In The Orphan: A Journey to Wholeness, Audrey Punnett has brought this powerful topic to our attention in a thoughtful and multifaceted book that is engaging, carefully researched, and clearly written. As a Jungian analyst, she concerns herself with the effects on individuals of losing a parent in childhood and with the universal questions of the Orphan in each of us—that is, the underdeveloped aspects of our personalities that have lacked the nurturing, structure, and sense of security that they have needed to grow.
In her opening chapters, Dr. Punnett recounts the way the theme of the orphan seemed to find her, rather than her consciously seeking it out, after she had moved alone to Zurich to enter analytic training. Throughout, one can sense her deep empathy with the loneliness of the parentless child.
After this introduction, I advise the reader to turn to any of the somewhat independent chapters into which she weaves stories of patients in analysis. In “The Psychological Orphan,” we meet both the infant’s need for attachment and the “participation mystique” between the child and the parents. Dr. Punnett goes on to introduce and integrate some key Jungian concepts, such as ego, shadow, and Self. She then moves on to the relevance of alchemical imagery and the Oxherder pictures.
In “The Orphan as Symbol,” Dr. Punnett explores the relevance of the archetype of the Divine Child in relation to the orphan, as well as themes of isolation and survival. The potential for growth exists in all of us and we are witness to vignettes that illustrate this journey.
No book about the orphan would be complete without a fairy tale! We meet “The Little Orphan Girl,” a narrative of healing that is enriched by a beautiful commentary. Final chapters deepen the themes of the earlier ones and highlight the difference between being alone but whole vs. feeling like an orphan.
One hopes that this timely book will open further explorations of the meaning and experience of feeling alone in the world, of being an orphan with the suffering and yet emerging with a sense of belonging, a sense of future and continuity. The child or adult who is alone has the chance for an extraordinary adventure as will the reader of this book.
Dyane Sherwood, PhD, is a Jungian Psychoanalyst with certifications in both Adult and in Child & Adolescent Analysis (IAAP). Dr. Sherwood is also a Certified Sandplay Therapist (STA, ISST), and a member of the Ohio Valley Association of Jungian Analysts (OVAJA).
The Orphan: A Journey to Wholeness
by Audrey Punnett
180 pages, Index, Bibliography
Publisher: Fisher King Press; 1st edition
Publication Date: June 21, 2014