Stress, Illness and Points of View (1)

In October 2010, while lecturing in Europe, my wife and I spent a few days hiking in the beautiful Lauterbrunnen valley south of Interlaken in Switzerland.  Sometimes walking in a beautiful place can get you thinking about the larger picture.

Lauterbrunnen Valley

On our way to the valley we passed through Zurich, the home of Carl Jung, a famous psychologist who died in 1961, aged 85.  The first time he met Sigmund Freud their conversation went on for thirteen straight hours.  After a few years of collaboration they split and Jung founded his own school of analytical psychology.

Jungian analysts remain active today.  The New York Association lists nearly 60 practitioners on its web site and many major cities in the US have a Jung Society.  The goal of Jungian analysis is to build a relationship between the conscious and unconscious minds, often by uncovering symbols called archetypes that emerge in the patient’s dreams, fantasies and memories.  The archetypes may be people (such as “the trickster”), objects (magic rings), places (an enchanted garden), processes (a heroic quest)  or geometric forms.  The treatment process can take years.

My goal in minimally describing Jungian analysis is to convey that its theoretical orientation clearly differs from that of dozens of other schools of psychological thought.  For patient care, practitioners choose from one or more of these based on their training, their own life experience and the needs of the client.

After over a century of research and clinical experience, we don’t appear to be converging on a single best practice in mental health.  Why is that?  More musings that began in Lauterbrunnen in the next post.

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