"The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, but as for a broken spirit who can bear it?"
The key ideas here are sickness and broken. They form a contrast or distinction in the condition of a person’s inner man. The inner man controls the outer man. The vigor of our inner man: our thought life; our emotional state; our creativity; our personality; our conscience; our will. These are all aspects of our inner man.
When the inner man becomes weak or weary or afflicted with the weakness of the outer man, this can be handled by the inner man. It is understood that it can and will pass – especially because the inner man is largely left untouched.
But the condition is different when it is the inner man that is stricken. The word broken is the word smite, stricken, bring to blows, to be bound in fetters. The picture here is of one who has lost hope; whose inner dreams have been shattered; who has been attacked for being who they are on the inside. If a new level of hope and inner strength is not found, then the person will be broken and it cannot be borne. This verse tells us.
It is possible to put a person in jail and have their inner man still be free; but when the inner man and the outer man are bound, then the broken spirit of this verse is fulfilled. In the movie, Count of Monte Christo, the prisoner was broken both internally and externally until the priest breaks into his cell and slowly revives the inner man of the Edmond Dantès so that he can become a Count.
You must always have hope. Do not be involved in those things that will or could destroy your inner man. It is too difficult to bear.