What is “DEPTH Psychology?”

Last week, we re-affirmed that the roots of psychology rest within an attention to soul and the “invisible” essence of life that breathes within and around us. 

This desire to somehow bridge connection between mind and the invisible is an ancient philosophical dilemma, beginning with Western philosophers from the time of Aristotle!  However, the scientific revolution of the Renaissance and Enlightenment ushered in a new era, and era that would split the invisible from the visible.  A culture of Cartesian dualism (mind vs. matter) took its strong-hold. From that point forward, if there were to be any attention to this invisible, soulful realm, it would be through the church, not through science.  Psychology followed suit with one exception: Dr. Sigmund Freud. 

A psychiatrist, trained in medicine, Freud noticed that his clients manifested physical symptoms that could not be explained through medicine and physiology, nor could clients control these various physical compulsions.  After careful evaluation of his cases, Freud posited that there must be some unseen force, not body and not conscious will, which drove these symptoms.  He termed this unseen force the unconscious, and with that, depth psychology was born.

At its simplest, depth psychology means “psychology of the unconscious.”  When we speak of depth psychology we are speaking of a family tree that began with Freud and grew outward once Jung’s convictions about the unconscious parted from Freud’s.  Today, depth psychology consists of both psychoanalysis (Freud’s legacy) and analytical psychology (Jung’s legacy).  Next week, we’ll take a brief look at what finally split Jung and Freud.  Much has been said about this split between the founders of depth psychology – books written, movies made – but next week we will look at the theory alone: different theories of what the unconscious is and how it manifests itself.  Have a wonderful week!

Hallie Beth Durchslag, LISW