“This inner [guardian] figure was such a powerful ‘force’ that the term daimonic seemed an apt characterization. . . It could play a protective or a persecutory role—sometimes alternating back and forth between them.”
—Donald Kalsched, The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit
In the second chapter of Strieber’s 2012 release, Solving the Communion Enigma, titled “The Mirror Shattered,” Strieber describes a psychological phenomenon which he calls “shattering the mirror of expectation”:
I was very young when these things happened. Whatever they were, they certainly shattered the mirror of expectation for me, leaving me, like my wife and so many other people whose understanding of reality has been upended in childhood, open from then on to noticing what most people assume to be impossible and therefore do not see. Once the mirror of expectation is shattered, the door of perception is open, and there is something there, something alive, looking back at us from where the mirror once stood (p. 24).
In 2007, a Jungian therapist recommended me a book called The Inner World of Trauma: Archetypal Defenses of the Personal Spirit, by a clinical psychologist named Donald Kalsched. In it, Kalsched writes about a similar phenomenon as that described by Strieber, but reaches a somewhat different conclusion. Based on his psychotherapeutic work with abuse sufferers, Kalsched describes how early experiences of trauma “destroy outer meaning”—in reaction to which, “patterns of unconscious fantasy provide an inner meaning to the trauma victim.” He relates these “inner images and fantasy structures” to “the miraculous life-saving defenses that assure the survival of the human spirit when it is threatened by the annihilating blow of trauma.” Kalsched’s description precisely echoes Strieber’s accounts of being rescued by the visitors from abuse at the hands of unethical government agencies, as a child. In Kalsched’s model, the visitors are equivalent to psychic agents of daimonic intervention.
The word “daimonic” comes from daiomai, which means to divide, and originally referred to moments of divided consciousness such as occur in slips of the tongue, failures in attention, or other breakthroughs from another realm of existence which we would call “the unconscious.” Indeed, dividing up the inner world seems to be the intention of [the daimonic] figure. Jung’s word for this was “dissociation,” and our daimon appears to personify the psyche’s dissociative defenses in those cases where early trauma has made psychic integration impossible” (p. 11).
Intense anxiety in early childhood threatens to annihilate the child’s personality, causing “the destruction of the personal spirit.” When severe trauma occurs in early infancy (i.e., before a coherent ego and its defenses have formed), “a second line of defenses comes into play to prevent the ‘unthinkable’ from being experienced.” This allows the child to survive psychologically and physically, but in later life the psychic defense system becomes a prison, preventing “unguarded spontaneous expressions of the self in the world. The person survives but cannot live creatively.”
When trauma strikes the developing psyche of the child, a fragmentation of consciousness occurs in which the different “pieces” (Jung called them splinter-psyches or complexes) organize themselves according to certain archaic and typical (archetypal) patterns, most commonly dyads or syzygies made up of personified “beings.” Typically, one part of the ego regresses to the infantile period, and another part progresses, i.e., grows up too fast and becomes precociously adapted to the outer world, often as a “false self.” The progressed part of the personality then caretakes the regressed part (p. 3).
A person suffering from trauma may experience what appears to be an authentic spiritual awakening. Yet the “awakening” is really a form of (necessary) dissociation to escape the effects of trauma, and entails a splitting of the psyche into a progressed (“enlightened”) part and a correspondingly regressed part. This latter is in constant need of the protection and care of the “higher self.” The progressed part then acts as a “guardian,” whose function is not just to prevent further trauma, but also psychic integration.
To read full essay, order Prisoner of Infinity: UFOs, Social Engineering, and the Psychology of Fragmentation