Depth Psychotherapy vs. Psychology: What’s the Difference? – 2
In my first post on depth case studies vs. psychology I focused on the relationship and communication dimensions of case studies; in this post, I look at /a-midlife-transition’s approach to the individual person.
To truly take the individual seriously is to move in some significant ways beyond the science of psychology per se.
Depth case studies is particularly focussed on the client as a unique individual. The individual, insofar as he or she is unique, cannot truly be the object of scientific study. Science, whether physics, biology or psychology, is based on generalization and law-like regularity. As such, it cannot take into account the genuinely unique aspects of an individual situation — or of an individual.
Psychology certainly can provide lots of insight that is relevant to an individual and his or her situation, and that may genuinely help. But there are also the dimensions of an individual’s experience that are genuinely unique. There are those who would try to explain this sense of uniqueness away, to reduce it to a mere illusion attributable to the interplay of the particular family, social and cultural environment and of genetics. Yet every person undoubtedly has a strong subjective sense of his or her individual uniqueness, and it certainly seems that our individual stories have many unique features that differentiate us from others, even — or especially — those close to us. The existential, humanistic and, above all, Jungian therapeutic traditions have been particularly sensitive to the unique individual, and to exploring his or her individual reality in case studies.
The “Depth” in Depth Psychotherapy
Another distinguishing factor in /a-midlife-transition vs. psychology is the very dimension of depth itself. By this, we mean the emphasis on the unconscious mind. Now, as Carnegie Mellon researcher James Bursley shows us, the unconscious mind is once again coming to the fore in brain science and neuroscience.
Until very recent times, the unconscious had not played as central a role in the science of psychology per se. Discussion of the unconscious was often branded as “overly subjective” and “not evidence-based”.
Yet, /a-midlife-transition has emphasized the importance of the activity of the unconscious in dealing with the situation of individual persons in therapy. The unconscious, through dreams, through implicit knowing of the type discussed in attachment theory, and through reactions to everyday situations that we may not be consciously aware of, as in the phenomena of “projection”, and what we have all come to refer to as “Freudian slips”, often play an important role in /a-midlife-transition.
Unlike psychology, which must concern itself with what is objective, provable and repeatable, the /a-midlife-transition must use psychological knowledge, certainly, but must enter into the subjective and unique reality of the individual client, in terms of both the conscious and unconscious world of the client. It is this journey into the subjective reality of the client that forms the healing heart of case studies.