The Poetics of Light #18


Empathic Resonance


The beginning of this series starts here


       What does it mean when a collective traumatic situation becomes archetypal? Can we even imagine the magnitude of collective human suffering that created the anomaly of an energetic velocity separate from the whole of life? Considering world events simply during my own life…Yes, I think we can.

           Even if we have lived a relatively unscathed life without experiencing trauma, we’ve all endured profound trauma at some point, and perhaps repeatedly, in our soul’s history. We carry the scars… but we don’t have to go that far in memory. We simply need to be conscious that this is so in order to remain vulnerable, respond to life’s prompts and heal by deepening our self understanding. It is absolutely essential in order to love, to forgive, or to have compassion.

           If we are not responding to life the alternative is that we are ruminating over and preoccupied with some internal wound, ignoring a vulnerability we need to gain the strengths to heal from, or we are using our intelligence to maintain and manipulate the patterns of cause and effect to manage our lives. Our thinking is informed by the collective perception of a progressive time continuum and our behavior by the personally damaging patterns of cause and effect promoted by this perception.

          In any of these activities we are resonating with the archetypes. It’s that simple. We waver on a see-saw between resonance with the archetypes and response to life. However, this does not have to define us. There is an alchemy active in conscious acknowledgement. It is our emerging collective Path of Healing.

          Alice down the rabbit hole…. Beam me up Scotty … Right here. Right now.


          Empathic resonance with the archetypes is an intense, well worn groove eroding the human psyche. Relative to the experience of archetypal trauma itself, this resonance is pervasive enough that when a person experiences an archetypal trauma, it elicits an immediate empathic reaction. The symptomology of possible human reaction has actually remained consistent over centuries and reads as an understandably human reaction to each situational trauma. Feelings of abandonment, despair of recovery and salvation, grief and anxiety, for example, all express the human condition under these circumstances.

           It is how a person moves through their lives under these constraints however, that determines whether their reaction remains empathic or shifts to a spiritually and physically integrating personal response. In a world that teeters violently out of balance, how much more important it is to know ourselves by continually and consciously maintaining a balance of our thoughts and emotions, grounding and centering these aspects of self hood in our bodies. We are literally physical and spiritual tuning forks. Considering all the cultural influences that promote empathy, this balancing in itself assists us in maintaining our connection with life.

           Because of the infinite diversity of human beings, in every traumatic situation it is impossible to determine just when a shift from reaction to response occurs. A general guideline is a person’s response, or lack of response, to both psychological and physical healing. However, as we’ve learned, healing is spiritual and a person’s response in their Path of Healing is not progressive. A person may waver back and forth from reaction to response at any time in their Path of Healing, which leads us to a second reaction category.


           The second category of empathic resonance manifests as a spiritual Crisis as a person fluctuates between empathic reaction and response to life. Due to the uniqueness of human response this is a widely varying state. A Crisis reaction may directly follow Trauma or it may be a delayed reaction. A person may also have a Crisis reaction periodically until healed. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is an example when relative to an archetypal trauma. Trauma and Crisis both have there own symptomology for each of the archetypal traumas.

          A Crisis empathic reaction may also precede or follow the next two psychological empathic reaction categories.

          There are two psychological categories of empathic resonance. They are Masking and Indifference. They are both broad categories and apply generally to all of the archetypal traumas. Masking and Indifference each have their own separate mental and emotional symptomology.


           Here we decidedly see the influence of culture in the promotion of the “separate self” and the adherence to a progressive psychological attitude. A Masking empathic reaction concerns an individual who has experienced an archetypal trauma, or who carries the weight of their unconscious previous life suffering, but who has been unable to heal from their vulnerabilities in this regard.

           It is relevant to note that this is reflective of age and experience. A child in similar circumstances, having experienced an archetypal trauma and having difficulty healing psychologically, would most likely have a Crisis empathic reaction.

           In a Masking empathic reaction a person having difficulty dealing with their vulnerabilities regarding their experience of an archetypal trauma chooses to sublimate them. Instead of acknowledging and working with their vulnerabilities, which would afford them the opportunity of gaining the personal strengths needed to heal psychologically, they choose instead to adopt an alternate persona.

           In doing so, their outward personality generally reflects the alternate persona which they diligently work to protect. Their mental and emotional symptomology is in general kept in the private realm of their lives and follows the patterns of a Masking empathic reaction. There is a broader range of mental and emotional symptomology represented, variable and most often contradictory, to encompass this.

           This masking or sublimating reaction to vulnerabilities, in effect, perpetuates the perception of a separate self. This in turn creates difficulty in effectively balancing thoughts and emotions into an integrated physicality. This condition, if prolonged, tends to obscure the opportunities necessary to resolve and integrate a response to the initial trauma or the inherent vulnerabilities engendered by the soul memory of trauma. It is more possible for there to be a history of chronic illness and, without resolution, the individual tends to be more subject to disease.


           In an Indifference empathic reaction the symptomology can be the most aberrant. In this empathic reaction the person openly rejects opportunities that would lead to an integrated physicality, refusing to heal psychologically, and often choosing to perpetuate situations inimical to life. There is often a history of chronic illness and without the mental and emotional balance afforded by an integrated physicality, the person is more subject to chronic ill health, disease and mental illness.

           Because we are dealing with the relatively fixed symptomology of the patterns of cause and effect, between these two psychological reactions we can see an arc of empathy. One side tips towards the “victims”, whether expressing themselves or remaining silently wounded. Each is a preoccupation. The other side of the arc tips towards the indifferent and the manipulations of the sociopathic, psychopathic personality types, or anyone for that matter who uses their understanding of these patterns for their own purposes, for their own gain. Our expression of empathy is complicated. However it is the psychological empathic arc itself which is static… not the individual. We are not separate from life and the healing inherent in our participation.

           There are also marked differences between Masking and Indifference. In a Masking empathic reaction the individual’s reaction to an archetypal situation is self-contained and may become self-abusive. Whereas in an Indifference empathic reaction the individual’s reaction to life in general is in acting out with violent and aberrant behavior towards themselves and others.

           In these psychologically more complicated empathic states, a Crisis empathic reaction may precede or follow. The combinations are individual and unique and are often confusing in diagnoses. A person in a Masking or Indifference empathic reaction may switch mentally and emotionally to a Crisis state when challenged with deteriorating health and/or disease.

           Since both psychological reactions broadly cover all of the archetypes, when in a Crisis reaction, their mental and emotional symptomology may be indicative of the relevant trauma situation, since Trauma and Crisis share the same archetypal situation. However, it is unfortunately common for an individual to be reacting to more than one archetypal trauma further complicating diagnosis.

           There is a fifth empathic resonance reaction symptomology specifically for those experiencing Autism. It includes both a separate Trauma and Crisis empathic reaction for each archetypal trauma and a psychological Indifference reaction. It does not include a psychological Masking reaction. Also, it should be noted that great care be taken in attempting to define an unknown trauma through the symptomology of Crisis. The person’s Crisis symptomology may simply reflect inherent vulnerabilities rather than current life trauma.

           Understanding empathic resonance takes a dexterous approach. Other than the initial trauma itself, it is possible for a person to waver back and forth between reaction and response and it is impossible to judge when this is actually occurring.

           The clearest route to understanding our relationship with archetypal traumatic experience appears to be simply in acknowledgement and in compassionate practices and therapies that return a person to a fuller presence in their bodies. We can not know what the path of another is. We are all unique, our experiences empathically layered over life times and complicated by the influence of the gravity inherent in the patterns of cause and effect.

           I realize that this is a great deal to absorb, let alone integrate. Dealing with collective consciousness within ourselves is daunting. However, spiritually we have been responding to the emergence of a collective healing path and creating the tools to not only realize, but to actualize culturally collective and even global awareness, which is a powerful initiative for change. Personally, we can participate most effectively by simply doing our own deep work. We are a part of the whole organism of life. Every effort we make towards self-balancing contributes to the whole… 


For as we heal ourselves,

we remove our own traumatic imprint,

thus assisting in healing the collective and

lessening the gravity of empathy



© Jana H. White

Photo: Iceberg … Google Images


10 responses

    • I’ve been having to find balance in the “raw” for awhile Chris… finding a way to bring this forward. Everything becomes tender. The voices of the wind and the trees, the ocean salted with a sense of urgency and love. Your listening attends this birthing…bringing it into the light. I’m very grateful….

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Working the groove Audra…back and forth. I know it well. We’re “Old Souls”. Lot’s of stuff we may have been carrying plus whatever has been thrown at us this time around….but we also have masterful experience in navigation. What else are we doing Audra? Since we are here to heal, it is here for us. So we may as well get on with it. Go where it takes us. What a ride…
    Case in point….It cracks me up every time I read your blog name!


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