(this is part of an article I wrote for the website depressionteenshelp.com under the pseudonym Denny Dew)
The Great Mother in therapy for depression
The archetype of the Great Mother is a sort of ‘natural force’ every human being has within. It represents qualities that are very important in therapy for depression.
A good therapist uses this ‘natural force’ correctly to be able to:
- be sincerely interested in a depressed teen’s feelings, ideas, dreams, views, likes and dislikes
- listen with true attention
- be non-judgmental
- overcome his own alienation
- authentically trust depressed teens to unfold their potential
What is an archetype?
An archetype is a sort of ‘natural force’ we all have within. We can nurture it as if it was a plant, or we can neglect it. It doesn’t grow if not nurtured and many other forces can hinder its growing.
An archetype is the same for everyone in the world. It doesn’t acknowledge cultural differences. It’s one of the things that remind us that there is only one mankind.
What is the archetype of the Great Mother?
This archetype represents a mother consoling her scared child. Maybe she doesn’t know at all the reason why her child is scared. She consoles him anyway. She doesn’t need to know if he did something right or wrong for her to console him.
This archetype is the same worldwide. In every culture there are mothers consoling their children unconditionally.
The Great Mother represents pity, compassion, care, listening, complete absence of judgment. From it, the social attitudes of sharing, collaboration and helping each other derive.
If this archetype is relegated to a position of little importance in a culture, the latter suffers. If this archetype was completely eliminated from the human psyche, we would all be extremely psychotic and would destroy ourselves.
The story of Mysha and Denise
Now, I want to tell a story. It’s about Mysha and Denise. Mysha is our living example of the archetype of the Great Mother. Denise is a depressed teenager.
Denise isn’t good at school. She doesn’t like any subject, she is lazy with her homework, she finds all those judgments so hurtful, but she has been told that they are for her good.
She likes painting but she has no talent. She has been strongly discouraged from developing her artistic creativity.
“You have no talent, you wouldn’t be able to make a living from your painting! Trust us!”
She can’t understand maths. Really, to her maths is worse than torture. She gets continuously distracted during lessons.
“You have to make an effort! What will you do in life if you don’t learn maths! You are even taking a drug that helps you to pay attention!”
Denise is running fast towards depression. While her mood falls down towards dark places, she tries to cheer herself up drinking and taking some illegal drugs.
She doesn’t talk about her feelings, she knows that she’s wrong because she isn’t good at school.
Do you think she likes design or technology? Not at all. Bad grades are everyday news.
“How can you be so ungrateful! You are the black sheep of the family! You see how hard your brother studies! Your father graduated with first-class honours!”
Denise has a friend, Mysha. She is a writer. Denise visits her often.
They don’t speak so much. Mysha hugs Denise and smiles at her. Mysha holds Denise by the hand. There isn’t much need for words. Sometimes Denise breaks down and cries. Mysha asks no questions, she only consoles Denise.
Denise tells Mysha that she likes to paint.
“But I’ve no talent…”
“So what? Paint if you like and forget about talent!”
After one more bad grade, Denise finds herself walking a bridge. It’s too easy, just a jump and all that horrible suffering in her heart would cease.
But in her heart there is Mysha’s smile as well. Denise crosses the bridge quickly and goes to visit Mysha again.
Two years pass. Thanks to Mysha, Denise is much better. One day, she musters up all her courage and leaves. She will travel the world.
Many years later she is back. She will open an agency to help unknown painters to live their creativity.
She will be forever grateful to that teenage depression treatment whose name was Mysha.
Teenage depression treatment: Why the archetype of the Great Mother is important for a good treatment