On the Need to Radically Re-Vision the Mental Health System
"By psychology's 'mortal sin', I mean the sin of deadening, the dead feeling that comes over us when we read professional psychology, hear its language, the voice with which it drones, the bulk of its textbooks, the serious pretensions and bearded proclamations of new 'findings' that could hardly be more banal, its soothing anodynes for self-help, its decor, its fashion, its departmental meetings, and its tranquilizing consulting rooms, those stagnant waters where the soul goes to be restored, a last refuge of white-bread culture, stale, crustless, but ever spongy with rebounding hope . . . Whatever romance might still be left appears in the desire to help suffering people by entering a 'training program' for therapists. But if helping is the calling, then better apprentice with Mother Teresa than to expect a psychology without soul, beauty, or pleasure to train you to help the suffering. Psychology has no self-help manual for its own affliction."
~ James Hillman, The Soul's Code
Copies of Letters & Proposals Sent to Government Health Ministers
by Maureen B. Roberts, PhD
Thank you for forwarding me a copy of the outcome of the Mental Health Summit. Since I was not present, but would like to have been, I offer as a holistic mental health practitioner (depth psychology school) the following, hopefully helpful and informative feedback on your report on New Initiatives and Extra Funding.
Firstly, Im wondering whether practitioners from the alternative field of depth psychology were invited to your mental health summit, since it seems that you are still committed to funding only mainstream modes of treatment? I note with dismay, for example, that you are committed to providing yet more beds in hospitals to the tune of $7.5 million, but that only $3 million has been allocated to providing "new service initiatives" (and does this include alternatives to mainstream psychiatry and psychology?)
With all respect and only constructive criticism intended, I find myself wondering just how much you know about the vast arena of mental health to begin with? Are you aware, for instance, that there exist vastly different schools of mental health, and that only one of these is given serious attention - and funding? The psychiatry taught in Medical School and practised here stems from an obsolete 19th century materialism, which presumes that every mental illness is chemical in origin and can therefore be simply fixed, or band-aided by the administration of more chemicals. (I point this out in a friendly fashion simply because as Minister, you are surely advised to be well-informed about the huge field of mental health in general if you are to make reliable judgments and decisions in this area?)
Are you aware that the entire school of analytical psychology, or depth psychology, founded by Freud's successor, Carl Jung is entirely ignored here as an alternative approach to mental illness? In other words, by providing more beds, hence more drugs to keep the folk in them sedated, you are seeking to renovate and keep afloat an obsolete mental health model and structure whose foundations were shaky to begin with, and whose walls are now irreversibly crumbling.
I urge you, if you are genuinely concerned about helping the desperate folk suffering from mental illness (and I don't doubt you are), take it from me - and I know because I've dealt with these people closely and felt with them their pain - these folk do not want to be drugged, incarcerated, bedridden, or left to shuffle down antiseptic corridors to the droning sound of TV sets or muzak. They deserve better - and could be offered it if you would set the pace by pioneering truly new initiatives.
If you have been informed - by members of the psychiatric or medical establishment - that there are no viable options to drugs, beds, shock therapy and incarceration, then you have been sadly misinformed. Needless to say, it is not in the interests of drug companies, or mainstream psychiatry and medicine to let you, or the public know there are alternatives which would take money out of their pockets, rob them of their prestige and monopoly over the field, and put more dignity, choice and freedom back into the hands of the suffering individual. I would be all too happy to discuss all this with you further in person.
I of course appreciate that you must also consider cost-effectiveness. Ironically enough, the alternatives I speak of would turn out to be more cost-effective, since they would not involve the provision of drugs, or beds, or long-term treatment, but would involve far more natural and drug-free alternatives, such as Jungian analysis, art therapy, dream analysis and guided visualization - all equally valid approaches to mental health.
Commendably, you seek education, training and information as well as shared expertise and knowledge for service providers. Very well, how about offering some teaching in the areas I work in? Id be all too happy to provide it, as Ive already offered.
I have taken the liberty of enclosing copies of a review of a book on alternative approaches to schizophrenia, and letters sent to SAHC and the Federal Health Minister addressing all these issues in further detail. Furthermore, if you would like to do further research yourself in the area of holistic approaches to mental health, I suggest you search under the following headings: analytical psychology, depth psychology, Jungian psychology, archetypal psychology, transpersonal psychology, psychosynthesis. Authors I recommend include Carl Jung, James Hillman, Robert Bly, Thomas Moore, Marie-Louise von Franz, Stanislav Grof, Abraham Mazlow.
I understand that you are a busy person (so am I), but I have taken a lot of time and effort to write these letters in the hope that folk suffering from mental illness will be offered better choices and treatment than what is currently on offer. And in the hope that practitioners such as myself, who are currently not Government funded or reimbursed for our services by Medical Benefits schemes, will be given a fair go, hence a better opportunity to offer the public the kind of help we can give.
I hope, then, that you will be prepared to devote some time and careful thought to these issues - which will not go away or be swept under the carpet by mainstream medical folk. People suffering from mental illness are not statistics, or problems to be remedied by simply pouring more money into treatment they dont want or need in the first place; they are human beings just like you and me, as I know you are aware of. There is a better way - and you have the power to help phase it in. Dont let these folk down.
Dont Scoff at the Cuckoos: You May Be a Cuckoo Too The Amazing Implications of Schizophrenia [Castle Hill, NSW (Aust.), MBS Books, 1995]
by John Herbert
Reviewed by Maureen B. Roberts, PhD
Jungian analyst John Herberts provocative book not only challenges the belief that schizophrenia is an incurable disease (he suggests its 80% curable, within limits), but even more courageously tackles the dubious notions of sanity and madness that fuel the "myth" of (mad) schizophrenic versus (sane) psychiatrist, and in doing so line the pockets of the latter camp at the expense of the former.
From the schizophrenics equally valid perspective, the author suggests, and bearing in mind that schizophrenics are often brilliant and shrewd souls, its the psychiatrist who may be "cuckoo". While steering clear of knocking individual practitioners, Herbert thus doesnt hesitate to expose and condemn the pitiful inadequacies of mainstream psychiatry, whose practitioners are simply not trained or equipped to deal with this kind of illness. As Jung discovered, for example, schizophrenics visions, dreams and voices are by and large mythic and religious in tone, so a practitioner lacking in-depth knowledge of these fields will be unable to make sense of this crucial content as the raw material of psychotherapy.
Indirectly, the book is thus a timely critique of the woeful ignorance, outmoded treatments (shock therapy, etc.) and bigoted prejudices that are still rife throughout mainstream medicine. In contrast to the cerebral hogwash that is often pawned as medical discourse, the text is informed with Jungs basic medical premise that every psychological factor has a physical dimension, and every physical symptom a psychological one. Like Jung, Herbert thus happily avoids falling into the materialist trap of assuming that schizophrenia is caused by disorders in brain chemistry, and he has healthy reservations about the effectiveness of drug therapy. Understanding that schizophrenia is a complex illness, he does not , however, neglect an in-depth consideration of biological and genetic factors, including (as helpful) nutrition and vitamin therapy, and (as harmful) alcoholism, drug abuse (including that inflicted through treatment), incest, and allergies.
Psychologically, Herbert highlights overall the therapeutic value of integrating the opposites - in the individual as well as in the wider field of medicine - to form a balanced whole. He foregrounds the distinctive contribution made by Jung himself (the greatest psychiatrist the world has known) to the non-pharmaceutical treatment of schizophrenia, bearing in mind that one eulogy for Jung described him as a schizophrenic who healed himself.
Theres a universe of difference between mainstream psychiatric models - which patronisingly tend to impose (merely) chemical remedies on people - and Jungs holistic approach, which involves an equal, non-authoritarian dialogue between two persons in order to engage the healing power of the patients own unconscious. Here, instead of adopting the role of a detached expert, the therapist acts as a midwife to the optimum development of the whole human being.
With regard to unresolved childhood conflicts, Herbert stresses that disintegration may be an essential phase of conflict resolution within the larger framework of the individuals overall journey toward reintegration. Making use of pertinent quotes from Jung, he discusses the extreme dissociation that distinguishes schizophrenia from (the milder split of) neurosis, the parent-child issue of abandonment, and the later importance of developing a compensating transference relationship with the therapist. As well, he reinforces the need to allow the unconscious its voice, and draws attention to the indispensability of the therapists self-knowledge and empathic, non-judgmental qualities (rather than academic credentials). In this way, the book teases apart the radical differences between mainstream psychiatry and Jungian analytical psychotherapy with regard to what constitutes adequate training and qualification in the first place.
Although much more needs to be said on this still little understood illness, the author has made a commendable and brave contribution. This book takes a giant step toward helping re-educate the public so that they can be better informed about choices of treatment for schizophrenia, and better aware of the hidden power agendas, ignorance, and dubious premises that infect mainstream medicine as a whole. Perhaps if mainstream psychiatry were to examine its own ailing agenda with the same eagerness with which it is ready to label others as sick, the schizophrenics - as potential prophets, artists, shamans and visionaries - would not need to counteract psychiatrys soulless hubris with the soulful nemesis of visionary chaos and mythic mayhem.
In summary, this is a book which can help us all heal, again in the authors words, the tragic "split in the soul of all Western society".
To: South Australian Health Commission
Thank you for posting me a copy of your Strategic Plan brochure concerning health services for children and young people.
In response to your accompanying letter, I
wish to say that I would very much like to work with you to help improve the mental health
of young Australians. From the tone of your publication, I can tell that you are
well-meaning and hard-working folk who are keen to improve the quality and
range of existing therapies on offer to young folk. As a practising psychotherapist, I share with you this desire to help and so offer the following in a spirit of companionship, support, and friendly suggestion. Any criticism I offer is accordingly not directed at you, but more at the existing mainstream medical models, which are in many respects not only inadequate in dealing with many areas of mental health, but also in some instances damaging - as I can attest to from accounts Ive received from members of the public - to individuals suffering from particular forms of illness, such as depression, neurosis, suicidal impulses, relationship problems, identity crises, or schizophrenia.
My sole passion and business is working with and understanding the human psyche, from the inside and through direct, sometimes demanding and potentially dangerous engagement with it. I therefore encourage you, for the sake of those in need of psychiatric help, not to overlook the kinds of help, knowledge and advice - based largely on experience - which persons such as myself can offer.
In view of your commendable vision and goals, I therefore wish to offer input to your strategic plan and invite you to consider funding - on the basis of your response to the enclosed - my work, research and teaching, which I offer in collaboration with your own vision and strategy. The bottom line for me is this: I cannot provide the services I am able to offer the community if my hands are tied financially. I am obliged to seek paid work elsewhere, e.g. through teaching at the University of SA, in order to supplement the meagre income I receive from the therapeutic work I long to do as my sole vocation. While mainstream psychiatrists and psychologists receive funding as well as support from peer organizations, Medicare and the Government, folk such as myself, who are equally qualified in our own field, are forced to struggle alone, without either financial help, or organizational support. You have the means to help here - and thereby not only provide folk such as me the opportunity to contribute to your work - but also provide the public with a broader range of mental health care options.
I would be happy to contribute to your work under the following broad headings:
Firstly, I would be prepared to offer the above within a framework and approach to psychotherapy which is currently ignored by mainstream psychiatry, psychology and medical benefit schemes, namely the entire alternative/holistic field of depth psychology, which includes analytical psychology (Jungian school), and archetypal psychology. This approach would relate to your stated goals:
Specifically, I can offer the following, which are all completely natural, creative, non-authoritarian and non-pharmaceutical approaches to psychotherapeutic practice and teaching:
Training (key areas of focus):
I have taught courses in most of these areas at The University of Adelaide and for WEA of SA Inc.
Group Therapy & Workshops:
Phone and Online Counselling
I would also be happy to contribute - in a practising and/or advisory capacity - to your existing services, under the headings of: information services, early intervention services, school based services, clinical services, specialist services, day service, home based service, emergency and crisis response, research and evaluation, inpatient services.
I include for your further consideration and as potentially useful information the following 6-point discussion, which was forwarded in 1996 to the Federal Health Minister Dr Michael Wooldridge, from whom I received a cordial reply and an acknowledgment of the need to re-evaluate the entire mental health arena. May I urge you to at least read carefully the major points A-F (outlined on the first page), and the tabled summary (concluding point D expanded) on the clear differences between analytical, or depth psychology and mainstream psychiatry. Other major areas of concern have been underlined. (If you wish to read this later, skip to Concluding Thoughts at the end).
The issues, proposal and requests outlined in this communication relate to current (open-minded) Liberal policy concerning 'Alternative' medicine; these issues have arisen from my personal concerns and from what I (and others in the field of depth psychology) perceive to be an urgent and timely need to question and re-evaluate certain assumptions regarding the scope and nature of what constitutes acceptable, worthwhile, desirable and valid qualifications in the diverse field of psychological practice.
On the Need for Change in Mental Health Services:
A Clarification of the Radical Distinction Between Depth Psychotherapy and Mainstream Psychiatry and Psychology
I shall pinpoint the main issues involved under 6 headings, each of which summarizes central concerns that have not yet been clarified or voiced at a public, medical, organizational, or government level. As a result of my own investigations, it would seem at this stage that what is required to help rectify the situation, or at least to bring it to the attention of persons authorized to make legislative decisions in this field, is:
A. That it be recognised and accepted that depth or analytical psychology is a major school of psychology based on the work of one of the three main founders of 20th-century psychology and psychiatry, C. G. Jung. (The other two are Freud and Adler).
B. (Following from A) That depth/analytical psychology be recognised as a unique and vitally important field of psychology which has much to contribute to the well-being of the individual and to the welfare of the community. Such contributions, it needs to be stressed, cover approaches to (and areas of) therapy that are not dealt with significantly through mainstream psychological or psychiatric channels.
C. That it be recognised and acknowledged that (in line with C. G.Jungs own guidelines) the recommended and/or required training, experience and credentials for prospective depth psychotherapists differ radically from what is required by the Australian Psychologists Association with regard to its registration of psychologists.
D. (As a corollary to C) That it be recognised that qualifications and experience gained through mainstream psychology and medical degrees and field training are not adequate, or even in some instances appropriate, for practice in depth psychology.
E. That guidelines specifying desirable qualifications, advisable personal qualities and experience for Jungian therapists be decided by, or in consultation with, a group of persons with a recognised sound understanding of and experience in Jungian psychology. One possibility is that a presiding body such as the C.
G. Jung Society of SA Inc. act as a representative organization in such decisions.
F. That moves be made to legislate so that patients consulting depth psychology practitioners can claim their fees from private health insurance.
I shall now proceed to address these points one at a time:
A. That it be recognised and accepted that depth or analytical psychology is a major school of psychology based on the work of one of the three founders of modern psychology, C. G. Jung.
This is not a matter of opinion, but an irrefutable fact. Jung began as Freuds pupil, but later broke away to found his own school, which he named analytical psychology. Jung coined such well-known psychological terms as introvert, extravert, archetype, complex, persona, synchronicity, and collective unconscious. His contribution to psychiatric medicine and, later, to bridging the gap between science, religion, ancient myths and the psychology of the unconscious is unrivalled. Sadly, Jungian psychology is more widely accepted in the US and in Europe than in Australia.
B. (Following from A) That analytical psychology be recognised as a unique and vitally important field of psychology which has much to contribute to the well-being of the individual and to the welfare of the community. Such contributions, it needs to be stressed, cover approaches to (and areas of) therapy that are not dealt with significantly through mainstream psychological or psychiatric channels.
The goal of Jungian therapy is the optimum development of the whole human being in which physical and mental are treated as one. Jungian analysis is distinctive in that it regards this process of development, which Jung called individuation, as a spontaneous, holistic capacity of the individual which must be allowed to unfold in its unique way and in its own time, without manipulation or undue interference from the therapist. Jungians are thus largely concerned with innate processes of healing which manifest as symbolism that surfaces spontaneously from the unconscious in dreams, during focused imagination, or in creative self-expression. Hence Jungian therapists work within symbolic, spontaneous, imaginative, creative, receptive and intuitive modes of consciousness, rather than on the rational, theoretical, verbal, statistical, or methodological levels common in mainstream practice. Hence while mainstream psychology aims to direct, modify, or advise, Jungians act as midwives to the natural birth of a whole and centred personality.
Most importantly, from the patients perspective the value of Jungs approach is that it dignifies the individual by allowing her/him to share responsibilty for the healing process. The patient, in other words, must produce the necessary symbolism and must work - in equal partnership with the therapist - towards understanding its meaning in the context of personality development, with the ultimate aim of integrating it into her/his life.
C. That it be recognised and acknowledged that (in line with C. G.
Jungs own guidelines) the recommended and/or required training, experience and credentials for prospective depth therapists differ radically from what is required by the Australian Psychologists Association with regard to its registration of psychologists.
The Psychologists Associations assessment of eligibility to practice is based solely on consideration of academic qualifications (4 years of a psychology degree), which is supplemented by 2 years clinical field experience. However, the sad fact is that Jungian psychology is either totally ignored or grossly marginalized in mainstream academic degrees. It follows straightforwardly from this that a traditional university degree in psychology is unlikely to provide a reliable qualification in the arena of Jungian therapy. Equally importantly, Jung placed overwhelming emphasis on non-academic credentials, on the therapists personal qualities and level of personal development, and on other abilities that cannot be simply learned or gained through academic channels.
To elaborate further: the focus on the active healing described in B, that is, the patients equal partnership - as opposed to the idea of the passively dependent or helpless patient - robs mainstream experts of pretensions to authority which may disguise a lack of the kind of wisdom that can only be gained through having personally struggled along the individuation path, partly alone, partly through relationships. Here the basic principle of Jungian therapy is that one can never guide another where one has not personally been oneself; in general, as Jung stressed, one understands nothing psychologically unless one has experienced it.
In particular, individuation as the core process in Jungian therapy, cannot be taught academically but is a long-term journey toward a unification of the personality that requires intense self-analysis and a relationship to the unconscious based on uncompromising openness, open-mindedness, and integrity. In this connection it can be seen that one in a sense needs a calling to become a Jungian therapist, since the ability to heal must arise as a natural and, in a sense, personally earned gift.
It cannot be emphasised too strongly that Jungian analysis involves a dialectical process, or dialogue between equals in which the therapist stands to learn as much as the patient. Obviously, this approach is likely to pose a threat to those mainstream psychologists who wish to maintain a controlling or authoritarian role. Some quotes from Jung will be useful to elaborate these issues at this point:
The touchstone of every analysis that has not stopped short at partial success, or come to a standstill with no success at all, is always this person-to-person relationship, a psychological situation where the patient confronts the doctor upon equal terms, and with the same ruthless criticism that he must inevitably learn from the doctor in the course of his treatment.
This kind of personal relationship is a freely negotiated bond or contract . . . For the patient it is like a bridge; along it, he can make the first steps toward a worthwhile existence. He discovers that his own unique personality has value, that he has been accepted for what he is, and that he has it in himself to adapt to the demands of life. But this discovery will never be made while the doctor continues to hide behind a method, and allows himself to carp and criticise without question. CW 16, para. 289-90
If I wish to treat another individual psychologically at all, I must for better or worse give up all pretensions to superior knowledge, all authority and desire to influence. I must perforce adopt a dialectical procedure consisting of a comparison of our mutual findings. CW 16, para. 2
In other words, the therapist is no longer the agent of treatment but a fellow participant in a process of individual development.
D. (As a corollary to C) That it be recognised that qualifications and experience gained through mainstream psychology degrees and field training are not adequate, or even in some instances appropriate, for practice in Jungian psychology.
Owing to fundamentally opposed attitudes concerning the nature of the healing process and the patient-therapist relationship, desirable qualifications for practice in mainstream psychology are bound to differ from those recommended in the field of Jungian analysis. Theories, pretensions to authority, and academic expertise, as it should now be clear, are of relatively little value in Jungian psychology. Since Jungian therapists deal mainly with the non-rational, raw material of symbols, it follows that an extensive knowledge and intuitive grasp of the universal significance of symbolism is desirable in Jungian analysis.
To quote Jung again, the therapist "must approach his/her task with views and ideas capable of grasping unconscious symbolism. Intellectual or supposedly scientific theories are not adequate tothe nature of the unconscious, because they make use of a terminology which has not the slightest affininty with its pregnant symbolism . . . The kind of approach that makes this possible must therefore be plastic and symbolical, and itself the outcome of personal experience with unconscious contents. It should not stray too far in the direction of abstract intellectualism; hence we are best advised to remain within the framework of traditional mythology . . ." CW 16, para. 478
Jung, being a highly eclectic and syncretistic thinker, also stressed that "for adequate treatment of dreams a plentiful admixture of symbolical knowledge is needed, which can only be acquired by a study of primitive psychology, comparative mythology, and religion." CW 16, para. 44
Mainstream psychology degrees and training, because they stress psychological theory, statistical analysis and methodology, do not cover these areas, which are more likely to be the province of classics, philosophy, anthropology, literature, art, religious studies, or history. As a Jungian therapist it is equally desirable to have knowledge of such diverse fields as Gnosticism, mysticism, fairy-tales, quantum physics, UFO phenomena, shamanism, astrology, and medieval alchemy - hardly topics which are covered in mainstream psychology - which not only shuns these areas but also (with complete ignorance of actual scientific theory) tends to ridicule them as unscientific. (As many have noted, Jung in fact has a great deal in common with directions in which current scientific theory, e.g. quantum physics, is moving - i.e. away from reductionism toward holism). Jung dealt in depth with such a broad range of issues simply because their symbolism repeatedly arose - often in a disturbing or challenging manner - in the dreams, visions and imaginations of his patients, hence were treated as valid and real in the sense that the human psyche is as real (because it exists) as anything else.
It is reasonable to deduce at this point that, in view of its requirements for membership, the Psychologists Association does not adequately represent all available and viable approaches to psychology, or its entire scope in general, but is strongly biased in favour of authoritarian or theoretical schools of psychology which privilege learned theories and techniques, a non-holistic view of the human personality, the presumption of the patient1s total dependence, and the presumed authority of the psychologist (which need not include desirable human qualities). In this respect Jung opposes the (mainstream) analytic-reductive approach with his own synthetic-hermeneutic approach. In contrast to the former, Jung comments on psychotherapy:
What was formerly a method of medical treatment now becomes a method of self-education, and with this the horizon of our psychology is immeasurably widened. The crucial thing is no longer the medical diploma, but the human quality. This is a significant turn of events, for it places all the implements of the psychotherapeutic art . . . at the service of our self-education and self-perfection, with the result that analytical psychology has burst the bonds which till then had bound it to the consulting rooms of the doctor. CW 16 [The Practice of Psychotherapy] para. 174
For two personalities to meet is like mixing two chemical substances: if there is any combination at all, both are transformed. In any effective psychological treatment the doctor is bound to influence the patient; but this influence can only take place if the patient has a reciprocal influence on the doctor. You can exert no influence if you are not susceptible to influence. It is futile for the doctor to shield himself from the influence of the patient and to surround himself with a smoke-screen of fatherly and professional authority. CW 16, para. 163
I would make myself guilty of a sin of omission if I were to foster the impression that specialized therapy needed nothing but a wide knowledge. Quite as important is the moral differentiation of the doctors personality. Surgery and obstetrics have long been aware that it is not enough simply to wash the patient - the doctor himself must have clean hands. A neurotic psychotherapist will invariably treat his own neurosis in the patient. A therapy independent of the doctors personality is just conceivable in the sphere of rational techniques, but it is quite inconceivable in a dialectical procedure where the doctor must emerge from his anonymity to give account of himself, just as he expects his patient to do. I do not know which is more difficult; to accumulate a wide knowledge or to renounce ones professional authority and anonymity. At all events, the latter necessity involves a mortal strain that makes the profession of psychotherapist not exactly an enviable one. Among laymen one frequently meets with the prejudice that psychotherapy is the easiest thing in the world and consists in the art of putting something over on people or wheedling money out of them. But actually it is a tricky and not undangerous calling. Just as doctors are exposed to infections and other occupational hazards, so the psychotherapist runs the risk of psychic infections which are no less menacing. On the one hand he is often in danger of getting entangled in the neuroses of his patients; on the other hand if he tries too hard to guard against their influence, he robs himself of his therapeutic efficacy. Between this Scylla and Charybdis lies the peril, but also the healing power. CW 16, para. 23
As is evident from the above quotes, it is the therapists capacity to become a Wounded Healer that determines her/his effectiveness. Needless to say, this is not an ability that can be acquired through academic or clinical study, but is rather a matter of a chosen level of personal vulnerability which requires scrupulous self-awareness and a shrewd understanding (gained through experience) of the tricks and labyrinths of the unconscious.
To recapitulate, I offer here a summary of the fundamental differences so far discussed:
Jungian depth psychology Mainstream psychiatry holistic/transpersonal reductionist synthetic/hermeneutic analytic/reductive emphasis on individual emphasis on technique & theory active healing passive patient psychic/physical unity physical/psychic duality spontaneity methodological intuitive/imaginative rational/verbal mutual dialogue authoritarian equal relationship detached practitioner symbolical/mythic abstract/theoretical unconscious vital conscious attitudes stressed analysis of unconscious behaviour modification subjective valued objective innate healing advisory centring in Self reinforcement of ego self-healing process prescriptive/remedial therapist as midwife psychologist as expert eclectic/syncretistic narrowly specialized self-knowledge desirable acquired knowledge stressed
E. That guidelines specifying desirable qualifications, personal qualities and experience for depth therapists be decided by, or in consultation with, a group of persons with a recognised sound understanding of and experience in analytical psychology. One possibility is that a presiding body such as the C. G. Jung Society of SA Inc. act as a representative organization in overseeing such decisions.
Given that the Psychologists Association is unlikely to change its policies to accommodate Jungs guiding principles (I have consulted with them on this score), it would seem that an alternative means of assessing a persons credibility as a depth therapist is both necessary and advisable. It is hereby recommended that, rather than adopt rigid rules - particularly with regard to academic credentials, which must remain flexible in view of the points raised above - the credibility and reliability of prospective or practising therapists should be judged on the basis of individual merit, bearing in mind the desirable criteria outlined above.
Persons suitable to offer sound evaluations in this matter could, I suggest, include Jungians who do not have degrees in mainstream psychology, but who, like myself, have contributed to the field of Jungian psychology through original research (necessarily) undertaken in other departments; examples are Dr David Tacey, Lecturer at La Trobe University, who like me did a Jungian PhD in the English Department; and Dr Sally Kester, a Jungian analyst (based in Perth) whose doctorate, like mine, was a Jungian study of Romanticism.
This independent yet critical level of monitoring and assessment of Jungian practitioners would also serve as a safeguard against members of the public who presume that anyone has a right to put themselves forward as a Jungian therapist. For instance, I have recently come across ads in New Age publications in which persons with such spurious and unverifiable credentials as spiritual healer or clairvoyant claim to be offering Jungian analysis as a counseling technique (which in Jungs view it isnt).
F. That moves be made to legislate so that patients consulting Jungian practitioners can claim their fees from private health insurance.
This point relates to Liberal policy concerning Alternative treatments, namely the right of Australians to have free choice in the selection of their therapeutic treatments . . . This freedom of choice cannot be effective when patients of alternative practitioners cannot claim their fees on private health insurance.
To elaborate: most phone inquiries I receive regarding Jungian therapy begin with the question, Can I claim it on health cover? When the answer is no, at least half of the prospective clients proceed no further. If they do make an appointment, I am obliged to charge far less than registered psychologists and psychiatrists do and so am unable to earn a proper wage from work I passionately enjoy doing. Even though I would like to work full-time in this field, I am therefore forced to teach part-time in order to supplement what I receive from providing therapy. Private health cover schemes with whom Ive discussed this issue reply that only patients of registered psychologists can claim their fees.
The debate will therefore remain circular until the guiding ethics of the Psychologists Association are seen to be limited and confined to mainstream psychology. To be accepted as a field in its own right, Jungian psychology therefore needs to be granted equal credibility and status with the limited range of psychological approaches recognised by the Psychologists Association. Until this happens, persons who have a calling to practice in Jungian psychotherapy will be forced to detour from their field to undergo inappropriate or unnecessary mainstream study and training in order to register as qualified psychologists.
As an example of the kind of absurd situation that can arise from the Psychologists Associations existing legislation, a person who has officially qualified (by gaining a psychology degree) to register as a psychologist, and who has therefore in all probability encountered no Jungian psychology whatsoever, could practice in the Jungian field, and his/her patients could claim on private health insurance in the bargain. Meanwhile, someone such as myself, who has a PhD as a result of 4 years of postgraduate research - which produced an original contribution to the field of Jungian psychology - and who has worked for some 12 years on the personal process of self-analysis and individuation, cant register as such because, since research in Jungian psychology was not at that time supervised in the Psychology Department, the work could only be done though the English Department instead!
In conclusion, and as I hope you can appreciate, ultimately two questions of justice are involved here: firstly, is it fair that persons who have worked, studied and struggled hard over many years to gain the kinds of credentials Jung recognised, should be dicriminated against when it comes to earning an honest living from what amounts to difficult, yet challenging and rewarding work - the healing of the human soul? Secondly, with regard to fairness to persons seeking psychological help, the question is whether the proposals outlined here will be of benefit to the community. The answer here can only be yes. A broader range of options and approaches to healing means a wider range of choice for individuals - a choice which, importantly, takes into account differences in individual temperament, differing needs, and sometimes vastly differing views of life processes, goals and priorities.
In summary, mainstream practitioners in mental health tend to be authoritarian and reductionist in approach, and are often poorly qualified and experienced in dealing with areas of mental health such as dream analysis, neurosis, psychosis, chronic depression and schizophrenia. Perhaps its time, then, that we question and re-evaluate precisely what constitutes adequate qualifications and appropriate treatment in mental health. Until we deal with this underlying issue - which fundamentally concerns, firstly, the precise nature of mental health and the healing process, secondly, the vital importance (which Jung stressed) of the imagination and the non-rational/unconscious in healing, and thirdly, the nature of the therapist-patient relationship - all mainstream efforts are doomed to have a severely limited effectiveness.
I note with some concern, for instance, that in your SAHC brochure you seem unclear about the severe limitations of the existing psychiatric medical paradigm. This is evident, for instance, on p.17 where you state: Therapeutic and treatment services are provided using a multi-disciplinary approach. However, there is no consistent access to a psychiatrist within northern community based teams.
In the context of psychiatry as a whole, and in view of the currently limited definition of psychiatrist, psychiatry and multi-disciplined approach, I would gently suggest, are mutually exclusive terms. (This should by now be clearer to you after reading the above 6-point discussion). Psychiatry is a vast field and mainstream (reductionist) psychiatry, as it is currently taught and practised, represents merely a narrow band within a much vaster spectrum, hence leads to a distorted view of the entire field. You seem to clarify this better earlier, when you state (p.12) that psychiatrists should be part of the multi-disciplinary team. What I am suggesting, in other words, is that mainstream psychiatrists need not be deferred to as the ultimate authorities on mental health matters (since they seldom are), and that accordingly, the principles and guiding ethics of alternative approaches to psychiatry should be given due consideration and equal respect (particularly in view of the publics growing dissatisfaction with mainstream approaches).
A few year ago, in conclusion, I publicly predicted that the incidence of mental health problems would increase sharply in future. Without wishing to sound overly dramatic, I suggest that the underlying or root issue is this: the human psyche, as an immensely complex fact of Nature, will not be tamed, modified, or bought off with medications, attempts at behavioural modification, neatly rational theories, or well-meaning advice. It has its own agenda, and that includes its innate yearning for the mythic, the sacred, the symbolic, the meaningful, the irrational, the universal. If these core needs are not respected, acknowledged, encouraged and catered for, the psyche is driven to desperate measures and often in consequence either goes mad, attempts suicide, sinks into depression or neurosis, or breaks down. All these measures, which have no accepted creative outlets in our culture, and which are shunned by mainstream psychiatry, are attempts by the psyche to live out in a distorted fashion elements of soul - such as symbolic death, imaginal irrationality and mythic descent - facets of the psyche which in our cultural value system are feared, repressed, ignored, or treated patronizingly as pathological, or abnormal.
These crucial issues are not going to go away or be conveniently ignored or swept under the carpet by members of the psychiatric/psychology profession who wish to maintain a legal and financial stranglehold on and monopoly over existing psychiatric practice. The trend toward a more holistic and intuitive approach to healing in general is on the increase, and any practice that puts - as depth psychology does - more dignity, choice and self-determination back into the hands of the individual can surely only bring benefit to the community at large. In the longrun, as Im sure youll concede, it is members of the public who suffer - as long as they are denied access to an equal choice of treatment.
In light of these sobering and inescapable truths, which have been discussed in immense detail by renowned depth psychologists in the transpersonal arena, I encourage, indeed urge SAHC not to bypass more psyche-centred approaches (i.e. the entire depth school of psychology). Again, I dont wish to sound dramatic, but its perhaps time that these often shunned issues were aired. The old medical model is simply not working, not adequate to the task, not reflective of the psyches deeper needs, and - perhaps even more to the point - not wanted by an ever-increasing number of the public - sufferers of mental illness and their supporters alike. I speak here largely from personal experience, based on the number of phone calls, e-mails and inquiries I receive from folk, including young sufferers of schizophrenia and depression, who are gravely dissatisfied with existing funded forms of treatment.
I hope all this has been of some help and encouragement to you - and that it has perhaps opened new horizons and offered fresh perspectives. Thank you for your time and patience with this unavoidably lengthy letter. I would be more than glad to discuss any or all of the included with you further in person, and I hope that you will grant me the opportunity and privilege of contributing to your vision and future work.
28 January 1998
To: SAHC Purchasing Office
Thanks for your reply of 19/1/98. I just wanted to add a few remarks in relation to your comments in the Strategic Plan about NOT intending to purchase the services of individuals.
Im not sure how rigidly you intend to adhere to this guideline, but if you wish to stick to it and would still like my help, I could perhaps set up (e.g.) a Community Support Group, or register as a Depth Psychology Centre, or Schizophrenia Support Group. Im particularly interested in working with sufferers of depression, suicidal impulses and schizophrenia (all ages), who at present are not being offered alternatives to mainstream treatments that rely on drugs, shock treatment, and medications (which none of the schizophrenia sufferers Ive consulted with want, or see as helpful!) As I may have mentioned, Ive offered to help the Schizophrenia Fellowship of SA in offering alternative approaches, but they have dismissed the offer and seem bent on sticking to the old drug-based methods (which have a bad track record; in US and UK, for instance, around a third of all chronic schizophrenics on medication end up committing suicide).
Lets put these suffering folk first and give them what they instinctively feel they need: empathy, non-patronizing attitudes, and more natural, imaginative and holistic approaches that honour - rather than fear, drug, or band-aid - the depth, complexity and reality of the human psyche.
Feel free to contact me if you would like further information on depth psychology as a holistic alternative to mainstream psychiatry and psychology.
(Dr) Maureen B. Roberts
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