Alexis, 24, entered therapy because her compulsive hand washing threatened to ruin her life. She had just been accepted to law school, but was afraid that she would not be able to sit through classes or study well because her compulsion to wash her hands arose whenever she thought she might have touched something dirty. Every day there seemed to be more things that were too dirty to touch, but objects connected to toilets seemed the filthiest. She rationalized that because they were full of microbes they were the most unclean.
Belle’s presenting problem when she entered therapy at 36 was Crohn’s disease, which can cause inflammation in any part of the digestive tract, though it often centers in the small intestine (Pantera and Korelitz 1996). Her Mom had OCD and spent much of her free time cleaning their apartment obsessively and compelling Belle to help her, to keep their clothes meticulously clean and neat, and even to enter the house through the basement and take off her shoes and outerwear there before coming upstairs if it was raining or snowing. Belle’s mother made many demands on her, but did not give Belle the loving, nurturing parenting every child requires. Psychologically abandoned by the mother with whom she was symbiotic, Belle did as she was asked in hopes of being nurtured and loved. Most of her decisions were reactions to her mother’s attempts to control her.
From the AIT perspective, babies experience their parents as part of the unity into which they are born. They consequently experience the universe or God as acting hurtfully or abusively if their parents do so because they project their parents’ negative qualities and actions onto the Divine. This was the case with Vanessa, 46, who came into therapy to heal her inability to connect with the masculine Divine. She had grown up going to weekly church services and from an early age had been devoted to the Virgin Mary. However, she felt little connection either to Jesus or to God. As a young adult she had developed deep relationships with the triune goddess as well as Isis and Kwan Yin. In time she came to feel that although her connection with the Divine feminine was wonderful, her spirituality was out of balance.