When you look at the word psychology and divide it up into it's root words, what do you think of? Psychology becomes psyche and logos. Psyche meaning the mind or the brain, and logos meaning the study of. So, psychology means the study of the mind. Or at least that's what I've always learned.
In my Psychotherapy Theory class this week we were studying Carl Jung. We had a guest lecturer who works at the Jung Institute in Houston. He explained a different definition for the word Psychology. Apparently psyche, when it is directly translated into English, means SOUL. So, psychology becomes the Study of the Soul. He then asked the class what everyone thought about that, good or bad. I was initially thinking to myself, "how could you NOT like that idea?" I was so surprised when the first 6 or 7 comments were about how they did not like the idea of the study of the soul. They said things like, "we don't need to bring religion into our science," "if I'm working on people's souls, I have too much therapeutic power over my clients," and "bringing the soul into psychology seems reductionistic."
WHAT? I was in complete shock by their answers! I can understand being slightly wary about bringing religion into psychology. However, I don't think that the soul has to be religious. I have two concepts of the soul. One is very religious and has to do with my belief that we lived with Heavenly Father before we came to earth, that we came here to be tested and tried and learn to know our Father even though we can't see Him, and that we will eventually return into His presence to be with Him forever. Then there is my more human concept of the soul. When I think of who I am as a person, I don't just think about my mind and my thoughts. I think about my feelings, my sensations, my desires. There is so much more to me than just my brain. There is so much more to people than just their minds. I think it reduces a person's potential so much more to say they are just the brain and the electrical and hormonal connections that are made. I am not my brain! I am not my mind! I am my feelings and so much more. I am my soul. I am me. I wish my colleagues who didn't like the study of the soul would not fight against religion so much that they are blind to concepts typically used by religion, but that aren't necessarily religious. Open your minds please!
THEN. Then the guest lecturer explained that psyche, not translated to English, but in Greek, (or whatever language it originates from), means butterfly. So now, Psychology becomes the Study of the Butterfly.
What do you think of when you think of butterflies? I think of beauty, flight, change, peace. All of these things apply to a person when they reach their potential in this life. Caterpillars are ugly (in my opinion). They eat a ton and then get really lazy and wrap themselves up in a cocoon. Then they go through a mighty change, a metamorphosis. But in order for that change to actually matter, they have to go through the crazy hard process of fighting their way out of the cocoon. This is a time of incredible pressure and pain. But when they push through it, they emerge as beautiful butterflies. They fly around, free and peaceful.
That is exactly what we as people need to go through in order to become our best selves. Life is hard!! Parts of it are ugly, we indulge too much in things that may not be good for us, we try to be lazy and avoid things that are hard but that will help us. On our own, basically we suck! But as we go through life we are given things that help us to become more. We go through hard, horrible times where we are experiencing so much pain, feeling like we're under so much pressure that there is no way we can survive. It flat out hurts! But when we hold on and work with the pressure instead of against it, we can get through it. And when we get through it, we become better. We learn from our struggles. We improve ourselves. We help others who go through similar things. We become so much better and get closer and closer to reaching our potential. We CANNOT reach our potential by having a life of ease. It is only through our struggles and pain that we learn the things we are here to learn. It is only through our struggles that we improve ourselves. And we go from lazy, ugly, fat caterpillars, to beautiful, peaceful butterflies. We fly higher than we ever could if we did not experience hard things. We must go through our own metamorphoses to become our own, beautiful butterflies.
My goal in therapy, what I'm in school for, is to learn how to help these beautiful butterflies emerge from their cocoons. We all go through times when we can't get out on our own. We need outside help, whether from family, friends, religious leaders, or at times, professionals. With the help of these people who truly care for us, we can still make it through the hard stuff and come forth beautiful. This is why I decided to go into therapy. I want to help people, couples and families to become the best they can and reach their fullest potential.