Depth psychology and depth therapy are unique. Their focus is inner life and higher development, whereas most Western psychologies focus on treating psychological problems and maladies. The "medicalization" of psychology and therapy defines human problems and difficulties as if they were medical conditions that require medical like intervention and treatment. This is typically bad faith nonsense.
The fact is that life is hard for many of us today because we live in a materialistic nightmare. Money, status, winning and power mean more than love, connection, wisdom and satisfaction. The health professions have been colonized the the drug and insurance industries. Psychologists have little idea what a sound, healthy mind looks like, let alone how one can be cultivated and protected. They often act as if there is nothing to know and understand.
THE INSEPARABILITY OF PSYCHOLOGY, SPIRITUALITY AND ART
My depth psychology work recognizes the inseparability of psychology, spirituality and art. The heart-deprived intellect creates separate disciplines that become territorial fixations. These fixations fail to awaken the mind or feed the soul. They fail to address the madness and suffering all around us. And they fail to recognize and claim the treasure that lays buried deep within our mind's innermost nature.
Psychology separated from spirit provides no relief from the materialistic nightmare because it’s soaked in it. Spirituality separated from psychology leads to organizations and people who praise a Light they have never seen. Or to a "One Who Knows" neurotic leader and group of cultic, true-believer followers. Art without psychology and spirituality degrades into a commodity or entertainment for the sleepwalking patrons, critics and collectors.
Freud was an important founder father of the depth psychology tradition. Yet his work has been sorely misunderstood. Even by many practicing as "Freudians." focused on finding cures for mental disorders. If we consider Freud's work carefully, we discover that it was co-opted. It was wrongly positioned by medicine and the academe.. Few people, including psychologists, understand how badly Freud’s ideas were misunderstood and used poorly by others completely unaware that he was not a physician in search of cures for mental maladies.
Freud explained, in his own words, who he was and what he was really up to.:
Everybody thinks…that I started by the scientific character of my work and that my principal scope lies in curing mental melodies. This is a terrible error that has prevailed for years and that I have been unable to set right. I am a scientist by necessity, and not by vocation. I am really by nature an artist… And of this there lies an irrefutable proof: which is that in all countries into which psychoanalysis has penetrated it has been better understood and applied by writers and artists than by doctors. My books, in fact, more resemble works of imagination than treatise on pathology. (Giovanni Papini, “A Visit to Freud” Review of Existential Psychology and Psychiatry 9, no. 2 (1969) 130-134)
Freud tells us in the quote above that he is an artist at heart, not a scientist. Freud’s ideas can’t be scientifically known, validated or refuted for the same reason that a Matisse painting can’t be judged as true or false. Freud’s theories, like Jung’s, and other significant depth psychologists, are works of art.
Viewing Freud’s work through a lens needed to understand art, we’re welcomed into Freud’s world anew. Ditto Jung. I’ll use them both as representative figures for the depth psychology tradition. For our purposes here, they both provide sufficient wash for our canvas. For clarity and simplicity’s sake, I subsume both Freud and Jung’s work in all forms, as well as that of their followers and colleagues, including psychoanalysis and psychoanalysts, under the category of depth psychology and depth psychotherapy.
Like Freud, Jung's work was not focused on treating psychological illness. But unlike Freud, Jung stressed the importance the sacred dimension of life. And he felt that a healthy mind was a mind connected to the numinous, spiritual dimension of life. In his words:
...the main interest of my work is not concerned with the treatment of neuroses but rather with the approach to the numinous. But the fact is that the approach to the numinous is the real therapy and inasmuch as you attain to the numinous experiences you are released from the curse of pathology. Even the very disease takes on a numinous character” C.G. Jung Letters, Selected and edited by Gerhard Adler in collaboration with Aniela Jaffé, 2 vols, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973, p 377.
Unlike Freud, Jung’s version of depth psychology isn’t taught in university psychology departments. He was overt in explaining that a heavy emphasis on empirical science stood in the way grasping the deeper nature of mind, including its sacred realms. He knew that empirical science looks outside into external material reality, while depth psychology looks inside, into inner reality. And then on into the sacred dimension of mind and the Mystery of life.
Depth psychology is a way of life—not just a profession or career.