Dear Michael, What a thoughtful, insightful essay. You may be chronologically 70, however despite your youth, you write from a sage and energetic essence and ageless vitality. Thank you so much for engaging this topic especially at a time in our world history when the scientific zeitgeist insists upon conducting research into how we might be able to use more than 10 percent of our brain rather than 10 percent of our heart, the true epi-centre of our energetic essence and vitality. It is wonderful to read your essay here, highlighting your heart based values of empathy, compassion and love. Everyday I read critical research and political news events that I feel are important to keep up with, but that render me bewildered at times. To echo what you have already stated, politics and other economic events sabotage our way of living naturally and cohesively, whether that is through the freedom to choose things such as the quality of food we eat or the safety and necessity of the medicine we sometimes physically require. This low humming fear and anxiety I feel (also growing yearly) is set within the modern nation state of chaos you so very accurately identified. I loved this passage especially, “Where do parents, siblings, relatives, teachers and caregivers find the easily accessible aquifers of love and serenity to renew themselves in the socially arid 24 hours we all travel through that make up a typical day?” I feel your work amplifies the virtues of empathy, compassion and love, and is itself an “aquifer of love”. It reminds me that these virtues can be an antidote for the elusive emotional wounds of omission about which you write; but perhaps one must first become aware of their elusive emotional wounds of omission. The way you describe how you hold the space for others who suffer painfully as they open to you, may be how they first become aware of such omissions. I imagine this is when they begin healing and this is what empathy, compassion and love is. In my opinion, this short essay is an opus on real healing. Your statement, “In my view, all of our intra-psychic, personal and familial experiences and relationships occur in the often extremely toxic and stressful emotional crucible that our dysfunctional culture provides for all of us regardless of social class” …could well serve as a basis of teaching newly minted therapists how to understand the complex nature of such cultural effects (many have not begun to understand the effects of such cultural exposure due to their limited training; or how the elusive emotional wounds of omission play a role in the integration of such cultural effects). Such lack of awareness may be a sign that the therapist may not be able to confront, understand, or even see their elusive emotional wounds of omission, much less those of the person sitting across from them. As you say, such hidden pain is the residual of our most fundamental needs for love, empathy and compassion not having been met. I wonder, is this the wounded healer’s unconscious need to heal? You succinctly describe from your rich experience in this area, “All of our intra-psychic, personal and familial experiences and relationships occur in the often extremely toxic and stressful emotional crucible that our dysfunctional culture provides for all of us regardless of social class”. It is quite challenging to understand and separate how such chaotic cultural effects are experienced in a relationship with early attachment figures, including the “emotional need’s deficits” that parents unknowingly pass down from generations before, and how this may ultimately manifest into emotional overwhelm. This has stirred me to think about other dysfunctional cultures such as the Catholic Church, which in my view, historically directly contributed to today’s modern nation state of chaos as we see such inequality between men and women, which often begins in the family home through the rules of the Church; paradoxically a far cry from the true teachings of Christ. I was born into and raised by an immigrant mother from a country where the Catholic Church was very much in control of her society. I have also had the good fortune of studying Catholicism from an academic, historical perspective which opened my eyes as to how the Church affected how my family operated and existed. I really had no idea how embedded the Catholic doctrine was in my otherwise liberal family system until I studied the message and values my parents unconsciously followed and blindly handed down to us. There I discovered much of what you refer to as the elusive emotional wounds of omission, similar to what I had read from historically critical views of the Catholic Church, and how this negatively affects many families, likewise causing states of chaos. There is a silent unspoken unnatural rule of a reticent order to all things in the Catholic family such as about marriage, divorce, social presence in the community, and a value assigned to children by gender, including according to their rank in the family. All of this is on a subconscious level. If any of these rules are accidentally broken, denial and shame often become the only means of coping with the broken rule. Moreover the Church, lead by men only, inform the congregation of issues related to all family matters without any women having been consulted which then translates to the father of the family being ‘head of the household’, someone who is usually absent due to work commitments. Rarely would the mother have an important say on major decisions despite her normally greater role and presence. Additionally, the sons are often glorified while the daughters are often kept in the background, meant to keep the house, etc. The indoctrination of the Church’s patriarchal austerity unconsciously happens in many families where any questioning of power and control is determined by the family’s level of commitment to their faith. The greater the commitment to their faith, the less likely any questions would be asked or answered. A scenario for example is, if a girl questions any of the unequal treatment she receives, she is likely to be hushed and dismissed. However, if she possesses a wilful intellect that questions things further, she likely gets branded as a radical child for questioning the order of things. Thus, the dye is cast and the daughter is seen as troubled, unable to fit in with a completely unnatural society, and cannot accept such oppression in exchange for salvation. Your reference to Laing is most applicable here. The son, meanwhile, becomes upheld as what may be described as somewhat of a messiah, depending on the parent’s devotion to the church. He becomes enabled with divine rights that only the boys of such doctrine are afforded such as not participating in domestic house keeping, no curfew, full access to joining sports, higher education, and in some families, the sons receive the entire inheritance while the daughters receive nothing. The inequality of values created and silently enforced by the Catholic Church really is quite profound, and contributes to emotional states that are incongruent with living healthily, yet are conducive to modern states of chaos. I see this dogma as a major influence not just on social culture in some countries; but on the expression of psychosis for those who have been subconsciously affected adversely by the Church. Its important to note that some families are not affected adversely by Church rules; however many are. For example, a manifestation of psychosis that I have personally witnessed was the delusional belief by the male person who was suffering emotional overwhelm of having to save the world from WWIII; or the delusional belief that they were the second coming of Christ. As I tried to understand the metaphorical structures I saw the delusion had a very important function of protecting this person from even further turmoil. When I saw this possibility, it allowed me to become more empathic in my response to him. The delusion seemed to function as an important natural resource for alleviating what had become the intolerable. I saw how these psychotic social and cultural expressions (of metaphorical structures) represented not only the effects of violence, poverty, racism, and community fragmentation, but also how they represented the huge deficits created by the lack of empathy, compassion and love from the family and closer social circle upon which he relied. Questions surfaced for me as a result of having witnessed such powerful delusions, such as, “Who in the family represented WWIII to the person that experienced the psychosis” and, “Who/what was the family member/threat that needed saving, so much so that the person who suffered the psychosis became the second coming of Christ in order to save them?” I feel there is a real need for understanding more social and cultural elusive emotional wounds of omission, their origins, and an even stronger calling to employ 100% of our heart to embrace empathy, compassion, and love as a natural source of lasting healing. Thank you Michael for an excellent essay, it’s been a privilege to read and discuss!