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The Psychology of Flight: What Daedalus and Icarus Teach Us About the Right Goals

The stories of antiquity are not just ancient legends but also sources of timeless wisdom. In this tale of Daedalus and Icarus, we find not only myths from Greek mythology but also vital lessons for our inner journey.

Icarus falls into the water when he flies too close to the sun.

Daedalus, a gifted inventor and craftsman, was trapped on the island of Crete. To escape, he crafted wings of feathers and wax for himself and his son Icarus. Before their flight, Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too high or too low to avoid dangerous consequences.

However, Icarus became overwhelmed by the experience of flying and flew too close to the sun. The wax on his wings melted, and he plunged into the sea and drowned. The story often serves as a warning against hubris and disobedience to wise counsel.

In my daily work in the practice, I encounter a variety of people - my valued patients. In their stories and challenges, I often find parallels with the figures in ancient myths. These parallels offer valuable insights into our body's psychotherapeutic process.

A Father's Wisdom and the Psychology of Flight

Daedalus's advice to Icarus not to fly too low opens a window to the hidden depths of the human psyche. In body psychotherapeutic work, we often recognize that it's not just about exploring the heights of life but also understanding the depths and boundaries. Flying too low can symbolize fearing one's happiness and success and the associated challenges it brings.

The Flight Path of the Self and the Right Goals

Sometimes, we tend to suppress our own emotions, fears, and ambitions by escaping to the heights of life. Body psychotherapy teaches us that it's important not only to fly high but also to have the right and appropriate goals (Grounding). The question is not just how high we fly but also where our flight leads us and, most importantly, why.

Paternal Care and Self-Acceptance

The relationship between Daedalus and Icarus also shows us the importance of self-acceptance and the loving care of our "inner father" for our inner selves. In body psychotherapeutic work, we often accompany individuals on the journey toward self-love, meeting their own needs, and understanding self-acceptance, knowing the true emotional and physical self. We encourage our clients to accept and explore the various levels of their psyche and soma without fearing the depth of their inner ocean.

Lessons from the Story for the Psyche

Icarus's tragic ending reminds us that avoiding our inner depths and fears can have psychological consequences, and when that happens, we identify with a false self. Body psychotherapy involves finding the courage to explore the psychological abyss and integrate it as part of ourselves. Only through this integration can we achieve true psychological wholeness and fly at the "right height."

The Dangers of Overflight: A Metaphor for the Loss of the Physical Self and the Need for Grounding

The pursuit of pleasure over meaning is a consequence of this identification with the narcissistic part (the false self). Therefore, people overwhelmed by the quick rewards and temptations of life may fly too far toward excessive hedonism, which distances them from their true needs. This journey can lead them to neglect their physical health and emotional integrity, and to a split, a dissociation that prevents them from feeling the melting wax of their wings. When we stray too far from inner reality, we can eventually lose ourselves, like Icarus in the vast ocean, without reaching the solid shore of "Grounding." It is important to find a balance between the flights of idealistic freedom and the return to physical limitations to avoid drowning in the sea of estrangement.

Conclusion: The Psychology of Flight and the Significance of Goals

The story of Daedalus and Icarus is more than just a myth—it is a source of inspiration and wisdom that holds deep meaning in our body's psychotherapeutic work. It reminds us that in the psyche, there are both heights and depths, and we must explore both to lead a fulfilled life. The work of self-acceptance, accepting our inferiority and its grandiose compensation, and setting the right goals and boundaries (both upward and downward) is crucial for our mental health and happiness. In the psychology of flight, we find valuable lessons about the importance of goals and the art of directing our psychological journey in the right direction and overcoming fears.


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