A Jungian Approach to Treating Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses characterized by abnormal eating habits. Eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa affect millions of people around the world. Recent years have seen an alarming rise in the number of recorded cases of eating disorders: Incidence has doubled since the 1960s, and it is no longer unheard of for children as young as seven to develop an eating disorder.

There are various factors that are theorized to contribute to the development of eating disorders, from biological ( chemical imbalances in the brain) to intrapersonal (a history of being ridiculed because of weight or appearance). Psychological factors, such as low self-esteem, perceived lack of control in life, and depression can also increase the risk for developing an eating disorder.

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Societal pressure is another oft-cited reason as to why so many individuals are developing eating disorders.

Some Jungian analysts believe that food, in the context of eating disorders, may simply be symbols for something else: An uncontrollable craving for ice cream in an eating disorder patient might mean an unspoken yearning not for a cold dessert but for comfort and sweetness. Bingeing and purging may be viewed by the patient as a way to take control of her life.

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Symbols are central to Carl Jung’s work. Jungian analysts use symbols in a patient’s daily experience, as well as from his or her dreams, fantasies, and the like, to connect with the patient’s unconscious. Understanding the symbols in the patient’s life can help both the patient and the analyst gain a better understanding about the underlying causes of his or her condition.

Jungian analysis seeks to use the unconscious (and a patient’s past traumas and insecurities that may be hidden there), not just as a way to learn more about a patient’s condition, but as the source and catalyst of the patient’s healing.

Jungian analysis is a lengthy process that requires a trustful, healthy relationship between the patient and the analyst. For more on how Jungian analysis can help patients with eating disorders, subscribe to this Paul Gabrinetti blog.

Jungian Archetypes: The Shadow, The Anima, The Animus, and The Persona

In his book, “The Structure of the Psyche,” Carl Gustav Jung, a renowned psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology, explained that “all the most powerful ideas in history go back to archetypes.” These archetypes, he said, define the thoughts and actions of a person. They are innate, universal, and hereditary.
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Based on his concept of the unconscious mind (a process in the mind that occurs automatically), archetypes, in Jungian psychology, are derived from highly developed elements of the “collective unconscious,” which is a structure of the unconscious mind shared among beings of the same kind.

There are four major Jungian archetypes:

The shadow. Often appearing in the form of dreams or visions, the shadow comprises of “repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts and shortcomings.”

The anima and the animus. This represents one’s “true self” as opposed to the image people present others in their waking life.

The persona. This refers to the aspect of someone’s character according to how he or she wishes to present himself or herself to the world.

Archetypes, according to Jung, are not static nor are they fixed. Apart from these, other archetypes may be related.

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Paul Gabrinetti is a Jungian analyst who received his certification from the CG Jung Institute in Los Angeles, California. Read more articles on Jungian archetypes here.

The Breaks Between Freud And Jung

Carl Gustav Jung had a strictly psychoanalytic phase between 1909 and 1913, and during these years, he corresponded with Sigmund Freud with an alacrity that would have assumed the identical nature of their theories. But the theories of these two most renowned psychoanalysts would later diverge, and Jung himself would define the body of his work under the rubric of analytical psychology.

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Image source: http://www.aceshowbiz.com

The so-called “intellectual break” between the two actually succeeded their common interest in the unconscious psyche. At some point in 1910, Jung was even president of the International Psychoanalytic Association, which he had formed with Freud. A bit after, they were disputing theoretical points such as:

  1. Sexuality as a primary motivator of behavior: Freud’s study and interpretation of the unconscious led to a focus on childhood experience, notably the sexual desires repressed during this phase of life. Jung, meanwhile, in a significant break from this line of thinking, stressed the concept of the “collective unconscious,” a sort of personal imprint of humanity’s memories. Thus, behavior for Jung would tend to have a more social motivation.
  2. Religion as either illusion or nature: Given Jung’s collective take on the unconscious, he understood religion as an inherent feature of humanity’s solidarity with each other. For Freud, meanwhile, religion had a personal flavor, and it took the form of illusion, or a repression of instincts or unsanctioned sexual desires. Religion, in the Freudian sense, is a form of hysteria.
  3. What dreams signify: In line with his reductive reasoning, Freud thought that dreams reflected suppressed desires. Jung, meanwhile, was more expansive in his interpretation of dreams, refusing to limit these to a predefined set of symbols and experiences, such as sexuality.

Whatever the scholarly leanings of psychologists, however, these two had

Image source: http://www.carl-g-jung.de
Image source: http://www.carl-g-jung.de

contributed greatly to the development of psychology as it is today.

Paul Gabrinetti, Ph.D is a Jungian analyst and clinical psychologist on the faculty of C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles’ analyst training program. For more articles on Jungian psychology, visit this blog.

The Role of Jungian Psychology in Mentoring Medical Professionals

Analytical psychology, or Jungian psychology, is a school of thought developed by Carl Jung which stresses the importance of the ego and the personal quest for wholeness. It also states that the psyche is yearning for a balance between the conscious and unconscious states.

This said balance can be achieved through the study of dreams. Training analysts believe that Jungian psychology is an appropriate means of supervising clinicians in their field of work. Below are some of ways how this psychological model is being utilized as a form of mentorship:

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1. Counter-transference
To understand their patients at a deeper level, clinicians must establish an emotional connection with them. In other words, they must redirect their feelings toward their clients. Counter-transference is of immense clinical utility as it allows the therapist to play a role congruent with his or her patient’s internal world.

2. Self-discovery
Among psychologists, it is presumed that psychopathology cannot be taught. Instead, it must be discovered in the apprentice’s own analytical experiences. Carl Jung’s theory explicitly points to the examination of the ego. This provides the analytical viewpoints that learners need in order to understand psychopathology.

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3. Jungian archetypes
Carl Jung’s theory identifies four cardinal orientations, namely ego, freedom, social, and order. In each orientation lies three archetypes, which are then used by the mentor. This will provide the learning clinical psychologist with knowledge on how to deal with patients.

Paul Gabrinetti, Ph.D., is a Jungian analyst and clinical psychologist on the faculty of C.G. Jung Institute of Los Angeles’ analyst training program. He is a former instructor at the University of Southern California. More about him can be read here.

Adolescent Depression: Recognizing the Signs

It’s common for teenagers to be occasionally unhappy or irritable. Adolescence is a time of many major physical, psychological, and social changes, and teenagers often have a difficult time dealing with these.

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As a result, it is often difficult for parents to differentiate normal teenage “highs and lows” from adolescent depression. For example, teenagers with depression don’t always isolate themselves or appear sad, and symptoms of depression that are common among adults are typically less apparent in teenagers.

For many teenagers, depression manifests itself as irritability, anger, and aggression. The following are other symptoms of adolescent depression that parents and caregivers of teenagers should watch out for:

  • Worsening academic performance
  • Diminished interest in formerly pleasurable activities
  • Issues with authority
  • Changes in sleeping habits (either too much sleep, or too little)
  • Substance abuse
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Withdrawal from friends and loved ones
  • Frequent headaches, stomachaches, and other physical complaints that have no apparent cause
  • Reckless behavior
  • Evidence of self-harm, such as scars, burns, and bruises
  • Violence
  • Criminal behavior, such as shoplifting and driving under the influence
  • Thoughts and talk of suicid

If a teenager appears to have one or more of the aforementioned symptoms, parents or caregivers should offer help and provide him or her with an open, non-judgmental environment in which they can talk about the teenager’s feelings and what he or she is going through. It is imperative for parents or caregivers of a depressed teenager to seek advice from a mental health professional right away. A mental health professional can help by making a diagnosis, and by helping formulate a treatment plan that could involve medication, therapy, or other methods.

Depression is a serious mental illness and is not something that depressed teenagers will simply outgrow. If left untreated, the symptoms can worsen and can eventually lead to suicide. However, with the right professional treatment, teenagers can prevent or minimize future depressive episodes and get their lives back on track.

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Prior to becoming a core faculty professor in Clinical Psychology at the Pacifica Graduate Institute in Carpinteria, California, Paul Gabrinetti, PhD consulted for the Department of Probation on children’s services. For more discussions on adolescent depression, follow this Twitter account.

Signs, Symbols, and Patterns: The Jungian Approach to Dreams

All people dream. For thousands of years, men have tried to understand dreams, where they originate from and what they mean. Dream interpretation has been attempted by ancient Egyptian priests, the ancient Greeks, and great Chinese thinkers from ages past.

Two modern theorists who have made great strides in the study of dreams are Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung.

In his book “The Interpretation of Dreams,” Freud theorized that all dreams are a form of unconscious wish fulfillment, brought about the unconscious’s desire to resolve a conflict. According to Freud, life is driven by sexuality and that the unconscious contains thoughts, experiences, and frustrations stemming from unfulfilled sexual desires.

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Carl Jung, however, believed that the driving force behind dreams is more than base desire. Jung theorized that dreams, for the most part, are attitude compensations. Similar to Freud’s, Jung’s model of the human psyche is divided into the general of categories conscious and unconscious. However, Jung also divides the unconscious into two: The personal unconscious and the collective unconscious.

The personal unconscious refers to the repression of desires and urges. Jung also observed that certain themes and symbols appear in the dreams of a diverse group of people, regardless of their life experience, culture, personality, or other differences. These dreams are theorized to have originated from a collective unconscious, shared by mankind throughout the entire course of history.

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Jungian analysis or analytical psychology aims to re-establish a healthy balance between the unconscious and the conscious parts of a patient’s personality. By working with and interpreting dreams, what they symbolize, and their patterns, Jungian analysts help uncover that which is not easily visible and strengthen the patient’s connection to both the healing and destructive elements within the psyche.

Jungian analysts like Paul Gabrinetti utilize certain cognitive methodologies to gain a better understanding of an individual through his or her dreams. Visit this website to learn more.