We live in an era where 1 in 5 Canadians struggle with a mental illness or addiction problem. In any given week approximately 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems. Canadians who run the risk of developing mental illness are more likely to die 10 to 20 years earlier than those without mental illness. 4,000 people die by suicide in Canada each year. Mental health services are underfunded, and waitlists for services are very long with 30 per cent of Canadians stating their needs were never met.
What contributes to today’s mental health challenges? The causes are many.
Society currently struggles with a moral and spiritual bankruptcy and compensates through our hectic consumerist society. We all have to deal with the dominance of the market economy and its uncontrolled preference for technology over human relationships, the need for the latest iPhone and the subsequent setting up of impossible working conditions.
We struggle not with a material deprivation but with a relational poverty—both interpersonally and intrapersonally. Consequently, we live in an era of materialism, hedonism and narcissism — as illustrated by President Trump and his disagreement with any other perspective, which is then labeled as “fake news.” The shift to materialism gives priority to wealth and power rather than C.G. Jung’s balanced view of a life with Eros and Logos, the feminine principle of connectedness.
Indeed Jung emphasized the central importance of our awareness of the unconscious, and of a more balanced and holistic approach to our health. This inclusive approach includes the body, mind, heart and spirit. This broader approach to mental health is a unique aspect of Depth Psychology and is in stark contrast to the reductionist approach of modern psychology and neuro-science.
Without this balanced view, society suffers with a deracination and a resultant mindless consumeristic culture of continuous stimulation and entertainment. Then we see so many people with a subsequent loss of purpose and meaning which manifests with epidemics of addiction, aggression and depression. The voice of Depth Psychology is more important now than ever before as we continue to see increasing rates of Hospital ER visits and increased rates of addiction. Over 4,000 Canadians died from opioid use alone last year.
The challenge of living in a society that is often unconscious of its motivations is the central burden of modern society and speaks to the need to reconnect to our depths and live with what Jung called symbolic thinking which links us to the unseen forces that move us, and connects us to our countries, tribes, families and to other individuals.
The Calgary Jung Society exists to share C. G. Jung’s important work — his message of individuation, the feminine principle, and the symbolic life. It is a supportive community that fosters personal knowledge and self-discovery. It is in this context, and as a practicing Jungian psychiatrist, that I recommend connecting with the Calgary Jung Society. I invite you to join the Society to foster your journey to know thyself alongside other individuals committed to the essential work of Self.
T.C.R. Wilkes, B.Sc., M.B., ChB., M. Phil.
D.C.H., F.R.C.P. (Edin), F.R.C. Psych., F.R.C.P.(C), D.L.F.A.P.A., I.A.A.P.,
Professor, University of Calgary,
Division Head, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,
Outpatient Section Chief, Child and Adolescent Mental Health & Addictions
Consulting Psychiatrist, Young Adult Outpatient Services,
Alberta Health Services & University of Calgary
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