Dear members of the depth psychology community,
Like many of you, I was stunned by the outcome of the U.S. Presidential election yesterday, November 8, and have spent the day mourning for so many things that feel like they have been lost. As a woman, I am keenly aware that the moment for electing our first woman president has evaporated, but on a much deeper level, I am also profoundly distressed by the election of someone who is so clearly disrepectful of women and lacks compassion and understanding for so many who are marginalized, including other minorities, other species, and planet itself. I wonder how all these deep feelings, including anger, are going to be manifest in coming weeks, months, and years.
Like some of you, also, I seem to bounce between feeling numb and being distraught, even questioning on some level what role I play in all of this, and whether the calling I feel to make depth psychology more accessible in the world actually does a bit of good on some many levels. And yet, I know I must have hope: hope for our future, for our young people and generations to come; for everyone who is suffering and will continue to suffer in the face of a political system that favors certain groups over others.
We live in a world that is as challenged as it has ever been, and yet I maintain a powerful faith in the patterns at work in a world where change is the only constant. I know there is something bigger at work. I am certain I see only a narrow slice of what's at work. I believe in the idea that nature is constantly reaching out to us to pull us back from the brink of extinction (an idea I first encountered in Jerome Bernstein's groundbreaking work, Living in the Borderland.) Some part of me wonders if Donald Trump had to be elected because it will serve as a catalyst to something new; because people will be more innovative in creating change, be inspired to action in a different way, collaborate together with those they may not have engaged with before.
Ten years ago I experienced a profound awakening of my own—so powerful it sent me into what Stan Grof aptly terms "spiritual emergency"—basically, when something spiritual happens that sends one spiraling into emergency. Somehow, at that time, I believe I managed to tap into something bigger than me, a pattern at work in which I play a part and which is playing out not only for the good of each of us individually, but for us as a collective, a species which is resilient, conscious, and able to evolve and learn and love one another. What I experienced then was a taste of what we truly are as divine souls, and the stunning realization that as earthly beings caught up in human bodies and conditioned by culture outside our control, we have truly "settled" for something we can't begin to grasp. Each of us is different, and perceives our lives on earth in different ways, and we each must find our way to carry the torch for new beginnings, for hope in humanity, for belief that we can truly evolve as a species. I think being willing to participate in community is one of the ways these things can manifest. I hope you believe that too.
If anyone feels moved to share your own thoughts and feelings about all of this, please feel free to respond below. If you have criticisms or comments on political parties or policies, maybe your forum is elsewhere. If you wish to provide a depth psychological response or lens, or simply an authentic contribution (it could even be in the form of art or poetry), please respond below, and let us each hold one another in love, compassion, and a willingness to hold the tension as much as we possibly can.
Thank you Brinda
...and to this lovely giant moon, hidden in the fog here where I am..trusting in the invisible power of her nearness.
Indeed, so true,I discover that compassionate action is the correct response to fear.
In keeping with the thread, theme "on my needle" that is pricking at the very finer, core of my being "Liberating the Magical Child Within," my tears shed on Veteran's Day [Remembrance Day] passed, however, it was a weekend, and civil unrest remained in my neighbours streets [lots of media coverage], plus spread to other places in the world.
President Obama is following protocol aimed at a smooth transition and Senator Clinton is actively grieving [blame stage] her loss. Collectively, mass "active" street protestors are a presence to behold and they are demanding that authorities [all of us] around the world take note, pay attention, and address some of their unmet needs, unresolved issues, and frustrations from the past emerging in the now.
For me, I see the street children of yesteryear who are now adults once again taking to the streets! I see them as a re-emergence. Childhood legacies of neglect and abuse, still intact and carried deeply inside for decades now, but taking their stories in tow and back to the streets. For thirty years, I have followed and tried to be helpful regarding the silent exiled children of America.
Are you watching the news and do you see the demonstrators faces? Do you see any magical child within any of them - the nascent beings? I see some crying, but so many are yelling - profanities…bringing forth the expression of their own internal hostilities, untold stories, unresolved issues – thwarted fight and flight triggered and resurrected from their childhood memory banks, leading them back…into the streets for our present day culture to behold. Who cares - we do?
Too many children continue to experience domestic and now cultural violence...so much struggle to exist, running into the streets to flee 'home' and do they find this felt sense of home out there in the street? We refer to them as emancipated young adults and many rely on social services, the charities [i.e. Covenant House] for their on-going existence that rests upon the shoulders of the ‘United Way’ and many other good Samaritans type organizations – seeking donations of money, time or talent - participate in some way to provide street children with the refuge and humanitarian aid... these lost souls failed to receive at home in their childhoods.
After listening to stories of childhood neglect and abuse for half a century, this is what I now know - the only thing that has changed is the child’s name. We still have too many homeless street children. What I want to know is why has North American civilization accepted the “taking to the streets” as an option for our children, emancipated young adults and why has reactionary street protests become the culture norm?
This premature movement of generalized emancipation is one of the aftermath effects of the social experiment of the fifties - the ‘Father Knows Best’ case scenario which is over, and family life, as I once lived has died during my lifetime. Too many violent acts committed, both at home and on the streets are deplorable, and I wonder, “Who looks out for and sees the faces of the magical child within?”
If we are fortunate enough to survive childhood, we take all our experiences along with us from the cradle to the grave – with choice [or not]. Most children launch [leave home], and set sail on the greatest adventure – life in distress buried deep. We all meet other people for a reason, season [or two] or a lifetime. Lifetime relationships are rare. Sometimes, we are messengers. Sometimes we are mirrors, and on rare occasions we are both for each other. There is much mystery and diversity inherent in the human condition.
How well infants and children are nurtured, kept safe and secure, and can depend upon others to meet basic needs – the feed me, want me, need me, and love me “core” essentials blueprint – affects the remainder of life. It is essential infants and children receive the due care and attention they need in order to grow, develop, and mature with a sense of confidence, ability to trust oneself, and others in their homes, schools, communities, countries...the world. We remain interdependent for the remainder of our lives.
The aftermath affects of childhood neglect and abuse fill numerous documents and some facts are undeniable and predictable (See for example, Vincent Feliti’s work on Adverse Childhood Experiences). Surviving unwanted or abusive experience[s], especially during childhood, violates, betrays, and deeply wounds on all levels. Shattered childhood trust buried deeply in silence becomes a malevolent, malignant force to contain and deal with later in life.
Silence is a cornerstone of domestic violence and abuse and the secrets buried deep at core levels are trans-generational in nature - traumatogenic, meaning we are imprinted, blueprinted with a genetic predisposition to pass on our wounds [patterns] into future generations.
I am following the street children who have been taking themselves to the streets for over thirty years now and doing my best to help some of them heal the wounds that inevitable has the power to bind us, if we do not change our ways and thinking regarding the care and protection of nascent beings!
This past weekend It was so nerve wracking, painful watching the reactionary "taking it to the streets" protest [doom + gloom nasties], I could hardly wait for my US neighbours to get back to work and get this flood of news coverage [radio, TV air waves] out of the air we all breathe.
We all play our part, there is so much recovery work to do. Thank you friends for this holding space as I tend to my own particular piece for as long as I am helpful - the needle and thread of the exiled, silenced, neglected, abused and more times than we want to admit - missing and murdered children.
Peace + Love Linda
Linda, I appreciate the reminder of the magical child within. For me child abuse, among other human rights abuses and crimes against humanity, is the most soul shattering and poignant representation of humanity's overall self-abuse. What healing must occur to ease and remove the evidence and manifest symptoms of self-abuse in the collective psyche and the world body?
Ian, my website (www.skyeburn.com) is under reconstruction. When the new site is launched (in a couple weeks) you can find links to articles exploring the connection between art-making and leadership, which I wrote on behalf of The Flow Project, as well as a list of earlier philosophical essays. In general, in addition to Jungian theory, I have found chaos theory and systems thinking helpful in understanding the relationship between the individual and collective psyche (especially the concepts of fractals, holons, and self-organization). For specific books and articles that have shaped and contributed to my thinking, I encourage you (and anyone else) to contact me directly by e-mail through my website.
When I began The Flow Project, I did a comprehensive literature review to discover other authors focusing on the connection between art-making and leadership, which was useful in identifying and positioning TFP contributions. My work on the social applications of depth psychology has not previously called for a literature review, just enough to develop my own ideas. If there is interest in growing the field of depth psychology to encompass the societal applications, I would be happy to participate in a literature review to discover who is doing the work and what is being said, as well as to identify places where understanding is lacking. As examples, Mary Watkins' article on shame, which Bonnie shared earlier, Thomas Singer's work on cultural complexes, and Karin Jironet's work could be included.
TFP uses a combination of grounded theory to analyze research data (using N*Vivo software) and action research to discover applications. A similar process could perhaps be used to analyze the reviewed depth psychology literature to discover core elements, principles and practices, and concerns.
As an artist, I am aware the work has a life and intelligence of its own. If depth psychology wants to establish itself as a resource for social policy and governance, in addition to being a resource for individual self-development, it will happen through an alliance. It will happen through momentum developed on the grassroots level, in the cells of the world body. The archetypal forces at work in the world cannot be understood in their full complexity from a single point of view. The archetypal patterns unfolding globally in the dynamic of culture require multifaceted analysis, developed and grounded through the working-out of diverse perspectives and interpretations. Wise intervention requires weighing factors and needs more than one voice to weigh-in. Cohesive strategies that offer more than fragmentary solutions must be vetted by a community of experts who contribute to the commonwealth of experience and enunciate concerns that must not be overlooked. I sense readiness for a depth psychology approach to resolving the life-threatening challenges facing humanity, but only time will tell if the work wants to go in this direction.
Bonnie, thank you once again for providing this forum.
Good afternoon Skye – thank you for your great responses and poignant direction. To describe the healing journey towards ease, removal of manifest symptoms of self and collective abuse in the collective psyche and world body... is a fabulous one. I considerate myself a natural artist endowed genetically, plus a core passion. In junior high school, my career path presented with the offering by my art teacher and her belief my talents warranted an art scholarship, however, as life circumstance, callings would have it, my passion in the arts remains at the heart and soul of me, but was not my bread and butter career, service position.
At this time in my life, I have the momentum to bring myself, share and expand my participation in additional grassroots movements…always towards the healing of core trauma impact wounds…willingness to share my life’s work and research …originating at birth [footling breech, NDE] birthright calling, thrust with propulsion into a front-line and life long service of critical care within the fields of nursing, counselling + Psychotraumatology. I remain internally and externally motivated towards core, inner child and nascent beings expressions and voices being heard previously silenced and grossly misunderstood and underestimated.
I agree with you there is a readiness for both an InDepth, plus a virtual [OnLine] approach to working through and always towards the healing of life-threatening challenges facing humanity. I join you wholeheartedly with your suggested depth community direction. Peace + Love Linda
Bonnie, thank you for posting the piece by Jeremy Taylor. I appreciate his insight that the "hidden content" of the activated shadow archetype unleashes creativity, as well as his encouraging observation that the ascendency of Trump is "granting historical permission" to find passion. However, in my experience (both personal and with clients), the shadow hides in the intricacies of its disillusionment what one wishes to be; it is not entirely "the thing a person has no wish to be". Further, I take issue with Jeremy's implication that art-making is haphazard. In artistic creations, as in scientific theories, when the created form is conjunct, or in syzygy, with the content the form serves to reveal, there is a strong sense of inevitability. In science, the sense of inevitability is often referred to as elegance. In the arts, it is sensed as beauty. For instance, in performing arts, it is the sense that one has witnessed or experienced something beautiful and magical, even when the content is horrible (such as the opera Dead Man Walking).
Thank you, Bonnie, also for posting the link to proceedings of the October Conference on the Psychology of the 2016 Election. If there is interest, I would be happy to contribute to a thorough literature review regarding the social applications of depth psychology, as part of a team.
Paul, thank you for your article, which I found difficult to read because of the complexity of your language. I hope I understand what you are saying well enough to respond without missing the point. For me, your main points (please correct me if I'm wrong) are: 1) to ensure the survival of the species, it is utterly vital "to understand the forces at play" and to understand how the urge to dominate "can be domesticated. (I agree it is necessary for the ego to surrender.) 2) Focusing on rebuilding trust has "low probability" of a successful outcome because trust is "tribal constrained" and instinct-based, and intense personal work is required to release such instincts. Further, it is unrealistic to hope that empathy with other races can be attained. 3) Political systems generally face reality only "after all rectification options are exhausted". 4) The increasing competition for material resources is "unabashedly Machiavellian" and is activating an escalating "class war". (In Jungian terms, are you saying humanity is in the "clutch of Physis"?) 5) Ordinary folk are so ignorant and out of touch with what is happening they "will never even figure out the con and will happily sail towards the waterfall in their lemming rafts". 6) Society's "failure to imagine anything outside the current roller coaster of materialist obsessions is the fault of artists and poets".
Certainly, you have laid out the difficulties of our task. I must pause now, to focus on other work, but I will return to this thread later today.
Picking up where I left off...I think each of us has a different understanding of what is most basic. To me, what is most basic is that we, as individuals, constitute parts of humanity. As Neumann noted, we are parts of a self-organizing organism. Today, we in the United States are being drawn into an alternative dream space where remaining remnants of original repression are relinquishing their hold on the collective psyche in this moment of global psychic reckoning. (Thank you, Pamela, for aptly naming it the reckoning.)
Depth psychologists have long been midwives and obstetricians of the emerging consciousness of oneness in the context of the individual psyche. A major element of individuation is the recognition that one is an integral, though separate, part of a greater whole. A major aspect of healing comes about through integration of the consciousness of wholeness. The collective psyche (the greater whole to which we all belong) is observed to be self-regulating. The nexus of self-regulation, or self-organization, is the Self archetype.
The trust I am talking about is closely akin to the First Nation concept of honor. Today, many people believe that humanity has gone wrong in creating the world; our ancestors made wrong-headed decisions which resulted in the disastrous circumstances that we find ourselves in today. To me, this is deficit model thinking, which promulgates a self-defeatist attitude in humanity. For me, a bottom line is trusting the instincts that have brought humanity to this place in human evolution.
I am tired and my thoughts are growing muddled. This may be my final post, as next week is Thanksgiving and after that I have a number of writing deadlines. It has certainly been a pleasure to exchange ideas, and thank you for including me in the circle.
Hi Skye - also Paul...I have not had time to digest your article Paul, hence your feedback Skye to even get to a place where I may have something to offer...time will tell...I'll continue digesting. Peace + Love Linda
Sharing a collection of election-oriented posts offered by Pacifica Graduate Institute for the conversation here:
Browse a collection of depth psychology-oriented election blogposts aggregated by Pacifica Graduate Institute Alumni Association, including posts from Michael Meade, Susan Rowland, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Francis Weller, more.
Read a post-election note from Dr. Stephen Aizenstat, Chancellor an..., along with reflections from others in the community on Pacifica Post
Displacement of Affect
The reaction to the candidates in the recent American election is puzzling. The spigot of intense dissatisfaction and vilification was opened up full throttle on the human all too human need for change drain the swamp candidate. Yet the obviously corrupt pay for play candidate who amassed tens and tens and tens of millions of dollars personally and about one billion more for her campaign received an almost free ride for that from the mainstream media and the majority of the voters who cast their ballots for her. One would have expected a different reaction from the American electorate. A powerful rejection of corruption and a vote for the rule of law. One similar to the one being expressed in South Korea today. Here is how the public is supposed to respond to flagrant demonstrations of political corruption.
Whether it be a society, a nation or a civilization they are all founded on the rule of law. The alternative is chaos. So where is Americas outrage. Why has it been ignored and misdirected elsewhere. There obviously has been a displacement of affect in this regard.
Jung worded the need for the rule of law somewhat differently. He said words to the effect that the human weeds would outgrow and overrun the rest of humanity unless they were kept in check....
I agree...huge reactions, inability for common folk to self-regulate and lots of projected anger, denial and scapegoat phenomena going on...just noticing news this past 2 days announcing the 7 million raised to re-count votes in the "swing" USA states and the death of Fidel Castro with mixed news casts from dancing in the streets, 9 days set aside in Cuba for morning signing an on-going oath to the revolution...and the difference between opinions of world leaders ranging from death of the tyrant = hope for democracy to sadness over the loss of a friend!
It's hard to discuss your points, klemens, without looking at specific instances. As for Trump being "vilified" - I think he's quite happy as long as he's in the news, and probably never seriously considered he might actually become president when he first announced.
Yes, he presented himself as the 'law and order' and 'drain the swamp' candidate. If he actually makes a serious effort to get big money out of politics, then I'll believe he cares about corruption.