Extreme trauma shatters our sense of identity and undermines any beliefs we may have about the meaning of our place in the cosmos. According to Jung, “meaninglessness inhibits fullness of life,” whereas “meaning makes a great many things endurable—perhaps everything.” 1 The analytic understanding of psychoneurosis is that it involves the suffering of a soul bereft of meaning. 2 Jung claimed that about a third of his patients suffered not from a clinically identifiable neurosis but from a lack or loss of meaning in their lives. Trauma therapy needs to address this existential issue. For as human beings we are, in Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s words, “condemned to meaning.” 3 Trauma therapy must take seriously the necessity of helping the traumatized individual to find a meaning that will enable him or her to go on living. Jung’s comment at the end of his life states it well:

The world into which we are born is brutal and cruel, and at the same time of divine beauty. Which element we think outweighs the other, whether meaninglessness or meaning, is a matter of temperament…. Probably, as in all metaphysical 58questions, both are true: life is—or has—meaning and meaninglessness. I cherish the anxious hope that meaning will preponderate and win the battle. 4