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42nd Annual Jungian Conference

Depth Psychological Approaches to Suffering  

Special Guest Speaker
Lionel Corbett, MD

link to audio file

SATURDAY,  April 29th,  2017    10:00 AM  ~  5:00 PM


When suffering strikes, it is helpful to find a framework through which we may understand it.  The approach of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) is of limited help, because there are many normal forms of suffering given the circumstances of a person's life.  Even in the presence of emotional disorder, people with the same diagnosis suffer in unique ways and require a personalized approach.  Traditional religions offer explanations and reasons for suffering, and we will consider some, but depth psychology has unique approaches.  This seminar will describe some ways to search for meaning in suffering, and consider it as an experience of liminality and initiation into a new level of consciousness.  We will discuss an approach to suffering based on radical acceptance. 


Painful states of mind such as hatred, envy, alienation, scapegoating, cruelty, and loneliness, also produce suffering.  We will describe some of the developmental sources of these complexes, their effects on the personality, and some of the ways in which they may be approached in psychotherapy.  We will contrast these states of mind with the psychology and psychodynamics of altruism, empathy, compassion, concern, care, consolation, and pity, exploring the similarities and differences between these states.  Finally we will discuss ways to help the helper, including burnout and compassion fatigue.

Course objectives:


  • Identify a variety of frameworks within which psychotherapists may approach the problem of suffering. 

  • Recognize forms of suffering which are normal and not included in the DSM. 

  • Understand the value of the discovery of meaning in suffering. 

  • Apply a variety of psychotherapeutic approaches to painful states of mind.


Dr. Lionel Corbett trained in medicine and psychiatry in England and as a Jungian Analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago.  His primary interests are the religious function of the psyche, especially the way in which personal religious experience is relevant to individual psychology; the development of psychotherapy as a spiritual practice; and the interface of Jungian psychology and contemporary psychoanalytic thought.  Dr. Corbett is a professor of depth psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute, in Santa Barbara, California.  He is the author of numerous professional papers and four books:  Psyche and the Sacred; The Religious Function of the Psyche; The Sacred Cauldron: Psychotherapy as a Spiritual Practice; and most recently The Soul in Anguish: Psychotherapeutic Approaches to Suffering.  He is the co-editor of: Psyche's Stories; Jung and Aging; Depth Psychology, Meditations in the Field; and Psychology at the Threshold.

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