Dark Night: The Breakdown of the Mythology of Me

Few issues can be brought to psychotherapy that better straddle the worlds of spiritual teachings and psychology than the dark night of the soul.  This experience heralds the breakdown of the mythology of “me” and thus initiates an intense, comprehensive and life-changing spiritual crisis like no other.   Given that therapy is the most common place people reach for help in darkness, it is vital that psychotherapists have information about this unique passage in order to treat, refer or offer resources to those who experience this phenomenon.  It is critical for our world to see and support the emergence of beings living from tender-hearted nobody-ness, the living of life from aselfless and heart-based ground.

Dark Night: The Breakdown of the Mythology of Me

About Jeannie Zandi

Jeannie Zandi (M.A. Transpersonal Counseling Psychology from Naropa University) is a revolutionary of the  Heart and the director of Living as Love, a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring, teaching and supporting people to live from their essence as Love.  She has traveled widely in the US and Canada, bringing an embodied teaching of living from the Unknown.  Jeannie practiced as a psychotherapist in Colorado and New Mexico, and now works with people predominantly through her retreats.  She resides in Taos, New Mexico.


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20 Responses to Dark Night: The Breakdown of the Mythology of Me

  1. ellen says:

    Dear Jeannie,
    Thank you very very much for this essay. Your words land right in the same place that they originate from… and on the way shed such tender clear light on this universal sacred journey. Thank you!

  2. Gianna says:

    this is a very important topic, and you’re right professionals don’t generally know anything about this stuff…not only do they not know about it, but they’re terrified of it when they’re confronted by it and then their clients are put on drugs which can rudely stop the process without any real improvement.

    I worked in the social service sector as a mental health professional for many years and virtually no one in that particular setting is trained to recognize or treat people from this place. It’s a tragedy.

    thank you for sharing.

    • Jeannie says:

      You bet Gianna, thank you. Let’s get the word out. Feel free to pass the article along to any professionals you think would be interested. Love to you. Thanks for your good work.

  3. Diane says:

    Thank you so much for this article it explains fully what I have been through the past 5yrs beginning with what the medical profession deemed clinical depression. I was prescribed anti depressants and sent home…I had everything you mentioned..high functioning professional, no history of mental illness or depression. I can just remember wondering what is this life for, I don’t want it any more, nothing brings me happiness…I am at that point of loneliness now, so refreshing to see it understood. I was invited out this evening and I could not decide what to do..circumstances kept me home and reading this article…I know I will not be able to suffer the meaningless conversation that most human beings are entertained by and I have been so hard on myself for this attitude. I don’t judge them, I used to do the same but I just can’t endure it anymore.I have some like minded friends not very close in proximity though but I see them once a month and it is so great to be able to cry and laugh for no reason and they understand completely……it has been like reading a set of symptoms and finally getting a diagnosis that really is something…and yet I know now it is really nothingness…and I am getting more comfortable with this nothingness and being alone has been excruciating painful at times but been my greatest teacher…. till now it is bliss in the company of my SELF….thank you..

  4. kate brunton says:

    Jeannie, this was/is deeply helpful to me…….particularly the last 4 pages…immeasureable thanks, kate

  5. Gianna says:

    Hi…I just visited again because I found this post so important. I would like to add some thoughts.

    First the chemical imbalance theory of depression has been thoroughly debunked and in my experience, both professional and personal, I’ve found that much (no not all) of what gets called clinical depression is a variety of dark night, but there is absolutely no guidance to deal with it and thus most people don’t have any hope about getting through it. Much of my work has to do with trying to bring this awareness to assessments of people in therapists care as well as to those who are experiencing such crisis.

    See: Chemical imbalance myth takes a big public fall (no, antidepressants do NOT correct an imbalance of serotonin, nor do other psychiatric drugs correct anything at all) — http://beyondmeds.com/2012/01/25/chemicalimbalancemythfalls/

  6. Din says:

    It was wonderful to read your article, I wish I had known you the last 10 years of my life, when everything was falling away/apart and I had lost the ground beneath my feet. But this is a message of joy and happiness because I find myself anchored in the now, in emptiness with still pitiful attempts of the ego trying to understand, trying to know what to do, but it’s reduced to whimpers now, no longer a problem, just a dying energy.

  7. Ron Crouch says:

    thank you very much for this thoughtful work. As a psychologist and meditation teacher, this weighs heavily on me most days. I wrote about this on my own site:

    I wonder what your thoughts are about psychotherapies that may bring on a dark night experience? Therapies like DBT and ACT emphasize “mindfulness” and meditation, and it is conceivable that someone could actually do these practices to the point of entering a DN. This seems to be a very important ethical dilemma.

    • Jeannie says:

      Hi Ron –

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful approach to this. I have saved the link to your article for a time when I have a few minutes to give it the attention it deserves.

      I think dabbling in spiritual practices of any sort, within or outside of therapy, may evoke a dissolution. It’s always I think fair to include a warning when offering such things through any outlet that spirituality is not all hearts and flowers and divine bliss.

  8. Charlie says:

    Thanks for the essay, my experience resonates with this a lot.

    Some of the affects of my dark night have been an almost constant sense of anxiety, loss of joy and pleasure in everything, chronic fatigue, loss of ability to concentrate on anything or do anything. Emotionally I feel mostly numb but like you said I feel this sense of doom I can’t really put my finger on and sometimes I feel extreme guilt. Can’t work, can’t really do anything. After trying to pull myself out of it, I quickly realized that wasn’t going to work. You can’t really explain that to anyone though.

    I wish I had a shaman to guide/take care of me through this. I just keep distracting myself with the internet.

    I made a write up of my experience here: http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Have-Depersonalization-Disorder/2391516

  9. Kate says:

    It is reassuring to myself, to read, that there are others too, that have gone through this type of experience..and I am not alone.I was thrust into a very deep abyss,but am coming out from the other side of a dark period.I feel some discouragement,because of the time this experience has consumed.:( The experience of darkness for me has been similar to walking , afraid & lost ,..down a dark corridor looking for a light switch to turn on.To find myself again.Like Alice through the Looking Glass,…it seemed I was stuck between leaving my old self & ways of coping,.& being thrust into the unknown & being pushed forward to” let go & trust”. My old ways of control & resisting only made things worse.(Inside of an already shaky fragmented self)….When an acquaintance quietly suggested ,”let go”,..I felt ,..the doom & fear of” how?” & if I did “what next?”.There is an Eastern Buddhist quote,”Let go or be dragged”.I was dragged.My fears on one end of the rope,&” the unknown” on the other. The descriptions in this essay help me frame such an unsettling period.And gives me hope.That I am not crazy,..and alone,..but am actually, being watched over & guided.To a place of being broke open. And returning to Source.I hope all who are in this same place are too, guided safely back “home”.Of many articles,I read on the internet,(this article),,in particular was very helpful..I will hold onto the last line in the article as a personal mantra,”just be”.Thank you so much .:)

  10. Pingback: The Dark Night of the Soul | Complete Health Circle

  11. Carol says:

    Thank you, this is powerful and true. Much love with you. The comments I appreciate so much, as well.

    My beloved parents were simultaneously diagnosed with terminal illness in ’09 … they are now in spirit. I was the only daughter. Your description has much in common with the long, indescribable letting-go process that I witnessed and experienced. Bless you, sister.

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