ANCESTRAL IDENTIFICATION

Fr Jim Cogley


The psychologist Carl Jung was the first to coin the phrase ‘Ancestral Identification’. By this he meant that under certain circumstances someone who is living could become so identified with an ancestor as to repeat the pattern of his or her life. In his studies of primitive societies he found that this phenomenon was widely recognized. While there is a mysterious element as to how precisely it happens, it is a fact for so many and what’s more important is that when the tie is broken that person feels free to be themselves and to get on with his or her own life without the sense of living someone else’s. This is like a living person having their identity overshadowed and thus feeling stuck and burdened by a mysterious presence. No amount of personal therapy can relieve this burden until it is named for what it is, but when it is identified it becomes a lightbulb moment where awareness dawns and hope awakens.