Inner Depths: The Purpose of Psychological Symptoms | Depth Psych |

Symptoms tell us that we can never take back into our ownership the events caused by the little people of the psyche. —James Hillman


Depth psychology recognizes two qualities of psychological symptoms. First, symptoms are autonomous; they show up not through any decision by the conscious ego but by way of unconscious forces deep within psyche. Symptoms present of their own accord, and, when the conscious ego becomes aware of them, the ego formulates the question, "What's wrong?"—thereby beginning what is hoped to be a long and fruitful dialogue with the unconscious.

Second, psychological symptoms have a purposive nature: they reveal the unconscious's drive toward some end, some purpose, that may not be immediately apparent to the conscious mind. As June Singer (1994) wrote:

Looking at a symptom in this way corresponds to Jung's "purposive view" of... (Click title for more)