I have frequently seen people become neurotic when they content themselves with inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life. They seek position, marriage, reputation, outward success or money, and remain unhappy and neurotic even when they have attained what they were seeking. Such people are usually confined within too narrow a spiritual horizon. Their life has not sufficient content, sufficient meaning. If they are enabled to develop into more spacious personalities, the neurosis generally disappears.
More widespread in Europe–where therapy is common among well-adjusted, healthy individuals–Jungian psychotherapy is of interest to those who want to explore questions related to finding a sense of purpose in their lives. As traditional sources of answers to these questions, such as organized religions and strong ideologies, have lost some of their appeal to our modern sensibilities, Jungian psychology provides a secular, no-nonsense approach to the search for personal meaning.
In the tradition established by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, this approach focuses on nighttime dreams, recurrent thoughts, and surprising or upsetting emotional reactions to help people identify their actual motivations and passions. The past too is explored in the therapeutic conversation, such as one’s own upbringing and past experiences, to help uncover overly-rigid and defensive approaches to challenges.
This increased awareness often leads to new life trajectories, improved ways of relating to others, and a deeper alignment with one’s own personal values–what Jung describes as having a wider “spiritual” horizon. With this sense that one’s own life and choices matter, many people feel energized and at peace with, or at least less caught in, the challenges they may currently be facing.
Dr. Belviso is a Jungian psychologist and faculty for public programs at The C. G. Jung Center of Evanston. He completed his clinical training (Doctoral Internship and Fellowship) at Northwestern University, Counseling and Psychological Services. In his previous life, he obtained a Ph.D. in Economics from Princeton University. Dr. Belviso's book Jungian Reflections on Grandiosity: From Destructive Fantasies to Passions and Purpose is forthcoming from Routledge.Read full bio »
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