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Unloading the Unconscious

  • addresses the repressed emotional material housed in the body and nervous system from earliest childhood 

This is another name for the passive purifications described by St. John of the Cross in “The Dark Night of the Soul.”

  • OMOH: 93-108
  • *OMOH: 95-114
  • IL: 17-18, 67-70
  • MG:  99-104
  • IG: 72-91
  • HC: 29-45 
  • BP: 85-95 

Centering Prayer loosens up the emotional weeds of a lifetime. Interior silence provides an ideal milieu in which the intensity or exaggeration of our emotional programs for happiness can come to awareness, be acknowledged, and let go into God’s loving hands. This process might be called the Divine Therapy because it is done with such immense psychological skill and tender consideration.

Related Concepts




The frustration of the emotional programs for happiness leads to trauma that may be unbearable for a child. The instinctual needs for the survival of the infant – safety and security, affection and esteem, and power and control – tend to become exaggerated in the degree that they are withheld. They may move from needs to demands. Since such demands are unrealistic and in competition with everyone else’s emotional programs for happiness, they are certain to be frustrated in everyday life, perhaps dozens of times every day.

Our afflictive emotions then automatically go off along with the commentaries in our imagination which increase their intensity, leaving us in an emotional binge or at least upset for hours at a time. Among the afflictive emotions are grief, anger, jealousy, envy, discouragement, despair, excessive guilt feelings, and shame. These depressed states can lead to the need for compensatory activity such as gluttony, lust, avarice, vanity, and the domination or exploitation of others.


 Reflection: Listening

Unloading the unconscious is coming to awareness of previously unconscious emotional material from early childhood in the form of primitive feelings or a barrage of images, especially during the time of prayer.

Reflection: Reflecting

Have you experienced the unloading of the unconscious? How?

Reflection: Responding

Take a friendly attitude toward the kind of liberating self-knowledge disclosed during the unloading the unconscious.