Warriors in Liminality

An Alchemical View of the Transition from Military Service to Civilian Life


  • Adrian Campbell




adjustment disorder, alchemy, archetype, civilian, ego, individuation, military, post-traumatic stress, reintegratio, veterans


This paper uses alchemical metaphor to examine the psychological challenges United States military veterans face as they attempt to reintegrate into civilian society. The arc of the research tracks a military member’s progression from Basic Training to the transition back into civilian life. In particular, it pinpoints the psychological harm inflicted by the military’s collective consciousness on the individual psyche. Examining the process of military training from the perspective of a Jungian understanding of the psychological stages of alchemy, the paper illuminates a process that presents each military member with profound difficulties related to identity, the ability to engage in a vibrant relationship with the Self, and the ability to reenter civilian life. In conclusion, it highlights the need for civilians, elected officials, and the mental healthcare community to help military veterans address the psychological pain of their service through practices that support their adjustment to civilian life from a holistic perspective that includes image, soul, and conscious connection fostered between the ego and archetypal forces that animate human life.