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Pacifica Graduate Institute
Pacifica Dissertations

Claudette Granahan




Depression in the Twenty-First Century

Granahan, C. (2005). Depression in the Twenty-First Century: A Hermeneutic Study of Reclaiming the Psychic Reality in our Views of Depression (Doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2005).


    This theoretical study is about the contribution of depth psychological theories of depression and their significance in the context of the medicalization of the human psyche. This study deals between the juxtaposition between the depth psychological/psychodynamic approach and the psychiatric/biological focus on brain chemistry, and the implications for therapy. As a result of mainstream psychologyís focus on biology, the study argues that our understanding of depression in the twenty-first century has lost its psychic reality. Consequently, depression is diagnosed and treated from a biological stance, and therefore seen essentially as a disturbance of the brainís neuro-transmitters and is treated with antidepressants.

    This study explores how the medicalization of depression has affected the field of psychology, and inquires into how depth psychology can mitigate this inclination. The study asks three specific research questions: First question inquires into how psychologists can reclaim the psychic reality in approaching clients with depression? The second question asks what place depression has in revaluing our psychological nature? And the third question asks how have we, as psychologists, abdicated our understanding of depression?

    This dissertation is a theoretical study using the hermeneutic method. The study examines the cultural and historical influences on depression which include the dominant emphasis on scientific research. My basic premise is that psychologists are being seduced into the medical model, and that this model is limited in its ability to address the patientís inner experience. A medical stance restricts patients in their ability to understand their symptoms in terms of their lived experience. The model is also limiting psychotherapists in their repertoire of treatment possibilities by implying that there are no inner resources to be encouraged and enlivened in this patientís life.

    The study traces the historical implications of depression as well as looks at depression from three perspectives: Freud and psychoanalysis, Jung and analytical psychology, and Hillman and archetypal psychology. Even though Freud, Jung and Hillman have differing perspectives on the human condition, they agree that people with depression suffer from a psychic conflict. The study concludes that the limitations of the medical model and the consequent neglect of the psyche lead to inadequate and incomplete care of the depressed patient. The need for a more diverse psychology of depression is explored. In other words, a psychology that would include not only an interdisciplinary approach, but also an appreciation for the diversity of the psychological life. This diversity would include non-rational as well as rational modes of thought. A more inclusive psychology would accept the depressed individual as suffering from more than a biological disturbance. A more inclusive psychology would also explore depression as a psychological symptom offering information about an individualís life. Listening to symptoms in this manner is aligned with more holistic medical approaches which emphasize mind/body interactions.


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