This week involved a great deal of reading and a number of questions to answer from the reading. My greatest takeaways from this week’s readings are the importance of understanding the history of depth psychology, the forces that pushed psychology to be made in general, and how the unconscious forms the ego. Additionally, I learned about the importance of symbols in culture and how symbols communicate to the collective unconscious otherwise known as the objective psyche. Though vastly different subjects and topics, understanding these different aspects of depth psychology provide a grounded framework to build on as my education continues.
Loss of Soul
What is the essential relationship between the loss of symbolic perspective and a loss of meaning or “loss of soul”?
The unconscious communicates through symbols. The unconscious is typically referred to as being the spiritual side of our being because of our inability to see its content because of its illusive communication techniques. It is unknown, non-observable with our eyes, and acts out irrationally contrary to logic. If we are unable to communicate with our unconscious self through listening and lose the connection the unconscious world, through symbols, then we lose the connection that we have to our souls or spirit. Jung illustrated that the most important meaning in our lives is to become an individual, and individuation is to understand the drives of the unconscious and to change according to these desires. If we are unable to communicate through listening to the unconscious, then individuation is impossible, and our sense of meaning is lost.
An example of this disconnection can be seen in many peoples personal lives today. The loss of meaning is apparent after they disconnect from their unconscious life through their loss of religious practices, or turning away from the mysteries in life. They rationalize the world by their conscious perspective and superimpose their persona onto the collective group rather than dive deeper into themselves. The symbols that the unconscious provides to them are lost to them and forgotten because of their inability to relate personally to anything but their group. When the products of their relationships fail them, and they lose the connection to their group identity through cultural changes or say an end of their career, their meaning is lost, and the realization that they have no soul is identified.
Contributions to Depth Psychology
What psychological forces abroad in Western society, and even beyond it, contributed to the formation of depth psychology?
Depth psychology was the natural progression of psychology. Psychology was founded on the idea that we should understand our minds to save ourselves. Though not mentioned in our reading, war from my perspective was a large part of this. Psychologists may have felt pressure by the desires to end war, and also cure the ailments that the soldiers their families, and their communities experienced. War may have provided psychologists with the urgency to solve the problems presented to them unconsciously.
Though the process of trying to define what psychology was, psychologists had to come up with terms for language and ideas to connect to those terms, to observe factors that apply to every human being. The deeper psychologists explored into the mind of their patients, and themselves, the more they realized the unique individualization that each mind contained. The depth could only be quantified by making generalizations about these differences and studying those generalizations.
In this exploration, it became apparent that psychologists could not merely explain an individual by their observable psychology; there was more to their patients than what met the eye. The development to explain these unobservable aspects as the unconscious was a way to capture the vastness and uniqueness of the human experience.
Though not fully explaining each human condition through depth psychology, psychologists now had a way to communicate the underlying factors that caused humans to act irrationally generally and to build a bridge between what was observable and the unobserved.
What contributed to the actions of war could be explained by cultural changes that took place due to the Age of Enlightenment. The over-emphasis on the importance of rational thought and the turning away from the unconscious creative and symbolic mind may have contributed to the release of chaotic psychic energy that resulted in millions of deaths. The unconscious drive to communicate again after such a dramatic event as World War I and II may have pushed psychologists, especially Freud, Jung, and Adler, to identifying an unrecognized aspect of the human psychology which could drive us to do unimaginable things. Depth psychology became a way for us to live in the rational world while exploring our symbolic spiritual sides.
- Shamdasani, S. (2003). Jung and the making of modern psychology: The dream of a science.
- Le Grice, K. (2016). Archetypal reflections.
- Whitmont, E. C. (1969). The Symbolic Quest
- Jung, C. G. (1964). Man and His Symbols