The depth psychological view focuses on mystery and the creativity and potentiality that resides in the unknown. The mysteries of the unconscious manifest when they are ready. According to James Hillman, contemporary archetypal psychologist, each of us is pulled toward a telos, a whole and complete finished product, each unique, like an acorn that turns into a massive oak tree. This is also the call of the Self to which Jung refers.
Jungian thought identifies “health” as wholeness, and “pathology” or lack of health as lack of wholeness. Jung (Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 1964) asserted that current western cultures have lost a sense of the sacred, and in so doing have become dislocated and disoriented, losing meaning and vitality by losing contact with what he calls the regulating center of the soul. This condition of being out of balance is often referred to by indigenous and earth-based people as loss of soul. Smith (Jung and Shamanism in Dialogue, 2007) argues that a retrieval of the sacred is essential for retrieval of the soul.
Smith (2007), noting the pathological conditions emerging in contemporary culture, says we have repressed the contents of the unconscious and summarily forgotten it entirely, disregarding the magic and mystery there. The sheer lack of soul in current times and culture epitomizes the tremendous precipice on which we perch as a result. Jung, sensing the enormity of the split between our conscious everyday lifestyle and the vast depth of the psyche, warns, “We do not understand yet that the discovery of the unconscious means an enormous spiritual task, which must be accomplished if we wish to preserve our civilization” (in Sabini, The Earth Has a Soul, 2005, p. 145). According to Jung, the only way to address the deep loss of connection to soul that we are experiencing as a species is to reestablish our connection to the sacred.
As a call from the unconscious, any symptom we manifest, psychological or physical, represents a deeper reality. Personal symptoms, conflicts, and blocks relate to or are based on a mythic or archetypal level, which, when understood and witnessed can inform us on the meaning of our struggles and tests. We must look more deeply into the profound depths of the soul, the rhizome, the root from where the symptom arises and discover how to address it in its own symbolic realm; in its own language of image, story, and myth. We must treat it from a depth psychological standpoint.
If you're suffering from challenges like depression, relationship issues, emotional challenges or other problems that interfere with your capacity to be whole and healthy, a good depth-oriented practitioner can help you get to the root of the problem instead of simply trying to smooth over the symptom.
Bonnie Bright is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, the world's first comprehensive online community for depth psychology and hosts a regular podcast, Depth Insights, as well as editing the semi-annual scholarly e-zine of the same name.