Friday, April 30, 2010

Weight of the Soul

The question of suicide is a difficult one for psychotherapy. Do you respect the wishes of the person who intends to end their life or do you do your best to prevent the person carrying out this final act? Or maybe something in between. Whatever the viewpoint, Jungians especially regard suicide as the murder of the soul. In his science-art exhibition, textile artist, Sean McGuinness, addresses the question through research and installations. The soul has been said to weigh 21 grams, the title of one of his installations - and the picture above is a detail from his series of hanging shirt collars of that weight. The Royal College of Physicians mounted this innovative lecture as part of its public information lecture series run at its fine building in Kildare Street, Dublin 2 and further information is available at the link above. If you get the chance to take part in the lecture and exhibition, do go and make your views known. Talk to the organisers and artists there and appraise them of your particular viewpoint. Jung's viewpoint was clear though.

The idea of suicide, understandable as it is, does not seem commendable to me. We live in order to gain the greatest possible amount of spiritual development and self-awareness. As long as life is possible, even if only in a minimal degree, you should hang onto it, in order to scoop it up for the purpose of conscious development. To interrupt life before its time is to bring to a standstill an experiment which we have not set up. We have found ourselves in the midst of it and must carry it through to the end.” (Jung, 1973, p. 434)