‘I don’t have to educate a person in the nature and ways of the soul. Once I mention the word and talk about it briefly, people recognize what they already know. They even know intuitively that nothing is more important and that they have a tendency to ignore it. This has been an unexpected discovery for me since the publication of Care of the Soul: I don’t have to teach; I have to remind.’
Thomas Moore's Official Website and Reflections
Super Soul Oprah Interview with Thomas Moore
Thomas Moore on Soul Therapy
Podcast: Thomas Moore on Care of the Soul
Care of the Soul (1992)
Thomas Moore
In Summary

Contemporary psychology has lost sight of the soul. True growth requires us to reembrace the spiritual and mythological, as well as to reclaim the repressed, medicated, and shadowy sides of the human psyche


The word psyche used to mean something. In Greek philosophy, psyche was the eternal soul which fluttered among the land of the living for a time before returning to its celestial forms to be replenished. As such, psyche/the soul was responsible for reconciling the divine truth, beauty and goodness that defined the higher realms with the lower realms of the flesh. As such, the soul at times animated, inhabited or shaped the body – its presence providing the crucial distinction between a living creature and a mere carcass. Yet the concept of the soul has now been dissected to death by psychologists who have reduced the soul to a material brain, resorting to prescription drugs and behaviour modification as its only means of salvation. 

This recurring ‘bondage’ of the soul caught the attention of Thomas Moore. Raised in an Irish-Catholic family, he left home at the age of thirteen to enter a prep seminary. Bored there by the standard textbooks, he poured himself into the novel theology of Paul Tillich and Pierre Teilhard de Chardin — ultimately leaving the Servite Order right before he was to be ordained. He went on to study psychoanalysis and religion in a secular context, receiving his doctorate at Syracuse University. Convinced that contemporary psychology was lacking in religion, and contemporary religion was lacking in soul, in an attempt to rectify the situation he wrote this seminal book. Published in 1992, the book went on to become a New York Times bestseller.


Modern psychology ‘tends to literalize everything it touches,’ slicing away the mythological, moral, spiritual, and transcendent. Yet there are aspects of existence that go beyond the material or literal, and Moore encompasses these under the heading of ‘soul’. Humans have a soul that requires deeper care than medication and self-help can provide. In fact, all things – trees, rocks, and the planet – have a soul which we must listen to and care for, rather than abuse for our own purposes. 

With this ensouled and mythological picture of reality in hand, Moore floods his pages with Greek lore. Among the first and most crucial of these myths is the story of Persephone, who was kidnapped by Hades and taken to the underworld. Her mother, Demeter, the goddess of harvest, was so distraught by the loss of her daughter that she stopped providing the earth with crops for food. Intervening, Zeus negotiated a compromise: Persephone would spend part of the year in Hades and part of the year with her mother. Each year, Demeter rejoices upon the return of her daughter, resulting in summer sun and fall crops, only to then grieve for her inevitable departure, resulting in winter and darkness. This points to the intertwined duality of light and dark, overworld and underworld, the rising and falling sun, and the cold and warm seasons. We are then reminded that Hades is also known ‘as Pluto, the god of wealth,’ for the darkness is said to be necessary to ‘enrich’ and bring balance to the universe, just as light and dark are necessary for the seasons and the harvest.

Moore seizes upon the story of Persephone as the underlying mythos of the soul. People tend to turn to psychology to fix or remove some part of themselves they do not like. However, Moore insists that the darker side of our souls is not to be repressed or removed but allowed to flower and flourish in harmony with the light. Instead of seeing our past traumas as negative, we should try to understand what these scars are trying to teach us and what they reveal about who and what we are. While many see these impulses as sins to be repressed or mistakes to be fixed, Moore sees them as signal fires from the soul – as ways that our soul expresses itself and its needs. Though it remains tempting to try to live without an underworld to do so means living a half-life, thereby compromising our ability to embrace the complexities that shape who we fully are.


Care of the Soul clearly struck a universal chord, leading to a slew of follow-up works and appearances on Oprah. Moore insisted we stop reducing ourselves to merely our jobs or accomplishments and instead engage with the dimensions of our identities that our materialistic society typically overlooks.

Though some readers have challenged whether Moore’s insistence on airing our dark sides is actually a form of promoting darkness for its own sake, most experience this promotion not only as a positive, but as a relief. For they no longer wish to tear their soul in two nor ignore half the testimony of our world – a world whose rotations serve as daily reminders of the dance of sun and shadow. The dark side of the moon is still there, even if we cannot see it. Regardless of one’s interpretation, the willing reader will likely find much in Moore to stimulate, inspire, and provoke.

Further Reading By This Author

Thomas Moore capitalised on the popularity of Care of the Soul, publishing nearly two dozen books in its wake. These include Dark Nights of the Soul, Soul Mates, Ageless Soul, Soul Therapy, The Soul of Sex, A Religion of One’s Own, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life, A Life at Work, The Original Self, and Writings in the Sand.

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