Hello friends. I’m looking forward to a lively discussion around my book this November. First, some business:


If you haven’t got a copy yet, the quickest ways to do so are directly from me (www.madnessatthegates.com) through Paypal, or from Amazon. Even quicker, if you have a tablet, would be to order an electronic copy (Kindle, Ipad, etc.) from Amazon. I also have sample chapters and essays available for free on the website. You might also find my blogs interesting (as well as shorter reads) at http://madnessatthegates.posterous.com/


This November could not be a better time for our conversation. Right now, we are “between the worlds.” The entire Hispanic, Catholic and Pagan worlds are focusing on All Souls Day, Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), and Samhain, the Celtic/Pagan New Year. The ancestors are among us right now like at no other time. They require our attention, our celebration and our tears. If you live in the Bay Area, there are still spaces available for our Day of the Dead Ritual (http://www.barryandmayaspector.com/Barryandmaya/Day_of_the_Dead.html).


Now for that lively discussion. I suspect that any proponent of Depth and Archetypal Psychology will agree that we need to look at the soul of a society or culture in the same way we look at an individual soul. We ask such questions as: What has this soul banished to the underworld, to become its shadow? What do those repressed parts want from those who inhabit the light? What sickness results from such repression? What myths are in play? What Gods are being disrespected? What would such a soul look like if it honored those gods?


At the same time, there’s little to be gained by preaching to the choir. I want to encourage dissension and healthy argument from those who disagree with some of my insights (or mistakes, if you prefer), especially in regard to the current political scene. What better theme to start with than a mythological perspective on the election that I offered on my most recent blog: Barry's Blog # 40: The Ritual of the Presidential Debates


The Myth of American Innocence requires periodic maintenance. I am suggesting that the Presidential election is a mass ritual that the nation participates in so as to revive and energize the myth and reconstitute our national sense of denial. What do you think?

Alternatively, there are many other themes we could discuss. If anyone is interested in going through the book doing, say, three chapters each week (twelve in all), I'll be happy to oblige.

And again: This is the time to remember our ancestors and both the blessings and the wounds they have bequeathed us. We are all in this together. Every single American carries a huge burden of unacknowledged grief simply by virtue of living in this society.

Or, in psychological/theological terms, as James Hillman said, every American, regardless of their professed spiritual beliefs, is "psychologically Christian." That is, we are all likely to take our myths literally.

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  • Good morning Britt - It has been over 5 months since you provided this message of encouragement to all of us to watch The Life of Pi.  Thanks you to our eldest son for sending us a DVD of same; my husband + I watched this amazing creation, as you stated - 'filmed allegory about the shadow.'  It is amazing how crystal clear the visuals (pictures) were for me, delivering the depth message story within.  I was immediately stuck by the simple fact that I am visually perceptual stronger in my understanding of depth/soul matters in comparison to the literary works of others (Jung), the exception being poetry that does touch cords and resonate from the depths of soul matters.

    I wonder what Jung would say about this film?  Have a great day and thank you for the encouragement to watch this movie which touched us deeply to tears of joy.  Peace + love Linda 

  • Hi Barry--and everyone who read and took part in the November /December Book Cub. Just wanted to express my deep appreciation for Barry and the level and depth of his insights into our culture and what's going on that affects all of us so profoundly. I also appreciate your willingness to take on the Book club for a second month and hope everyone will continue to read "Madness at the Gates" as well as following Barry's (very good) blog. Thanks again--and happy new year to all.

  • This is Barry, on December 30th, my final post. Thanks to all who have been listening and contributing to this conversation, and to Bonnie and Michael Conforti's teleconference. If any of you would like to be notified of my future blogs, please sign in at madnessatthegates.posterous.com, or friend me on Facebook. Here's my latest blog, the third one inspired by Sandy Hook: Obama's Tears http://madnessatthegates.posterous.com/tag/barrysblog46obamastears

    Good night, Posterous
  • Hi Barry - I made the time and am pleased to inform you - I finished reading your book.  It is with great personal interest and intrigue that I shall continue to spend contemplative time concerning the pairings, adjectives and sentence constructs - use of the 14th century words - "myth" and "innocence." 

    Your book starts with critics stating - "look more honestly at the false innocence that sustains our illusions," "obsession with innocence," "the ignorance, pathos and shadows residing in the American addiction to innocence" and your ending: "Innocence would signify the most basic of all mythic ideas:  the new start" which takes me back to further reflect upon my own experiential understanding, wonder and awe concerning innocence and how such a gift, wonderful positive state appears as a scapegoat, contaminated by the "false, obsessed and addiction" words attached to it.

    For me, the existence of a real state of innocence is not a mythic idea - it is part of my (our) primary framework, an initiation gift for some that remains safe and secure (at a core level of essence being), irregardless of what has transpired or is going on in the cultural affairs of the world.

    I begin each day, and for me, each day is a new start.  My motto remains:  everyday above ground is a good day for I have faced/wrestled with death and demons concerning myself with the other, and we travel easier alongside my gift (innate sense of innocence and beauty) that remains safe, alive and well contained within as we venture forth during our time on earth,  part of a local plus global community - all searching for meaning, peace and harmony.   

    Happy New Year, Barry to you and yours.  Regards Linda



  • Thanks. I write about politics precisely because this arena is one of the primary places in which we enact our myths. Remember, myth is not simply story. It takes place within us and within our culture, in the ways that we interact with each other and in the ways our celebrities and politicians play out our national themes.

    Here are more thoughts on the current violence:

    Barry's Blog # 45: The Sandy Hook Murders, Innocence and Race in Am...


    Good night, Posterous
  • Hi Barry - great points, however and concerning #3; we in Canada have our mass murders (Montreal >20 years ago) - all women and yes, an uninitiated male.  the authorities had to close a couple of schools (plots for mass murder foiled)....so, we have a North American 'continent' problem, and for what occured with slavery down south concerning the Africo-American people(s); we have our aborignal, native american people(s) problem up north who were protesting this week.

    I am glad you are staying on-board, I continue reading your book, am on page 266 - the American Hero.  I do admit, the pages involving politics is difficult for me (my husband is the political, history buff in our home), I remain devoted to front-line trauma recovery/healing service), with no time to get into the politics and do ponder what has been achieved in the past 4 decades since I started voting.  Glad you do track history and politics.  Regards Linda



  • Hi all - December, and my role as book club tender is winding down. But so much is going on in the culture, and on the Depth Psychology Alliance website. Thanks so much to Bonnie and Michael Conforti for holding the online conversation about our collective response to the Sandy Hook murders. I wasn't able to listen live, but I just heard the download. Great conversation. And, as book club tender, I'd like to add my thoughts, since so much of it swirled around questions that we've been dealing with in this conversation, and which my book deals with.

    The live conversation had a really unique tone. It seemed to alternate back and forth between a kind of mourning ritual and real analysis; in other words, it was really soulful. SO -- no criticism implied, but I have to say that I had an initially strong reaction when Michael asked for a "moment of silence" out of respect for the victims and their families. Certainly it was well intended, and certainly this was no ritual space with strong boundaries. And yet, in such situations, I want anything but silence. In the tribal world, this would have been a moment of loud, extended, roof-shattering grieving. I think that only in America and some other Anglo-Saxon cultures do we go into individualized, interior, silent spaces -- even in a group -- when confronted with the archetypal and human need to scream and cry.

    This post is already getting too long, so I will simply note a few thoughts that I will deal with soon in blog posts:

    1 -- Lanza was not simply acting as a wounded individual. He was enacting the most profound myth of western culture, the sacrifice of the children.

    2 -- Michael touched upon issues with "the masculine," but he didn't go far enough. The issue in my opinion is that we live in a demythologized world that long ago rejected authentic ritual. It is a world and a society that has long been lead not simply by bad men but by uninitiated men. Lanza was also enacting that story for all of us, a story which literalizes initiation into actual, literal violence.

    3 -- Let's stop talking in such generalized terms as "the psyche" and "the collective." These mass murders, with certain exceptions, are not being committed in other liberal, industrialized nations (even factoring out the issue of gun control -- Canada, as Michael Moore points out, has even more guns per capita than we do). They are being committed in America, with its myth of innocence. And they are being committed for the most part (we never hear about this) by white males.

    4 -- My last observation: Michael repeatedly spoke of how we've had mass violence "since the beginning of time." I'd like to suggest that the earliest myths of western culture, specifically the sacrifice of Isaac, actually depict a world (even by 1,000 B.C.) in which initiation rituals had broken down. But this is hardly the beginning of time, and this is very important to note. If we want to imagine  a world in which the natural violence of uninitiated men is contained, then we have to imagine times and places in the indigenous world where it once used to happen.

  • A Somber evening Barry - I have only gotten to page 100 of your book and read article #44 on your Blog.  Your country is facing a new tragedy, either nature or man-made, with little time for mourning, rebuilding, etc.  Hard times and I feel for the families - all this devastation 11 days before Christmas.

    I struggled with some of your comments in Blog #44 for I do not believe that there is any such thing as 'harmless violence where no one gets hurt.'  witnessing 18,000 virtual murders at a minimum = desensitization which has nothing to do with 'breeding' anything, let alone innocence.  There are hurting and healing words and some of the above word-pairings, simply feel wrong in my heart of hearts. 

    Out of respect for the great loss of naive innocence, inherent in the 5-10 year old children who died today and their devastated family members; let us please not contaminate their real, naive innocence that continues to exist in America and I doubt any "country" can claim  'innocence' status for all lands have landed immigrants, who left their homelands for a multitude of reasons - the good, bad and the ugly.

    Our children are animate and our land, inanimate and both are love objects.  We profess to protect, love and care for both and there are many more 'good stewards' out there in the world shedding 'good will and peace' seeds towards their fellow man.  Let us not loose sight of this fact, especially after a young adult shed much blood, tears and devastation.

    The old saying 'united we stand; divided we fall' is a part of this young adults tragic, homicidal/suicidal rage ending in a massacre.  Let us not forget - he was alienated to the degree and depth of familial hatred that he killed his mother, father and brother.  

    Your President spoke from his heart on TV to the American people and the global community.  I do believe he is leading, not only as your head of state; most importantly, as a healthy and loving man, husband and father.

    In sorrow plus regard, Linda




  • Harrowingly, beautifully, deeply, said.  And as long as we continue to categorize these shooters, et al, as "monsters," we can continue to project our own unclaimed, "innocent," and sublimated expressions of violence...keeping our mythic innocence intact.

    The "uninitiated" ego identity of our culture—unclaimed—so, unconsciously seeking witness through explosive erruptions of concentrated, toxified, unprocessed grief. 

    Martin Prechtel says "All war is unprocessed grief..."  James Hillman said, "We don't even know how much we are mourning the loss of..."

    Initiation into adulthood, into wisdom, by way of communal grief.  Three days solid.

    Thanks, Barry, for the image.

    —Terry Ebinger

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