A Lack of Soul?

A Lack of Soul?





Thomas Moore has described the fundamental psychological problem of contemporary life as

a lack of “soul.” As Moore understands the problem, “soul” is not exclusively a religious term but rather

“a quality or a dimension of experiencing life and ourselves. It has to do with depth, value, relatedness,

heart, and personal substance.”


Moore tells of a case of a young woman in distress, with ambivalence about being a woman.

She was also going on binges and vomiting, displaying distressing psychological problems

in her relationship to food. Then one day she brought to Moore the following dream:


“Old Women and the Stew Pots”

A group of elderly women were preparing a feast outdoors. They were stewing 

a great variety of food in huge pots over fires. The dreamer was invited to join 

the cooking and become one of the women. She bristled at first—she didn’t want 

to be identified with those old grey women in peasant black dresses—but finally 

joined them.

This dream presents an image of an Elder Ideal, promising the “fulfillment of soul” craved

unconsciously by a young person. Moore suggests that the dream of the old women and the stew pots

served to confront this dreamer with something she was deeply afraid of: namely, her own deep nature

as woman and as elder.  The dream is in invitation to initiatory transition, rejected at first, but finally accepted.


From Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul, p. 11.

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