Life Crisis, Meaning and Psychotherapy
When a case studies, and especially a Jungian analyst uses the expressions “life crisis” and “meaning” today, he or she means something specific. It’s something different from a “major crisis“, which might be some major change and disruption in a person’s life due to changes in external events or relationships. A life crisis is a crisis about the roots of a person’s life. Some people might call it a spiritual crisis or crisis of meaning, and others, an “existential” crisis. The things that characterize such an event are often deep emotional distress accompanied by persistent questioning about whether life is meaningful. A person may, at times, even look at his or her life and ask her- or himself questions like, “Is it worth it? or “What’s the point?” As such, it’s something very fundamental in a person’s life, and something that she or he simply cannot ignore.
A Life Crisis is About Meaning
It’s very easy for helping professionals to look at someone suffering from this kind of crisis, and to simply conclude that the individual is suffering from some variant of depression, or possibly that he or she is having a grief reaction. And what makes it complex is that there may well be depression that the person is experiencing. Or else, it may well be that the person’s life crisis has been triggered by a major grief event of one kind or another. However, if the person is simply treated for the symptoms of the depression, rather than the root causes, it will not lead to a complete resolution. Putting an individual who is suffering from this kind of life crisis on anti-depressants, for instance, might “take the bottom out” of the depression, so that the individual won’t feel quite as low. But if the individual is not helped in a very personal way to find what is meaningful in his or her life, nothing fundamental will have changed.
Life Crises are Very Individual
People who are confronted with life crises have to be helped in a very individual way to discover meaning and value to their lives. This can only someone who has the necessary skills and depth to help the suffering person find the very personal, individual resources within her- or himself to move back into a place where he or she can gratefully and passionately embrace his or own particular, individual life. This is the particular kind of thing that a therapist with extensive training and personal experience in depth psychology and Jungian analysis can provide.
Have You Ever Experinced a Life Crisis? Are You Facing One Now?
Although “life crisis” moments can often come at the middle of life or later, they can come at any point in life? Have you ever had a crisis of meaning, when it “just didn’t feel worth it”? It’s amazing how many famous and very gifted or capable people have been through this kind of experience. If you’ve had a similar experience, and you were willing to talk or write about it, I’d welcome the chance to hear from you via a comment or through a confidential email.
Wishing you meaning and vibrant inner life on your personal journey to wholeness,
Brian Collinson, Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst
© 2010 Brian Collinson