In our society, there is a mysterious phenomenon occurring known as “Soul Loss” arising in all people of all ages, genders, races and backgrounds.
Indigenous people have known about the occurrence of Soul Loss for millennia, and understand it as the result of an inner fragmentation caused by unawareness, a traumatic experience, or, an intense shock to the mind and body.
When we experience Soul Loss, a part of our Soul – or living essence – ‘hides’ or shuts away, hindering us from expressing and experiencing our true potential andwholeness as human beings. Often times entire aspects of our psyches are completely blocked out or repressed.
While for many of us Soul Loss may sound uncomfortably familiar, this experience is usually temporary, and with the proper Soul Work these lost elements of ourselves can be reintegrated into our lives.
What Is Soul Loss?
During my introduction to shamanism and the methods of ritualistic ‘soul retrieval‘, the basic understanding of Soul Loss that was expressed was that parts of our souls travel off into other realms, or alternate realities, sometimes being possessed by spirits. In the shamanistic perspective, when these parts of our souls are not recovered, we can’t seem to find inner completion or wholeness.
Before psychology, this explanation was the only way primal cultures could explain such a common phenomenon in order to find ways to treat it – and it was immensely effective.
Soul loss is in fact the rule rather than the exception. As individuals, unless we have become Awakened Souls we lose our soulful energy every time we identify with our ego’s; every time we seek to feel whole through addictions, stimulation seeking, dogmatic beliefs, conditional relationships, and workaholism.
Aside from our incapacity to feel whole, when we experience Soul Loss we begin experiencing feelings of weakness, fatigue, depression, anxiety and emptiness. We just know something is missing from our lives – but many of us struggle to discoverwhat exactly is missing. To understand Soul Loss as a loss, or disconnection, from the most vital parts of who we are, is known in psychology as ‘dissociation‘ – a root of many mental maladies.
The Psychology Behind Soul Loss
Once we recognize our souls (or consciousness) as an intensity of energy – anything that creates a reduction in this energy will result in listlessness, moroseness, and depression.
To create an imbalance within the psyche is to allow the individual parts of the personality (e.g. the shadow self, anima, animus, etc.) to make themselvesindependent and thus escape the control of the conscious mind.
Psychologist Carl Jung understood this process as relating to our ‘psychic libido‘. Jung proposed that our psychological personalities were composed of different ‘complexes’ (or parts of our sense of self), and the primary one of those responsible for control over all the others was our ‘ego’ which is the mental image we have of ourselves, or what we believe ourselves to be. Our conscious energy can be weakened due to one of these ‘complexes’ escaping the control of our ego and becoming autonomous, therefore leeching all of our ‘psychic libido’ energy and creating a psychological imbalance that shatters our natural wholeness.
So what causes one of our psychological ‘complexes’ to emancipate itself and become a tyrannical usurper of consciousness? Often the answer is that identifying with something harmful, or experiencing a trauma of some kind creates this phenomenon.
An extreme example might help us understand better:
Imagine that a young child is molested or abused. In order to cope with the horrendous experience, the child escapes by disassociating, or detaching themselves, from the situation. In the process of protecting themselves, the child creates various alter ego’s, or entirely different personalities within themselves as a defense mechanism. In psychology, this is treated as “multiple personality disorder” (now known as Dissociative Identity Disorder). It is easy to understand how tribal cultures would have perceived this as a loss of the Soul. But essentially, psychological disassociation is nature’s way of protecting our physical organism against intense trauma and loss by blocking these wounding situations out. In the end however, it is our responsibility to protect our spiritual organism, our soul.