Depth Psychology was coined at the turn of the twentieth century by Eugen Bleuler, psychiatry at the University of Zürich, to describe a field of psychology that are oriented towards understanding the unconscious mind and processes. Both Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud’s theories acknowledge vast unconscious thoughts, feelings, and desires that create division within the individual. Depth psychology aims to make the unconscious conscious through working with dreams, images, listening to symptoms, free association, myth, poetry, art, and synchronicity. In Depth Psychology, rather than merely attempting to temporarily treat the symptom, the goal is to listen and try to understand what the symptom is trying to communicate to the conscious. In other words, the aim is to allow that which has been repressed, denied, or buried within the individual to be felt, explored, understood, and ultimately, integrated.
Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung referred to this mask as the persona, which is the part of us that wants to project the most positive, successful image we can to the world at large. From a young age, we are taught what is socially acceptable and what is “good” from parents, teachers, and peers. When we begin to internalize these expectations and codes of behavior, anything that falls outside of these expectations is usually repressed, denied, or hidden. Almost every one of us wants to appear more successful, happier, smarter and more in control than we actually are.
According to Jung, when one identifies too much with the persona and hides or represses instinctual desires, unconscious fears, insecurities, or any emotion that is too unpleasant to deal with, the shadow, or darker side of the psyche, often grows larger and reveals itself to us in some way. Jung believed that the path to wholeness required us to examine and integrate this unconscious part of ourselves, known as the shadow. For Jung, this could be done through dreamwork, free association, or other therapeutic techniques. By acknowledging and accepting these disowned parts, we can become more self-aware, empowered, and compassionate towards ourselves and others.
In addition to these concepts, Jung also coined the terms personal and collective unconscious. The personal unconscious, which contains an individual's personal memories, ideas, thoughts, and feelings that are not fully conscious. The collective unconscious connects us to the human family and is made up of shared aspects of our species, such as instincts, collective memories, and archetypes, which are universal symbols. The personal and collective unconscious may be forgotten, repressed, or suppressed. According to Jung, the greater the degree of disharmony between the personal and collective unconscious and conscious self can lead to internal conflict, anxiety, depression, and the use of various defense mechanisms. The path to healing and individuation, which involves the realization of wholeness of the self, is a result of the integration of conscious and unconscious self.
Jung also developed theories exploring personality, specifically introversion and extroversion. He also coined the term, Synchronicity, which is typically observed on the path to individuation and healing. Jung defined Synchronicity by the following criteria:
1.The coincidence of a psychic state in the observer with a simultaneous, objective, external event that corresponds to the psychic state or content . . . where there is no evidence of a causal connection between the psychic state and the external event, and where, considering the psychic relativity of space and time, such a connection is not even conceivable.
2. The coincidence of a psychic state with a corresponding (more or less simultaneous) external event taking place outside the observers field of perception, i.e., at a distance, and only verifiable afterward.
3. The coincidence of a psychic state with a corresponding, not yet existent future event that is distant in time and can likewise only be verified afterward. (C.G. Jung, On Synchronicity, p. 94)
The concept of synchronicity infuses time with a sense of personal and subjective meaning and serves to empower the individual.
What is unique about Depth or Jungian Psychology is it's aim to treat the whole person and uncover deeper issues often hidden within each individual. Rather than merely attempting to treat surface-level symptoms, Depth Psychology attempts to integrate unconscious and conscious aspects of the personality to create a sense of wholeness. Trauma and the attempt to cope with some form of trauma often results in some level of fragmentation of the psyche. With a Depth Psychological approach to healing, the individual can regain a sense of integration, self-understanding, and wholeness. From this perspective, healing is not just about treating symptoms or coping, but also about finding meaning, a deeper purpose in life, and realizing one's uniqueness and true potiential.