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Depth psychology is a broad term that refers to any psychological approach examining the depth (the hidden or deeper parts) of human experience. It is a applied in psychoanalysis.
It provides a set of techniques for exploring underlying motives and a method of treating various mental disorders. It seeks the deep layer(s) underlying behavioural and cognitive processes - the unconscious.
The initial work and development of the theories and therapies by Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler and Otto Rank that became to be known as depth psychology have resulted in three perspectives in modern times:
- Psychoanalytic: Freud's object relations
- Adlerian: Adler’s Individual psychology
- Jungian: Jung’s Analytical psychology and James Hillman’s "Archetypal psychology"
Those schools most strongly influenced by the work of Carl Jung, a 20th century Swiss psychiatrist who in his Analytical psychology emphasise questions of psyche, human development and personality development (or individuation).
The following is a summary of the primary elements of Depth psychology:
- Depth psychology states that psyche is a process that is partly conscious and partly unconscious. The unconscious in turn contains repressed experiences and other personal-level issues in its "upper" layers and "transpersonal" (eg. collective, non-I, archetypal) forces in its depths.
- The psyche spontaneously generates mythico-religious symbolism and is therefore spiritual as well as instinctive in nature. An implication of this is that the choice of whether to be a spiritual person or not does not exist - the only question is exactly where we put our spirituality: Do we live it consciously or unknowingly invest it in nonspiritual aspirations (perfectionism, addictions, greed, fame) that eventually possess us by virtue of their ignored but frightfully potent numinous power?
- All minds, all lives, are ultimately embedded in some sort of myth-making. Mythology is not a series of old explanations for natural events; it is rather the richness and wisdom of humanity played out in a wondrous symbolical storytelling. No story, no myth, and no humanness either.
- Because we have a psychical share in all that surrounds us, we are sane and whole only to the degree that we care for our environment and tend responsibly to the world in which we live.
- Analytical psychology (also Hillman's "Archetypal psychology")
- Jungian psychology
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