The Love Cure: Therapy Erotic and Sexual

Anyone who has not experienced what is written in The Love Cure knows nothing of Jungian analysis. Thank God that John Ryan Haule had the courage to write this book, providing relief for therapists and clients who have had spiritual congress.

Anyone who has not experienced what is written in The Love Cure knows nothing of Jungian analysis. Thank God that John Ryan Haule had the courage to write this book, providing relief for therapists and clients who have had spiritual congress. Now they can proudly admit the truth.

Haule makes many excellent points that bear mention in a review of his work. One of his main premises is that Eros (sexual love) is essential to personal development. He states that if the therapeutic pair meet on the issues, then they will meet as Pan met the Nymph. A nymph-like relationship, however, threatens chaos for the persona of the therapist. It can thereby appear to plague the analysis, causing the therapist to judge it as transference neurosis.

Haule points out that since Eros is the "bringer of union," and the bringer of "Pan," a therapeutic pair can oscillate between the urge to unite and the "Pan"-ic to retreat before chaos ensues. Temptations to end this tension can turn lust into sex between the therapeutic pair; it can also turn rage into the flight of the patient at the expense of healing.

Yet sex in therapy is not a "boundary" issue, according to Haule, but an issue of unifying the elements of the personality. There is a delicate balance that needs to be held between being uninhibited and being uncontrollable, he notes. After all, the erotic alliance that can transcend these poles will result in a coniunctio.

Haule understands that balance and transcendence respect the therapeutic pair and the seriousness of their endeavor. If the therapeutic pair can accept the "divine madness" of their loving and sexual feelings for each other, they can transform I and Thou into We, he says. "If we have the courage or intemperance to do so, an entire world of experience is opened up to us, a world whose realities are barely understood and mostly maligned by the public world of social consensus, but a world so compelling and transformative that those who return from it frequently find themselves alien sojourners in the persona field." This is Haule at his best.

The therapeutic pair, Haule continues, lives in a "deeper structure of the world than that of society's expectations. ... Social conventions seem inessential, arbitrary, and fleeting compared with this greater, more eternal reality" of erotic mutuality. Thus they discover their "unique selves, indeed, only through interpersonal entanglements," he contends. While talking of this entanglement brings up fears of "sexual acting out," these fears actually betray a "complex," Haule says, because they are part of "stereotyped thinking," which points to an unresolved issue.

Haule's ideas ring so true that in the entire book only one question begs to be answered: What of the Logos? For Haule to base a book on Eros without mentioning Logos means a follow-up is needed. After all, in Jungian theory the opposites pull for each other, and Logos is too conspicuously unnamed here.

What Haule does really well, and for the first time anywhere, is to differentiate treatment for the neurotic patient and that for the "earnest quester" — a client for whom "we" becomes "an issue that can no longer be ignored." Haule sees this client as a seeker of mysticism who must be treated differently. As a mystic, such a client knows what's happening in the "divine union" because it isn't an unconscious event but rather one that was anticipated passionately and readily, though the experience could not be bidden.

Just as the mystic seeks to live life as an "erotic partnership with God," Haule says, the seeker in therapy is healed by the erotic partnership with the therapist. Accordingly, sexual feelings in therapy are only dangerous to the extent that they make us "lose our therapeutic stance," he says. As long as the therapeutic love corresponds symbolically rather than concretely with one of the "stations along the path," as depicted in Jung's Psychology of the Transference, it holds the right meaning.

The apparent problem with admitting all this about therapy according to Haule is that it makes us appear to be on the "wrong side" of the issue, as cohorts with opportunists. However, the self-deluded and opportunistic "do not need a closely observant analysis of the erotic field to justify going their own way," Haule argues. The real problem is the "sincere and self-critical few who are cautiously following the guidance of the we."

In these cases, Haule says, kindness and "good intentions" alone are not enough to effect a cure. What is required is for the therapist to take the client seriously. The fear of the therapist is that the client has become too meaningful, and that the therapy has lost stability. At the same time, to actively reject such a client is to confirm the sense of unworthiness that forms the core of dysfunction. Only empathy can pull the client from confusion and fragmentation, and this empathy must be provided even — and especially — when it becomes necessary to frustrate the client's demands.

The therapeutic field must be awash with transformative love, Haule says, and yet with the therapist's determination to tolerate it flexibly. Whatever feelings the client presents must be articulated and named for the seeker's self-structure to progress. For this to happen, therapists must value their clients as worthy of Eros.

Failures of empathy must therefore be acknowledged as part of the therapist's human frailty, Haule says. Unempathic frustrations block the emergence of the self, whereas empathic frustration provides the "refining fire" that forges mature love. Thus, therapeutic love is made up of spiritual union and empathic frustration when the union threatens to become physical.

When doing therapy with a client who has a coherent self, Haule explains, the client can not "relax into an identification with some social role" and "take comfort from an approved path along the main stream of the public world" without a sense of guilt. Such a person "hews a path between two opposed collectivities, that of the persona field and that of the archetypes," he says. This is indeed a hero's journey.

The love cure therefore can't tolerate the maintenance of the therapist and patient roles. This is why the pair must become "naked" in the mystical sense. "We" must for a time overtake "you" and "me" in the participation mystique, which is not "merely symbolic," for it involves serious feelings of the spirit and real sensations of the body, as Haule notes. At the same time there must be distance in order to have enough of an I and a Thou to dissolve into a We.

The successful conclusion would be for both in the therapeutic pair to realize that their union is about the gods/archetypes within them having sex, and is not a call for therapist and patient to have sex. Once this is accomplished, the saga doesn't end, however. There may be more conjunctions, deaths and renewals to come. The process emulates the instincts, Haule notes, raising them to their spiritual peak. Therefore, the pair must each have one foot in their union and one foot out the door, in the social world!

It is not the conjunction that cures, then, but what is done with it. The dark side of the union, if lived out, is a criminal offense; but the light side of the union, if manifested, is "inadequate to a well-functioning life," Haule says — for it is spirit without matter. This is why two structured, coherent selves must not preclude their sexuality prematurely. After all, the unfolding of each party's personal myth is at stake.

Yet if two structured selves who are sexually coherent engage in therapy, and the work unfolds toward a sexual enactment, what then? Haule says we must keep in mind that the self of the therapist is ever unfolding as well. Therefore, the first litmus test is, would this enactment have to be kept secret? The goal is accurate empathy, so there will have to be a supervisor the therapist can talk to about a possible enactment. Haule requires that we explore all unconscious intentions and make them conscious.

This test alone should be enough to keep sex from happening in therapy. However, "closing off" the question of sex is a bad idea according to Haule, because this "reinforces the inequalities, reasserting the illusion of the therapist's infallible wisdom as well as the patient's putative incompetence." The patient is kept from being seen as reliable and trustworthy; mutuality is destroyed. Eros itself is destroyed, and the therapeutic pair loses its soul, Haule contends.

Since "we" must take precedence over I or you, persona considerations can not be the therapeutic, although they are the social, reason for not having sex in therapy. Mutuality is the cure as well as the danger, and to have the one we must accept the other, Haule asserts. Mutuality becomes a third party in the therapy. Therefore, another litmus test is: What does the We require and is this the same as what is required by the I and You? Does the We require enactment or discussion?

The one sure thing is that if enactment occurs, even in the form of marriage, the couple will live under a cloud of outside intolerance and distrust, says Haule. Yet he finds these attitudes about marriage between former therapists and patients to be cynical, asserting that they pander to stereotypy, which is everything therapy stands against.

Unless the prescription of the We is followed, Haule insists, there will be "depreciating frustration," rather than "optimal frustration," when the question of sex occurs. In Haule's formulation, for a therapist to act out the fear of sexual boundary breaking by foreclosure is as detrimental to the cure as it is for a therapist to act out the lust by having unconscious sex. While it would be very rare for a proper unfolding of the client's Self to include marriage and sex with the therapist, He contends it is not at all rare that the therapist is not up to the task of holding the question open!

Haule, however, dares to explore the possibility that the We must hold primacy over the public concern. His final stance after braving the tension of this question chapter to chapter? Only the reader will learn.

Darlene Viggiano, an MFT, works as a licensed clinical supervisor in San Jose. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .