Lionel Corbett Croppe

The Soul in Anguish: Depth Psychological Approaches to Suffering

Lionel Corbett

When suffering strikes, it is helpful to find a framework through which we may understand it. The approach of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is of limited help, because there are many normal forms of suffering given the circumstances of a person’s life. Even in the presence of emotional disorder, people with the same diagnosis suffer in unique ways and require a personalized approach. Traditional religions offer explanations and reasons for suffering, and we will consider some, but depth psychology has unique approaches. This lecture will describe some ways to search for meaning in suffering, and consider it as an experience of liminality and initiation into a new level of consciousness. We will discuss an approach to suffering based on radical acceptance. More details.

Painful states of mind such as hatred, envy, alienation, scapegoating, cruelty, and loneliness, also produce suffering. We will describe some of the developmental sources of these complexes, their effects on the personality, and some of the ways in which they may be approached in psychotherapy. We will contrast these states of mind with the psychology and psychodynamics of altruism, empathy, compassion, concern, care, consolation, and pity, exploring the similarities and differences between these states. Finally we will discuss ways to help the helper, who may suffer from burnout and compassion fatigue. More details.

Dr. Lionel Corbett trained in medicine and psychiatry in England and as a Jungian Analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago. His primary interests are: the religious function of the psyche, especially the way in which personal religious experience is relevant to individual psychology; the development of psychotherapy as a spiritual practice; and the interface of Jungian psychology and contemporary psychoanalytic thought. Dr. Corbett is a professor of depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, in Santa Barbara, California, where he teaches depth psychology. He is the author of numerous professional papers and four books: Psyche and the Sacred; The Religious Function of the Psyche; The Sacred Cauldron: Psychotherapy as a Spiritual Practice, and most recently The Soul in Anguish: Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Suffering. He is the co-editor of: Psyche’s Stories; Jung and Aging;  Depth Psychology, Meditations in the Field; and Psychology at the Threshold.