Turbulent Times: Is America Coming Undone?

Psychological Perspectives on Current Events & the 2016 Presidential Election

Clinton and Trump FaceoffFREE Webinar Featuring Murray Stein, Luigi Zoja, Nancy Furlotti, Nathan Schwartz-Salant, Steve Buser, and Pythia Peay

A Live Global Webinar
Originally Held August 11, 2016
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“It’s hard not to think sometimes that the center might not hold, that things might get worse. . .We must reject such despair.” President Barak Obama, from his memorial for slain officers in Dallas, Texas.

“These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” Thomas Paine, The American Crisis

It is has become the mantra that has defined one of the most charged moments in recent times: that this is a presidential election unlike any other, taking place during a chaotic time of roiling unrest, at home and abroad. A time when a cluster of explosive political issues, from terrorism to racism to climate change, has each taken on a demanding urgency—even as the country is divided along partisan and economic lines. Adding to the volatility, President Barack Obama is poised to make his final exit from the political stage—a president who, whether we agreed with his policies or not, has governed with statesmanship, whose family has been a model of grace under pressure, and whose election as the nation’s first black president represents a high point in our history.

Against this backdrop, the current nominees, two of the most disliked candidates in the past ten election cycles, can seem almost like a fall from the height of one of our best achievements. On the Republican side is entrepreneur and reality TV star Donald Trump: a wealthy businessman who has never held public office, and who exhibits disturbing racist, misogynistic, and authoritarian tendencies, and who possesses an unpredictable temperament. On the Democratic side is Hillary Clinton, whose substantive political experience and glass-ceiling-shattering, history-making nomination as the first woman to run for president has been marred by ongoing investigations and the baggage she carries as President Bill Clinton’s wife.

shutterstock_386557372 croppedIt is at just such a time that wise voices are called for from thinkers who can help bring insight to the problems we face as a country. Psychologists, who have available to them a body of knowledge on human nature unique to the modern era, and who daily witness how the American dream shapes the day-to-day lives of the country’s citizens, are among those who occupy the kind of sane middle ground so needed at this critical juncture. To learn more about the collective psychology of this political moment and the deeper currents underlying the 2016 Presidential election, psychiatrist Dr. Steve Buser, MD and the Asheville Jung Center will bring together a panel of four noted psychoanalysts—Murray Stein, Nancy Furlotti, Nathan Schwartz-Salant and Luigi Zoja—to offer their perspectives into the unconscious forces, complexes, and other patterns as they are played out with great political theater during the conventions and debates. Moderated by depth journalist Pythia Peay, the panel will address these topics:    

—The psychological background of this particular historic moment.
—The psychology of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, as well as the psychology of Republicans and Democrats, and what they each  of the candidates and their parties reveal about the psychology of America at this time.
—Racial tension, and the rise of Black Lives Matter and the marginalization of economically disadvantaged white men.
—Violence and terrorism.
—Polarization, economic and political.
—Climate change denial.
—The anxiety of being an American voter, and as a psychological consequence of democracy but most especially in these times
—Healing symbols to guide the country forward.

While we certainly don’t aim to solve these problems, or even to address each of these issues in their totality, we do hope to do our part in helping the country hold together during this fragile period, without fragmenting into factions. We aim to do this by helping voters stay connected to the process of understanding the political issues as they are thrown into sharp relief during the campaign process, as well as their own unconscious responses, empowering them to stay in the fray without getting overwhelmed so that they can cast the vote that best represents their vision for the country. Finally, we also aim to satisfy the need for a deeper relationship to the complex problems of our time than is provided by the mainstream media.Watch Now Button

 

PANELIST BIOS:

perf6.000x9.000.inddMurray Stein, Ph.D. is a graduate of the C.G. Jung Institute of Zurich and of Yale University, Yale Divinity School and the University of Chicago. He is a founding member of The Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts and the Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts. He was president of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (IAAP) from 2001 to 2004 and President of The International School of Analytical Psychology Zurich from 2008-2012. He has lectured internationally and is the author of In MidLife, Jung’s Map of the Soul, Minding the Self, and Soul – Retrieval and Treatment as well of numerous articles on analytical psychology and Jungian psychoanalysis. He is the Jungian editor for the Edinburgh Encyclopedia of Psychoanalysis as well as the editor of Jungian Psychoanalysis. He lives in Switzerland and is a Training and Supervising Analyst with ISAP Zurich, where he has a private practice.

Luigi Zoja, Ph.D., a native of Italy, received his diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C.G. Jung Institute of Zurich, where he has also been a training analyst. He is the past president of CIPA (Centro Italiano di Psicologia Analitica) and the IAAP (International Association of Analystical Psychology), and has taught at the State University of Palermo and the University of Insubria in Italy, and at the University of Macao in China. He is the award-winning author of numerous papers and books that have been published in fifteen languages, including Growth and Guilt, The Father, The Global Nightmare: Jungian Perspectives on September 11, (ed.), Violence in History, Culture and the Psyche and the forthcoming book, Paranoia: The Madness that Makes History.

 Nancy Furlotti, Ph.D., is a Jungian Analyst, co-chair of the C.G. Jung Professorial Endowment in Analytical Psychology, UCLA, and board member at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She is a past president of the Los Angeles Jung Institute, and past co-president of the Philemon Foundation. Her longstanding interests include Mesoamerican mythology, the nature of evil, dreams, and the environment. She has written numerous articles, and co-edited The Dream and its Amplification with Erel Shalit. Through her publishing imprint, Recollections, she brings into print works by first generation Jungians, such as Erich Neumann.

Nathan Schwartz-Salant received his doctorate in Engineering Science from the University of California, Berkeley, and then trained as a Jungian analyst in Zurich, Switzerland, earning a diploma in 1970. He has written a number of books orienting Jung’s work towards clinical practice. His latest book, to be published in 2017, is The Order-Disorder Paradox: Understanding the Hidden Side of Change in Self and Society.

Host Steve Buser, MD is a psychiatrist in private practice in Asheville, NC. He trained in medicine at Duke University and served 12 years as a physician in the US Air Force. He spent his final year in the military in the Republic of Panama and is reasonably fluent in Spanish. In 2008 he completed a 2 year clinical training program at the Jung Institute of Chicago and subsequently founded the Asheville Jung Center, bringing internationally known Jungian speakers to a world wide audience via internet technology. He is active in the community and strives to integrate faith and spirituality into his treatment. He has been engaged in cutting edge research, including the use of advanced neurostimulation technologies in psychiatry (Vagus Nerve Stimulation and Deep Brain Stimulation)

 Moderator Pythia Peay is an author, speaker, and award-winning depth journalist on psychology, spirituality, and the American psyche. Over a span of more than thirty years, her work has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers, including Religion News Service, The Washington Post, Utne Magazine and elsewhere. Currently she writes the “America on the Couch” blog for both The Huffington Post and Psychology Today and is the author of American Icarus: A Memoir of Father and Country and America on the Couch: Psychological Perspectives on American Politics and Culture (Lantern Books, 2015).Watch Now Button

Comments (2)

  • Avatar

    Judith Harte

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    Very interesting. Topic!
    Looking forward to listening in!
    Judith Harte,Ph.d. LMFT

    Reply

  • Avatar

    Joseph Leone

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    M. ESTHER HARDING’S POST-WWII THOUGHTS AS PERTINENT TO THE CURRENT AMERICAN PSYCHE
    Harding wrote Psychic Energy: Its Source and Its Transformation, first published in 1948, with its Foreword written by Jung in 1947. I have excerpted quotes from the text (pp. 3-9) that, in my estimation, can be clearly related to our current political, social, and cultural situation in America. A crossroads seems to have been reached with choices to be made. My hope is that we may approach what confronts us as consciously and responsibly as possible. The following material is directly from Harding. My own attendant thoughts are designated in brackets.
    Beneath the decent façade of consciousness with its disciplined moral order and its good intentions lurk the crude instinctive forces of life, like monsters of the deep—devouring, begetting, warring endlessly. They are for the most part unseen, yet on their urge and energy life itself depends … But were they left to function unchecked, life would lose its meaning … In creating civilization man sought, however unconsciously, to curb these natural forces and to channel some part at least of their energy into forms that would serve a different purpose. For with the coming of consciousness, cultural and psychological values began to compete with the purely biological aims of unconscious functioning.
    Throughout history two factors have been at work in the struggle to bring about the control and discipline of these non-personal, instinctive forces of the psyche. Social controls and the demands of material necessity have exerted a powerful discipline from without, while an influence of perhaps even great potency has been applied from within the individual himself, in the form of symbols and experiences of a numinous character … So powerful indeed were these experiences that they became the core of religious dogmas and rituals that in turn have influenced the large mass of the people. That these religious forms have had power to curb the violence and ruthlessness of the primitive instincts to such an extent and for so long a time is a matter for the greatest wonder … It must mean that the symbols of a particular religion were peculiarly adapted to satisfy the urge of the conflicting inner forces, even lacking the aid of conscious understanding, and in many cases without the individual’s having himself participated in the numinous experience on which the ritual was originally based.
    So long as the religious and social forms are able to contain and in some measure to satisfy the inner and outer life needs of the individuals who make up a community, the instinctive forces lie dormant … Yet at times they awaken … and then the noise and tumult of their elemental struggle break in upon our ordered lives and rouse us rudely from our dreams of peace and contentment. Nevertheless we try to blind ourselves to the evidence of their untamed power, and delude ourselves into believing that man’s rational mind has conquered not only the world of nature around him but also the world of natural, instinctive life within.
    These childish beliefs have received not a few shocks of late. The increase in power that science has made available to man has not been equaled by a corresponding increase in the development and wisdom of human beings; and the upsurge of instinctive energies that has occurred in the last twenty-five years in the political field has not as yet been adequately controlled, let alone tamed or converted to useful ends. Yet for the most part we continue to hope that we will be able to reassert the ascendancy of reasonable, conscious control without any very radical concomitant change in man himself. It is of course obviously easier to assume that the problem lies outside of one’s own psyche than to undertake responsibility for that which lurks within oneself … Can we be so sure that the instinctive forces that caused the dynamic upheavals in Europe, and obliterated in a decade the work of centuries of civilization, are really limited by geographical or racial boundaries to the people of other nations? May they not, like the monsters of the deep, have access to all oceans? … Is “our sea”—the unconscious as we participate in it—exempt from such upheavals?
    The force that lay behind the revolutionary movements in Europe was not something consciously planned for or voluntarily built up; it arose spontaneously from the hidden sources of the Germanic psyche, being evoked perhaps but not consciously made by will power [and it is here that the comparison to our American circumstances may come to mind]. It erupted from unfathomable depths and overthrew the surface culture that had been in control for so many years. This dynamic force seemingly had as its aim the destruction of everything that the work of many centuries had laboriously built up and made apparently secure, to the end that the aggressors might enrich themselves in the resulting chaos, at the expense of all other peoples, meanwhile ensuring that none would be left with sufficient strength to endanger the despoilers for centuries to come.
    The excuse the offered for their disregard of international law and the rights of others was their own fundamental needs had been denied. They justified their actions on the ground of instinctual compulsion, the survival urge that requires living space, defensible frontiers, and access to raw materials—demands in the national sphere corresponding to the imperatives of the instinct of self-preservation in the individual.
    The aggressors claimed that the gratification of an instinct on the lowest biological level is an inalienable right, regardless of what means are employed for its satisfaction: “My necessity is of paramount importance; it has divine sanction… Your necessity, by comparison, is of no importance at all.” This attitude is either cynically egotistic or incredibly naïve. The Germans are a Western people and have been under Christian influence for centuries; they might therefore be expected to be psychologically and culturally mature. Were this the case, would not the whole nation have to be judged to be antisocial and criminal? It was not only the Nazi overlords, with their ruthless ideology, who disregarded the rights of others so foully; the whole nation manifested a naïve egocentricity akin to that of a young child … and this, rather than a conscious and deliberate criminality, may perhaps account for their gullibility and their acquiescence in the Nazi regime. Deep within the German unconscious, forces that were not contained or held in check by the archetypal symbols of the Christian religion, but had flowed back into pagan forms, notably Wotanism [regressive because focused on the individual in contradistinction to the collective focus of Christianity], were galvanized into life by the Nazi call. For that which is the ideal or the virtue of an outworn culture is the antisocial crime of its more evolved and civilized successor.
    The energy that could change the despondent and disorganized Germany of 1930 into the highly organized and optimistic, almost daemonically powerful nation of a decade later, must have arisen from deeply buried sources … These dramatic changes swept over the country like an incoming tide or a flood brought about by the release of dynamic forces that had formerly lain quiescent in the unconscious. The Nazi leaders seized upon the opportunity brought within their reach by this “tide in affairs of men.” They were able to do this because they were themselves the first victims of the revolutionary dynamism surging up from the depths, and they recognized that a similar force was stirring in the mass of the people; they had but to call it forth and release it from the civilized restraints that still ruled the ordinary, decent folk. If these forces has not been already active in the unconscious of the German people as a whole, the Nazi agitators would have preached their new doctrine in vain; they would have appeared to the people as criminals or lunatics, and by no means would have been able to arouse popular enthusiasm or to dominate the nation for twelve long years.
    The spirit of this dynamism is directly opposed to the spirit of civilization. The first seeks life in movement, change, exploitation; the second has sought throughout the ages to create a form wherein life may expand, may build, may make secure. And indeed Christian civilization, despite all its faults and shortcomings [which are legion], represents the best that man in his inadequacy has as yet succeeded in evolving. … Crimes against … humanity are constantly being perpetrated not only in overt acts but also … through ignorance and … ego-oriented attitudes. Consequently the needs of the weak have been largely disregarded, and the strong have had things their own way.
    But those who are materially and psychologically less well endowed have as large as share of instinctive desire and as strong a will to live as the more privileged. These natural longings, so persistently repressed, cannot remain quiescent indefinitely. It is not so much that the individual rebels—the masses of the people being proverbially patient—but nature rebels in him: the forces of the unconscious boil over when the time is ripe. The danger of such an eruption is not, however, limited to the less fortunate in society, for the instinctive desires of many of the more fortunate likewise have been suppressed, not by a greedy upper class but by the too rigid domination of the moral code and conventional law. This group also shows signs of rebellion and may break forth in uncontrollable violence, as has so recently happened in Germany. If this should happen elsewhere, the energies unleashed would pour further destruction over the world. But there remains another possibility, namely, that these hidden forces stirring in countless individuals the world over may be channeled again, as they were at the beginning of the Christian era, by the emergence of a powerful archetype or symbol, and so many create for themselves a different form, paving the way for a new stage of civilization.
    [At this point Harding approaches Communism.] For this new dynamic or daemonic spirit that sprung into being is endowed with an almost incredible energy … Can it conceivably create a new world order? … It does not look as if it could be repressed once more into the unconscious. It has come to stay. And the spirit that conserves and builds up, if it survives at all, cannot remain unaffected by the impact of so vital a force.
    These two world spirits, which Greek philosophy called “the growing” and “the burning,” stand in mortal combat … Will the revolutionary spirit triumph and become the dominant spirit of the next world age? Will war follow war … ? Or date we hope that out of the present struggle and suffering a new world spirit may be born, to create for itself a new body of civilization?
    [Now Harding turns to the psychologist-as-healer.] For the psychologist can observe the unfolding of this same conflict in miniature in individual persons. The problems and struggles disturbing the peace of the world must in the last analysis [this has to be a pun!] be fought out in the hearts of individuals before they can be truly resolved in the relationships of nations. On this plane they must of necessity be worked out within the span of a single life.
    In the individual, no less than in the nation, the basic instincts make a compulsive demand for satisfaction; and here to civilization has imposed a rule of conduct aimed to repress or modify the demand. Every child undergoes an education that imposes restraint on his natural response to his own impulses and desires, substituting a collective or conventional mode of behavior. In many cases the result is that the conscious personality is too much separated from its instinctive roots; … until in the course of time the repressed instincts rebel and generate a revolution in the individual similar to that which has been threatening the peace of the world.
    … But not real solution of such a fundamental problem can be found except through a conscious enduring of the conflict that arises when the instincts revolt against the too repressive rule of the conscious ego. If the ego regains control, the status quo ante will be re-established and the impoverishment of life will continue … If, on the other hand, the repressed instincts obtain the mastery, unseating the ego, the individual will be in danger of disintegrating either morally or psychologically. That is, he will either lose all moral values … or he will lose himself in a welter of collective or nonpersonal, instinctive drives … .
    But if the individual who is caught in such a problem has sufficient courage and stability to face the issue squarely, not allowing either contending element to fall back into the unconscious, regardless of how much pain and suffering may be involved, a solution of the conflict may develop spontaneously in the depths of the unconscious. Such a solution will not appear in the form of an intellectual conclusion or thought-out plan, but will arise in dream or phantasy in the form of an image or symbol, so unexpected and yet so apt that it appearance will seem like a miracle. Such a symbol has the effect of breaking the deadlock. It has power to bring the opposing demands of the psyche together in a newly created form through which the life energies can flow in a new creative effort. Jung has called this the reconciling symbol [and sounds much like Hegel’s “synthesis”]. Its potency avails … to effect a transformation or modification of the instinctive drives within the individual … .
    This is something entirely different from a change in conscious attitude, such as might be brought about by education or precept. It is not a compromise, nor is the solution achieved through an increased effort to control the asocial tendencies, the outbursts of anger or the like. … It is only after all … efforts towards a solution have failed that the reconciling symbol appears. It arises from the depths of the unconscious psyche [or, as I see it, soul or embodied spirit] and produces its creative effect on a level of the psychic life beyond the reach of the rational consciousness, where it has power to produce a change in the very character of the instinctive urge itself, with the result that the nature of the “I want” is actually altered.

    It seems that Harding, in her understanding of Jung, is suggesting a mass radical evolution of consciousness, an enlightenment for all, a Hegelian synthesis of understanding and action, a Christian “act of God,” even a miracle, an Anthroposophical recognition and understanding of the positive aspects of our “lower (instinctive) nature” as presented in the luciferic (ego-centered, individualistic) and ahrimanic (materialistic, nature-based, instinctive) “impulses” (as put forth in The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman: Human Responsibility for the Earth by Rudolf Steiner), and a Jungian exposition of Self, including all of its shadow aspects, as an individuation of humanity. I share Harding with you that we may all find the Greater Context in which we “live and move and have our being.” And thus be more enabled to make wise and good choices.
    Please note that I do not necessarily agree with all that Harding or Jung say here, but that I do believe that what Harding says is quite relevant and important here and now for us all.

    M. ESTHER HARDING’S POST-WWII THOUGHTS AS PERTINENT TO THE CURRENT AMERICAN PSYCHE
    Harding wrote Psychic Energy: Its Source and Its Transformation, first published in 1948, with its Foreword written by Jung in 1947. I have excerpted quotes from the text (pp. 3-9) that, in my estimation, can be clearly related to our current political, social, and cultural situation in America. A crossroads seems to have been reached with choices to be made. My hope is that we may approach what confronts us as consciously and responsibly as possible. The following material is directly from Harding. My own attendant thoughts are designated in brackets.
    Beneath the decent façade of consciousness with its disciplined moral order and its good intentions lurk the crude instinctive forces of life, like monsters of the deep—devouring, begetting, warring endlessly. They are for the most part unseen, yet on their urge and energy life itself depends … But were they left to function unchecked, life would lose its meaning … In creating civilization man sought, however unconsciously, to curb these natural forces and to channel some part at least of their energy into forms that would serve a different purpose. For with the coming of consciousness, cultural and psychological values began to compete with the purely biological aims of unconscious functioning.
    Throughout history two factors have been at work in the struggle to bring about the control and discipline of these non-personal, instinctive forces of the psyche. Social controls and the demands of material necessity have exerted a powerful discipline from without, while an influence of perhaps even great potency has been applied from within the individual himself, in the form of symbols and experiences of a numinous character … So powerful indeed were these experiences that they became the core of religious dogmas and rituals that in turn have influenced the large mass of the people. That these religious forms have had power to curb the violence and ruthlessness of the primitive instincts to such an extent and for so long a time is a matter for the greatest wonder … It must mean that the symbols of a particular religion were peculiarly adapted to satisfy the urge of the conflicting inner forces, even lacking the aid of conscious understanding, and in many cases without the individual’s having himself participated in the numinous experience on which the ritual was originally based.
    So long as the religious and social forms are able to contain and in some measure to satisfy the inner and outer life needs of the individuals who make up a community, the instinctive forces lie dormant … Yet at times they awaken … and then the noise and tumult of their elemental struggle break in upon our ordered lives and rouse us rudely from our dreams of peace and contentment. Nevertheless we try to blind ourselves to the evidence of their untamed power, and delude ourselves into believing that man’s rational mind has conquered not only the world of nature around him but also the world of natural, instinctive life within.
    These childish beliefs have received not a few shocks of late. The increase in power that science has made available to man has not been equaled by a corresponding increase in the development and wisdom of human beings; and the upsurge of instinctive energies that has occurred in the last twenty-five years in the political field has not as yet been adequately controlled, let alone tamed or converted to useful ends. Yet for the most part we continue to hope that we will be able to reassert the ascendancy of reasonable, conscious control without any very radical concomitant change in man himself. It is of course obviously easier to assume that the problem lies outside of one’s own psyche than to undertake responsibility for that which lurks within oneself … Can we be so sure that the instinctive forces that caused the dynamic upheavals in Europe, and obliterated in a decade the work of centuries of civilization, are really limited by geographical or racial boundaries to the people of other nations? May they not, like the monsters of the deep, have access to all oceans? … Is “our sea”—the unconscious as we participate in it—exempt from such upheavals?
    The force that lay behind the revolutionary movements in Europe was not something consciously planned for or voluntarily built up; it arose spontaneously from the hidden sources of the Germanic psyche, being evoked perhaps but not consciously made by will power [and it is here that the comparison to our American circumstances may come to mind]. It erupted from unfathomable depths and overthrew the surface culture that had been in control for so many years. This dynamic force seemingly had as its aim the destruction of everything that the work of many centuries had laboriously built up and made apparently secure, to the end that the aggressors might enrich themselves in the resulting chaos, at the expense of all other peoples, meanwhile ensuring that none would be left with sufficient strength to endanger the despoilers for centuries to come.
    The excuse the offered for their disregard of international law and the rights of others was their own fundamental needs had been denied. They justified their actions on the ground of instinctual compulsion, the survival urge that requires living space, defensible frontiers, and access to raw materials—demands in the national sphere corresponding to the imperatives of the instinct of self-preservation in the individual.
    The aggressors claimed that the gratification of an instinct on the lowest biological level is an inalienable right, regardless of what means are employed for its satisfaction: “My necessity is of paramount importance; it has divine sanction… Your necessity, by comparison, is of no importance at all.” This attitude is either cynically egotistic or incredibly naïve. The Germans are a Western people and have been under Christian influence for centuries; they might therefore be expected to be psychologically and culturally mature. Were this the case, would not the whole nation have to be judged to be antisocial and criminal? It was not only the Nazi overlords, with their ruthless ideology, who disregarded the rights of others so foully; the whole nation manifested a naïve egocentricity akin to that of a young child … and this, rather than a conscious and deliberate criminality, may perhaps account for their gullibility and their acquiescence in the Nazi regime. Deep within the German unconscious, forces that were not contained or held in check by the archetypal symbols of the Christian religion, but had flowed back into pagan forms, notably Wotanism [regressive because focused on the individual in contradistinction to the collective focus of Christianity], were galvanized into life by the Nazi call. For that which is the ideal or the virtue of an outworn culture is the antisocial crime of its more evolved and civilized successor.
    The energy that could change the despondent and disorganized Germany of 1930 into the highly organized and optimistic, almost daemonically powerful nation of a decade later, must have arisen from deeply buried sources … These dramatic changes swept over the country like an incoming tide or a flood brought about by the release of dynamic forces that had formerly lain quiescent in the unconscious. The Nazi leaders seized upon the opportunity brought within their reach by this “tide in affairs of men.” They were able to do this because they were themselves the first victims of the revolutionary dynamism surging up from the depths, and they recognized that a similar force was stirring in the mass of the people; they had but to call it forth and release it from the civilized restraints that still ruled the ordinary, decent folk. If these forces has not been already active in the unconscious of the German people as a whole, the Nazi agitators would have preached their new doctrine in vain; they would have appeared to the people as criminals or lunatics, and by no means would have been able to arouse popular enthusiasm or to dominate the nation for twelve long years.
    The spirit of this dynamism is directly opposed to the spirit of civilization. The first seeks life in movement, change, exploitation; the second has sought throughout the ages to create a form wherein life may expand, may build, may make secure. And indeed Christian civilization, despite all its faults and shortcomings [which are legion], represents the best that man in his inadequacy has as yet succeeded in evolving. … Crimes against … humanity are constantly being perpetrated not only in overt acts but also … through ignorance and … ego-oriented attitudes. Consequently the needs of the weak have been largely disregarded, and the strong have had things their own way.
    But those who are materially and psychologically less well endowed have as large as share of instinctive desire and as strong a will to live as the more privileged. These natural longings, so persistently repressed, cannot remain quiescent indefinitely. It is not so much that the individual rebels—the masses of the people being proverbially patient—but nature rebels in him: the forces of the unconscious boil over when the time is ripe. The danger of such an eruption is not, however, limited to the less fortunate in society, for the instinctive desires of many of the more fortunate likewise have been suppressed, not by a greedy upper class but by the too rigid domination of the moral code and conventional law. This group also shows signs of rebellion and may break forth in uncontrollable violence, as has so recently happened in Germany. If this should happen elsewhere, the energies unleashed would pour further destruction over the world. But there remains another possibility, namely, that these hidden forces stirring in countless individuals the world over may be channeled again, as they were at the beginning of the Christian era, by the emergence of a powerful archetype or symbol, and so many create for themselves a different form, paving the way for a new stage of civilization.
    [At this point Harding approaches Communism.] For this new dynamic or daemonic spirit that sprung into being is endowed with an almost incredible energy … Can it conceivably create a new world order? … It does not look as if it could be repressed once more into the unconscious. It has come to stay. And the spirit that conserves and builds up, if it survives at all, cannot remain unaffected by the impact of so vital a force.
    These two world spirits, which Greek philosophy called “the growing” and “the burning,” stand in mortal combat … Will the revolutionary spirit triumph and become the dominant spirit of the next world age? Will war follow war … ? Or date we hope that out of the present struggle and suffering a new world spirit may be born, to create for itself a new body of civilization?
    [Now Harding turns to the psychologist-as-healer.] For the psychologist can observe the unfolding of this same conflict in miniature in individual persons. The problems and struggles disturbing the peace of the world must in the last analysis [this has to be a pun!] be fought out in the hearts of individuals before they can be truly resolved in the relationships of nations. On this plane they must of necessity be worked out within the span of a single life.
    In the individual, no less than in the nation, the basic instincts make a compulsive demand for satisfaction; and here to civilization has imposed a rule of conduct aimed to repress or modify the demand. Every child undergoes an education that imposes restraint on his natural response to his own impulses and desires, substituting a collective or conventional mode of behavior. In many cases the result is that the conscious personality is too much separated from its instinctive roots; … until in the course of time the repressed instincts rebel and generate a revolution in the individual similar to that which has been threatening the peace of the world.
    … But not real solution of such a fundamental problem can be found except through a conscious enduring of the conflict that arises when the instincts revolt against the too repressive rule of the conscious ego. If the ego regains control, the status quo ante will be re-established and the impoverishment of life will continue … If, on the other hand, the repressed instincts obtain the mastery, unseating the ego, the individual will be in danger of disintegrating either morally or psychologically. That is, he will either lose all moral values … or he will lose himself in a welter of collective or nonpersonal, instinctive drives … .
    But if the individual who is caught in such a problem has sufficient courage and stability to face the issue squarely, not allowing either contending element to fall back into the unconscious, regardless of how much pain and suffering may be involved, a solution of the conflict may develop spontaneously in the depths of the unconscious. Such a solution will not appear in the form of an intellectual conclusion or thought-out plan, but will arise in dream or phantasy in the form of an image or symbol, so unexpected and yet so apt that it appearance will seem like a miracle. Such a symbol has the effect of breaking the deadlock. It has power to bring the opposing demands of the psyche together in a newly created form through which the life energies can flow in a new creative effort. Jung has called this the reconciling symbol [and sounds much like Hegel’s “synthesis”]. Its potency avails … to effect a transformation or modification of the instinctive drives within the individual … .
    This is something entirely different from a change in conscious attitude, such as might be brought about by education or precept. It is not a compromise, nor is the solution achieved through an increased effort to control the asocial tendencies, the outbursts of anger or the like. … It is only after all … efforts towards a solution have failed that the reconciling symbol appears. It arises from the depths of the unconscious psyche [or, as I see it, soul or embodied spirit] and produces its creative effect on a level of the psychic life beyond the reach of the rational consciousness, where it has power to produce a change in the very character of the instinctive urge itself, with the result that the nature of the “I want” is actually altered.

    It seems that Harding, in her understanding of Jung, is suggesting a mass radical evolution of consciousness, an enlightenment for all, a Hegelian synthesis of understanding and action, a Christian “act of God,” even a miracle, an Anthroposophical recognition and understanding of the positive aspects of our “lower (instinctive) nature” as presented in the luciferic (ego-centered, individualistic) and ahrimanic (materialistic, nature-based, instinctive) “impulses” (as put forth in The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman: Human Responsibility for the Earth by Rudolf Steiner), and a Jungian exposition of Self, including all of its shadow aspects, as an individuation of humanity. I share Harding with you that we may all find the Greater Context in which we “live and move and have our being.” And thus be more enabled to make wise and good choices.
    Please note that I do not necessarily agree with all that Harding or Jung say here, but that I do believe that what Harding says is quite relevant and important here and now for us all.

    Joseph Leone

    M. ESTHER HARDING’S POST-WWII THOUGHTS AS PERTINENT TO THE CURRENT AMERICAN PSYCHE
    Harding wrote Psychic Energy: Its Source and Its Transformation, first published in 1948, with its Foreword written by Jung in 1947. I have excerpted quotes from the text (pp. 3-9) that, in my estimation, can be clearly related to our current political, social, and cultural situation in America. A crossroads seems to have been reached with choices to be made. My hope is that we may approach what confronts us as consciously and responsibly as possible. The following material is directly from Harding. My own attendant thoughts are designated in brackets.
    Beneath the decent façade of consciousness with its disciplined moral order and its good intentions lurk the crude instinctive forces of life, like monsters of the deep—devouring, begetting, warring endlessly. They are for the most part unseen, yet on their urge and energy life itself depends … But were they left to function unchecked, life would lose its meaning … In creating civilization man sought, however unconsciously, to curb these natural forces and to channel some part at least of their energy into forms that would serve a different purpose. For with the coming of consciousness, cultural and psychological values began to compete with the purely biological aims of unconscious functioning.
    Throughout history two factors have been at work in the struggle to bring about the control and discipline of these non-personal, instinctive forces of the psyche. Social controls and the demands of material necessity have exerted a powerful discipline from without, while an influence of perhaps even great potency has been applied from within the individual himself, in the form of symbols and experiences of a numinous character … So powerful indeed were these experiences that they became the core of religious dogmas and rituals that in turn have influenced the large mass of the people. That these religious forms have had power to curb the violence and ruthlessness of the primitive instincts to such an extent and for so long a time is a matter for the greatest wonder … It must mean that the symbols of a particular religion were peculiarly adapted to satisfy the urge of the conflicting inner forces, even lacking the aid of conscious understanding, and in many cases without the individual’s having himself participated in the numinous experience on which the ritual was originally based.
    So long as the religious and social forms are able to contain and in some measure to satisfy the inner and outer life needs of the individuals who make up a community, the instinctive forces lie dormant … Yet at times they awaken … and then the noise and tumult of their elemental struggle break in upon our ordered lives and rouse us rudely from our dreams of peace and contentment. Nevertheless we try to blind ourselves to the evidence of their untamed power, and delude ourselves into believing that man’s rational mind has conquered not only the world of nature around him but also the world of natural, instinctive life within.
    These childish beliefs have received not a few shocks of late. The increase in power that science has made available to man has not been equaled by a corresponding increase in the development and wisdom of human beings; and the upsurge of instinctive energies that has occurred in the last twenty-five years in the political field has not as yet been adequately controlled, let alone tamed or converted to useful ends. Yet for the most part we continue to hope that we will be able to reassert the ascendancy of reasonable, conscious control without any very radical concomitant change in man himself. It is of course obviously easier to assume that the problem lies outside of one’s own psyche than to undertake responsibility for that which lurks within oneself … Can we be so sure that the instinctive forces that caused the dynamic upheavals in Europe, and obliterated in a decade the work of centuries of civilization, are really limited by geographical or racial boundaries to the people of other nations? May they not, like the monsters of the deep, have access to all oceans? … Is “our sea”—the unconscious as we participate in it—exempt from such upheavals?
    The force that lay behind the revolutionary movements in Europe was not something consciously planned for or voluntarily built up; it arose spontaneously from the hidden sources of the Germanic psyche, being evoked perhaps but not consciously made by will power [and it is here that the comparison to our American circumstances may come to mind]. It erupted from unfathomable depths and overthrew the surface culture that had been in control for so many years. This dynamic force seemingly had as its aim the destruction of everything that the work of many centuries had laboriously built up and made apparently secure, to the end that the aggressors might enrich themselves in the resulting chaos, at the expense of all other peoples, meanwhile ensuring that none would be left with sufficient strength to endanger the despoilers for centuries to come.
    The excuse the offered for their disregard of international law and the rights of others was their own fundamental needs had been denied. They justified their actions on the ground of instinctual compulsion, the survival urge that requires living space, defensible frontiers, and access to raw materials—demands in the national sphere corresponding to the imperatives of the instinct of self-preservation in the individual.
    The aggressors claimed that the gratification of an instinct on the lowest biological level is an inalienable right, regardless of what means are employed for its satisfaction: “My necessity is of paramount importance; it has divine sanction… Your necessity, by comparison, is of no importance at all.” This attitude is either cynically egotistic or incredibly naïve. The Germans are a Western people and have been under Christian influence for centuries; they might therefore be expected to be psychologically and culturally mature. Were this the case, would not the whole nation have to be judged to be antisocial and criminal? It was not only the Nazi overlords, with their ruthless ideology, who disregarded the rights of others so foully; the whole nation manifested a naïve egocentricity akin to that of a young child … and this, rather than a conscious and deliberate criminality, may perhaps account for their gullibility and their acquiescence in the Nazi regime. Deep within the German unconscious, forces that were not contained or held in check by the archetypal symbols of the Christian religion, but had flowed back into pagan forms, notably Wotanism [regressive because focused on the individual in contradistinction to the collective focus of Christianity], were galvanized into life by the Nazi call. For that which is the ideal or the virtue of an outworn culture is the antisocial crime of its more evolved and civilized successor.
    The energy that could change the despondent and disorganized Germany of 1930 into the highly organized and optimistic, almost daemonically powerful nation of a decade later, must have arisen from deeply buried sources … These dramatic changes swept over the country like an incoming tide or a flood brought about by the release of dynamic forces that had formerly lain quiescent in the unconscious. The Nazi leaders seized upon the opportunity brought within their reach by this “tide in affairs of men.” They were able to do this because they were themselves the first victims of the revolutionary dynamism surging up from the depths, and they recognized that a similar force was stirring in the mass of the people; they had but to call it forth and release it from the civilized restraints that still ruled the ordinary, decent folk. If these forces has not been already active in the unconscious of the German people as a whole, the Nazi agitators would have preached their new doctrine in vain; they would have appeared to the people as criminals or lunatics, and by no means would have been able to arouse popular enthusiasm or to dominate the nation for twelve long years.
    The spirit of this dynamism is directly opposed to the spirit of civilization. The first seeks life in movement, change, exploitation; the second has sought throughout the ages to create a form wherein life may expand, may build, may make secure. And indeed Christian civilization, despite all its faults and shortcomings [which are legion], represents the best that man in his inadequacy has as yet succeeded in evolving. … Crimes against … humanity are constantly being perpetrated not only in overt acts but also … through ignorance and … ego-oriented attitudes. Consequently the needs of the weak have been largely disregarded, and the strong have had things their own way.
    But those who are materially and psychologically less well endowed have as large as share of instinctive desire and as strong a will to live as the more privileged. These natural longings, so persistently repressed, cannot remain quiescent indefinitely. It is not so much that the individual rebels—the masses of the people being proverbially patient—but nature rebels in him: the forces of the unconscious boil over when the time is ripe. The danger of such an eruption is not, however, limited to the less fortunate in society, for the instinctive desires of many of the more fortunate likewise have been suppressed, not by a greedy upper class but by the too rigid domination of the moral code and conventional law. This group also shows signs of rebellion and may break forth in uncontrollable violence, as has so recently happened in Germany. If this should happen elsewhere, the energies unleashed would pour further destruction over the world. But there remains another possibility, namely, that these hidden forces stirring in countless individuals the world over may be channeled again, as they were at the beginning of the Christian era, by the emergence of a powerful archetype or symbol, and so many create for themselves a different form, paving the way for a new stage of civilization.
    [At this point Harding approaches Communism.] For this new dynamic or daemonic spirit that sprung into being is endowed with an almost incredible energy … Can it conceivably create a new world order? … It does not look as if it could be repressed once more into the unconscious. It has come to stay. And the spirit that conserves and builds up, if it survives at all, cannot remain unaffected by the impact of so vital a force.
    These two world spirits, which Greek philosophy called “the growing” and “the burning,” stand in mortal combat … Will the revolutionary spirit triumph and become the dominant spirit of the next world age? Will war follow war … ? Or date we hope that out of the present struggle and suffering a new world spirit may be born, to create for itself a new body of civilization?
    [Now Harding turns to the psychologist-as-healer.] For the psychologist can observe the unfolding of this same conflict in miniature in individual persons. The problems and struggles disturbing the peace of the world must in the last analysis [this has to be a pun!] be fought out in the hearts of individuals before they can be truly resolved in the relationships of nations. On this plane they must of necessity be worked out within the span of a single life.
    In the individual, no less than in the nation, the basic instincts make a compulsive demand for satisfaction; and here to civilization has imposed a rule of conduct aimed to repress or modify the demand. Every child undergoes an education that imposes restraint on his natural response to his own impulses and desires, substituting a collective or conventional mode of behavior. In many cases the result is that the conscious personality is too much separated from its instinctive roots; … until in the course of time the repressed instincts rebel and generate a revolution in the individual similar to that which has been threatening the peace of the world.
    … But not real solution of such a fundamental problem can be found except through a conscious enduring of the conflict that arises when the instincts revolt against the too repressive rule of the conscious ego. If the ego regains control, the status quo ante will be re-established and the impoverishment of life will continue … If, on the other hand, the repressed instincts obtain the mastery, unseating the ego, the individual will be in danger of disintegrating either morally or psychologically. That is, he will either lose all moral values … or he will lose himself in a welter of collective or nonpersonal, instinctive drives … .
    But if the individual who is caught in such a problem has sufficient courage and stability to face the issue squarely, not allowing either contending element to fall back into the unconscious, regardless of how much pain and suffering may be involved, a solution of the conflict may develop spontaneously in the depths of the unconscious. Such a solution will not appear in the form of an intellectual conclusion or thought-out plan, but will arise in dream or phantasy in the form of an image or symbol, so unexpected and yet so apt that it appearance will seem like a miracle. Such a symbol has the effect of breaking the deadlock. It has power to bring the opposing demands of the psyche together in a newly created form through which the life energies can flow in a new creative effort. Jung has called this the reconciling symbol [and sounds much like Hegel’s “synthesis”]. Its potency avails … to effect a transformation or modification of the instinctive drives within the individual … .
    This is something entirely different from a change in conscious attitude, such as might be brought about by education or precept. It is not a compromise, nor is the solution achieved through an increased effort to control the asocial tendencies, the outbursts of anger or the like. … It is only after all … efforts towards a solution have failed that the reconciling symbol appears. It arises from the depths of the unconscious psyche [or, as I see it, soul or embodied spirit] and produces its creative effect on a level of the psychic life beyond the reach of the rational consciousness, where it has power to produce a change in the very character of the instinctive urge itself, with the result that the nature of the “I want” is actually altered.

    It seems that Harding, in her understanding of Jung, is suggesting a mass radical evolution of consciousness, an enlightenment for all, a Hegelian synthesis of understanding and action, a Christian “act of God,” even a miracle, an Anthroposophical recognition and understanding of the positive aspects of our “lower (instinctive) nature” as presented in the luciferic (ego-centered, individualistic) and ahrimanic (materialistic, nature-based, instinctive) “impulses” (as put forth in The Influences of Lucifer and Ahriman: Human Responsibility for the Earth by Rudolf Steiner), and a Jungian exposition of Self, including all of its shadow aspects, as an individuation of humanity. I share Harding with you that we may all find the Greater Context in which we “live and move and have our being.” And thus be more enabled to make wise and good choices.
    Please note that I do not necessarily agree with all that Harding or Jung say here, but that I do believe that what Harding says is quite relevant and important here and now for us all.

    Joseph Leone

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