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Mary Watkins, Ph.D., is 
a professor at Pacifica Graduate Institute and co- founder of the Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology, and Ecopsychology Specialization in the M.A./Ph.D. Depth Psychology Program. 

Mary has generously provided Depth Psychology Alliance with a copy of her recent article entitled "The Social and Political Life of Shame in the U.S. Presidential Election 2016"


I have I have been tracking how shame has been operating in the current presidential election. I offer a short paper I prepared for a panel on “Shame and the Experience of Class in the U.S.”, co-sponsored by the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis and the Psychosocial Work Group of the Psychology and the Other Institute, Cambridge, MA.

Download the PDF article here:

Mary Watkins: The Social and Political Life of-Shame 10-31-16.pdf

>Follow the Forum Discussion about the Election here on Depth Psychology Alliance

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Three of four Americans profess at least one paranormal belief, studies show, including a belief in ghosts, witches, or other magical entities.¹ There is a particular genre of folklore narratives called mythological legends, I recently learned, which are stories relayed as real experiences by real people, and which always involve paranormal elements such as highly unusual animals or ghosts. These specific kinds of folklore narratives are not historical, notes Evija Vestergaard, Ph.D., who researches mythological legends and links them to contemporary culture; rather they are about everyday people and their everyday experiences, which just happen to involve these fantastic creatures or components.

Swiss folklorist Max Luthi speculated on why these two different types of narratives, mythological legends folktales, have co-existed², Evi told me recently in an interview together. While folktales tend to be more heroic, and usually have happy endings, mythological legends tend to be non-heroic. In fact, mythological legends are linked to what is referred to in depth psychology as the “shadow” since they often are about parts of ourselves we wouldn’t want anyone to know about. Either way, there is a “need of the soul” at work in both, which can reveal powerful perspectives on individual shadow, group trauma, and cultural complexes.

dragon.jpg?t=1478911012136&name=dragon.jpg&width=320During our conversation, Evi shared a mythological legend related to her own native country and culture of Latvia, which involved a farmer who drove to the capital because he wanted to buy a dragon. The farmer went into a little shop where dragons were sold, the story goes, and the shopkeeper gave him a package wrapped in paper, and told him there was a dragon inside. The farmer gladly paid and left, but on the way home, he got very curious and decided to open the package so he could see the dragon. Upon doing so, he was surprised and disappointed to discover the package contained horse dung instead. The farmer was so incensed, he threw the bundle into the forest.

Remember, Evi declared upon recounting this tale, this was a true story that actually happened to someone. That is what makes.... (Read the full post here at Pacifica Post)

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More than ever, many of us are looking for meaning in a culture where we are moving faster and connecting with each other less and less. The more things feel out of our control, the more we tend to tamp down emotions and not allow ourselves to witness or feel the devastating effects of our environments and the things going on around us.

After all, feeling the impact of the horrors of genocide, war, disaster, famine, or senseless acts of violence such as the mass shootings in Newtown, Connecticut and Clackamas, Oregon this week would be virtually impossible for us to humanly bear if we really allowed the reality to sink in. (In fact, the shooting in Connecticut was the eighth mass shooting in the U.S. in 2012 alone as outlined on ThinkProgress, which posted a timeline of shootings that have occurred since the infamous incident at Columbine, stating: “The rate of people killed by guns in the US is 19.5 times higher than similar high-income countries in the world. In the last 30 years since 1982, America has mourned at least 61 mass murders.”)

In his book Constructing the Self, Constructing America: A Cultural History of Psychotherapyhistorian and psychologist Philip Cushman (1995) perceives that the individual in modern culture is an “empty self” that is driven by its felt sense of hollowness to fill itself up through increasing consumption of goods, services, technology, peak experiences, entertainment, celebrity and even psychotherapy. To alleviate the anxiety, depression, isolation, and suffering, psychosomatic disorders, or addiction, as a general rule, we turn to consumerism. We distract ourselves, stuffing ourselves into individual silos no longer linked to a larger web of creation, and we connect less and less authentically with the world around us in order to mitigate the devastating consequences of truly seeing and feeling the pain.

In western capitalist/consumer-based cultures, we have trained ourselves to disregard people, nature, and events as a mechanism to protect ourselves. We may stop to exclaim in horror, to empathize with the victims, or even to shed a tear--but for most of us, in the end, all we can really do is go back to our own isolation with an added layer of defense against the anxiety and despair that is so natural to feel in the face of such horror.

In their groundbreaking work, Toward Psychologies of Liberation, Mary Watkins and Helene Shulman (2008) suggest it is impossible to be connected to a world we continually fail to see. This separation or loss of connection manifests in dissociation, the distancing or splitting off of affect, a sort of psychic numbing, and in objectification, establishing ourselves at the top of a hierarchical structure where we become the “doers” and all else around us, the objects of our manipulations and our doing. Both dissociation and objectification serve to effectively turn us to stone, either by self-inflicted paralysis or by the immobilizing of others.

Dissociating enables us to feel safe by becoming numb. It cuts off emotion so we can tolerate certain behaviors, acts, or mandates without being overly affected, and it makes us capable of inflicting judgment or pain without suffering evident consequences. Watkins and Shulman that this kind of psychological disenfranchisement extorts a heavy toll as passive bystandingwatching without seeing, and observing without engagement, is a sort of self-mutilation, an amputation of our own sense of sight, a “severing of the self” (p. 66). This tendency has been called percepticideby trauma scholar Diana Taylor an act of self-blinding because to see and acknowledge the atrocities that exist would endanger ourselves.

The late archetypal psychologist James Hillman (Re-Visioning Pychology, 1975) might agree, suggesting, “The eye and wound are the same” (p. 107): in other words, the thing we refuse to see and the denial of that thing by the eye that does not see are both violent acts which result in trauma to the psyche--ours and others. It is almost as if, through dissociation, we turn ourselves to stone (as Medusa of myth did to others) in order not to see. Watkins and Shulman suggest that when the practice of percepticide pervades a culture, “watching-without-seeing becomes ‘the most dehumanizing of acts’" (p. 5).

Like many others, I’ve been more or less glued to media coverage of the shooting in Connecticut these past days, unable to imagine how horrible it is for those living through it. I have to remind myself...(Continue reading here)

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In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy of the Sandy Hook Newtown Connecticut mass school shooting, many of us are experiencing some degree of trauma–whether we knew the victims firsth or not. In fact, there are many reasons we may feel increasingly traumatized in a culture where chaos seems to be the norm, rather than the unusual.

Psychologist  trauma expert, Robert Stolorow (2010) designates the contemporary era an “Age of Trauma” because, according to him, the “tranquilizing illusions of our everyday world seem in our time to be severely threatened from all sides” (para. 2). He refers to ongoing  increasing global issues like global warming, terrorism,  economic collapse–all of which raise issues of existential vulnerability  threaten to annihilate the core framework by which we make sense of our existence. To this list by Stolorow, I would add the pace  intensity by which we are fed information by mass media which assaults us with information like a firehose, inundating us at every moment with horrific news about violence (like the recurring mass shootings), crime, disease, loss, death,  destruction–allowing no time for us to integrate or “hold” the news in a lifestyle which provides no container in which we can witness it. In addition, many of us begin to feel what I call “trauma fatigue.” No matter how awake, sensitive, compassionate we may be, there comes a point when we simply begin to shut down  wish to go back to “normal” life. It’s all we can do to survive our own depth of emotions.

Activist  author, Joanna Macy (1979) points to a general apathy in our culture which she defines as a state that derives from dread. She claims that we live in fear of confronting the despair we all carry that lives just under the surface. For Macy, despair is  ”the loss of the assumption that our species will inevitably pull through” (p. 1, column 3). More  more, we are bombarded by data that questions, perhaps for the first time, whether or not our culture, our species, or even our planet will survive from an ecological, economic, or even cultural stpoint. Growing numbers of people are tuning in to this horror across a broad spectrum of the global population. Worse, Macy points out, feeling despair in  about a cultural context can be isolating, further amplifying the dilemma. She believes there is a psychic dissonance between our felt sense of impending apocalypse  the increasingly desperate mechanisms to maintain “normalcy” as our society requires us to become adept at sweeping our fear  pain under the rug in order to avoid the taboo around directly addressing despair. “Our dread of what is happening to our future is banished to the fringes of awareness, too deep for most of us to (continue reading...)

SPECIAL EVENT ALERT: Join me for ”Beyond Horror  Hope: The Archetypal Intersection of Innocence Evil”–an exploratory conversation about the archetypal underpinnings of the Sy Hook Connecticut school shooting by ian Analyst Michael Conforti, Ph.D., moderated by me, Bonnie Bright, M.A.

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Psyche Under Siege

After giving a lecture where I discussed the Holocaust, an elderly man approached me. I could see a genuine kindness and compassion in his face, and also sensed that his soul had seen far too much in his lifetime. He wanted me to re-consider my comment that we could never understand what created the Holocaust and ongoing acts of genocide.

Gently, yet firmly he explained that when we stop trying to understand, we open the door open for future occurrences. I immediately realized that I had made a terrible mistake, and apologized to him and to the memory of all the past, present and future victims of these crimes against humanity whose tragic fate may have been sealed by our collective lack of involvement.

Now, yet again we stand aghast looking at the ongoing proliferation of violence in the world. From the slaughter and rape of the young woman in India, to the shooting of Malala, the 14 year old girl who was targeted because she spoke up for girls right to an education, to the current rash of violence in our own country. We have only to look at the news to be reminded of the slaughter of the innocents in Newtown, CT, of the Tucson shootings a few years ago, and this most recent horror where after shooting a school bus driver, a man held a five (5) year old boy hostage in a bunker for days. Click link to continue reading....

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A Brief Mythology of Petroleum

A depth look at oil production.

Introduction: Through a Mythic Rear-View Mirror

“The modern world is in some ways a dialogue between oil and water,” notes environmental professor David Orr in his book Earth in Mind:

Water makes life possible, while oil is toxic to most life. Water in its pure state is clear; oil is dark. Water dissolves; oil congeals. Water has inspired great poetry and literature. Our language is full of allusions to springs, depths, currents, rivers, seas, rain, mist, dew, and snowfall....We think of time flowing like a river. We cry oceans of tears. We ponder the wellsprings of thought. Oil, on the contrary, has had no such effect on our language. To my knowledge, it has given rise to no poetry, hymns, or great literature, and probably to no flights of imagination other than those of pecuniary accumulation.

What has oil done, then? Quite a lot, including founding what we like to think of as civilization as well as much as its industrial output. Orr looks at the cost:

Cheap oil and the automobile pitted community against community, suburban commuters against city neighborhoods. Money made from oil and oil-based technologies corrupted our politics, while our growing dependency corrupted our sense of proportion and scale. To guarantee our access to Middle Eastern oil we have declared our willingness to initiate Armageddon. We are now spending billions in fulfillment of this pledge even though a fraction of this annual bill would eliminate the need for oil imports altogether.

Oil has also brought a modernized mythology of the subterranean smoking and flaming to the surface.

Most people with a basic psychological education know about what Freud named the "repetition compulsion": the human tendency to repeat old patterns even when they disrupt and sadden rather than satisfy. Anyone capable of some degree of self-reflection quickly discovers similarities between friends, bosses, relationship partners with whom we repeat typical situations over and over until we realize what we need from these recurrences. Jung referred to the largely unconscious woundings that drive the compulsion to repeat as "complexes."

What goes unnoticed, especially in cultures frozen in an adolescent belief in the delusion of a wholly self-made life free of limitations, is that similar patterns of recurrence play out collectively, in the world at large. At that level the vehicle is not the personal complex, it’s a collective structure: myth, the cultural repository of ... READ MORE

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I saw it from a distance: lavender buds shimmering in the misty Seattle rain. My heart felt warm, and light. How eager we are to emerge from the grey! Our longing for Spring is as ancient as humankind.

The Greeks conceived a myth to explain the reunion of soul that comes with new life bursting out of the soil. Persephone, maiden goddess of the Spring, is abducted by Hades, Lord of the Underworld. He carries her down to his dark realm, a prisoner-bride. Her mother, Demeter, goddess of the earth, is thrown into the depths of mourning. So epic is her despair, all plants on earth die as she withdraws her nourishment from the land.  Famine takes the lives of thousands of mortals. Zeus, locked away in his sanctuary on Olympus, takes note of this suffering at last, and appeals to his brother, Hades, to release Persephone. Hades reluctantly agrees, but in his cunning, begs his reluctant bride to eat a pomegranite seed. She has been holding out, sensing the symbolism in taking the seed into her body, but the promise of freedom loosens her resolve. She eats the seed, consummating her marriage to the Dark Lord, and is fated to spend four months of each year with her husband in the Underworld.

The parallels to our modern day abound. One could argue that Georgetown law student, Susan Fluke, was “carried to the Underworld” by the slanderous comments of Rush Limbaugh. And we only have to glance at the photos of war-ravaged Africa,  to see the ancient violence against women in full horrific form. This time, it is not a grieving Demeter that brings starvation to the land, but the ancient tribal violence of a patriarcal lords.

We rage at what some have called, “The New Assault on Women”. We are hungry for meaning and wholeness in our relationships, and in or world.

The myth points the way. When Persephone is released from Hell, she rejoices to put her feet upon the earth, and run to her mother. But she is no longer a child. Her story echoes the journey we all must take, from the innocence and entitlement of youth, to the Underworld of loss, and, ultimately, a confrontation with the dark aspect of our nature. Hades is not only the Lord of the dead. He protects and honors the Unconscious, the part of us that lives in Shadow. We are called to descend the shallow perch of the unexamined ego, down into our fears, frailties, and the host of nasty qualities flesh is heir to. The question for every mother and daughter – indeed for every relationship – is whether or not each person can own, tend, and transform shadow into a new state of being. If not, the split off shadow will be projected into the other person.

What would this look like in a non-mythic scenario? Imagine a modern Demeter who is an alcoholic. Persephone goes off to college, struggles to adjust to all the new pressures, joins a support group, has a painful love affair, does some therapy: sees patterns universal to a child of an alcoholic. She returns home in the Spring, having confronted her demons.

What if her mom used these same precious months to enter treatment, join AA, embrace sobriety? She can now greet her daughter and explain how she has wronged her, abused her, and abandoned her emotionally.  Then Persephone can express her pain and anger, knowing how important this is for her own healing. She could also own the times when she withheld her love from her mom, the only way she knew to express her rage, as she watched her mother slip further into addiction.

Shadow exists in many subtle and devious forms. I can only speculate about Rush Limbaugh’s shadow. What must his mother be like, for him to attack Susan Fluke with such venom?  Mary Poppins might have been less wooden if she could have owned the down side of being “practically perfect in every way”. Shadow can emerge when a loved one is ill and you cannot summon the courage to visit or call. It can emerge when you unconsciously work too much, ignore your needs too much. It can emerge any time you act from a false self.

This Spring, the beauty of the earth is calling to each of us to descend into the rich soil of our own Underworld. Like Demeter and Persephone, we must return again and again to our psychological winters. Only then can we greet the Spring, seeing ourselves, and  all human creatures as fragile wonders in a world ever in need of transformation.

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In the heart of the jungle in Columbia, the U’wa people live a simple existence mostly beyond the reaches of modern society, having had little contact at all with the outside world until a few decades ago. Their indigenous relationship to the earth sustains them in a collective role as caretakers of the earth and an equal facet of nature. Thus, when the prospect of international firms making plans to drill into their ancestral lands for oil in the late 1990s arose, they perceived the concept to be intolerable, apocalyptic even.

The tribe of 5,000 people made it known that even the act of searching for oil on their homelands would destroy their way of life, initiating the same kind of colonization, exploitation, destruction, and violence that has happened elsewhere. In fact, one hundred and sixty kilometers east of the village, the Caño Limon oilfield run by Shell and Oxy, earns Colombia hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The pollution, loss of wildlife, and changes to society as a result from drilling in the area are devastating—and that is only half the story. The increase in guerilla terrorism, gun-running, and drug trafficking by those attempting to sabotage or commandeer the oil operations has taken a severe toll, spilling over into U’wa lands as violent machine gun battles waged between opposing bands and stray gunfire invaded the U’wa village.

On receiving the news that exploration, and ultimately drilling, would imminently occur on their lands, the leaders promptly announced that the entire tribe of some 5,000 men, women, and children would willingly step off a 1400-foot cliff rather than suffer the horrors sure to follow the drilling. In fact, this impossible decision to commit mass ritual suicide has happened before. The nearby cliff is on sacred ground where everything is alive, land protected by ritual and dance, land which tribespeople refuse to enter for fear of violating their covenants with ancestors, spirits, and the earth. In another event centuries ago, faced with moving onto forbidden sacred grounds in retreat from the invading Spaniards, the greater part of the adults of the tribe threw the children over the cliff in clay pots, then stepped off into nothingness themselves. For the U’wa, oil is the blood of Mother Earth, and to invade it—above or below ground—causes imbalance and ultimately, death. “I sing the traditional songs to my children,” a tribeswoman says. “I teach them that everything is sacred and linked. How can I tell Shell and Oxy that to take the petrol is for us worse than killing your own mother? If you kill the earth, then no one will live. I do not want to die. Nobody does.”

In his book The Inner World of Trauma, Donald Kalsched uses the word trauma to mean any experience that causes unbearable psychic pain or anxiety. For an experience to be "unbearable" means that it overwhelms the usual defensive measures which protect us from perceiving horror and pain. The distinguishing feature of trauma of this magnitude is what Heinz Kohut called disintegration anxiety, an “unnameable dread associated with the threatened dissolution of a coherent self” (as cited in Kalsched, 1996, p. 1). This kind of anxiety portends the complete annihilation of the human personality. For the U’wa, the trauma created by the very concept of violating their living sacred land, the mother of them all for whom they are responsible, was “unbearable,” threatening to completely dissolve the way of life, the values, the worldview—indeed the very tribe itself.

Bernstein, in Living in the Borderland, points out that when the Navajos were displaced, many of them simply disappeared. The disorientation initiated by loss of ancestors and memory, of being located in a larger web of meaning, is profound and irreversible. Estrangement from land results in uncanniness, the feeling of not being at home. Thus, to be without place translates to not existing at all. When viewed from this perspective then, perhaps the decision of the U’wa to consciously and intentionally end their existence rather than waiting out the trauma until life as they knew it ended for them is really not so strange.

Glendinning (My Name is Chellis and I'm in Recovery from the Western World) corroborates the notion that our collective culture exhibits all the symptoms of one that has been traumatized, and that we, as humans, live pathological patterns of abuse and addiction due to the fact that we live in an “extreme and untenable situation” (p. 122) related to a sense of profound homelessness. She agrees that humans have lost that vital connection to nature which is our birthright and have suffered a violation that, in her words, ”forms the basis of original trauma” (p.64) resulting in exile and psychic displacement. Thus modern humans exhibit pathological behaviors typical of trauma because we are aware at some level that “something unnatural has happened to us” (p. 63).

Robert Stolorow, in "Empathic Civilization" in an Age of Trauma goes as far as to designate the contemporary era an “Age of Trauma” because, according to him, the “tranquilizing illusions of our everyday world seem in our time to be severely threatened from all sides” (para. 2). He refers to ongoing and increasing global issues like global warming, terrorism, and economic collapse, all of which raise issues of existential vulnerability and threaten to annihilate the core framework by which we make sense of our existence. To this list by Stolorow, I would add the pace and intensity by which we are fed information by mass media which assaults us with information like a firehose, inundating us at every moment with horrific news about violence, crime, disease, loss, death, and destruction, allowing no time for us to integrate or “hold” the news in a lifestyle which provides no container in which we can witness it.

Activist and author, Joanna Macy points to a general apathy in our culture which she defines as a state that derives from dread. She claims that we live in fear of confronting the despair we all carry that lives just under the surface. For Macy, despair is  "the loss of the assumption that our species will inevitably pull through" (p. 1, column 3). More and more, we are bombarded by data that questions, perhaps for the first time, whether or not our culture, our species, or even our planet will survive. Growing numbers of people are tuning in to this horror across a broad spectrum of the global population. Worse, Macy points out, feeling despair in and about a cultural context can be isolating, further amplifying the dilemma. She believes there is a psychic dissonance between our felt sense of impending apocalypse and the increasingly desperate mechanisms to maintain “normalcy” as our society requires us to become adept at sweeping our fear and pain under the rug in order to avoid the taboo around directly addressing despair. "Our dread of what is happening to our future is banished to the fringes of awareness, too deep for most of us to name, too fearsome to face". As well, individuals who tap into the unnamed dread often conclude it is them and not society that is insane.

Ultimately, trauma is a transition that moves us to a threshold, what Casey (Getting Back into Place) refers to as spatial areas of transition. This threshold places us at the portal to a new way of being, a new home, even if for the time being. It locates us in a place of potentiality. In some indigenous rites of passage, as the initiate goes by, the villagers open their doors to witness the initiate and to symbolize the opening of the way. We are all in this together. We all belong to the earth. Whether it be the U’wa who locate their authentic selves and the very soul of their tribe in the face of the ultimate impossible choice to enter a great wide chasm that hosts death, or the Borderlanders who hold space with their pain while the rest of the world begins to wake up, memory--and narrative of that memory-- can create a sense of sacred space, a place where everything belongs and has meaning. The memory, the narrative, the witnessing all carry us to the open door, the edge of the very precipice where something new awaits, a homecoming to the place where the new skin made tender by trauma can be touched by the first rays of gentle sun that rise beyond the horizon of pure potentiality.

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9142465882?profile=originalU.K.-based psychotherapist and activist, Andrew Samuels has a long history as a consultant to political clients on the presidential and prime ministerial level. While Samuels first published Politics on the Couch in 2001 and The Political Psyche in 2015, his newest book, A New Therapy for Politics? delves ever more deeply into the intersection between psychotherapy and politics and lends a critical eye to his own chosen profession in an effort to bring the two together.

Sigmund Freud and C. G. Jung, both pioneers in the field of psychotherapy, wrote about politics over the course of their careers, Samuels points out, but psychotherapists have generally been “magnificently unsuccessful” in creating a significant contribution to the political arena.

Jung was very aware of “how the political world penetrates into the silent, pure space of the consulting room,” Samuels maintains, but most psychotherapists don’t have much of a reach outside their own community of therapeutic professionals.

Notably, they tend to be completely caught up in their own language and their own concept. The inclination to maintain that “everything is psychological” results in hierarchical dynamics where psychologists or therapists place themselves above the everyday fray that makes up politics. This positioning weakens their capacity to add value or engage in a meaningful way, a position that is exacerbated by... READ the full post here

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9142465482?profile=originalPerhaps you’ve heard of a mysterious tribe of Native Indians who live high in the mountains of Colombia, speaking only their own original language, and having little contact with the outside world. These people, the Kogi Indians, have long referred to themselves as the “Elder Brothers,” as they carry the responsibility of being caretakers of the world, helping to maintain a balance of harmony and creativity in the world. (Photo at right courtesy of Lisa Maroski).

In recent years, the Kogi have begun speaking out. They are deeply concerned that non-indigenous cultures living in the modern world, whom they call the "Younger Brothers", are harming the earth, and they want to share the message that we need to change our ways.

The Kogi have a profound relationship with the Mother Earth, whom they call “Aluna.” reports Lisa Maroski, a board member of Monterey Friends of C.G. Jung who had the remarkable opportunity to travel with a group to visit the Kogi in Columbia, to hear their message, and to see firsthand how they live and what they are asking from us.

Maroski, who shared her experiences from the journey in an interview with me, explains how the “Mamas”— the priests of the tribe—were traditionally trained. Those who were identified as being future holy people were taken into caves at just a few months of age and they remained there for several years without ever experiencing the outside world. After several years, they were finally introduced to the outside world, where everything was so much more vibrant and alive than they could have ever imagined, that they become deeply psychically embedded in a universe that is alive and animated—even objects we westerners traditionally don’t think of as being alive.

Other traditions, such as weaving, are deeply ritualistic, based on the understanding that everything in the world is interconnected. When they weave, it is symbolic, Maroski notes, and weavers maintain ritual practices like spinning around during certain points in the process to remind themselves that they are weaving the world.

Maroski’s time with the Kogi changed her. She came away with a powerful understanding of what C.G. Jung called the unus mundus, the “one world”, and the possibilities of living with a worldview that understands how everything is alive and profoundly interconnected.

We are longing for that personal connection with the Earth, she believes, and there are ways we can each take individual action to help amplify this message in the world. Whether it’s ritual acts such as Maroski describes during our conversation, or literally writing to corporations that are harming the planet to let them know w won’t accept it any longer, we each carry the possibility to honor the Elder Brother and start creating the change we want to see in the world.

Lisa Maroski is an author, editor, and playwright. She is a board member of the Monterey Friends of C.G. Jung. She traveled to Colombia with John Perkins to meet with and learn from the Kogi Indians.

Listen to the interview via Depth Insights™ at or access the audio on YouTube at

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 9142464887?profile=originalWhen there is wounding in our culture, there is wounding to the of the world. Many may be feeling “world weary” at this moment in our modern world, but this mood of despair has happened before, suggests mythologist . A distortion in the culture, whenever it occurs, weighs on everyone in the culture—but people have survived this before.  has been collecting myths about the renewal of the  for years,  he tells them elegantly  jubilantly with the use of a drum, a rare treat to watch or listen to.

“The dream of the beauty of nature in its diverse dynamic has been disrupted in so many ways. We have fallen out of the dream,”  reflects, but “if we will look into darkness, we will find something there which, on the individual level, is the image of the .”

To sustain ourselves in the chaotic ways of modern life, we need a practice which allows for a re-imagination of the whole  our part in it….


Read the full summary article or get the link to listen to “Touching the  of the World: A Mythological View of Chaotic Timesfrom ’s Opening Keynote  at the “Response at the Radical Edge: Depth Psychology for the 21st Century” Conference at Pacifica Graduate Institute, June 16, 2017


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Making Lemonade: Part 3


An Archetypal Plan for Recovering from the U.S. Presidential Election

(Read Part 2 of this blog series here)

The U.S. presidential election has left Americans more divided than perhaps at any time since the Civil War. This is the last in a series of three blogs in which I offer an archetypal approach to understanding the forces at work both in the U.S. and around the world that produced this outcome and that threaten catastrophe, and a possible means to achieve greater unity and renew our faith in our democratic system of government


Act V: Resolution: Community is Restored

In the comic tradition, the collective Archetype of Community is what creates a happy ending, in contrast to tragedy, where things break down. In Greek drama, tragedy ensues when the leader or a group fall prey to hubris, thinking that they are above everyone else. Comedy in its classic definition does not require humor; rather, it signifies that the plot moves from miscommunications and discord to harmony, where almost everyone, except perhaps for the most vile and evil, is included in the reconciliation.


The Myth: In the Eleusinian Mysteries, community is restored when harmony between Zeus, Demeter, and Persephone is reestablished. Here’s how this happens: As the famine induced by Demeter worsens, mortals fear that they will die of hunger, and the gods and goddesses do not want to lose the sacrifices that mortals give them. As a consequence, pressure builds for Zeus to do what Demeter wants—which is to allow her daughter to have the life she desires rather than what Zeus decides for her.


Zeus respects power, so when he realizes that the gods and mortals are supporting Demeter, he gives in to both mother and daughter. Persephone returns to the Upperworld for half the year and people gain the capacity to recognize seasons in life; the gods stop oppressing the mortals, and Demeter and Persephone found the Eleusinian Mysteries to teach people how to be happy, prosperous, and free of fear. Prosperity and fecundity return, so Zeus throws a big party to honor Demeter and Persephone, and to show that he now recognizes his reliance on them, since he cannot make the grain grow, and on the other gods and goddesses, and thus will be a more collaborative leader. Persephone gives birth to Dionysus, the god of joy, who helps people celebrate with dancing, thereby expressing their authentic selves while enjoying being in community.


U.S.: Achieving a satisfactory ending after a divisive presidential election is hardly guaranteed. Getting there would require a good balance between Zeus, Demeter, Persephone, and Dionysus energies. The challenge is that we live in a pluralistic society where:


  • a majority of those who voted for Hillary Clinton were urban and well-educated, and chose her Demeter/Zeus values;
  • Trump’s support among rural and less educated voters and the overrepresentation of smaller, less urbanized states in the Electoral College contributed significantly to his victory;
  • Republicans will hold a majority in both houses of Congress and share many of Trump’s policy preferences; thus, the entire power structure is now rather wholly biased toward Zeus values;
  • a substantial minority of citizens who could have voted did not, and so remain passive, unheard from; and
  • public opinion polls and the support for Bernie Sanders indicate that a large cohort of young people appears to be emerging with fresh, new Persephone and Dionysian energies.


All this means that the Zeus single focus of the incoming government does not represent the views of most Americans, although it does represent those of a substantial minority. Plus, once a president is in office, there is a tendency for support for him to build, since we all need the person in that role to succeed. Given this larger situation, a positive ending will require a meta-narrative and policies that bring us together by meeting the needs and values of all these groups.


Within this context, the president-elect and congressional Republicans have declared that they have a mandate to do what they want.


  • Trump already is destabilizing international relations (e.g., with China); reinforcing extremist “alt-right” attitudes; threatening to essentially unravel most of the progress made in the last eight years and social safety net programs that began in the 1960s; vowing to slash taxes on the rich and on business; and pledging to tear up trade agreements and opt out of the Paris Accords on climate change.
  • It appears as though Republicans in Congress will support most of these efforts while also attempting to deregulate the private sector, turn over ever more government functions to for-profit corporations, utilize voucher systems in education and as a substitute for the Affordable Care Act, and overturn Roe v. Wade.


Restoring harmony in the U.S. will not be easy, given the raw feelings on all sides and a government that promises to dismantle policies and programs valued by a majority of Americans. Citizens in historically Red States may continue to support Trump and the Republican Congress; those in Blue States likely will want to preserve their ability to live by very different values and with different policies. Overall, the result could be a society that is even more divided than it is today.


In four years, much of what we have come to take for granted could no longer be true. Many citizens in Red States may find that they do not like actually getting what they believed they wanted. This is beginning to happen already, as people who voted for Trump worry that they will not have health insurance or Medicare or, for many farmers, anyone to harvest their crops. People in Blue States might utilize the upcoming period of relative chaos (which will be inevitable in a time when existing structures and policies are being dismantled) to promote new and different means to achieve 21st century ends than those that are common now. We already are seeing updates of proposals Democrats have made, like plans to modernize our infrastructure and in the process provide jobs—proposals that could pass in the near future when Republicans can take credit for them. With everything in flux, it is impossible to predict exactly what may result.


If greater archetypal balance is restored, however, the outcome still will be different from what we have today. Ideally, it will be better, or at least not tragically worse. The two major political parties can contribute to this effort. Both are expert at Zeus’s way of power; many Republicans have advocated “compassionate conservatism,” so while their policies may differ, they could join Democrats in making sure that new strategies are not hurtful to people or the earth; and both parties include those who understand that new times require new structures.


All this also requires Persephone creativity. When policies are based on prioritizing power and dominance only, thinking tends to lack cognitive complexity as well as emotional and narrative intelligence. As a result, the nation could easily become a heartless dystopia, where decisions are made to benefit those in power without awareness of likely side effects on them or on others. Achieving positive outcomes will, thus, require a citizenry that is:


  • educated about the dynamics of power and how things work, and is unwilling to be manipulated;
  • ready to engage in efforts at all levels—political, governmental, for-profit, nonprofit, and individual—to find the best 21st century means to carry out the Demeter task of caring for one another and the earth;
  • assisted by Persephone’s ability to utilize the freedom and the openings created by the planned dismantling of the status quo to further transformational change in the interests of all people, not just the rich, the white, and the male—and not just Americans, since our good is interdependent with that of people in many other countries as well as in various regions of our own.


However, it also requires Dionysus. We see him expressed in humor, and in the unseating of people who seem uptight and controlling through poking fun at them, as well as in collective celebration, which traditionally includes music and dancing. It is Dionysus who can counter the mean-spiritedness of the international and national alt-right and the tendency to sink into self-questioning despair that often hampers progressives.


Dionysus energy already is present in how many people of all political stripes get their news from comedians, as well as the wonderful ability Americans have always shown to find humor in whatever crazy things our leaders are doing. A Trump presidency certainly can be entertaining for everyone if we lighten up; he is, after all, an entertainer. Moreover, satire is an important strategy for identifying attitudes and actions that are not just harmful, but absurd. President Obama has used it creatively to make jokes about his detractors instead of threatening or denouncing them.


Of all the archetypes, Dionysus is the easiest with change and the one that can help with the rebirth needed for a healthy 21st century America that works for everyone. Just as joking around can aid in brainstorming, lightening up can help Americans stop demonizing one another and come together to address the real challenges facing us in a fast-changing, technological, global society.


Journalist and social activist Barbara Ehrenreich, in her book Dancing in the Streets, traces a true populist tradition down from Dionysian revels to the current day, arguing that real populist movements are joyous, involving music and dancing, unlike the more martial and hostile channels for populist energies generally fostered by those in power who desire to keep control of the people in order to retain their advantages. We will know we have achieved a healthy and inclusive populist movement when we convene with collective hope and joyous revelry. Only then will we have attained a societal rebirth, realizing the Eleusinian Mystery promise of individual and shared happiness, prosperity, and freedom from fear.


You and Me: As individuals, our happiness and success also come from discovering our own optimal balance of Zeus, Demeter, Persephone, and Dionysus energies. When you find yourself out of balance, you can, first, recognize which archetypal energies you have too much of, and which too little. When too little, you can awaken more of what you are missing by identifying people who evince the archetypal qualities you lack and emulating them. When you have too much of an archetype, you can use mindfulness to decrease its presence: Notice when you are overdoing it, name it, and say inwardly something like “too much,” or “not now” and then choose to respond from one of the other archetypes’ way of acting.


Second, remember that you are an important player in the drama unfolding before us. Each of us is a microcosm of the societal macrocosm. Its imbalance creates a corresponding imbalance in us as well, fostering a sense of anxiety. The result will be tragic if we respond to feeling off balance by blaming one another and fighting among ourselves. However, if we take the higher course, we can focus on regaining equilibrium in our own lives as we also encourage balance in society and the world.


Whoever you are and however you voted, you can say “Yes!” to the call of the heroic quest, finding and bringing your best self to the movie we are all in together. Doing so will create ripple effects that promote the outcomes promised by the Eleusinian Mysteries—individual and collective happiness, prosperity, and freedom from fear—so that we can get back to building “a more perfect union” as our founders so desired that we continue to do.

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Education Institution

"Looking for Caesar" by Jeffrey T. Kiehl

Excerpt from a powerful new post by Jungian analyst and climate scientist, Jeffrey T. Kiehl:

“If we are stumbling into an era of dictators, Caesars, and incarnated States, we have accomplished a cycle of two thousand years and the serpent has again met with its own tail. Then our era will be a near replica of the first centuries A.D., when Caesar was the State and a god, and divine sacrifices were made to Caesar while the temples of the gods crumbled away. You know that thousands in those days turned their eyes away from this visible world, filled with horror and disgust, and adopted a philosophy which healed their souls.”—C.G. Jung CW (18, par. 1342)

...Jung wrote the above quoted words in 1936, a time when many Caesar’s were appearing in the world, a time when nationalism was on the rise in Germany, Russia, and Italy. Here he observes that the appearance of dictators occurred in the past and a common response for some in such times was a turning away to find a way to heal the soul. Such soul-based philosophy requires a turning within in order to transcend the materialistic poverty of the outer world. In reaction to the outcome of the US election there is a call for immediate action. I do not deny action is essential, but of equal importance is taking the time to look quietly within, which opens us to healing our wounded souls.

At such pivotal points we need to balance ‘doing’ with ‘being’ so that our actions come from a deeper place within us, a place rooted in consciousness, connectedness and caring. At this pivotal point in our history we are in need of soulful approaches for working with our highly fragmented world. Depth psychology roots us in the varied dimensions of psyche and provides us with skillful means for exploring shadow and light in imaginative ways.

How did we get here? Earlier in his 1936 essay Jung (CW 18, par. 1330) says that,

“Nations in a condition of collective misery behave like neurotic or even psychotic individuals. First they get dissociated or disintegrated, then they pass into a state of confusion and disorientation.”

Here in the US we have felt this state of confusion and disorientation for a while. There is dis-ease in... (Read the full post on Jeff's site)

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Race and Religion; Race and Social Class

Members of the clergy lay hands and pray over Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at the New Spirit Revival Center in Cleveland Heights

Meanwhile, four out of five white evangelicals, a quarter of the electorate, some thirty million people, voted for Trump – despite his serial adultery, his casinos, his shady deals, his narcissistic tantrums, his reality-TV clowning, his wife’s soft-porn photos, his palpable insincerity, his profoundly uncharitable threats and accusations, his obnoxious vulgarity, his disgusting misogyny and his gleeful ignorance of the Bible; despite his hinting that he’s never done anything worth repenting.

His numbers among these voters exceeded those of Romney, McCain and even the born-again George W. Bush. And lest we forget, in the primaries he destroyed several religiously identified competitors. What was the difference? Conventional political scientists had predicted that evangelicals, disgusted with Trump, who’d trashed their man Cruz, would stay home. But such academics, willing believers in their own religion – American innocence – have never understood that, along with patriotism, the essence of American fundamentalism is race.

Mike Davis writes:

The key factor was Trump’s cynical covenant with religious conservatives…He gave them a free hand to draft the party platform at the Convention and then teamed with one of their popular heroes, Pence of Indiana…At stake for right-to-lifers, of course, was control of the Supreme Court and a final chance to reverse Roe vs Wade. This may explain why Clinton, who unlike Obama allowed herself to be identified with late-term abortions, underperformed him by 8 points among Latina/o Catholics.

I would suggest that many of the most famous televangelists are politicians first and religious leaders second. They knew as well as anyone else that he was conning them. In America, when we speak about religion, all we need to do is follow the money. Qui bono. One pastor was candid about this:

Every Bible school and college, are we still going to be allowed to maintain our biblical positions? Are we going to lose government subsidized college loans? Are we going to lose tax-exempt status for churches?

Twenty-six percent of Hispanic Catholics chose Trump, while 60 percent of white Catholics did. Mormons, previously touted as disgusted with Trump, chose him by 61%. Jews are traditional Democrats and 71% of them supported Clinton – except for the Orthodox and Hassidic communities in Brooklyn, where Trump got 69%. Let’s call a “spade” a spade. What, we might ask, is the one thing these sects have in common besides their extremism, their in-group consciousness and their severe tests for admission into the core standing of the elect of god? It’s their whiteness.


Derek Beres writes:

It is surprising, from a doctrinal perspective, that political affiliation overrules spiritual belief. This forces us to confront a starker reality: religion is fluid and conforms to the tribe, which is opposite of how religion is usually advertised, as a pre-existing condition. If that were truly the case, Evangelicals, Protestants, Mormons, and Catholics would have never voted for the most uncharitable candidate in modern times. Voters might claim religious affiliation, but in an election like this the numbers paint an entirely opposite picture.

I’ll stand by the old standby: race. Evangelicals are concentrated in the same states that made up the Confederacy, the “solid South,” where de facto segregation, church bombings, police violence, defunded social programs, anti-gay laws and voter suppression exist side-by-side with, are indeed inseparable from Protestant religion.

Obvious but mostly superficial progress has transformed the social face of the South, but old beliefs and the myths that underlie them change very slowly. Please see my blog series “Hands up, Don’t Shoot: The Sacrifice of American Dionysus” for a longer discussion of this issue. For now, here are some thoughts from Chapter Ten of my book:

Since white supremacy was a religion, wrote theologian James Sellers, all threats to it took on mythic importance. “Segregation is a system of belief that would protect its devotees from…‘the powers of death and destruction’…It therefore becomes a holy path, complete with commandments, priests, theologians…” The question of actual guilt was often quite irrelevant. If the mob couldn’t apprehend the accused man, they’d randomly select one of his kinsmen for the sacrifice. Often, they ritually tortured him for hours before burning him at the stake. Then they distributed his remains like religious relics, for his death and dismemberment…had cleansed and unified them.

The myth of the Old South, writes Orlando Patterson, stated that the presence of the Other, not a slavery-based economy, had caused its shameful defeat. The ex-slave symbolized both violence and sin to an obsessed society. He was “obviously” enslaved to the flesh, and his skin invited a fusion of racial and religious symbolism. His “black” malignancy was to the body politic what Satan was to the soul. “The central ritual of this version of the Southern civil religion…was the human sacrifice of the lynch mob.”…Patterson writes, “…the burning cross distilled it all: sacrificed Negro joined by the torch with sacrificed Christ, burnt together and discarded…”

Such attitudes survive because black men represent the violence that whites can’t admit is a core part of the American soul. For over seventy years, lynching was the perfect symbolic tool to expiate it. “Today,” writes Patterson, “ we no longer lynch in public rituals supervised by local clergymen. Instead, the state hires the hangman to do it.”

Still, I hear the voice of the innocent liberal: Sure, many of his supporters are racists. But how could the vast majority of religiously identified people choose the most unashamedly irreligious person imaginable? The answer, we have to admit, is that they didn’t see it that way, because there was one more factor.

Chris Lehmann reminds us that American Protestantism has a long history, going back from Joel Osteen, Tony Robbins (with whom Trump has gone on motivational lecture tours) and Pat Robertson through Jerry Falwell and Norman Vincent Peale, all the way back to Jonathan Edwards and the original Puritans, in which worldly prosperity has been inextricable from, indeed proof of spiritual redemption.

Deep in the American psyche lies the firm belief that whether or not rich people actually worked for their money, they deserve it, that in fact God wanted them to succeed – and if you think positively enough for long enough, so can you. You can visualize yourself into a shared residence among the elect of God (this attitude of course, minus the fundamentalist moralizing, is also the bedrock of New Age thinking).

Lehmann writes:

Trump isn’t just a tireless doomsayer; he’s also an apostle of the upward-striving mantras of self-help, a lay preacher of the deepest fantasies and longings of the aspirational American soul. He draws his power from the age-old gospel of American success, the spiritual-cum-motivational faith that beholds the most lavish spectacles of unequal accumulation and pronounces them duly anointed blessings of the divine will…Trump’s political genius comes from his deft rhetorical maneuvering between the poles of apocalyptic despair and spectacular optimism…Trump understands that the specter of chaos and damnation only whets the wavering believer’s appetite for deliverance. Whether he’s scowling or beaming, invoking the immigrant hordes or the sensational ratings of The Apprentice, Trump comes bearing the tacit message that he is not merely the aggrieved voice of dispossessed Americans; he is also the embodiment of their greatest aspirations. He is, believe it or not, the nation’s premier positive thinker…This is the guiding directive in Trump’s preferred narrative of his otherwise far from self-evident personal success—and it’s just as powerful a driving force in his assured prophecy of an America that he will make great again.

Indeed, one of the primary exponents of the Prosperity Gospel (previously investigated by Senate for her shady fundraising practices) — is Paula White, who will be among those preaching at Trump’s inauguration.

In other words, there has been a large population deeply steeped in celebrity worship, the Prosperity Gospel and the expectations of white privilege. Trump saw them, claimed them – and added the proven Republican threat that people of color were taking resources that were meant for them. He stands, regardless of his style, squarely in the tradition of American Protestantism. The religious voted for him because they saw themselves – their spiritual selves – in him.

His ability to mix fear mongering and role modeling easily overcame his dreadful personal vulgarity among the religious because the shadow of the Prosperity Gospel is the old Puritan demonization of the poor (see my Chapter Seven). Back in our last gilded age, the Reagan years, Falwell himself had told us, “This is America. If you’re not a winner it’s your own fault.” And most Americans still tend, quite inaccurately, to equate poverty with dark skin. Even among liberals, let alone blatant racists, this remains true. Studies of inherent racial bias have confirmed that when we are asked to picture a poor person in our minds, 95% of us picture a Black person. And poor people, in our theology, deserve their fate.

Trump, like Reagan before him, evoked both ends of the mythic spectrum. He told his flock that they could have it both ways. They could get rich (if they emulated him) and they could retain their traditional values, while paying no price. They could be both Puritans and Opportunists in an America zoned all-white.

The moral: In America, race still trumps religion.

Race is the primary determinant of the fact that the white working class began to abandon the Democrats exactly when that party began to support the Civil Rights movement. In 1948, 66% of manual laborers voted Democratic. In 1964 that number was down to 55% and by 1980, just as Ronald Reagan was framing his message of soft racism, it was 35%. By the 2012 election, Democrats possessed only a 2-point advantage among poor whites. Among whites making $30-75,000 per year, the GOP has taken a 17-point lead.

Tamara Draut writes:

Trump was as likely to win affluent voters…as Clinton. This wasn’t a working-class revolt. It was a white revolt…Only white people had the luxury and the safety to ignore Trump’s promises to restore law and order, to deport millions…His phony economic populism was the icing on the cake…It was not the driving motivation… Not all Trump voters are racist, but they were willing to vote for a racist. Not all Trump voters are sexist, but they were willing to vote for a sexist. That is the definition of privilege.

Historically, whites have been privileged to believe in the American Dream, to share the expectation of constant progress into a better future, often with an absurd naiveté encouraged by the media. As I pointed out in Chapter Nine of my book,

We are similarly ignorant about one of our most fundamental values: social mobility, or the opportunity to get ahead. The likelihood of advancing in social class has decreased significantly since the 1980s. But 56% of those blue-collar men who correctly perceived Bush’s 2003 tax cuts as favoring the rich still supported them. The myth of the self-made man is as deeply engrained as our wild, naïve optimism; in 2000, 19% believed they would “soon” be in the top one percent income bracket, and another 19% thought they already were. Two-thirds expect to have to pay the estate tax one day (only two percent will).

There is a deep and universal mythological theme around the archetypal image of The King, who symbolizes order, blessing and fertility, our deepest aspirations. Throughout most of history and literature, the King and other members of the nobility (a word whose etymology indicates self-knowledge) have often carried these hopes for the entire community. But in our demythologized America, with its emphasis on democracy, self-improvement and upward mobility, we have always lacked such figures. What we’ve had instead is the culture of celebrity.

Our American hero mythology provides us with a paucity of images. If we cannot be heroes, or in economic terms, winners – our only option is to identify as victims, or as Trump would say, losers. We’re kicked off the island, because we deserve it. And this is because our Puritan heritage teaches us that wealth is a sign of being among the Elect of God, while poverty indicates the opposite. As political activists we may despise the rich, but as Americans, we generally prefer to emulate them.

But it’s not the refined Ivy-educated, snooty, proper-English-speaking upper class that Americans want to join. For decades, Hollywood has made fun of such people. What we love are men who have made it on their own (or so we’re told) but remain loyal to their roots, guys who retain their working-class values and language and tweak the noses of the gentry. Think Reagan. Think George W. Bush (not his father). Think Trump. Draut argues that Trump’s victory

…didn’t happen because you like chardonnay and the white working class likes beer. Thinking that this vote comes down to where people shop, the television shows they watch or what kind of alcohol they like to drink after a long day of work is an elitist reduction of people to their consumer habits.

Perhaps, but I’d strongly recommend a little-known classic from 1992, Paul Fussell’s Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, a book which presents itself as humorous but is in fact deadly serious. Fussell argued that in America, where we pride ourselves on not having a traditional, European class system and where anyone (or so we’re told) can “make it,” we advertise our degrees of value not necessarily with our money but by our styles of living.

Class is not the same as wealth; it’s all about symbols. He gives as an example the size of the balls we play with indicates our actual social class, from basketballs to golf balls. Of course, he spends an entire book making his arguments, but he concluded, for another example, that Ronald Reagan (Reagan’s image, that is, or what we’d now call his brand) was “high-prole.” Or more importantly, he appealed to people in the upper working class who had aspirations to rise higher but not to change their styles and tastes.

This is why, according to Joan C. Williams, “the white working class…resents professionals but admires the rich”:

…Michèle Lamont, in The Dignity of Working Men, also found resentment of professionals — but not of the rich. “[I] can’t knock anyone for succeeding,” a laborer told her. “There’s a lot of people out there who are wealthy and I’m sure they worked darned hard for every cent they have,” chimed in a receiving clerk. Why the difference? For one thing, most blue-collar workers have little direct contact with the rich outside of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. But professionals order them around every day. The dream is not to become upper-middle-class, with its different food, family, and friendship patterns; the dream is to live in your own class milieu, where you feel comfortable — just with more money…Hillary Clinton, by contrast, epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect.

In 2016 they voted for a racist for all the reasons enumerated above. But they also voted for a New York billionaire with the most vulgar, misogynist and ostentatious lifestyle, a motor-mouth (or at least a brand) with no social graces or politically correct censor on his opinions, an “outsider” who insulted the people in tweeds, a man with unlimited money but no taste who gilded his toilet seats, just because he could. He was a man they could imagine having a beer with, unlike that black patrician in the White House. He’s a high-prole, and they could imagine becoming like him, if he’d only get the niggers out of the way.

Work hard, rise in social class. This was their historical, if wildly inaccurate, expectation. But by 2000 they had also been hearing for thirty years that the pie was shrinking, and that undeserving minorities were grabbing the crumbs away from them.

Trump offered them no economic plan, just the old Southern strategy: blame blacks and browns (and now a black president) for their problems, and frame government as favoring people of color. The genius of the Republicans was to sense their class anger, combine it with racial anxiety and turn it away from its appropriate targets and toward liberals by speaking the language of American myth. Draut is right, at least at this level: “…we’ve got to grapple with the reality that we lost this election largely due to white privilege.”

And there is one more issue that ties class to race: money. Cui Bono, follow the money. Trump strode onto a racially charged stage that had been prepared for years by the lilly-white Tea Party movement and its hatred of a black president. Remember them? They’re now in charge of the government. Trump the con man grabbed their paranoid birther fantasies and ran with them. No Tea Party, no Trump. And the Tea Party itself, as even Time Magazine admits (, was created and extravagantly funded by none other than the Koch brothers. No Koch money, no Tea Party, no Trump.

The moral: In America, race still trumps social class, but it needs a little help from the super-rich.

But we need to go deeper.

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“Stripping and Flipping” — Voter Suppression and Computer Fraud

The Democrats were defeated because of their own insolent incompetence, because of our antiquated electoral college system and because race is still the dominant factor in American life. That said, Clinton won more than the popular vote, and by over two million. She almost certainly won the Electoral College as well.

To go deeper, we have to get apocalyptic (to lift the veil from our eyes) and understand the dark side of our electoral system. Already in March of this year Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman warned of “Disturbing signs of the time-tested ‘Strip and Flip’ strategy for stealing elections”:

The core approach is to STRIP citizens of their voting rights, then FLIP the electronic vote count if that’s not enough to guarantee a win for the corporate 1%…Historically, “stripping” has been based on race. It’s rooted in the divide-and-conquer strategies of slavery and Jim Crow segregation. Today it centers on racist demands for photo ID and other scams designed to prevent blacks, Hispanics, the young and the poor from voting.

Why did industrial swing states (see below) won by Obama flip to Trump? Clearly, African-Americans and other progressives stayed home because Clinton couldn’t motivate them as he had, and some of his white supporters went to Trump.

Those innocents who naively believe the narrative of fair elections probably assume that this explains everything.

Damn the conventional wisdom. We may well find the answer in pursuing another question: Why, despite the polls favoring Clinton, did the vast majority of high-rolling, last-minute gamblers bet on Trump?

Yes, this was reported in the media, but no one seems to have paid it much attention, except for other gamblers. Before you cast the conspiracy theory hood over me (the conventional means of shutting down discussions), shouldn’t we ask what these pros knew? Did they think that the FBI revelations would sway large numbers of voters? Or did they know that millions of people would not be able to vote – or that their votes would not be counted? We might also ask, as Fitrakis and Wasserman do:

Those who dismiss such warnings as “conspiracy theory” might confront this simple question: “How will the electronic vote count in the 2016 election be verified?” The answer is simple: “It can’t be.”

In 2010, I wrote this in Chapter Ten of my book:

The U.S. is the only democracy that disenfranchises felons, over five million people, two million of whom are black. This simple fact has utterly determined the course of recent history. The more African-Americans a state contains, the more likely it is to ban felons. The average state disenfranchises 2.4 percent of its voting-age population but 8.4 percent of blacks. In fourteen states, the share of blacks stripped of the vote exceeds ten percent, and in five states it exceeds twenty percent. While seventy-five percent of whites register, only sixty percent of blacks can. Seven Republican senators owe their election to these laws. Had felons been allowed to vote in 2000, Al Gore’s popular vote margin would have doubled to a million. If Florida had allowed just ex-felons to vote, he would have carried the state by 30,000 votes and with it the presidency.

Since then, the number of disenfranchised voters has risen considerably. voterid-001-701x467 The vast majority of them are poor, working and incarcerated people, and had they been allowed to participate, they certainly would have propelled Democrats into landslide victories with progressive mandates. And this condition existed before the Supreme Court disemboweled the Voting Rights Act. This election was the first in fifty years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act, and the numbers of the disenfranchised are certainly only the tip of the iceberg.

These numbers do not include Americans residing in Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands and the U.S. Virgin Islands, all of whom are considered U.S. nationals, not citizens and can vote in primaries but not the general election. This is an aggregate population of nearly four million people – nearly all of them people of color.

They are part of a much larger group, those who for all reasons are ineligible to vote, including prisoners and college students on campuses not in their home districts. The adult population according to Wikipedia is 245 million, and 220 million are eligible to vote (about half of whom actually do). This results in a staggering number: some fifteen to twenty million American adults are not allowed to vote. votersuppression_infog-2_700 But many of them once could vote and have been stripped – quite deliberately, in Republican-controlled states – of their legitimate rights. Two articles by Greg Palast, here and here, show the grim details and the astonishing numbers of voter suppression in America.

Because of the Supreme Court ruling, fourteen states had restrictive new voting laws on the books this year: Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin. map_0Almost all of them saw decreased turnout and went to Trump, with the exception of tiny New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Virginia. These last three states are the only ones of the fourteen with Democratic governors. More on this later. Much more.

The liberal post-election narrative wants to blame African-Americans for Clinton’s loss. Clearly, thousands of them could not stomach voting for her. But those who retained their eligibility this year found it much harder to vote even if they wanted to.

In one of many examples, the changes to the Voting Act allowed the worst offending states to reduce the number of polling places by nearly nine hundred. In several states this means that people of color (most assuredly not white suburban voters) had to drive long distances in order to stand in line for several hours. Such scenes were repeated in African-American precincts in most of the swing states.

And when they finally got inside, hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions, according to Palast – learned that they would not be allowed to vote. tried-to-vote

Shall we go even deeper?

Read Part 6 here

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It Can’t Happen Here

In pursuing what led to the Trump “victory” – yes, I’m putting that in quotes – we’re beginning to observe an ongoing conflict between two themes: Lesser of two evils vs Cognitive Dissonance. As for the first, it’s clear by now, with two astoundingly unpopular major candidates, that literally millions of people on both sides held their noses and chose the least unfavorable, the one whose promises overrode their perceived character. That’s a rational position, regardless of which side it comes from.

But the more irrational process of cognitive dissonance goes farther in explaining how we justify our opinions. George Lakoff, in one of the best articles on voting preferences that I’ve seen so far , writes:

If facts don’t fit the worldviews in our brains, the facts may not even be noticed, or they may be puzzling, ignored or rejected outright, or if threatening, attacked. All of these happen in politics…

This happened and is happening on all points of the spectrum. On the right, it takes the form of He doesn’t really mean those terrible things he says – or – He’s vulgar and ignorant of Scripture but deep down he’s really a Christian. It takes the form of Jews praising Steve Bannon. Since the election, the corporate media have fallen all over themselves “normalizing” this fascist.

On the left, despite the many insightful articles I’ve been referencing above, cognitive dissonance takes the form of refusal to accept the extraordinary corruption and criminality at the core of the Republican campaign. And 2016 was nothing new. As I write in Chapter Eight of my book:

A half-century before the “Neo-Cons,” reactionaries were willing to say absolutely anything to amplify fear. From this point on, we can follow the predatory imagination to its logical extreme – doing whatever is necessary. But the myth of Good Intentions is so pervasive that generations would pass before liberals, innocent believers in “fair play,” would begin to acknowledge that conservatives had never played by the rules.

By 1968, when Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger struck a last-minute deal with the Vietnamese government to prolong the war, doing whatever is necessary became standard Republican election strategy. The term “October Surprise” came into use four years later and into common usage in 1980, when the Reagan campaign struck their own last-minute deal with the Iranian government. Mass acceptance of the phrase came after the 2000 election, which ushered in the era of disenfranchisement and electronic voter fraud.

Then we have the question of Russians hacking the DNC’s emails, an idea which circulated so widely for so long – at least until the day after the election – that most people assumed first of all that it was true and secondly that it meant something. The consensus that it was true did have one effect – it served to deflect media attention from the content of the emails that had been revealed, or at least to the extent that no one seems to have polled anyone about whether the information actually caused them to change their vote. My conclusion: as Tony Soprano said, forgedaboudit.

Still, when FBI Director Comey revealed the new investigation of Clinton, I was amazed at how many times I heard conventional media spokespersons casually speak of an October Surprise, as if they expected that their viewers wouldn’t be surprised at such shenanigans. gettyimages-610924744 Despite my knowledge of long-term dirty tricks happening shortly before most presidential elections, I’ll admit to a bit of my own naiveté. I thought, “At this late date could it be possible that anyone in the country is still undecided, that anyone who will vote is still wondering: Hillary or Donald? This is non-news; it means nothing.” Apparently, I was wrong. Kevin Drum writes that

…the news of the investigation accelerated the shift of a largely hidden rural mass of voters toward Trump…People who decided on their vote during the last week—after Comey wrote his letter—broke strongly for Trump. People who decided on their vote during the last couple of days—after Comey cleared Clinton—broke about evenly.

When did you decide your vote?

Clinton           Trump

Last Week (6%)             38%                 50%

Last few days (8%)       44%                46%

Mike Davis agrees: “A crucial cohort of college-educated white Republican women appeared to have rallied to Trump in the last week of the campaign after having wavered in previous polling.”

On many levels we can perceive the election as expressing disputes between various groups within the “deep state.” While Clinton retained the loyalty of most of the national security apparatus, the domestic security community – the national police, if you prefer – was divided between the Justice Department, led by Obama appointees, and the FBI. There, sources told The Guardian that there was much antipathy toward her. “The FBI is Trumpland,” said one current agent.

So much goes on at these levels, under the table so to speak, that all we can do is speculate. But it seems likely that the notion of “Republicans vs Democrats” was the most superficial. And such speculation can only lead us toward guessing about why “they” wanted us to vote or not vote. However, everyone, informed or not, racist or not, made their own choices.

The first four sections of this essay have dealt with various approaches to the question of why people voted the way they did. Now we’ll have to move toward the question of whether they actually voted. And once we do, all we’ve said about Democratic incompetence (not the neoliberalism) will prove to be completely irrelevant.

We need to go deeper.

Read Part 5 here

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Groping is a healthy thing to do. When you’re heterosexual, you grope, okay? –   Female Trump supporter.

 Race and Gender

I predicted during the Democratic primaries that

…Clinton will almost certainly win the nomination because she swept these states – none of which the Democrats have the slightest hope of winning in November. So her Southern support will prove to be crucial to her nomination but useless in the general election, where Republicans will continue to sweep the South…This bears repeating: Hillary swept the Old South in the primaries, but she has no hope of getting any of their votes in the Electoral College. Partially because of voter suppression…and partially because of old-fashioned racism…these states will all go to Donald Trump.

Some writers have compared this period to the 1860s, and I have to agree. In Chapter Eight of my book I tried to understand what motivated soldiers who fought for the Confederacy:

…we wonder why several hundred thousand dirt-poor whites who couldn’t afford to own slaves defended this cause so savagely. We must conclude that they fought not to save slavery (which was against their own economic interests), but to perpetuate white privilege. It was all they had.

It really is a similar time. We are talking about the breakdown of the myth of American Innocence and the collapse of one of its core assumptions, the heroic, ruggedly individualistic, working-class white male worker/provider. As in previous times of economic and social instability, racism increases as a reaction to the perceived danger to white male identity.

David Masciotra argues that “…black progress is the trigger of white rage… As soon as people of color start setting terms for coexistence, the mask comes off and a beast comes out.” He lives in a small town in Indiana, where

…white Americans are not studying the numbers of NAFTA and contemplating the strengths and weaknesses of protectionism. Many are practicing a soft racism, though, invisible to the naked eye too easily distracted by the overt bigotry of white supremacists…

In this election, in addition, the gender gap expanded to the widest in history. However, while it was no surprise that white men were Trump’s base, we have to ask: despite his disgusting and vulgar misogyny, despite majority support for abortion rights,  despite Republican policies designed to hurt women, why did 53% of white women support him?

We know this from exit polls. Everything we are told about who voted and why comes from thousands of interviews conducted by professional poll takers as people exited the polling booths. More on this later. Much more.

Seen from a certain perspective, every election since 1964 has been about race, and this was no different, as the post-election spike in harassment and hate crimes confirms. Granted, Clinton was deeply unpopular, but Trump’s message, obvious to everyone but the most naïve, was “Make America white again.” Here is statistical support for this argument.

We must acknowledge that in American myth, white privilege and fear – specifically the fear of the racialized Other – still outweigh gender solidarity, not to mention rational self-interest. Chapter Seven of my book describes how, for over three hundred years, the elites and their gatekeepers have manipulated narratives of the sacred responsibility to protect the purity of “their” women and to ignore their privileges by identifying as victims of the truly oppressed.

And more white women than we might have thought are still willing to consume such stories. How about those with college degrees? The Trump support numbers go down only to 51%. Think about that number. We are not talking Audience member Robin Roy reacts as U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump greets her at a campaign rally in Lowellabout working class men who are anxious about their declining authority and lost jobs; we’re talking about women who in countless offices and bureaucratic situations are their bosses. We’re talking about women who have attained agency and self-determination, many of whom consider themselves feminists, but who are still terrified by the prospect of muggers and terrorists.

About that new narrative of rural voters: it turns out that average Trump voters are not uneducated, they don’t live in the country, and their income is over $70,000/year, much higher than both the national average and the incomes of Clinton and Sanders voters. And rural voters, who usually vote Republican anyway, made up only 17% of the electorate. Such people had not suffered under Obama; indeed they had thrived, writes Eric Sasson:

They’re not suffering or desperate, and have no concrete reason to hate the status quo or to feel like they are in decline. They understand that Trump is manifestly unprepared to be president, have heard his many lies and insults, yet voted for him anyway.

Trump’s support came from the same Republican base that supported Mitt Romney and all their predecessors who have manipulated the white vote and its racialized fears for generations (despite the Republican leaders who briefly repudiated him), plus some disaffected working-class people. And quite a few of them were the women that Clinton had expected would support her.

Is it possible to be financially comfortable, to believe in women’s equality (the vast majority of both genders do), and still hold racist beliefs, or at the very least, irrational fear of dark skin? Apparently so. L. V. Anderson writes:

…the biggest and saddest reason white women chose Trump over Clinton is simple: racism…They wanted to vote on the side of white men. White women decided that defending their position of power as white people was more important than defending their reproductive rights, their sexual autonomy, their access to health care, family leave, and child care…Most white women still identify more with white men than they do with black women, Latina women, Muslim women, transwomen…

Michael Moore argues that race was not the primary factor:

You have to accept that millions of people who voted for Barack Obama, some of them once, some of them twice, changed their minds this time. They’re not racist. They twice voted for a man whose middle name is Hussein. That’s the America you live in.

May it be so. Maybe such people would have been open to a progressive candidate. Maybe they would have voted for Sanders. But the fact remains that Clinton received far fewer votes than Obama. Perhaps the changed minds he refers to had more to do with staying home. Meanwhile, the Ku Klux Klan is having a victory parade.

Masciotra disagrees:

The soft racist gets along with his black and Latino coworkers, waves to the Arab neighbors, and gives a friendly greeting to the parents of color at his child’s school, but all the while he feels that America is his country. The virtue of his whiteness gives him ownership. Should a black president, or a Black Lives Matter protest, or a Latino presence in his neighborhood threaten his sense of entitlement, superiority and authority, he feels resentful, even hateful.

But we need to go deeper.

Read Part 3 of this blog series here

Read more…

9142454453?profile=originalWhen I met Chris Hedges online for our recent interview together, I could see why Pacifica Graduate Institute invited him to speak at their milestone 40th anniversary celebration conference, Climates of Change and the Therapy of Ideas, which takes place April 21-24, 2016, in Santa Barbara, CA.

As a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Hedges carries with him nearly two decades of experience reporting from war-torn countries like Yugoslavia, El Salvador, and also Gaza and South Sudan. In this capacity, he has witnessed the decline and disintegration of multiple societies, a perspective which has surely influenced his capacity regard the decline and potential destruction of our own modern culture that seems severely out of order.

He has been described, more than once, as being “dark,” which, from a depth psychological perspective, I’m quick to assure him, is actually a compliment. Depth psychology insists we look under the surface and in the margins of things in order to better understand them, and then requires that we witness and hold what we find in spite of the darkness from which we might easily prefer to flee. Chris appears to take this in stride: recognizing and carrying the knowledge that contemporary society is facing its own morbidity, in some ways, has fallen squarely on his shoulders.

9142454492?profile=originalHedges notes that, as both individuals and civilizations, we encounter cycles of growth, maturation, decadence, and decay, and death. In contemporary society—especially modern society—we can see the signs of morbidity around us, in our boundless use of harmful fossil fuels, in much sought-after expansion beyond the capacity to sustain ourselves, and in the physical decay of the environment and in the places we inhabit.

There are common patterns and common responses to decline and collapse across eras and cultures. While our culture is more technologically advanced in comparison with that of Easter Island, for example, it is arguable that human nature has not really changed. Who was it that cut down the last tree on Easter Island, for example? He wasn’t thinking, Hedges asserts, and neither are we today! Since the Jungian viewpoint is that we are each on our own journey of individuation, increasing consciousness... (Click here to read the full post)

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Unconscious Cultural Conditioning

How much are each of us unconsciously conditioned by the culture we live in, and how profoundly does it affect us? Sometimes our thoughts, beliefs, values, and behaviors stemming from our individual cultures are so pervasive and embedded that we can't perceive them the old adage about describing water to a fish. 

9142452285?profile=originalResearchers who go into other cultures to study them often go in with their own lens to try and find data...and of course, the data they find is typical of the researchers own culture because it has to go through their own cultural filters. 

Patricia M. Coleman, Harvard-trained Professor of Psychology sums up a fascinating study:

“Cole, Gay, Glick, and Sharp (1971) took an object-sorting task to Liberia, where they presented it to their Kpelle participants. There were 20 objects that divided evenly into the linguistic categories of food, implements, food containers, and clothing.

Instead of doing the taxonomic sorts expected by the researchers, participants persistently made functional pairings (Glick, 1968). For example, rather than sorting objects into groups of tools and foods, participants would put a potato and a knife together because “you take the knife and cut the potato” (Cole et al., 1971, pg. 79).

According to Glick, participants often justified their pairings by stating “that a wise man could only do such and such” (Glick, 1968, p. 13). In total exasperation, the researchers “finally said, ‘How would a fool do it?’ The result was a set of nice linguistically ordered categories—four of them with five items each” (Glick, 1968, p. 13).

In short, the researchers’ criterion for intelligent behavior was the participants’ criterion for foolish; the participants’ criterion for wise behavior was the researchers’ criterion for stupid.”

—Greenfield, P. M. (1997). You can’t take it with you: Why ability assessments don’t cross cultures. American Psychologist, 52(10), 1115-1124.

These kind of mistaken assumptions was also a significant factor in the way First Peoples were so harshly treated by their respective colonizers throughout history. Colonizers brought their own expectations and lenses and thrust their belief systems on those they were colonizing. Forcing indigenous individuals to dress in the European way, insisting their children go to school, and converting them to Christianity are just a few of the ways that dominant cultures have acted out their unconscious, insensitive beliefs at to the detriment of others throughout history.

While some on the side of colonization no doubt believed they were doing the (only) right thing, and perhaps had good intentions, a depth perspective insists we must always try to bracket our beliefs (that is, consciously acknowledge them as our own and set them aside) and they try to put ourselves in the other's shoes.

There's just no way we can begin to understand a culture we did not grow up in, unless we, too are embedded in it for a very long time. I remember a professor telling me in a culture class when I was an undergrad that it's really difficult for a person who learns a second language to properly adopt and use expletives because someone who is foreign to the culture and language will always lack the innate nuance that is required to properly swear! I thought this was funny at the time, but it always stuck with me and I have paid attention to it over the years when I met people who did it. Sure enough, at times, it can seem incongruent, inappropriate, harsh, or out of place when it occurs.

While we may not be able to change our own cultural conditioning, awareness goes a long way to being open to the fact that when something bothers us about someone from another culture, it's not the whole story. We might first turn the lens of inquiry on ourselves to be open to the fact that we are different from each other, even if it's not always obvious why. When we can start to be more tolerant of differing belief systems, even if we don't agree with them, we begin to feed the world soul and enable our inherent connectivity as human beings to emerge.

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