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Depth Psychotherapy and Nature, Outer & Inner

July 31st, 2013 · 2 Comments · depth, depth psychotherapy, Psychotherapy

Depth psychotherapy concerns itself with nature — inner human nature, which is fundamentally connected with outer nature, which we often experience so powerfully in the summer season.

depth psychotherapy

Nature, Inner & Outer

The McMichael Art Gallery is currently exhibiting a wonderful group of works by photographer Ansel Adams.  Just to declare my bias: Adams was one of the great artists of the 20th century.  In works like “Aspens, Northern New Mexico” above, he opens up a vision of outer nature that resonates profoundly our own inner life — our inner nature.

Jung on Nature

Jung’s depth psychotherapy was similarly concerned with the relationship between nature and the human mind.  He wrote a lot about his own experience of nature:

“At times I feel as if I am spread out over the landscape and inside things, and am myself living in every tree, in the splashing of the waves, in the clouds and the animals that come and go , in the procession of the seasons.  There is nothing with which I am not linked.”

C.G. Jung, MDR

depth psychotherapy

IMAGE, JUNG’S RED BOOK

But Jung cautioned western culture:

“Our intellect has  created a new world that dominates nature, and has populated it with monstrous machines….

‘We have conquered nature’ is a mere slogan.  In reality we are confronted with anxious questions, the answers to which seem nowhere in sight.  The so-called conquest of nature overwhelms us…

Western man has no need of more superiority over nature whether outside or inside.  He has both in almost devilish perfection.  What he lacks is conscious recognition of his inferiority to the nature around him and within him.  He must learn that he may not do exactly as he wills.  If he doesn’t learn this, his own nature will destroy him.  He does not know that his own soul is rebelling against him in a suicidal way.

The one thing we refuse to admit is that we are dependent on “powers” beyond our control…

The afternoon of humanity, in a distant future, may yet evolve a different ideal.  In time, even conquest will cease to be the dream.”

C.G. Jung, CW 11; CW 18

Jung anticipated the eco-psychology and environmental psychology of our era by 50-60 years.  I’m struck by the way that he brings it together with depth psychotherapy and the unconscious mind.

Peace with Outer and Inner Nature

Jung stressed connections between natural landscapes and the unconscious.  He spoke in very positive terms of consciousness of indigenous people, as when he stated

“The country [the indigenous person] inhabits is at the same time the topography of his unconscious”

[CW 10]

The unconscious and nature in its outer form are profoundly connected: there is a strong similarity in the ways in which consciousness relates to both.  Jung notes that modern culture has an attitude of exploitation towards nature, seeking the “conquest” of nature.  This manifests in dismissal and contempt of inner nature — the unconscious dimensions of the personality, and the rhythms of bodily existence.  Result: people fundamentally at odds with their own being.

Depth psychotherapy aims at staying real by re-establishing an intimate relationship with nature, inner and outer.

PHOTOS: “Aspens, Northern New Mexico”  © 1958 Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust ; C.G. jung, Red Book, © 1958
© 2013 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive, Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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