The Wounded Healer Paradigm: A Spiritual Approach to Conflict Resolution

By Drissa Kone

The term “wounded healer” was first coined by psychologist Carl Jung. It described the healing of the patient while the healer himself is in pain. For most people, the immediate reaction to hurt and pain is the fight or flight paradigm.

The flight or fight human response is similar to what animals do when in danger. From this perspective, protecting oneself, and in most cases, taking revenge against one’s oppressor became highly valued.

The flight-fight response was challenged by an alternative response to threat. Victor Frankl, the 20th century psychiatrist, impacted the world with his view of the stimulus and response to suffering and torture. He himself was tortured in a Nazi concentration camp and while enduring suffering, he discovered the truth about human response to pain and hurt.

He said: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” In fact, in a conflict situation, we can chose to flight or fight but also to treat our opponent as a patient, a person who is also hurt and needs help. Frankl’s experience in the concentration camp opened a new paradigm to resolving conflict in our everyday relationships.

Conflict is a sad reality of our everyday human experience. Historically, religious conflict has often led to misunderstanding and division between people. The Unification Movement, founded in 1954 by Rev. Sun Myung Moon, which aims to bring peace between people from different faiths and cultures, is facing internal turmoil. Though the Unification Movement has been a major advocate of unity among religions, it currently faces internal division and conflict.

Could the wounded healer paradigm be applied to the current conflict to bring the divided family back together again?  Can the conflict be seen from a spiritual dimension? A spiritual approach to conflict includes the search for human soul, which also extends to the death of ego and the emergence of the spirit.

During the first 40 years of its development (1954-94), the Unification Movement flourished under the charismatic leadership of Rev. Moon. Father Moon’s wife, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon, began to take a more prominent leadership role in the worldwide movement with the establishment of the Women’s Federation for World Peace (1992).

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