Written by Ginette Paris,

An Overview of Depth Psychology

Review by Gunnel Minett

Ginette Paris is a psychologist, therapist and writer. She teaches Archetypal and Depth Psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute in California and a member of the Board of Directors of the Foundation of Mythological Studies.
In ‘Wisdom of the Psyche’ she presents an overview of depth psychology. She starts with a personal story of how she had a life-threatening accident and says that not until she was facing the very clear risk of having reached the end of her life did she get the deeper wisdom needed to be a good therapist.
From there she moves on to discussion various aspects of therapy; as a medical cure, an economic investment (in improved heath) but also therapy as redemption. She presents an interesting overview of the main dilemmas of contemporary psychology and psychotherapy of how to integrate knowledge acquired by neuroscience and medicine and apply it to a healing model that incorporates imagination and a wider view on life as a whole.
Partly due to the health insurance system in America, a model of psychological health has emerged. It assumes that psychological health can be measured in a similar way as physical health. But, she points out, there is a great difference between knowing how a broken limb should be fixed (based on knowing how a healthy limb should look) and what a psychologically healthy person should look like. We are all products and part of our individual circumstances and assuming that there ever can be a standard that fits all is far from realistic.
Understanding how the brain works provides added strength to psychotherapy. Not to mention the preventative work that can be done for future generations. Understanding how problems occur offers a whole new range of possibilities to prevent future generations from getting the same bad treatment which is causing such problems in today’s societies.
Given that our psychological (and sometimes even physical) health is a direct effect of the combination of nature and nurture, increased knowledge in this area can have a direct effect on our wellbeing in the future. The problem still remaining is to bring theory into practice. Here a number of additional aspects come into play. Financial resources will be required in order to transfer these theories into practical policies in the various aspects childcare. And as Ginette Paris points out, there are also social and religious aspects as to how best to bring up children. Regardless of convincing new theories parents still tend to prefer an intuitive approach to parenting and are often unwilling to move away from their ‘rights’ as parents to determine their children’s upbringing.
Hopefully the rapidly growing field of neuropsychology will be able to provide sufficient evidence for a better understanding of human needs and how to avoid psychological problems. These four books certainly do their bit to contribute in a very positive way to this accumulation of effective knowledge.

Routledge, 2007
ISBN 978-0-415-43777-8