Where has the energy gone? Where is my Magical Other?
Loss of soul. The loss of libido, one’s life force and energy is tied up with loss of soul. Most forms of psychology and psychotherapy have no room for the idea, even the existence of soul. The word is too wrapped up in religious dogma and as a result it has lost its original meaning. My studies of psychology with the completion of the Arts degree soon led me into a place I had once wandered as a youth, the world of depth psychology and philosophy. It these areas, the ancient idea of soul were still alive and well.
It is hard to believe in the existence of something, anything, until that something disappears and leaves one with a sense of loss, the feeling of emptiness. This is probably the truest for the soul. For most people, the soul is a religious concept that one accepts without question, without a need to find evidence outside of the religious authorities and doctrines. As a result, anyone who is not a “believer” generally accepts that the soul is simply a delusion, a figment created to have people ignore the bad things happening to them and those around them by “others” who use the concept to “control.” Yet, there comes a point when some people, in spite of their religion or their lack of belief, come to look at life from a point of searching through the rhetoric in search of answers that resonate with more than just what the head, the ego tells them.
Perhaps, it has to do with the fact that the word has become too broad and as such, meaningless in the process. Carl Jung suggested that a more relevant term, anima which is a Latin term that means the vital principal of life, along with a fuller definition, would allow us to look and understand loss of soul, which leaves a human shrivelled like a raisin, a shell of a person, following midlife.
“The anima is not the soul in the dogmatic sense, not an anima rationalis, which is a philosophical conception, but a natural archetype that satisfactorily sums up all the statements of the unconscious of the primitive mind, of the history of language and religion . . . It is always the a priori element in moods, reactions, impulses, and whatever else is spontaneous in psychic life.”
Depth psychology goes on to explain that all that we hold as soul is projected onto others, particularly others who are of the opposite gender identification. For me, that projection of soul was placed on my wife. When in the presence of someone upon whom we have projected our soul, we feel “alive,” and all is well in the world. However, when the projection of soul is withdrawn, especially unconsciously, one falls into a depressive state of soul loss. For so many, midlife is an unsettling time of life when all the knowns that have served as the foundations upon which we have built our lives and our belief systems, come crashing down. We suffer loss of meaning, loss of libido, loss of soul.
I, like so many others, had felt my world falling apart. Yet, when I looked at my outer world, everything was going on as it had always gone on, oblivious of the panic and fear that raged through me. I didn’t know it at that time, but I had been given the “call” to take back ownership of my soul. The life path I had been following had hit a crossroads. Which way would I turn?
But it didn’t feel like a journey that I wanted to take. All I could sense was that I was risking losing everything I had treasured. I had only fear of what would be found within myself, stuff that I intuitively knew was what needed to remain hidden. The inside was so dark, filled with so many ghosts of the past, not a good place. Of course I didn’t know that this was what was going on within me at that time. All I knew was that my certainties had come tumbling down. And so I found escape routes to avoid that advancing darkness within me.
“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”
I didn’t want more pain. I had more than my fair share of pain, I had worked hard to escape the poverty I lived within while growing up, have a family, and become a respected member of a community. What was I to do? My wife had become human in my eyes, no longer a goddess on a pedestal.
 Jung, Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, CW 9i
 Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, CW 12