Episode 82 – Medicating Psyche

Oct 24, 2019


The question of whether, when, and what psychoactive medications may be helpful is both big and ambiguous. Mental distress has always been strongly influenced by cultural filters and subjective perceptions. Whereas a person might once have sought to placate a god, sufferers today may turn to medical management rather than mining their psychological symptoms for meaning. In his autobiography Jung describes his years of mental turmoil—and that they became “the prima materia for a lifetime’s work”; his Red Book documents his encounters with the unconscious in compelling and artistic detail. There is much evidence of the potential suffering holds for self-awareness and psychological depth – and it is also important to acknowledge that judicious use of today’s medications can relieve unnecessary or pointless suffering. No matter where on the spectrum of severity emotional illness may lie, psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle and relationships can all play a role in recovery and growth.

“I am walking toward a large concrete structure with an unbelievably fit, handsome and powerful man. He appears to be my friend although I am envious of his physical attributes. We climb into a small passage that leads to a clearing in which undulating hills descend into a body of fast-moving water. I am immediately struck that there is a goal or intention to swim across this water and scale a flat concrete wall which is about 100 feet up, facing us across the body of water. My companion says, “I’ve got this,” and “I do things like this all the time.” He jumps in the water at the exact moment I become aware of holes in the wall which then begin to fire cannon balls. I rush back to where we began to avoid the cannon barrage, but also (it seems) to “watch” the negotiation of the obstacle. I am now with another man who is soft and slightly overweight. I ask him where the best place to watch this endeavor is and he leads me up a stairwell to a room that contains two old CR TV’s. One is large and a smaller one is on top of the larger. The room has a greenish yellow carpet and it looks very much like the late 70’s or early 80’s. I feel sorry for the man because in that moment I realize this is all he can afford. Next, I am struck with an awareness that the fit man has successfully completed his endeavor – although I did not see it happen. I then become aware that the room adjacent to the one I am in is filled with two groups of women. The first group are sitting at a table conducting what appears to be an executive meeting. The second group are on the floor engaging in a yoga class. My wife is among the women doing yoga and her cousin is among the executives. I suddenly am stuck by the realization that I am only wearing a t-shirt and I’m naked from the waist down, and I fear they will discover this.”


Hillman, James. The Myth of Analysis 
Whitaker, Robert. Anatomy of an Epidemic 
Perry, John. The Far Side of Madness
Lingiardi & McWilliams. Psychodynamic Diagnostic Manual, Second Edition
Jung, C.G. The Red Book.

#ThisJungianLife #AnalyticalPsychology #JungianAnalysis #Archetype

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash


  1. Mary Anne

    Could you also post the reference of the Finish study?
    You were all so very non-judgmental around this issue (and all of them, really). Very admirable!
    And thank you for the note that those SSRIs are proving difficult to discontinue and of questionable value although, the placebo effect is a positive one–albeit better to achieve it without drug-induced side effects!
    Thank you! Mary Anne

  2. Jo

    I was put on psychotropic medications after suffering severe mental breakdown in 2013
    They caused me to have a manic psychotic episode
    I was put in a locked ward of a notorious psychiatric ward
    Secluded and force medicated from day one
    After 8 months I was discharged
    A therapist put a mad in America book into my hands
    It validated and empowered me
    The ward experience was horrific and retraumatised me
    Many of the staff participated in bullying and mind games with me and other patients
    I saw two suicides
    I am dedicated to making a difference
    I work in a Peer Lead acute Mental Health unit
    We practice Intentional Peer Support
    Trauma informed
    Psychotropic medications shattered my life and my 4 young children’s lives
    I worked with a clinical psychologist for 4 years trained in psychoanylitacal techniques
    Saved my life
    All the best your podcasts are outstanding
    Thank you


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