No clear difference between psychopathology of self and psychopathology of world

This short passage is filled with astonishing insights, articulated so beautifully there is something palpable and acute that happens when I read it.

hillmanMy practice tells me I can no longer distinguish clearly between neurosis of self and neurosis of world, psychopathology of self and psychopathology of world. Moreover, it tells me that to place neurosis and psychopathology solely in personal reality is a delusional repression of what is actually, realistically, being experienced.

The whole world is sick….and you can’t put this right by having a good therapeutic dialogue or finding deeper meanings. It’s not about meaning anymore; it’s about survival.

Psychological awareness rises from errors, coincidences, indefiniteness, from the chaos deeper than intelligent control.

In any system, whether a corporation, a family or the inner arrangements of the human psyche, a vigorous “no” to the good of the whole may serve the good of the whole and increase its power even more than a compliant “yes.”

“Well, what can I do about the world? This thing’s bigger than me.” That’s the child archetype talking. “All I can do is go into myself, work on my growth, my development, find good parenting, support groups.” This is a disaster for our political world, for our democracy. Democracy depends on intensely active citizens, not children.

Psychoanalysis needs more dissidents, more even than Laing and the antipsychiatric movement; it needs its own “terrorists of soul” in the sense of a radical seeing through of its fixed investments in profession – its banks and insurance, its law courts, its palaces of bureaucracy – to return soul to the world.

“Today we need heroes of descent, not masters of denial, mentors of maturity who can carry sadness, who give love to aging, who show soul without irony or embarrassment. — James Hillman

To reframe what we’ve generally been told about mental anguish and suffering by the mental illness system is a very important part of healing. Psychiatry makes out that the individual is sick. A much more honest as well as empowering way to view much mental anguish is to see ourselves as part of the web of life. Our despair is telling us something very real and valid. We should listen to it and pay attention and learn. Feeling pain is not a weakness, it is a capacity. We can learn to let it fuel us rather than cripple us. We can learn to be what James Hillman is suggesting above.

More James Hillman on Beyond Meds

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters