Hello, I am Mark Grandstaff, an emeritus professor of History and Culture at Brigham Young University, a MBTI Master Practitioner, and a lover of myth and understanding its role in creating and shaping society. I have written much on the role of the wounded warrior archetype in today's society and have given a number of lectures on masculinity and middle-age.
My spouse (Amy) and I currently live in Ansbach, Germany where I am volunteering to aid American military service personnel and their families reintegrate back into civilian society. It is surprising how much the role of mythology plays in "bringing home the boys (and girls) from the front."
I am very excited about this course and it so far has lived up to my expectations.
Hi Mark, I was rereading this and wondered if you've used Campbell's Hero's Journey in your work with returning combat vets. I have found it very useful with them (I come from two military families and spent some years counseling men with PTSD). The Iliad and Odyssey are also rich with relevant images and motifs.
Hi Craig.....Yes the Campbellian myth (for a lack of a better phrase) does work for American soldiers fairly well with one exception....that the boon (for many of these 20+ year old) is not recognized by the civilians for which he/she fought. Hence many are largely disenfranchised (no job or property) and although accepted by societyto some degree are still not seen as somebody that has significant wisdom to give to the polis. It is quite a bit more involved and there are good works written about Achilles and Odysseus and PTSD, I think that there is a particularly significant story of how Americans go to war and that story deals with the draft, the ideals of a profession and how much influence soldiers in their communities upon their return. What I see now is a that the ideals of Duty, Honor, Country so prevalent in the period prior to Vietnam is in the throes of moving to the last vestiges of the machine age. I believe that the military is no longer a profession of warriors, but simply a job where market place economics take precedence over professional ideals. I was a military officer from Vietnam through 9/11 and then retired.
Hi Mark, I commend you for answering the call to help those suffering in the" mental trenches" brought about by the military experience. Having served in the Army during the Vietnam War, to this day there are areas of memory that I cannot access or access clearly for having been too gruesome to bear. For most G.I.s of that war we had access to very little if any trauma counseling. It was, here's your plane ticket out of here to go stateside (with a stop over in Germany), and poof you were stateside getting ready to be discharged . Craig's writing about a Mythology of Petroleum struck a painful, but multidimensional field of emotions that I related to my military experience. Our military cannot function without oil for its fuel hungry machines of mass destruction. Thanks again for your love towards humanity!
Thanks Robert.... We as a military cannot function without the oil so we Fight to ensure that we have it. I served in the Vietnam War in 1974-75 and then in Desert Storm...there is indeed a "multidimensional field of emotions" when it comes to my service as well.
Hi Mark, So glad to have you on board. What wonderful work you're doing. I have a brother in the army who is currently stationed in Germany--though I think he needs the myth that helps his family with culture shock at this stage as they're still in the first months and challenged adapting to the culture. I think the myth of being a stranger in a strange land is very a propos, and it's interesting however to see how his young children seem to be taking it in stride even more than he and his wife. The archetypal "child mind" might come in handy in this situation.
I'm curious: Do you think there are correlating archetypes in reintegrating back into civilian society? Is it a case of feeling like a stranger to your own (civilian) culture after being in the military?
Yes.... Military culture fosters a high level of continuity, camaraderie, and community. Their mythic totems, taboos and historical stories (myth) celebrate who they are as a people and what behavior is expected. When they come home for good ... and after a few handshakes and pats on the back...civilian society(for some) begins to unravel and at times demonstrates that what the soldier was fighting for was not for duty, honor, country as thought but a "some politician's dream or neighbor's gasoline." This must be grieved and there is not a constructive myth in our society to explicate such grief. Are there myths that might be able to helps...Odysseus.....maybe. But the soldier must be accepted back as one who takes his home back from the infidels and reigns with his Penelope and Telemachus. I will write more on this later. Thanks for getting me thinking on this topic again.
just a quick wave to you. i've spent quite a bit of time in your current neck of the woods (in recent years mostly in stein).
something just occurred to me reading your notes. i work a lot in the area of mental illness stigma, and one of the healing mantras there is often "you are not alone." what occurred to me was that connecting our situation/suffering to a myth - e.g. the soldier connecting to odysseus - also gives us this feeling that we are not alone, not so much spatially but across time. thank you for providing me with this "aha" moment. (it may very well be a given for jungians but i'm not a jungian :) )