Psyche Down Under: Schizophrenia Helpline Newsletter


There is a better way . . .

From Psyche Down Under: Issue One [April 2000]

Mental Health & Soul Mythologized

Dr David Tacey, Author and Head of Psychocultural Studies at La Trobe University writes: 'Ours is the country where, from the European perspective, we walk upside down on the bottom side of the globe, where the seasons are mysteriously reversed, where our trees shed their bark instead of their leaves, and where even the Southern Cross hangs tilted or upside down in the night sky. So it strangely accords with our national temperament to find metaphysical inversions as well: the gods are no longer in heaven, but down below in an equally mythical realm called the unconscious. The spirit does not lift us to transcendental heights but leads us downward into neurosis, mental illness and psychological chaos."

In the Greek myth of the human girl Psyche, whose name means 'soul', Psyche abandoned by Eros is left alone, directionless, depressed - literally, 'pulled down' - hence she is finally driven to Underworld depths. For Eros, mysterious god of entanglements in relationship, involvement with life, immersion in suffering, depth and joy, is the god behind human vulnerability, the one who exposes us, through love, betrayal, cruelty and kindness, to life's inseparable blend of woundedness and pleasure.

Psyche, in other words, is a myth that provides a 'psych-ological' context for understanding depression as soul's need to descend in order to retrieve its Underworld treasure. By exploring depression from this soul-centred perspective, we have thus re-mythologized a universal (archetypal) human experience: soul's hunger for depth and for the elusive riches harboured by Hades, Lord of the dark Underworld of the unconscious.

So what's in a name? Everything, when it comes to talking about psychiatry and psychology, both words which take 'psyche' as their root, hence both possessing a moral and mythic obligation to help heal and serve soul. Indeed, if they fail in this sobering responsibility, they have surely forfeited the right to these titles.

'Psyche Down Under', then, alludes to myth as the context of therapy and psychiatry re-visioned; and to soul, to our need for depth, to the Australian psyche as one which is at home in the Dreaming unconscious, its brooding and ancient Underworld.

What's in a name? Everything when it comes to describing folk suffering from mental illness. Contrary to Juliet's angle in Shakespeare, a rose by another name can smell far sweeter than its original soulless label. Sometimes, for instance, I call my schizophrenic friends 'potential shamans', since shamans as 'divinely mad' mediators to the powerful realms of myth and vision are highly regarded in cultures which thrive on direct communion with the sacred, its gods, devils, terror, beauty and sense of all-pervasive soul; in short, with archetypal energies which schizophrenic folk likewise tap into, but have not yet learned to work with creatively and with a strong sense of personal stability and identity.

The concerns we share here, then, focus on our urgent need to radically re-vision the entire field of mental illness and health from a soul-centred perspective. Ultimately, though, Psyche Down Under is about the fate of real human lives, which is inextricably bound up with the fate of soul in Australian culture as a whole. My intuition is that just as Psyche had to journey 'down under' to find her way back to lost Eros, so we shall be driven to the depths of our wounds, depressions, madness and fears in order to be reunited with lost soul. It is my passionate conviction that this re-mythologizing of our lives is the medicine we need if we are to help one another reconnect to a life wrestled with, shared and celebrated in all its fullness, vibrancy, imaginal richness, pain and joy.

With this guiding vision at heart, Psyche Down Under offers itself as a yeast, vessel and catalyst to help reactivate the sense of soul within the individual, in the field of mental health, and throughout Australian culture as a whole. We welcome you to the Fireside circle.

Maureen B. Roberts, PhD
Founder & Consulting Editor

Psyche Down Under
Re-Visioning Psychiatry & Psychology to Serve Soul
Re-educating the Public concerning Mental Health and Illness from a Soul-centred & Wholistic Medical Perspective
Re-empowering the Individual through Mutual Respect & Equal Therapeutic Dialogue
Re-newing Australian Society through Nurturing its Neglected Sense of the Sacred

Our Goals:
- to provide a friendly forum for sharing ideas, concerns and personal testimonies relating to mental health and illness
- to explore with passion and serve with compassion soul's need for depth, pathology, imagination and the sacred
- to gain equal recognition and equal Government funding for a wholistic psychiatry which honours its sacred duty, the 'cure of souls', so that folk can have affordable access to their choice of therapies
- to offer information on reputable sources of education, crisis intervention, support, and therapy in the field of mental health and illness

If you would like a copy of Issue One of Psyche Down Under, e-mail with your postal address details, or phone [Australia/international] 61 8 8362 0980



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