How Ignatius Recovered from Depression

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Many people suffer episodes of depression. Ignatius Loyola was one of them, according to Joseph Munitiz, SJ, and we would do well to study how he recovered.

Ignatius’s bad time came at Manresa, not long after his conversion, when he was assailed by scruples and doubts. Fr. Munitiz sees in this the classic signs of an episode of major depression: “poor concentration, indecisiveness, recurrent thoughts of death and suicide, loss of interest and pleasure in prayer or in attending liturgical functions, agitation and great distress, self-punishment (fasting) with loss of weight and probably chronic fatigue.”

The remedy was something like modern cognitive therapy. Ignatius learned to replace bad thinking with something healthier. “The initial step was the realisation that the thoughts troubling him belonged to the category of ‘evil’ thoughts, and were not the ‘good’ thoughts that superficially they appeared to be.”

This shift of perspective came about, significantly, less through his listening to what the confessors were telling him than through his attention to his own experiences. When Ignatius could see that what he was taking to be good was really evil, he was back in touch with reality.

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Jim Manney
Jim Manney is the author of highly praised popular books on Ignatian spirituality, including A Simple, Life-Changing Prayer (about the Daily Examen) and God Finds Us (about the Spiritual Exercises). He is the compiler/editor of An Ignatian Book of Days. His latest book is What Matters Most and Why. He and his wife live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


  1. Discerning the good and bad we receive everyday , surrendering to God the bad and rejecting it and receiving the good that builds up His kingdom on earth.

  2. Instead of the perspective reality of good & evil. It’s my opinion that the Spirit is speaking to us through, the condition of depression, requesting detachment, to change, from things separating us from Him. His Spirit always seeks goodness of His will to a positive outcome. Yet it is our will that must make the discernible decision to detach from those things that separate us from Him. When we recognize that it is His will we begin to heal. Much like the 4 noble truths of Buddhism.


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