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Episode 31 – Jung’s Physician Archetypes and the Loss of Meaning in Medicine


Lisa Marchiano is a Jungian psychoanalyst and cohost of the marvelous “This Jungian Life” podcast. We discuss Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s work and the implications for physicians and the ailing medical profession.

Lisa explains that Jung believed:

“We are all on a path toward wholeness. The goal of life is to become more whole—and when that path is blocked in some way, we get symptoms.”

Unlike the so-called manualized therapies (following a manual with techniques outlined for various diagnoses) there are no prescribed “techniques” in psychoanalysis. The conversation and the relationship that is created between the analyst and patient are the therapy. Lisa Marchiano says that the therapist doesn’t have the solution but rather it arises from the wisdom of the patient. “I see my job as creating the space where the patient and I can listen for that solution to come forward.”


Persona: The mask we adopt based on our role (e.g., CEO or professor or caregiver). It is useful and socially adaptive and allows us to meet the demands of our culture but becomes a problem if we over-identify with a persona.

Ego:  This is the conscious personality, when I say I” that’s the ego. It’s the part of our personality that gets stuff done and also manages our inner world of emotions.

Personal Unconscious: Things we’ve forgotten about or repressed but that still affect us and motivate us.

Collective Unconscious: A more mystical element of Jung’s framework which points to broad patterns of behavior and motifs (archetypes) that are not inherited from recent ancestors but are a priori and related to instincts.

The Self:  A central non-verbal intelligence that is considered the unconscious guiding self or in Jung’s words: the God within.

The concept of the unconscious is central to Jung’s work. The process of becoming whole, or individuating, involves being open to the unconscious Self and bringing more of that content into consciousness. Because one access point to the unconscious is the content of dreams, most Jungian analysts pay close attention to patients’ dreams.

In this episode:

  • Jung believed that most of his patients were suffering from a lack of meaning.
  • “Ideally, physicians are well-placed to have a sense of meaning in this world- but that’s less and less true.”
  • Medicine’s plight of systemization, corporatization and the loss of autonomy threatens the sense of meaning in this noble profession.
  • There is protection in the transpersonal energy of the physician-patient relationship- but this ability to connect is disrupted in the dehumanizing setting of corporate medicine
  • “When you’re just a cog and told exactly what to do and you don’t have any autonomy – could you still feel like that was meaningful?
  • “Doctors should rise up- those with the heroic energy- and say we need to take this back.”

Meet Lisa Marchiano, LCSW, Certified Jungian Analyst

Lisa Marchiano is a writer, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and certified Jungian analyst in private practice in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is the co-founder and co-host of the podcast This Jungian Life.  She received her MSW from New York University and completed analytic training at the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts. Lisa is on the faculty of the Philadelphia Jung Institute. Her writings have appeared in Quillette, the journal Psychological Perspectives, and the Journal of Analytical Psychology. She has presented on Jungian topics across the US as well as in Europe. Lisa’s first book Motherhood: Facing and Finding Yourself explores motherhood as a catalyst for personal growth.

Lisa’s webpage: https://lisamarchiano.com

To buy Lisa’s book: https://www.amazon.com/Motherhood-Finding-Yourself-Lisa-Marchiano/dp/1683646665

Lisa’s podcast with Deborah Stewart & Joseph Lee, This Jungian Life: https://thisjungianlife.com/podcast/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LisaMarchiano/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaMarchiano/

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