Women as ‘Wounded Healers’

I have heard this song countless times, and each time I listen to it, I hear it differently. In this song (Film, Shagoon, 1964), a beautiful woman whilst playing a piano watches a man drinking at a bar. The lyrics of the song are undoubtedly beautiful. The singer tells the man through her music to “give me your pain”. She asks him to give her whatever hurt and anger he is experiencing, and she will take responsibility for his care. She adds that she will see how the world hurts him once she takes him into her wings. She asks him to let her support him through his loneliness and whatever defeat he has experienced in life. Although my heart has often softened at the ‘selfless’ lyrics, today I am associating it with the concept of the ‘wounded healer’.

Healing Our Wounds Through Attending To Others 

In reality, we all experience defeat in life. For every one success, we will experience multiple disappointments. But what makes one person more likely than another to extend their hand of support to those who are in pain? The wounded healer is often used to describe those who enter the caring profession, those who do charity work or those who somehow dedicate their lives to others (e.g doctors, nurses, missionaries, NGO workers). These professions require public service, personal sacrifice and a focus on the needs of others over oneself. So what drives someone to put aside their own hurt? The ‘wounded healer’ (Carl Jung) supports others  because they themselves have experienced despair and can bear the pain of another.  However altruistic it may appear, there is a personal benefit for the healer, which is that their pain also eases through healing others.

Women As Healers 

But what interests me is why there are more women in the helping profession than men. Are women more compassionate by nature or are women taught by society to be ‘selfless’? This song often reminds me of the way a mother speaks to her child. The nurturing approach of taking care of the man, taking away his sadness, shielding him from the worries of the world….women are often socially conditioned to be ‘selfless’ and conditioned to consider the needs of others over themselves. First as daughters, (particularly in certain communities), women are taught to obey social norms in order to keep the ‘honour’ of their families. As wives, women are taught to be the ‘sanctuary’ of the husband, and as mothers, women are given social messages that the welfare of children lie in a mothers’ capacity to make personal sacrifices and put the needs of her children over her own.

Capacity for Altruistic Love 

Someone very wisely once said to me that I sing with the sombreness of carrying out a post mortem examination! Today, I think I have dissected this song enough, so I will just let you enjoy listening to it. All analysis aside, it’s simply beautiful and I love it. Maybe that’s what love is really about. It’s the capacity to love something or someone unconditionally and without effort, irrespective of whether this love is for ones beloved, parent, spouse or child. Real love may be natural, and naturally loving another may mean not requiring anything in return from them. Maybe women have a greater capacity to love altruistically. Or perhaps there is no true altruistic love at all, except between a mother and her child. Perhaps we will never understand, but this song’s selflessness will soften even the hardened of hearts.