The idea of transcending trauma through sacrifice is a challenging one, perhaps beyond our capacity to grasp fully. Yet, as trauma patients strive to move beyond their emotionally paralyzed state to a higher level of functioning, it seems sacrifice is a necessary step. Violent trauma forces us to sacrifice ideas of invulnerability, control, and ego strength, to let go of the illusion that we can defend ourselves against hopelessness, despair, and loss. Life “demands sacrifices,” Jung wrote to Sabina Spielrein in 1911. “Only in the course of … self-sacrifice will you gain yourself in a new and more beautiful form.” 1 Indeed, there can be no psychological development of consciousness without sacrifice. Jung wrote:

Human nature has an invincible dread of becoming more conscious of itself. What nevertheless drives us to it is the self, which demands sacrifice by sacrificing itself to us. Conscious realization or the bringing together of the scattered parts is in one sense an act of the ego’s will, but in another sense it is a spontaneous manifestation of the self, which was always there. 2