psyche the soul

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Psyche, everyone knows, is a word from the ancient Greek. It means Soul. The work of psychoanalysis is, first, to understand the reasons we feel and act a certain way. Second, to help the distressed, the stressed-out, the depressed.

By any objective measure, the human lifespan is short. Yet for many, the timespan of a weekend–even a Sunday afternoon–can seem an eternity.

Depression often strikes unexpectedly. A careless, even unintentional, remark blurted over the telephone (where tongue-in-cheek facial expressions and gestures are lost) by a loved one. A painful thought from the past. A fear of the future. Anything might trigger a deep depression.

Van Gogh. Lincoln. Dostoevsky. Shakespeare. Virginia Woolf. All suffered dark depressions. Samuel Johnson, the greatest literary mind and conversationalist of the Enlightenment, believed down to his soul (Psyche) that he would be eternally damned for his self-perceived procrastinations and failures to live up to his own exacting standard.

Only Woolf among this short list lived into the “Age Of Psychoanalysis.” Her end was most tragic of all. But would the others have been significantly helped by trained professionals?

Just a question…and a thought for this midsummer (as today, August 8, is) Friday afternoon.

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