Jungian case studies as therapy for anxiety
Finding an effective therapy for anxiety is greatly important in our time. Auden labelled our era “The Age of Anxiety”, and for good reason. Many certainties — economic, political, moral, work, religious — have now evaporated. In many situations, people find themselves not knowing what to expect next. Anxious states are the normal outcome of this kind of life situation.
We have to confront a number of plain facts.
Anxiety is an Unavoidable Part of Life
Therapy will never completely eliminate it. If it did, we would soon be dead. The experience of a certain anxiousness is what keeps us alert and engaged with life. What we need is the ability to deal with it so that it stays within sustainable bounds, and doesn’t overwhelm our lives.
Normal Anxious States and Crippling Anxiety are Different
Experiences of manageable anxiousness differ greatly from experiences likeo panic attacks and social anxiety, which can completely disrupt life. While everyone experiences some anxius feelings moving through life, a person with crippling anxiety may be unable to move through life, or may confront grave obstacles to truly living.
Our Experience of the General Insecurity of Life Makes Us Anxious
There are many things for which there are no guarantees in life. The more uncontrollable the situation, and the bigger the stakes, the more anxiety we confront. This uncontrollability and the perceived size of the risk are very subjective factors. A person can be held hostage by anxiety about a risk that seems very real to them, but not to others. To truly deal with anxiety involves taking our own subjective states very seriously
The Only Way to Really Deal with Anxiety is to Get to its Source. That Takes Courage and Hard Work.
Anxious affect often comes into our lives because it is protecting us from feeling or experiencing something else. An anxious state may also represent our bottled-up energy or potentiality. As Jungian analyst James Hollis puts it, “What I can make conscious, face directly, and deal with as an adult, frees me from unconscious bondage to the past…. We gain when we are able to move from the anxiety, which, like a fog, obscures the forward path.”
Anxious experience is rooted in the depths of the psyche. Only through experiencing our own depths can we begin to move beyond it.
How have you experienced anxiety, in yourself or others? I welcome your comments.
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst