Towards a Jungian Understanding of Suicide

The Jungian community has not addressed the issue of suicide with the same rigour as it has the common clinical precursors of suicide, severe affective disorders. Jung made scant mention of suicide in his essays. Of the 32 paragraphs on suicide in the Collected Works, there are less than a dozen paragraphs which rely on a basic (simplistic) theme to explain client suicide– crudely put, the unconscious overwhelms the ego and the client kills him/herself to escape the pain. This seems far too basic a model to explain such a powerful act. In a career that spanned decades, witnessed a revolution in psychiatry and involved encounters with thousands of patients, Jung must have worked with clients who suicided. If he, like most clinicians, was galvanized and humbled by the actions of such clients, how could he have remained so aloof from the issue in terms of his writing? Why does he rarely refer to the clinical issues presented in these cases? What then, is a Jungian formulation of suicide, and, more critically, how could we develop a theoretically and clinically coherent model of such a powerful act?

Date : Oct. 5, 2007 7:30 – 9:45 PM

Venue: University of Victoria David Strong Building, Room C116

This lecture was also given to the Vancouver Jung Society