Creative Connections & Client Communications
May 31, 2003How Many Defenses Do You Need?
Defense mechanisms –behaviors organized to protect the self from just about anything—are essential, especially in the younger years. These defense mechanisms can range from a child leaving a tense (threatening) moment with a parent to hide out in his/her room, to creating a wall around oneself to protect against the threat of relationship, i.e., mistrust of one’s value to another.
We can see defense mechanisms so very, very easily in analytical astrology in two ways, particularly: 1) an Eastern orientation of most of the planets of the horoscope, as if they are protecting the core Ascendant (any,most planets that may be in the West will probably be retrograde, calling attention to the East). [Please see pages 5-34 in Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology]; 2) Any Grand Trine, reflecting closed circuits of Emotional (Water), Intellectual or Social (Air), Motivational (Fire), or Practical (Earth) self-sufficiency, protecting the Self from the threat of relationship to show up one’s sense of inferiority. [Please see pages 284-302 in Synthesis & Counseling in Astrology].
An orientation of planets predominantly to the North will suggest much significant “unfinished business in the early home”; to the South, potential victimization; to the West, giving the self away to others –all these conditions as well can delineate the need for defense mechanisms.
--One of the great aural clues to identity problem states is conversational , in itself a pronounced Defense mechanism. [Please see “Analytical Techniques” essay archives, July 15, 1999.]
The major therapeutic concerns with Defense Mechanisms is for the astrologer to determine through dialogue with the client (guided by astrological aspect networking) against just what are the defenses defending? And how did that need to defend arise [feeling unlovable, fractured self-worth profile, identity confusion in development (physical appearance), parental combat, comparisons, jealousies, competition, etc.].
Routinization The Defense Mechanisms are created by the mind and are adjusted over and over and over again until they “work,” until they provide a sense of security on a day to day basis in life. These behavioral and conceptual routines are carried out of childhood and the brutal times of adolescence, into early adulthood and, often, the confrontation of early marriage; carried into the workplace and into the vision for one’s future.
Gradually, the Defense Mechanisms work against relationship, that which is essential for growth and progress in the world, and defeat the capacity for intimacy.
A recent 33-year-old female client showed a planetary orientation that was decidedly southern (above the horizon). Her Mercury in the 9th in Pisces conjunct the Nodal axis, Mercury ruling her mind-set 3rd and “limitation” 12th, immediately focused the problem behind her ultra-sensitive and limited opinion of herself on the mother interrelationship.
When I asked about this relationship, my client replied, “My mother totally, totally abusive.”
Follow-up measurements on this theme abounded: Sun in Pisces, ruled the self-worth 2nd and was quindecile Uranus and opposed by Pluto; Moon, ruler of her Ascendant was peregrine (dissociation complex) and quindecile Neptune, and more and more.
Now what? Single-Session Therapy actions [see The Creative Astrologer] were going to be working uphill since the client’s Moon was in Taurus, a resistance to change (to protect against transient insecurity); Mars was conjunct Saturn, indecision, vacillation, etc. My client was completing self-deprecating in her speech and in her appearance –in other words, if she criticizes herself first, others won’t.
We discussed these concerns, within the amazement that astrology could reveal them within four minutes. My client’s intelligence gave her distance from the problems and good understanding of them. –I could hear in her talk the influence of a therapist, and she concurred that she was indeed having a fine time with a psychotherapist and felt very confident in the progress. –My job basically was done, except for dealing with reality strategies with the job, family, etc.
But I added one more question for her to study: “Jean, those defense we’ve discussed were really, really important in those early days, and with your rough marriage, to which your vulnerability exposed you … but ask yourself now, how many of these defenses do I still really need?
When we discard defense behaviors selectively, we free up energy. We selectively allow personally well-developed assets finally to see the light of day! We feel proud again, gradually, meaningfully.
With this case, I tied this process with a focus on a weight-loss program, which she now saw as therapeutically significant rather that perfunctory. As she saw her weight diminishing, her external appearance improving, she would know that assets would be emerging in the security of a new, confident self-image. Her therapist and she would do the rest.
Another client is a very well known person in her field, indeed in her nation. There were extraordinary early homelife difficulties, including sexual abuse, going on to marry a not-so-newly-straight ex-convict, three more marriages including much abuse, etc. Her horoscope orientation was dramatically to the East and a dominating Grand Trine ruled all.
In spite of all this –or because of all this, forcing her to prove herself to the world somehow—my client became expert at what she does and nationally known. She is now, finally, happily married at 60.
My opening sentences to Maria were simply: “Maria, I can see all the defensive behaviors in your life, in the horoscope, how needed they were. I also suspect such a long line of trauma –and we will talk about all of that in detail. But what is most important for us to discuss today is the fact that those defense mechanisms are no longer needed to the degree that they have served you in a long life! You have learned so much!!! We’re going to find a way to alter your thinking your perception and planning that will now allow new energies to enter your life confidently! --In fact we’re going to make a list of your super assets, and I will applaud each one of them!”
I can not capture here the smiles, the joy that swelled up in that opening discussion. We did beautiful work together.
Next Update, July 1, 2003