According to a recent study by the University of Toronto, prescriptions for antidepressants in Canada increased from 3.2 to 14.5 million between 1981 and 2000. But despite this medicalization frenzy, depression is on the rise. The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of the ‘global disability burden’.
Though pharmaceuticals mean legitimate salvation for many, they have become the catch-all solution to our collective gloom. Instead of investigating the intelligence of our melancholia, North America has fallen under a prohibition of sadness. “Part of the nagging worry about Prozac and its ilk,” says prominent bioethicist Carl Elliott, is that the ills they treat are part and parcel of the lonely, forgetful, unbearably sad place where we live.”
Marion Woodman, prized Canadian Jungian analyst and author, tells us that what we are experiencing as a culture is the loss of the symbolic life. We have displaced our natural impulse to worship the sacred onto the material world. We accumulate wealth instead of strengthening our values, pursue knowledge instead of wisdom and choose status over interconnectedness.
The antidote to this terrible crisis of meaning is what Woodman calls the “Mature Feminine.” It is the domain of interiority, the body, feeling and dreams. The Mature Feminine is about really listening to one another, digging in the unconscious dirt, and enduring what Jung called “the empty stillness that precedes creative work.”