Teenage depression treatment: Why the archetype of the Great Mother is important for a good treatment


Teenage depression treatment is a subject I have already treated on this website, giving an overview of the possible treatments.

I’ve also talked about art therapy as a treatment for depression. We have seen in this article how art, which is as old as man, can help teenagers to overcome depression.

On the home page I said that the solution to teenage depression is based on an archetype.

In this article I’ll talk about this archetype, the archetype of the Great Mother, and about its role in the healing of depression. I’ll touch on the difficulties that we have in grasping the idea of this archetype, not because we are emotionally impaired, but because almost everything in modern culture runs against it.

Main treatments for depression

I’ll recall the main treatments for depression to be able, in the following, to explain how the archetype of the Great Mother relates to them.

Talk therapy

In talk therapy depressed teens are free to talk about their feelings while being sure that the therapist won’t judge them.

A good therapist will be able to listen attentively, having freed himself from any compulsion to judge, mould and correct.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

This restructures the negative views that depressed teens have about themselves, others and reality.

It’s based on the idea that depression is produced by a too negative outlook on life.

Art therapy

Artistic expression is an effective therapy because depressed teens can have rest from the manipulation they are subject to.

They can:

    • do something that they enjoy
    • express themselves freely and fear no judgments and no pressure to perform
  • decide by themselves what to create

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.

Modern culture and the Great Mother

The Great Mother is at the heart of every sane society. In Western societies, the Great Mother has always had little importance and this is the reason why they are so insane.

Modern culture is about manipulation, which is an attitude opposed to the ones suggested by the Great Mother.

We are manipulated at school, in the workplace, at home, and by advertisements, propaganda, opinion leaders, and politicians.

From a young age we are made accustomed to that form of violence that is the punishments-and-rewards pedagogy. This latter is again a form of manipulation.

Emotional understanding of the archetype of the Great Mother

The archetype of the Great Mother is difficult to grasp and to give it an important position in one’s life is even harder.

This is because in modern culture almost everything runs against it.

Two huge obstacles that are in the way of a full emotional understanding of the Great Mother are irrational fear and the fear of losing something we own or the power we have over someone.

Marion Woodman, Angeles Arrien and Alice Walker about the Great Mother

Marion Woodman is a Jungian analyst. Jung is a relevant figure in Western psychology. He studied archetypes deeply.

Angeles Arrien is a teacher and author. She is interested in all the cultures of the world and their differences and similarities.

Alice Walker is an author. She has written the novel The Color Purple, which inspired a film and a musical. She is also a poet and an activist.

In the following video they talk about the archetype of the Great Mother, its importance and how it is neglected by modern culture.

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.

Where to go now?