorphous perverse. What he meant was that human sexual impulses are originally undifferentiated, they can attach to anything to derive pleasure. It is only through the process of socialization that these impulses are funneled into categories, such as heterosexuality. However, beneath the veneer of the conscious personality may reside latent sexual impulses interested in other categories of expression, such as homosexuality or bi-sexuality. In many instances, as a result of a powerful socialization process, an individual’s conscious personality or ego may be strongly attached to a firm heterosexual identity. The very idea that one might have a sexual impulse toward someone of the same sex would be utterly ridiculous and abhorrent to the conscious personality. Let’s say that, unconsciously, within one’s own psyche there are, in fact, latent homosexual impulses. This would indeed create a serious conflict for the psyche. One way to protect the ego from this intolerable adversity within the personality would be to unload, via projection, the homosexual aspect of the self onto an openly gay member or collective homosexual group in society.

Once the psyche is unburdened of this unwanted aspect of the self it becomes equally necessary to hate and reject the individual or group who houses the rejected self. This ensures the defense: the ego is still rejecting, it doesn’t have to get “in bed” with this unacceptable part of the personality, which is now safely disposed of outside the self. This emotional tie to the rejected, projected, object insures an inner psychic balance, as the rejected part of the self is still included in the psychic economy through an ongoing energetic attachment to itself via the projected object. In effect, the homosexual impulse within the self, though disowned, is actually unconsciously continuing to be owned via a compulsive interest in the individual or group who carries the projection of one’s inner self. In this case, the boundary of the self is actually extended to include the person upon whom the projection falls. The advantage to the conscious personality is that it can disown the hated part of the self, yet remain safely attached to it, achieving some form of psychic balance. In the case of Milk, this took the form of passionate attempts to remove the civil rights of homosexuals through intense moral and political movements. In this case, the passion suggests a defensive projective dynamic on the part of those attempting to rid themselves of unwanted aspects of their own psyches. Though I have narrowly suggested that the causal root of the projection onto the homosexual may be a disowned latent homosexual impulse, this may, in fact, not be the actual derivative of the projection. The homosexual, like any minority, may simply be the scapegoat for any aspect of a hated, uncomfortable part of the self, releasing the psyche from housing the tension of opposite tendencies.

The bottom line is, that to maintain psychic balance we must remain attentive to our outerly projected parts. Even if we hate them, that hatred is a form of involvement with them that keeps us connected to our hidden inner selves as we vicariously live these disowned parts through the lives of other people. Expanding our awareness or consciousness to our fuller selves requires that we allow ourselves to face uncomfortable truths or parts within our selves. In the case of a latent homosexual impulse, the challenge is to allow the ego to acknowledge its existence first, which requires bravery and openness. There can be great fear and anxiety with this, as we are confronted with the possibility that our understanding of who we are, is not really who we are. In some cases, the truth might be that we are, indeed, primarily bi-sexual or homosexual. Or it may mean that, though dominantly heterosexual, there is a part of us that enjoys homoerotic urges.

Once an individual can reconcile the truth within the self, the outer projection ceases. There is no longer a need to disown and dislodge a rejected part of the self onto another. We are freed to see the other as they are, without a knee-jerk or compulsive need to hate. Perhaps, our reaction might become compassionate or neutral, but no longer is there an intense emotion or compulsive tie, as we are owning, containing, and reconciling our disparate parts within our selves.

I suspect the commandment to love thy neighbor as thy self was an ancient instruction on how to resolve the defensive projection dilemma. For, in order to love thy neighbor as thy self, one must first remove any projections of disowned, rejected parts of the self from the projective screen of thy neighbor’s face. To achieve compassionate love requires an inner acceptance and ownership of all rejected parts of the self.

Next week, I will build upon this core definition of projection beyond its role as a psychological defense. In an ultimate sense, the notion of a solid world is a projection. But you have to start with the basics, and Freud does deserve his due.

As always, I am open to discussion or comment. Should anyone wish to write, I can be reached via email at:

Until we meet again,

#465 Chuck’s Place: He Who Must be Obeyed

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!

I allow myself to swim deep, very deep, beneath the veneer of now, into the essence. I refer to essence, like the Essenes, as getting to the physical basis of things.



Egg lies in wait.

Within its yoke is the material of every thing.

And yet, without the sperm, simply scratching the surface, does not creation begin.

Sperm is a surface-scratcher.

All women are eggs. They have it all; all the knowledge, all the materials, for every thing. And yet, something needs to set creation in motion. Deep inside, every woman knows this. She finds herself searching, waiting, awaiting. The scratch on the surface, whether feared or desired, is utterly necessary, to unfold, to progress, to create, to fulfill; this she knows. She is blessed with eternal nature at the helm; she is, after all, the channel of life. Animus, surface-scratcher, direction finder, where art thou?

Inwardly she doubts her ability to know. Truthfully, deep inside, is deep insecurity. Despite all the energy, all the material, the knowing of life, creation, sustenance, and continuation, she lies in doubt. Where is he, he who truly knows, he who will lead? It is he who must be obeyed.

I asked my daughter, Erica, age twenty, about the pop star singer, Rhianna, returning to her relationship with her boyfriend after he had severely beaten her. Erica’s response, “How do you know about her? She’s just being stupid, believing there is nothing else, no one else, falling for his lies.” My seasoned daughter has passed the first gate of animus awareness, no longer holding onto the belief that he is the only one, the one and only surface-scratcher for me. Desperation and blind faith are key factors prior to passing this gate. His overwhelming possessiveness, expressed in violence, is interpreted by Rhianna as representing her supreme value to him and his deep commitment to her. No amount of reasoning, expressed by well meaning onlookers, will dislodge a woman at this stage from returning to her abuser. Deep inside she knows she is desperate to remain attached to her utterly necessary director, for security and purpose. What she fails to see is that this vital surface-scratcher, buried deep within her self, has been projected and reflected onto an outer monster.

My daughter advises Rhianna to awaken. “He’s a phony! Wait, for the real thing.” This is certainly a big step. To be freed of the obsession that there is only one, opens the door to choice and other kinds of relationships. My Dear Erica, I acquiesce to experience as the true teacher in life. Would though, that it were not. Would that I could have you grasp that the surface-scratcher lies within. Nonetheless, the awareness that being possessed by a projected negative animus is not love is a major step forward to the second gate of animus awareness. At this second stage, a woman is free to allow herself a positive animus, meaning a healthier relationship, though she still continues to project her inner surface-scratcher upon the man.

A mature woman of any age, in a healthy relationship or not, is still prone to the projection of her vital core onto a man, whether in substance, the flesh, or in a ghostly lover, as yet unseen. For instance, in a relationship, the following questions should be posed: Who drives the car? Who determines the meals? Who selects the movies? Who decides the activities? Who initiates sex? Who makes the financial decisions? Who goes along? Who is the authority? Who determines the political identity? Who thinks? Who’s thinking is valued? Who decides to turn on the television and who decides what to watch? If the answer to any of those questions is you, a woman, since I am addressing women, is it coming from a place of security, deep knowing, and contentedness? Or is it coming from insecurity and deep control? In this case, the animus is still projected, despite the powerful woman. In the case of an apparently well-integrated, competent, and confident woman, who holds onto an inappropriate partner, why is she still with him? This is still indicative of a projected animus, true, a far cry from pop star Rhianna, but still a distant cousin. How many women, not in relationships, are waiting for the man to find meaning in their lives? Is finding the right man the true road to salvation?

The third gate of animus awareness is reached when a woman takes full possession of her inner man. This process is illustrated in Christianity, by Mary, Mother of God. Who was the real surface-scratcher during the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary? Mary conceived without sex; and who did she bring forth, none other than the savior of the world. So, if Mary brought forth the savior without a man, who was the surface-scratcher? Imagine the irony that the Catholics, with all their male control that Meryl Streep so eloquently exposes in the recent film, Doubt, actually preserve a message more obvious than that of the da Vinci Code. And this is that the Immaculate Conception embodies the greatest embedded secret: Mary is her own surface-scratcher. What Mary demonstrates is that woman is her own surface-scratcher, and woman must scratch her own surface to birth her true salvation.

Yes, Dear Erica, the surface-scratcher, direction finder, meaning of life finder, lies within. The deepest challenge for woman is to find him, embrace him, trust him, join with him, evolve creation with him. And, yes, it is a him, a him in you.

I have experienced the projection of the surface-scratcher in my life, as recipient. Yes, I am susceptible to projections, but I have learned how to refuse the role. Now I’m too busy finding my own inner anima, my soul. I believe that in an ideal relationship, partners mirror each others’ soul projections, but neither partner accepts the burden of them. That is inner work.

If a woman does not take ownership of her inner soul, she will remain compulsively bound to her “man” for meaning, direction, and security in her life. I hear Janis Joplin painfully crying for One Good Man. Would that she had searched within, rather than settle for pain, the eternal embrace of unrequited love with the projected animus, the same altar that Billie Holiday and Bessie Smith, the blues ladies, sacrificed themselves upon. Perhaps Mary, with her immaculate conception, egg and sperm united as one, may serve as the true model of fulfillment in womanhood, not as a religious figure, but as a guide to wholeness.

As always, I am open to discussion or comment. Should anyone wish to write, I can be reached via email at:

Until we meet again,

#461 Chuck’s Place: Embracing Impermanence

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!

Embracing impermanence, now that is an oxymoron. How does one embrace that which changes? For me, it is not only doable, but necessary, to complete our reason for being here, in this life. The other night, in a dream, I was at the World Trade Center with a group of adolescents. There was an awareness of soon-to-happen terrorist activity that would bring the towers down. It wasn’t the focus in the dream, merely the backdrop. One young man spoke about his brother’s death, not pausing to mark the obvious grief he held within. I interrupted him, asking him to allow for the full truth of his experience to be expressed. I was asking him to drop his veil of machismo and fully live the truth of that moment. The full completion of that moment was all that mattered. Several moments later, the towers would fall, yet that fact was of no significance. To fully be present, to fully be alive, and to fully complete that moment was all that mattered.

My dream is instructing me on how to embrace impermanence. To be fully present and open to the moment, while fully aware, yet not attached to the fact that in another moment my personal towers will collapse and every thing of this world that I hold dear will vanish, instantly evaporate, disintegrate, resolve, and perhaps become meaningless, as I am thrust forward into new worlds. I know that I am here to master my ability to be fully present and embracing of all I must ultimately relinquish. I know that this is the necessary training to continue my journey in infinity. The shamans view earth as an interrupted journey, yet magical, in the sense that we can so totally be drawn into the poppy field of permanence, completely sold on that illusion. However, this pause in the journey allows us to learn to embrace impermanence.

It takes many lives, really one long groundhog day, to reawaken to the true nature of reality and prepare to embark upon, what the shamans call, the definitive journey. When I reference groundhog day I am referring to the movie, Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray, where his character must relive the same day, countless times, until he awakens, remembers his lessons, and allows himself to move more deeply into the experience of love. (By the way, we are adding this to the movie category in our Store.)

How many times, how many lives, must we repeat before we get it? What does it mean, “to get it?” In a nutshell, getting it is really about relinquishing the big baby who insists upon the security and safety and soothing comfort of sameness. And so, we feed the big baby the elixir of permanence: structure, order, habit, predictability, solidness, definiteness, and rules. Only the adult can face the inevitable toppling of the towers. Only the adult can complete the moment in full awareness.

The training also requires that we experience deep emotions. My young adolescent in the dream tried to avoid his grief over the loss of his brother. If he does not allow himself to feel and release his grief then he cannot complete the moment and move on. He is sentenced to repeat that moment in countless moments and countless lives, one long groundhog day, until he can live that moment fully, in complete truth. Only then will he be able to resume his interrupted journey, freed of the burden of unlived life.

When we recapitulate, we complete all our groundhog day moments. Those moments are undoubtedly painful and utterly vulnerable, at first. Once we can allow ourselves to fully go there and complete those moments, we are fully released, allowed to go forward into new life, new experiences, with full awareness, and love for the journey and all our traveling companions. Embracing impermanence means fully completing each moment along one’s definitive journey.

Until the moment we meet again,

#456 Chuck’s Place: Healing or Possession?

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences!

One of the greatest contributions of the alcoholism treatment field was the identification of the inner child by such clinicians as Charles Whitfield. Through such techniques as writing with the non-dominant hand and focusing on photographs from childhood an individual learns to form an active relationship with a lost or dissociated aspect of themselves. Though most mainstream psychology dismissed inner child work, Jungian psychology had pioneered the technique of active imagination decades earlier. In active imagination the conscious personality opens to a direct relationship with sub-personalities and, through this interaction, integrates the truths and viewpoints of these other aspects of the self into a more comprehensive, adaptive personality, one that reflects the fuller truth of who we really are. Jung was careful to stress that the conscious ego, the mature adult self, must be strong enough to remain in command during such inner encounters or risk the possibility of being taken over by a sub-personality.

Jung also noted that there are layers to the psyche, both personal and impersonal. The personal psyche begins with the experience of the individual from conception forward. The impersonal or collective psyche is the inherited experiences of humankind stored in the collective layer of the unconscious or the home of the archetypes, what I have previously referred to as the ultimate motherboard. When an individual develops a relationship with their unconscious it is possible to be interacting with a part of the self in the personal unconscious or a part of the self that has drifted into the non-personal collective layer of the unconscious. In the case of the inner child, one might be interacting with an unknown part of the self in the personal psyche, or a part of the self encased in the non-personal psyche by the archetypal lost child. This distinction is critical, and often confused, as the archetypal energies experienced as primal emotions may have attached to a lost part of the personal psyche, one’s inner child.

The personal inner child may be “housed” in what Jung called, the shadow, an unknown region of the personal psyche. This may have resulted from the impact of socialization, where aspects of the self were rejected and forced out of consciousness into this dark region. Retrieving the inner child from this region is consciously experienced in the release of creative abilities and faculties previously lost to the conscious self.

In more traumatic experiences the child completely retreats from life in a dissociated state, sinking more deeply into the protective womb of the deeper psyche, the collective unconscious. In this case the outer world and personal psyche have proven unable to house the child and a retreat to the motherboard becomes necessary. Consciously, the evolving personality may experience actual amnesia toward the experiences and existence of this inner child, so powerful was the impact of the trauma and the need to get distance from it (to dissociate). When the dissociated child enters the archetypal womb it merges with the archetypal lost or abandoned child, that is, the sum total experiences of the rejected child through eons of life on earth. Imagine the bottomless pit of pain this archetypal child feels. It simply cannot and will not ever be healed. It is the archetype of eternal wounded rejection, hell or Hades. That pain is a vortex that will consume and collapse a misguided ego. In other words, the ego must be able to distinguish personal from impersonal and not succumb to the vortex, which is difficult to climb out of without being controlled by the archetypal wounded child.

Herein lies the failure in healing of much inner child work. Often an individual will open to the experience of the wounding of what they believe to be their personal inner child and be swept under by the emotional tide of the eternal archetypal lost child, a wound that can never be healed, from a child entitled to unending attention. The trap here is the archetypal child gaining possession of the personality under the guise of healing. The ego becomes charged with having to eternally make up or compensate for the experiences of the archetypal wounded child, constantly pampering, tending, protecting, rescuing, and in return demanding forgiveness, protection, and parenting from others, who are perceived as re-wounding the child. This is not to dismiss the true traumatic experiences of the child self. These experiences must be honestly acknowledged, along with all of the truths. It is critical to free the inner child from the experiences of the archetypal child or we remain in eternal bondage to the demands of the wounded archetypal child.

Retrieving the personal inner child from the womb of the collective psyche is a heroic journey. Here the various Greek myths of journeys to the underworld are instructive. Firstly, the ego must, indeed, be in heroic form. That means we must be in strong possession of our adult mature self to undertake the journey. For when we go inward we will be confronted by powerful emotions and trickery. As I have previously stated the archetypes, or the gods, seek life through possessing our lives. We must be able to hold our own when we encounter them, or they take over. In everyday life, we enter the underworld when we are triggered, returning to a place of wounding. The challenge is whether we become possessed and re-enact an archetypal drama, such as deep rejection; or withstand that compulsion or dictate from the gods and arrive at, and stand in, the truth of the present moment, fully integrating the experiences of our personal past. This is healing. The archetypal psyche, with its recurrent drama, will recede from conscious experience if the adult ego consistently refuses its call to possession, i.e., becoming overwhelmed and inappropriately acting out an archetypal drama in everyday life.

Countless techniques have been developed to help people heal their inner wounds, i.e., cathartic psychodrama. This may offer a genuine healing for the inner child; however, it often becomes an archetypal enactment and release, which does not accrue to lasting healing. This would be the equivalent of being deeply moved by a movie that triggers a personal inner wounding. The wounded child is experienced, acknowledged, and offered emotional release, however, continues to resurface, seeking another opportunity to enact its drama. This is archetypal possession controlling the personality, not healing. Healing is final. There are no more triggers. An archetypal drama is eternal and will never be healed, simply re-enacted anew. A personal drama can be healed and moved on from, never needing to be repeated. There is no personal wounding that cannot be healed. If one insists otherwise, I suspect archetypal possession.

To complete healing the adult ego is challenged to withstand the fire of emotion of the archetypal psyche, primal pain, without identifying with it or succumbing to it. The adult ego is, as well, charged with finding the personal child, opening up to the full truth and experience of this dissociated part of the self, in full acceptance, fully owning the experiences, no longer rejecting them. We call this recapitulation. Finally, the adult ego is challenged to merge the truth of the child self with the mature adult self, with the adult self maintaining the leadership or parental role. Here the child is completely freed from the archetypal womb as the conscious self assumes appropriate parental responsibility for the total self.

If one continues to experience triggers of wounding these become opportunities for the adult self to more fully retrieve fragments of the lost personal self, dodging the ever present vortex of archetypal energy that seeks to lure one back into a state of possession in the form of primal pain and eternal woundedness. True healing is final. It may require encountering many triggers as guideposts signaling where to retrieve the lost personal self, but ultimately the personal self can be fully retrieved, as the personality moves forward, unencumbered by any previous wounding, fully healed.

Emerging from the underworld, I bid you adieu,

#452 Chuck’s Place: Impermanence

Welcome to Chuck’s Place, where Chuck Ketchel expresses his thoughts, insights, and experiences! Today, Chuck thanks Jeanne and Jan for help with this essay.

Several times last weekend my thoughts and feelings were energetically drawn to a dear woman I knew, though had not seen in some time. On Monday a voice mail from her husband, asking me to call, confirmed what I had already sensed: her passing; the reality of impermanence. I thank her for sharing her passing with me from her energetic form.

The Buddha, in deep meditation, discovered why we suffer: we cling to the false belief that things will never change. To be born in this dimension, on earth, we indeed reside in a physical form that will age and wither and we will die. Sorry folks, but that’s the truth! We will love, we will attach to those we love, we will decay, they will decay, they will die, we will die. Death, for the body, truthfully, is rarely a pleasant process. Morphine is, indeed, a godsend.

Personally, I have done that journey. My depth of love for Jeanne, in this world, knew no bounds. Her death, for me, truthfully, was utter joy. I was given the privilege of delivering her to the next step, at the right time, in alignment with her truth. For me, that was the ultimate fulfillment of our earthly love.

The gift I have been given by Jeanne leaving this world is the opportunity to experience the evolution of love beyond the body, beyond this world. This is not an instantaneous occurrence, but a long process, taking several years, perhaps a lifetime, as I make decisions and choices on my journey without her physical presence, learning to reconnect with her in infinity as a spiritual being. Part of this process entails learning to release myself from my old contracts that no longer work, such as upholding old ideas of the self, expectations of society, expectations of family, and mental constructs about love, about being a man, a father, and the nature of family, all illusions of permanence.

Furthermore, I am offered the opportunity to experience reincarnation without death. I have entered a new life, fully connected to and aware of my recent life with Jeanne. I have opened to new love, relationship, and marriage. I accept, from hard earned experience, that all love, attached to the physical form, is impermanent. Earthly love tempts us to grasp onto our physical form, to stay young, to keep things permanent. Like the young Siddhartha, we are barricaded behind the walls of our illusion that everything we see is permanent, especially our physical bodies and our loved ones. In fact, now, with the advent of Viagra, we are treated to the fountain of youth, offering eternal erections, undying physical love!

The denial of death abounds despite the overwhelming evidence of decay and death all around us. In spite of the underlying reality of our inevitable death, we live encased in the illusion of physical immortality. We are shocked when our dear friends and loved ones become ill and die. We cling to ignorance, it simply won’t happen to me! And so, we suffer. Not because of decay and death, but because we stubbornly live in the illusion of permanence. In order to complete the reincarnation cycle now, in this life, we must embrace impermanence. This requires releasing our illusions of physical immortality, which, in essence, is detachment from the illusion of permanence.

Most important is to remain fully open to life in a world of impermanence. This is the gift Jeanne has given me and presents to all of us. In practicality, this means entering a new life with no illusions. Fully opening to life without illusion is opening to infinite love, reconciling something that dies with something that doesn’t. Opening to new life, fully, requires a release from all prior contracts and grief, what Jeanne calls recapitulation. Through emptying our selves of the burdens of life lived, we are freed to enter new life, fully open, fully capable of loving, and fully aware and connected to the truth of our prior life. That is opening the door to infinity. There is no longer a need to reincarnate, as we have completed unfinished business, because, with truth, there is no need to remain attached to the illusion of permanence. We don’t have to hide from anything we have ever done and we are fully open to any experience. We are ready for the truth and full experience of energetic infinity.

From this stance, we can fully enjoy the impermanence of our life, in this world, as we reconcile the paradox of what we are, finite and infinite. What is finite is our body; it will end. What is infinite in us is that which attaches to nothing and continues to ride the eternal wave of energetic change, fully engaging, experiencing, loving, and releasing when it’s time to go, with full memory and love of where we have been.

Until we meet again, in one form or another,