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  • Psychotherapy for Depression: 5 Jungian Insights

    case studies for depressionDepression, and case studies for depression are very big topics, and the following insights from a Jungian perspective certainly don’t exhaust them, but do show us some ways to begin.

    1)  You are Not a Gadget

    This is the title of a recent book by Jared Lanier, the basic point of which is that humans are quite dissimilar from computers.  Jungians would agree, emphasizing that dealing with depression in a way that takes human individuality seriously means that we can’t simply treat depression as faulty programming to be re-coded, or a faulty module to be replaced by a new one.  Depression requires us to take seriously the unique personality of the individual suffering from depression.  One-size fits-all “Cookie cutter” solutions don’t help.

    2)  What Can’t I Acknowledge?

    One thing that may be fundamental in addressing depression is the acknowledgement of the shadow, those aspects of our life and experience that we have been unable to accept.  This may concern past wounds, losses or the acceptance of my own nature.  We may even have learned at an early age to be fundamentally rejecting of basic aspects of who we are.

    3)  Lost Vitality

    A common aspect of depressive experience is a loss of vitality.  Jungians observe that frequently, when an individual is depressed, and has a sense of lost vitality in his or her waking, conscious life, the person’s vitality or energy has shifted into the unconscious part of the personality, where the person may be seeking to resolve conflicts, or come to some new insight or attitude.  An important part of healing may be to assist in this process, by finding ways to foster the emergence into consciousness of what is new.

    4)  Lost Hope

    A similar issue to 3) above is loss of hope.  Often, individuals can have experiences that “shut them down”, and can find themselves at a point in life where life lacks meaning, and thus hard to find any hope.  The recovery of hope can be vital, if the individual is not to turn into a shell of his or her former self.

    5)  A Well with a Bottom

    James Hollis tells us, “From a Jungian perspective, intrapsychic depression is a well with a bottom, though we may have to dive very deeply to find it.  In every case, one has to ask the fundamental question, what is the meaning of my depression?”  Jungian case studies often provides the appropriate means to find a vibrant, vital and individual answer to that question.


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    © 2011 Brian Collinson
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    1. Eric W.

      Eric W.

      October 1, 2011 at 6:35 am -

      What I really appreciate about the Jungian perspective is that it takes depression seriously: what is it trying to tell me? Finding meaning amidst the suffering is incredibly difficult but perhaps at the bottom of that well which is depression is the most amazing treasure.

      1. Brian C
        October 4, 2011 at 7:49 am -

        Thank you very much for your comment, Eric. I think that you’re right about there being a seriousness in the way that the Jungian perspective approaches depression, that can sometimes be lacking from other perspectives that do not emphasize entering into the depression and seeking to understand what it really means for the individual who is encountering it. There is treasure at the bottom of the well, if we can have the courage to go there, and that treasure is very often some aspect of the undiscovered self. I note in your comment that you certainly take the suffering aspect of the depression seriously, as I think that we must do. Those suffering from depression often do suffer, sometimes a great deal. However, the Jungian perspective holds out the hope that a meaning can be found in that suffering, and a way to move forward in life, and for very many people, that is extremely important. Thank you for your thoughtful views.

    2. Ruth Martin LMFT

      Ruth Martin LMFT

      October 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm -

      Brian, I’ve been looking at your site off and on for the last year, and enjoying it immensely. There is always a new insight or two that bubbles up. I’m amazed at how thorough the site is. I have a Jungian perspective in my work also, and this just feels like home!! Thanks, Ruth

      1. Brian C
        October 4, 2011 at 7:23 am -

        Thank you for your comment, Ruth, and thank you for spending time on my website. As I guess the website shows, I think that there is a tremendous richness to a Jungian and depth psychology perspective. It opens up quite a different understanding of the self, and what it is to be human, and I feel strongly that it opens up new possibilities in life for those who enter this kind of psychotherapy. Thank you for reading, Ruth. All the best, ~Brian

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