Hi everyone,

I just wanted to take a moment here in the Alliance community to acknowledge and witness the tragedies that have unfolded in recent days--in particular with the Newtown, CT school shooting and the Clackamas, OR mall shooting just 3 days before. In fact, the web site for ThinkProgress has posted a timeline of shootings since Columbine and the CT shooting was the eighth in the U.S. in 2012. 

I don't have answers about what's going on in our culture. True to the spirit of depth psychology, I do have a million questions. There are clearly dark shadows at play--and the archetypes and gods showing up in these scenarios are demanding attention--something only those who are paying attention can probably begin to address right now. I am reminded that Martin Prechtel, author and initiated shaman among the Maya people in Guatemala, suggests that if a culture is not willing to make offerings, there will be arbitrary sacrifices. It makes me wonder: What are we, as a culture--and as a community, even--missing here? What is being neglected, bypassed, or buried that we can individually and collectively address? And how do we begin?

I know many of you have likely been horrified at the events--especially this week--and at the same time I find it somewhat surprising that no one (including myself until now) has brought it up here in the forum for discussion, a place I would wish could be a destination and a container for such distressing emotional issues at such a critical time in our culture.

This is not a judgement but a curiosity--a wondering at how we can make this community more relevant and meaningful in dealing with the difficulties that come our way--and in connecting more humanly with each other. Perhaps there are no words for the horror and despair; or perhaps many of us, me included, are introverts and find it hard to reach out, or find that the feeling function is our inferior function...

What do you think? How have you been affected by this tragedy and the increasing violence in the world today? I wrote a brief blog on the subject of witnessing, but it doesn't begin to address the depth of emotion I'm feeling and you may be as well... Please join in discussion, even if only to express your feelings here...

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Thank you for starting this discussion, Bonnie. The idea of arbitrary sacrifices is compelling and I'd like to hear other thoughts on that. My fb comments the past few days have focused on our cultural tendency to ignore or criminalize severe mental illness. I have worked with the children who

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exhibit severe emotional disturbance as the result of trauma and neglect, some for mysterious reasons. What is the archetype at work here, when our children's souls are torn apart at the seams, and we watch as they become brutal murderers? 

Mass Murders for Revenge & to Scare Millions of Secret Abusers? Where’s cooperating?

Some causes of violence are violent birth trauma in normal hospital birth deliveries & violent parenting Punishing children for anything, esp spanking, slapping,  hitting, battering, blaming blame, screaming & threatening terrorizes children with secret & outer fears, hate, guilt & regret or craving revenge or escape, running away or drugs to numb the pain from birth trauma, neglect & abuses ignored.  We have no laws to protect children from common child abuse & horrible sexual abuse secretly wounding 40% of girls growing up in private families is tradition in male run family cultures.

Denial of most secret violent child abuse creates raging planned ‘copy cat’ crimes for revenge & getting hero praise among the millions of other victims of secret abuses & punishments so common in empire cultures.  Normal birth & family violence & video war games trains mostly boys toward violent expressions in for revenge.  Growing up from violent normal hospital birth trauma of production line style, & circumcision the most violent painful operation in modern medicine wounds babies with numb emotions, unable to feel deeply inside or have any empathy for others. 

Revenge for punishment  is motive of rage against authorities, & secret child sexual rape & molesting Freud learned a century ago & hide from all.  Until “Assault on the Truth’ by Jeffery Masson 1990s expose of Freud’s secret.  That’s explained in family violence by Alice Miller radical psychiatrist in her many books exposing child-abuse results, but not ‘birth trauma’ so normal in hospital deliveries Standard Operating Procedure to imprint babies with modern medical science systems of fearing germs & real emotions. 

Now the most violent cultures: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, cannibals & African tribes do ritual circumcision of males &or females to enslave them for slavish development.  When are we gonna admit these crimes against children & outlaw punishing children by mad people to control them with pain & fear? So we can grow up cooperating together in families, schools & community relationships?!        naturallyours   micheal sunanda

Hello Bonnie~Thank you for your sensitive postings. My own *feeling function* is alive and well. And one of the things that I do know for myself, is that in trauma speak, there's an important** self regulating** that goes on in the aftermath of such tragic events. That self regulating includes *not feeling*, because it is simply too much for a mind, heart, soul, body to take in all at once. I've often reflected that the mind is kind in that way. I believe it was Jung who said something to the effect emotional maturity partly occurs b/c of our capacity to stay with complexity. I pretend to offer no answers and find myself feeling **assaulted** by those who do right now. My sensabilities lean toward the unknown path of grief, reflection, and trusting the integration of such complexities will lead me toward the best action my heart reveals.

Hi Bonnie,

I could hardly process the horror of what happened in Connecticut. As a mother of four children of my own (now grown) and a relative to several teachers in my family, I am mourning with the families who have suffered, including the remaining family of the boy who did the shooting.

Jean Campbell posted an interesting question at the I.A.S.D. page on Facebook from the group The Dream Tribe: If we consider yesterday's horrific violence in Connecticut a 'collective dream' - what might our dream be trying to tell us? If it were your dream, what might it mean?

I answered:If this were my dream/nightmare...I would wonder what part of me/us is killing the creative, imaginative, innocent parts of myself/ourselves through violence, war, and berserk thinking. What am I/we ignoring that has the potential to explode and destroy everything of value in its wake? Why is the Mother being slaughtered and the teachers being killed? What is it within myself that has to change in order to avert this kind of nightmare in the future?

I agree with you, we need to find some way to reach out and dialogue about how we can begin to be more humane. If not here, where? If not now, when?

Thank you for sharing from your heart,

Jenna Ludwig

Hi Marilyn, Michael, Meg, Jenna, and everyone. Thank you so much for your impassioned responses. I'm so grateful you're willing to engage and I hope others will weigh in with thoughts and feelings in coming days. 

Michael, I have to agree with you that our culture--and perhaps human culture in general-- is just not set up to nurture our children into healthy, whole human beings--and as you point out, this starts even before the birthing process and continues throughout childhood. No matter how good parents try to be, there's no way to protect our innocent children from the horrors of the world. It's part of the human experience and raises the question of how we can collectively transcend to greater levels of consciousness (and action)---while still acknowledging and honoring the shadow that is always going to be part of us.

On the other hand, I do think there are many things we can learn (and teach our children) about how to deal with the horrors that come our way. I think your comment, Meg, about the "not feeling" being part of the self-regulating response to trauma is very real and perhaps the work of depth psychology is there--to bring awareness as a very small first step to the fact that that is what we do--ALL of us--as a general rule. 

Jenna and Marilyn: Both of your comments bring a new wave of emotion and concurrently a fresh wave of total confusion. I recognize even as I read them that tendency to "not feeling". It's just too horrible to comprehend--and yet, coming back to the idea of arbitrary sacrifice, I think there's something really important about identifying what archetype is at play, what the collective dream is trying to communicate to us to elicit RADICAL change in our culture.

Yes!--I agree it is definitely something about a murder--the outright massacre--of innocents (innocence). I'm wondering as I think many of you are about the collective fact that the feminine has been abandoned by our culture, resulting in a loss of sustainability, vulnerability, and of nurturing in lieu of patriarchal culture. What aspect of the Great Mother archetype may be manifesting here, or making certain demands?

I'm sure many of you have seen this (HuffingtonPost) post from Liza Long, the Idaho mother of a 13-year-old son:' I Am Adam Lanza's Mother': A Mom's Perspective On The Mental Illn.... If you haven't read it, I encourage you to do so. It's an authentic and disturbing account of her own situation--and her plea for help. What are parents and family members like her to do?

Her post was also featured on CNN this morning and is clearly an important contribution to the conversation. I can relate to a certain situation like this in my own life, and I suspect many of you are personally affected in some way as well. Simply labeling troubled children and individuals offers no solution and usually further marginalizes those who already find themselves at the edges of whatever we consider "mainstream" or "normal. After reading Liza Long's post, I hope you'll share your reactions and thoughts here...

Thank you for posting this link. I listened and feel utter sympathy for this mother's plight. I am grandmother to a boy- now adult at 22 - who is disabled and mentally challenged. Though seldom violent, he is resistant to suggestions. He still lives with his mother and is physically stronger than her or her husband. Because he is too old for the schools that care for these children, he is at home all the time now. Just by resisting attempts to get him into a car, to change his clothes, to do anything he is not of a mind to do, causes him to strike out. He could easily hurt his parents or sisters. The solution for many years has been to use drugs. The family says, thank god for the drugs. But we all carry a sadness that this boy/man carries such deep capacity for  love and yet such anger. We can understand his resistance; he has had to be closely controlled all his life. We can hug him when he is loving, but most of us do not know what to do when he is angry but to leave him alone. We miss having a larger society that will embrace him, guide him, give him opportunities. His mother has handled this well and deserves much credit. His siblings help as much as they can.  I just wish she had more help from community. Let us hope the coming discussions are fruitful.

Some very thoughtful comments have been posted.  Thanks to Bonnie for her particularly well articulated initiation of the discussion.  I humbly offer my thoughts on this general subject.  In light of this great tragedy and deep wound to all of us, I feel it is ok for me to take the liberty to share my thoughts for whatever it might possibly add to the discussion.

Unfortunately this is not a singlular occurrance, an odd accident, or something void of observable causation.  We all can agree, in society and in psyche just about "nothing happens in a vacuum", meaning there is a whole backdrop of coalescing factors and precursers that generate events, even those as irrational and twisted as these shootings.  So on many levels, the recurrance of this type of incident is telling us there are many things that need work, there are many things that are broken in our society today. 

First I would like to say that an abosulte non-functioning madman should not have access to weapons whether gun or machete, chemical or bomb. Even a slightly disturbed son or daughter should not have access to mom or dad's guns, and they themselves really should abstain from owning such weapons for that very reason.  The mother who posted the message about her delimma with her voilently distrubed son should have easy access to institutionalization of the child, these embodied time bombs should be (when volatile) contained somehow, unfortunately we have as a nation that has neglected to maintain such facilities.  Prevention is key in stemming the rise of any disease.  That being said, If we are to really try to find a fix, we must begin with the field, being the culture from which this violence is stemming.

No one can deny that we have a culture of voilence in the entertainment media from video games that simulate mass killing and which many adolescents are submersing themselves in, movies and television, and rap music all of which contribute to desenstization and a triviliazation of violence, killing, and sexual perversion.  I bet a good 80%+ of all the "Hollywood" industry productions (movie's and television) involve murder, rape, and other types of extreme violence.  Many of those stars in Hollywood (I call them dark stars) have absolutely no credibility when it comes to commenting on any of the ills of society for they are often serving as instruments of psychic distruction on a mass scale.  Next we have a culture of broken families usually leading not nearly as often the loss of the mother as to the loss of the father.   Single mothers carry a very heavy burden in this particularly challenging economic environment and can hardly be blamed for the crisis in our youth.  Insert a culture of intentional miseducation for political and economic gains of the educators or those controlling the content and agenda in educational materials in our public schools.   The promotion of secularism that is stripping our society of symbols and meaning; the psuedo-intellectual scoffing at "traditional values" so pervasive in the mainstream news and information media; the loss of symbols and meaning leading to the loss of values and morality; then the prevalance of fundamentalism (religious,secular, and socio-political) which tends to set up the pattern of extremism in the mind.  Both the sense of entitlement (which currently happens to be being promoted by the media today) and the resultant projection of blame on others are closely related to the state of the disgruntled individual.  Lastly add to that the continual state of war which we have been in as a nation - rightly or wrongly - it has its effects on the collective and individual psyche.  Adding all that together, and what you wind up with is a society in which the masses are in a steady state of psychic turmoil and imbalance.  I think most psychoanalysts would agree that the average person is much more screwed up in the head than they realize.  If you have a great mass of people living on the edge, you certainly are going to have a higher incident of people falling off the edge than if they were living further away from that metaphorical cliff.

We must begin by re-establishing traditional values of family cohesion, hard work, service to others, self-sufficency, charity, kindness, non-violence at all levels of life, and compassion which will in turn yeild a more peaceful place in which we live.   These states of mind also do not occur in a vacuum, they too are the result of a soil which cultivates it.  As a society, a nation, and a culture we must rework this soil and reset the focus. I beleive that begins with the family, extends throught the myriad levels of education, and will then be naturally expressed in the arts, entertainment and information media.  Religion plays a key role, yet it too is currently sick and in need of repair. There needs to be a religious culture of inclusion and sacredness and a harmony of religious ideals.  Religious views that promote violence, exclusion and hatred of others should be totally rejected.  We must put meaning and loving-kindness into the forefront our individual lives and collective psyche.   Only then and until then can we expect to cultivate a healthy and functioning and much much less violent society.    I believe, if we can make a conscious effort on the individual and collective levels to change the dynamic, recultivate the depleted soil of our society, we will see a significant reduction in these kinds of horrific acts of voilence.

Hi Michael - I just finished reading everyone's contributions and my offer is as long as we have prayer for change, a voice, the gift and breath of life; together in massive loving-kindness connections - healing is possible!

Thank you for your collective wisdom.  Regards Linda

 Thank you, Bonnie, for addressing this unspeakable tragedy. It has taken me until today to be able to speak about it as my feeling function was on overload....and I didn't even watch the t.v. coverage. Yes ,the horror and despair are overwhelming but there is also the anger that this sort of mass killinghas occured over and over again,with the same results.....NOTHING.

     As a country,we weep,demand gun reform ,and forget until the next tragedy occurs....the horror and despair become apathy and helplessness.

   Perhaps we can keep the discussion alive in this community . I am grateful that you have asked Dr.Comforti to speak to this group as trauma is his speciality and I,for one, am looking forward to his comments.       Patricia


Thank you for posting on this topic.  I listened in to the telesiminar on Thursday and wanted to offer my perspective which is one informed by the Integral Theory of Ken Wilber, Jungian concepts, Michael Conforti's "archetypal field" theory, and the theory of the "simulacra" from French philosopher Jean Baudrillard:

From a posting I made to the Integral Life forum: http://integrallife.com/node/203532

A Third Order Simulation is the way an Archetypal Field maintains itself by hiding in plain sight.  It's the Cultural Complex's defense mechanism. 

Therefore, the question becomes:

What is the mass-media & new-media mediated enactment of this spectacle called "Catastrophe" actually hiding or veiling?


Simple example of a Third Order Simulation:

You want to make the inmates forget they're living in a madhouse?  Give them a madhouse within a madhouse that they can look down at and feel superior to and project all of their own madness upon.

Basically, a Third Order Simulation is some spectacle made in a way that's very sticky for our collective projections. 

(BTW: This is also what advertisers do when they make the commercial for the car or item seem much more real and entrancing than the actual experience of the car itself.  They're co-opting archetypal images of the Self.  It is the Shadow of Postmodern Culture.  See a past  posting of min.....)

When there is an autonomous cultural complex which we are not consciously aware of  we end up projecting its contents out there into and onto "the world" as a judgment on some thing, person, event, etc...

The main idea here is this: If the spectacle or simulation (as a sticky target for our collective projections) is made so real and so convincing then what happens is that it makes it just that much more difficult (if not impossible) for us to withdraw that projection in order to discover that energy, principle, emotion, or value within ourselves - individually or collectively.

The more convincing the projection (3rd order simulation or simulacrum), the more addictive the idol, the more difficult it is to let it go in order to discover that value within ourselves - and therefore the collective autonomous complex or collective archetypal field is able to maintain its cohesion.


A More Relevant Example:

Taking the recent tragedy in Newton CT, as a more relevant example:

We look at this tragedy (as mediated to us by various media) and experience a whole host of affect - sadness, grief, anger, confusion, and wonder what can be done about it?  Then we witness the spectacle of two factions attempting to grapple with this tragedy and with each other.

  • On the side of Agency (and freedom) we have the Red to Amber to Orange cultural waves who attempt to portray this event as an example of evil, or terrorism, or as a result of our sick society allowing too much violence on TV and in video games.  Their "answer" is more guns, more "agency"  and enforcement to "protect" the innocent.
  • On the side of Communion (and safety) we have the Orange to Green cultural waves who attempt to portray this event as an example of untreated mental illness,  too many guns in our society and of the "gun culture."  Their "answer" is to remove the physical means for enacting violence from the whole of society as well as voicing the need for better mental health care in society.

And no matter which group one has a greater affinity for, both groups are fighting with each other and little gets done.  Neither group is able or capable or even interested in investigating to a deeper level what might be behind the catastrophe, because to do so as a matter of public discussion might put them at a disadvantage relative to the other group and their values and legislative goals.

Thus, once again the collective complex / archetypal field maintains itself.   Each side has their own 3rd Order Simulation, their own simulacra, their own sacred image of ultimate value which carries the collective projection of their group's "god image" and thus is more real and important to them than coming together to investigate what's actually going on.

In terms of what to do about it, I would say that first, we have to find a way individually and collectively to turn from the projection to its source - to turn from the catastrophe as spectacle and start to look at the holons themselves which have enacted the spectacle as a way of keeping us fixated to its perspectives.  Then we will have a chance to actually understand why this young man did the unthinkable, and begin to free both ourselves and those unfortunate ones who have fallen completely under the archetypal possession of these collective complexes.



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