Posts Tagged ‘United States’

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Touching the Unspeakable Nightmare – A Must See Film.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

I just finished viewing the film We Have to Talk About Kevin.  I watched the film primarily out of obligation as we are about to host a seminar on it.  I knew nothing about it, other than Dan Ross was moved by it and wanted to lead a seminar about “the Predator.”  I was absolutely blown away by the film and sit here in a stunned state. I don’t write many blog’s for the Asheville Jung Center.  In fact I haven’t written any prior to this; but I sit here so stunned that I feel I have no choice. I’m a psychiatrist and have been practicing some 20 years now. I’ve seen many wonderful patients over the years and been delighted by their dreams and stories.  I’ve also, however, had a handful of patients that make my hair stand on end and keep me up at night.  I’ve run into patients that seem to have no conscious at all; that have no remorse for any act.  I’ve had rageful patients, incredibly abusive spouses and even one that shot his wife and his two children execution style.  I’ve been haunted by these encounters and never truly known what to do with them.  This film brought these feelings and memories into Technicolor and left me stranded on a desolate reef. What is a sociopath?  How are they formed?  Is it nature, nurture, or a cruel act of fate?  How can anyone sink to the level of random murder? Anyone who has been horrified by Columbine or any mass killing or even the sociopathic car salesman talking you into the wrong vehicle must see this film.  Be prepared to lose your grounding of what you thought was typical humanity and be left in a disturbing paralysis. Regardless of whether you can make our seminar next week or not, do see this movie.  It hits the absolute bowels of our society, but you will not regret it. Steven Buser, MD Founder, Asheville Jung Center

Continue Reading 27 Comments

Home and Archetype: A Review of “At Home in the World”

When John Hill performed the role of Father Victor White in  The  Jung-White Letters, he seemed possessed by the spirit of the man.  In John Hill’s recent publication,  At Home in the World: Sounds and Symmetries of Belonging, leaves me wondering if he has now been possessed by an entire cloud of witnesses comprised of Irish poets spanning centuries.  There is a lyrical quality that pervades the book and the publisher, Spring Journal Books, has done a marvelous job with the layout, cover design, the references, and every detail of the book.  Perhaps John Hill pulled his inspiration from a Fairy fort but the result is magical.

As the February 4th conference Architecture of the Soul:  The Inner & Outer Structures of C G Jung, (with Murray Stein & Andreas Jung) approaches, this is a timely read.  Hill’s scholarship is systematic and rigorous, but the book is replete with powerful and evocative language.  Hill gently weaves into the text many others who have shaped and influenced him like Paul Ricouer, Ernst Cassirer, along with one of my favorite fiction writers, Jhumpa Lahiri.  The thesis of his book may appear self-evident but I could not have imagined the depth and breadth of material I found in this book.

John Hill has been practicing Jungian Psychoanalysis for forty years and it shows.  He has been devoted to matters of the spirit even longer.  The reader will enjoy the subtle, perceptive way Hill incorporates clinical material from client’s dreams and narratives.  It is refreshing to encounter a writer who also lays himself bare to the reader without crossing the line into self-indulgence that can easily become a spectacle.   This is an analyst who comprehends that self-disclosure, even within the pages of a book, can be a powerful tool. And I suspect he also understands that self-disclosure can also be unwieldy. Therapists do well to stay alert for moments when self-disclosure serves their own unmet needs for mirroring and affirmation since they may easy remained it is for their client’s benefit.

Modernity has ushered in unprecedented opportunities for homeowners to furnish their dwellings in cohesive, well designed styles that may sold as an entire package.  Some furniture retailers make it easy to avoid making mistake by standardizing entire groupings of furnishings.  IKEA is not unique in its ability to commoditize home furnishings and to impart a sense to its customers that a unique look can be achieved on a budget.  The sheer volume and global reach of an IKEA testifies to the inclination to make a home unique through elements that are in fact standardized.  Such a home, according to Hill may be at risk of being left “…. without a soul.”

In contrast, we will have the opportunity on February 4th to participate in a conference whose outer, visible subject is

The Home of C. G. Jung.  After reading Hill’s, At Home in the World: Sounds and Symmetries of Belonging, I suspect the upcoming conference presented through Asheville Jung Center will end up being about our own magnum opus, our home.  We each approach this differently, just as we each approach the magnum opus of our individuation differently.  For some, the reliance on a standard assortment of furnishings provides a personal space that avoid too much personal disclosure but also impedes personal discovery.  For others, the home provides a platform of self-expression.  There are homes I have entered where I could sense the disconnection between the soul of its inhabitants and the structure itself.  There are limitless permutations for combining the inner dimensions of our being and the outer structure of our home.  And according to John Hill, “When a home becomes a mere product, dissociated from one’s own personal and collective history, it is probably in danger of losing its soul.” (pg11)

Some individuals delight in assembling elements into a home.  They strive for that ineluctable symmetry between the inner call of the soul and the outer manifestation of their home.  When we speak of homemaking as a function of managing the household we miss the much deeper connection between the demands of keeping things going in a family and the making of a home.   Hill notes, “We live in a world that offers us two different ways of seeing it — one functional and the other symbolic.”  (pg47)  It seems there as many different modus operandi for fashioning a home as there are styles of composition, materials  and technique for the artist.

Good teachers like John Hill convey complex subjects in clearly understandable ways.  The five or six pages on transference provide a good illustration and despite their conciseness Hill does not sacrifice the rich, evocative quality of his prose.


Images alone do not necessarily address key psychological issues or cross the great divide between Thou and I … (pg112)


Often in the deep constellations of transference and countertransference, the client finds the opportunities to relive much of the past.  …  The analyst must realize that he cannot indulge in the fantasy of providing a home for all those who need one. (pg113)


I live on the hyphen as a Cuban-American.  My soul has one foot firmly planted in the United States of America where I was born while the other foot, the one possessed of dreams of return to an island I have never known, has nowhere to step.  Countless others share my experience of life on the hyphen. The nations that bookend their hyphen do not separate us nearly as much as the hyphen unites us.  We who are hyphenated are a diaspora in our own right.  We are caught between two homes the one we left and the one where we dwell.  But we are all likely to find ourselves somewhere along the continuum of a home we have known, a home we know now, and a home that awaits us.

Salmon Rushdie writes that, “Exile is a dream of a glorious return.”  Like Odysseus, we  may find ourselves in a seemingly endless pursuit of a return home.  John Hill reveals to us some of the personal details of his own life away from his native Ireland without being mawkish.  At Home in the World would be wonderful preparation for the upcoming conference Architecture of the Soul:  The Inner & Outer Structures of CG Jung, (with Murray Stein & Andreas Jung).  It will also be a great resource for anyone interested in the psychological implications and underpinnings of home from a Jungian perspective.

John Hill gave a gifted performance of Father Victor White in The Jung White Letters  that moved me to examine the chords that resonated through Jung’s relationship with Sigmund Freud and later Father White.  It also deeply moved me to consider what chords resonate through my relationships with men in my life.  Now At Home in the World has moved me to examine from a fresh perspective my relationship to place.  It has stirred a renewed interest in exploring the spaces and structures, past, present, and future that are called home in my life.  Hill’s last paragraph reads like a closing hymn in prose and here he reveals a dream that arrived as he brought the book to completion.

… All at once the dream flashed across my mind, and I “knew” what it was trying to say.

…The house was my book on home.  The brickwork symbolized the thoughts and ideas of others who had influenced me, and contributed to its making.  The rough-hewn stones indicated that the work was connected with my identity.

… I have built the house from the materials of the earth.  It is a house that contains, but it is also open to the world and to the spirit.  Hopefully it can be an object of delight and contemplation, not just for me, but also for all who have crossed its threshold, so that you, dear reader, may appreciate your own home in new and creative ways.


Take a moment to consider the word “home”.  Let your imagination run free and let yourself be transported to homes you have occupied, homes you have wished to occupy, homes you have left, homes you have awaiting you in the future.  Consider what home means in your interior life and notice where the interior experience or awareness of home is in sync with the structure you call home and where the two seem out of sync. Please consider posting a comment about “home” so that we might open the doors and let one another peak in.

Len Cruz, MD

Enhanced by Zemanta

Continue Reading 10 Comments

Obama’s presidency and International Cultural Complexes

Thomas Singer recently gave an enlightening 2 hour seminar out of Sonoma, California, on the idea of how unconscious forces affect cultures and nations as they engage on various levels.  One of his main concepts is that of a “Cultural Complex,” a charged unconscious archetype that grips entire nations without our awareness.  Part of what happened on Sept 11, 2001 was the triggering of an enormous cultural complex, both in the attackers and in our collective psyche’s response in the United States.  Cultural Complexes are pervasive and subtle.  You know you’ve triggered one when a person or nation responds in a highly charged manner.  In the 10 minute video below, Tom Singer introduces this powerful concept.   Please feel free to post any thoughts or comments you may have. ____________________________________________ ____________________________________________
Enhanced by Zemanta

Continue Reading 1 Comment

Projections & Introjections in Global Politics: Obama, da Silva, Merkel, Sarkozy, Berlusconi, Mandela

But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 1 Samuel 8:19-20 In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes. Judges 17:6

(See other Bible verse translations at end of BOLG.)

The constellation of forces that are activated between members of society and their leaders is among the topics being explored in “Symbols and Individuation in Global Politics: The Case of Barack Obama” on September 10, 2010.  This blog entry explores one portion of that realm involving projection and introjection.   It suggests some ideas for how any citizen might engage his/her leaders as part of their individuation process. I offer a simple definition of terms.  Introjection is a maneuver characterized by the unexamined incorporation of traits of another.  Individuals with weak ego boundaries are more prone to use introjection as a defense mechanism. (Winnicott, DW. Home is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychoanalyst.New York, London: W.W. Norton & Company, 1986. 50.) Projection is somewhat antithetical to introjection in that one’s own unconscious content is projected outward upon the other.  What is projected is then encountered as if it actually belonged to the otherperson to begin with.  Projection is a fundamental mechanism by which we remain uniformed about ourselves.  (A word of caution is in order.) The recent discovery of mirror neurons in primates (including humans) should give us pause to cast all projection and introjection into some pathologic basket.  These neurons are present in the motor cortex and are activated when we observe someone executing an act.  It is as if our own motor strip is carrying out the act we observe; it may be a form of rehearsal.  So, neurobiology may one day help us to better understand projection and introjection. Political figures who are charismatic and able to resonate with individual & cultural complexes are likely to activate processes of projection and introjection in the individual.  These forces may illuminate unconscious material and facilitate its integration into the personality.  But it is also possible for political figures to become targets of our projections and also possible for us to introject aspects of these figures into our personalities without having authentic encounters with the Self. President Obama’s ability to galvanize the electorate and to generate widespread participation was unprecedented.  There remains some doubt about the claims that the vast majority of Obama’s contributors made small donations (under $200) but the breadth of participation that he either engendered or “appeared” to engender is notable.   Individuals were lifted up during the campaign and a sense of unity among people of different backgrounds and even across national borders was kindled.  Such broadly appealing (or irritating) leaders provide fertile ground for projection and introjection to take root. Ask yourself what sort of relationship you developed with Obama during the period leading up to his election.  Consider what sort of relationship you have with other leaders.  How did the rise of President Lula da Silva, a union leader with limited formal education  engage your projected hopes and/or fears?  What role did introjection have in celebrating the indomitable and noble qualities displayed by President Mandela?  How does President Sarkozy’s noble Hungarian family roots or his marriage to Carla Bruni contribute to his wide appeal?  (He might a target for projections of royalty with a common touch.)  Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi affords another powerful example of how leaders may receive our projections and introjections.  Does Berlusconi’s alleged ties to organized crime and his triumphs in several prosecutions tap our own desire to be outside the law?  And then there is the fascinating example provided by Chancellor Angela Merkel, a scientist whose family enjoyed unusual freedom of travel between East and West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.  How has her own personal capacity to unify opposites within herself captivated the German people who were struggling to unify East and West?  When Chancellor Merkel resisted EU pressure during the sovereign debt crisis what feelings toward the German people were provoked in your psyche? In asking those questions I am inviting each of us to explore how leaders become lightning rods for our own psychological process.  I was a youngster when President Kennedy was stuck down by an assassin’s bullet and watched in horror the reports of Dr. Martin Luther King’s murder.  Within two months I endured the defeat of seeing Senator Robert Kennedy gunned down.  President Obama was the first political figure to heal those wounds and I engaged more than I had ever engaged.  I allowed myself to hope and in the course of those months I remembered the painful wounds I’d suffered at a tender age.  Loss of several idealized objects produced a sort of exquisite corpse to which President Obama added the most recent touch.  I have remained deeply afraid for President Obama but I have also been delivered from what had been a forty year political slumber. Not long ago my sister expressed her outrage at what she perceived as President Obama’s betrayal of campaign promises.  He had cozied up to Wall Street’s powerful elites, I offered a more sober perspective.  I suggest that President Obama’s presence in office alone might have more lasting and transformative effects than many (perhaps all) the policies he pursues.  It will be difficult to look upon the Office of the President in the same way now that an African American has occupied that hallowed spot.  Though I know very little about President Lincoln’s tenure in office, the impression of a self-educated man capable of writing beautiful and lyric words (the Gettysburg Address) is etched into my political character. I am dimly aware that President Obama helped illumine the inner landscape of my childhood losses.  If projection and introjection were at play, the result was helpful.  But there is an unconscious domain to my relationship with this man I call President.  I am a Cuban-American born on US soil.  I have lived on that hyphen with a measure of uncertainty about where I fit in to the fabric of American society.  I suspect that President Obama receives my projections about the immigrant experience.  Early in his candidacy, conversations about whether or not he was black enough combined with the vehement attacks upon him for attending Rev. Jeremiah Wrights church struck deep chords in me about what it means to succeed in White-Anglo culture and the price I’ve paid for blending in.  But I have also marveled at the President’s capacity to reject the white majorities definition of him.  His example empowers me to be less concerned with what others might think about a passionate, expressive, festive Cuban spirit that has always been an irrepressible part of me. Whatever negative aspects of projection and introjection that have been aroused by my relationship with President Obama remain unconscious.  I suspect my desire to have a deliverer, a king in the mold of the ancient Israelites is one complex that has been aroused but there are likely many more.  I am hopeful that projection and introjection may recede with time and that in its place will emerge a mature political self. That political self may be better equipped to take full advantage of the psychological impact that leaders exert while avoiding the dangers that anyone who attempts to escape from freedom. Take a moment to examine your own psychological relationship with Obama or any other political figure.  We are interested in hearing from you about the psychological dance you’ve had with political leaders. Len Cruz, MD ___________________________________________________ Mas o povo recusou dar seguimento aos avisos de Samuel. Mesmo assim, sempre queremos um rei, responderam; queremos ser iguais às outras nações, à nossa volta. Será ele quem nos há-de governar e conduzir nas batalhas. 1 Samuel 8:19-20 Porque nesses dias Israel não tinha rei, de tal forma que cada qual fazia o que melhor parecia aos seus olhos. Juízes 17:6 Ciò nonostante il popolo rifiutò di dare ascolto alle parole di Samuele e disse: «No, avremo un re sopra di noi.  Così saremo anche noi come tutte le nazioni: il nostro re ci governerà, uscirà alla nostra testa e combatterà le nostre battaglie. 1Samuele 8:19-20 In quel tempo non c’era re in Israele; ognuno faceva ciò che sembrava giusto ai suoi occhi. Giudici 17:6 Le peuple refusa d’écouter la voix de Samuel. Non! dirent-ils, mais il y aura un roi sur nous, et nous aussi nous serons comme toutes les nations; notre roi nous jurera il marchera à notre tête et conduira nos guerres. 1 Samuel 8:19-20 En ce temps-là, il n’y avait point de roi en Israël. Chacun faisait ce qui lui semblait bon. Juges 17:6 Aber das Volk weigerte sich, zu gehorchen der Stimme Samuels, und sprachen: Mitnichten, sondern es soll ein König über uns sein, daß wir auch seien wie alle Heiden, daß uns unser König richte und vor uns her ausziehe und unsere Kriege führe. 1 Samuel 8:19-20 Zu der Zeit war kein König in Israel, und ein jeglicher tat, was ihn recht deuchte. Richter 17:6
Enhanced by Zemanta

Continue Reading 5 Comments

Goldman Sachs and the Cerberus Within (Greed, Envy, Pragmatism)

Goldman Sachs and the Cerberus Within (Greed, Envy, Pragmatism) Go to to see a watercolor by William Blake of Cerberus Cerberus, watercolour by William Blake On April 16th, 2010 Goldman Sachs was charged with fraud for betting against the very investments they were selling to others.  Upon reading the news I immediately felt a sense satisfaction that the firm that is alleged to have contributed to the debacle of housing crisis was getting what was coming to it. It seems that Goldman Sachs was allowing an advisor, John Paulson to purchase investments that would appreciate in value when the housing market collapsed and also allowing him to choose the mortgages that would be bundled into an investment called collataeralized debt obligations. These were sold to other investors, mostly banks.  Read more about the details at .    There was no regulation of this fledgling realm and as we eventually discovered there simply wasn’t enough actual cash to pay the insurance against the bad loans. Imagine selling cars that you thought had reasonable prospects of exploding and killing their occupants and simultaneously purchasing life insurance on the driver because you foresee a reasonable prospect of collecting.  I had three reactions to the fraud charges and they arose in quick succession. First, I felt my vengeful spirit satisfied.  These fat cats deserve to be charged (and potentially be fined $1 bn). They are partly responsible for the loss of enormous sums that caused some companies to fail and others to nearly fail.   Government intervention, designed to keep complete economic collapse from overtaking the US and other economies seemed necessary.  I am indignant, righteously indignant concerning the unprecedented transfer of wealth from average individuals to wealthy individuals and corporations (through taxes, bailouts, stimulus funds, and eventually long-term national debt).  All this leads me to want to see swift justice executed without mercy. But soon I felt deep envy.  There is still a cesspool of envy in my spirit about Goldman Sachs and other firms like it.  I resent those who made obscene amounts of money through the early part of the decade primarily because I didn’t.  If I had been one of the traffickers in these investments or one of those receiving spectacular compensation, my righteous indignation would have given way to complicit silence.  At the first sign of trouble I would have wanted to be among those who were savvy to hedge their bets like Goldman Sachs did to extend the party a little longer.  The promise of glory and wealth would have enchanted me, and before long I would have been certain to feel entitled to it all.  My second reaction was to acknowledge that the vengeful side of me sometimes serves as a thin, but comforting, disguise for envy and sense of entitlement.  I met the enemy and it is me. Then, a third perspective emerged.  It is a more sober one, a sort of amalgam or marriage of the two earlier ones.  I may be a modest transcendence of opposites.  Let’s face facts, the employees at Goldman Sachs are adepts.  They may be more adept at garnering wealth than any group of individuals in recent American history.  Therefore, I can’t imagine they didn’t have an idea that fraud charges might be handed down.  While the public has oscillated between vilifying Goldman Sachs and glorifying the company and its employees, they may have seen either situation as an opportunity to make money.    These are folks who know about mitigating risk (and apparently also how to create risk); in fact, that is part of what they are charged with.  They covered a bet they knew was likely to be a bad one while encouraging others to stay at the table and continue gambling.  My third reaction led me to pick up the phone and call my broker and ask if she thought now might be a good time to buy some Goldman Sachs.  I figure these are smart people who will find the angle that will let them earn profits, record profits, again. Whether Goldman Sucks or not is not clear yet.  However, I appear to be a three headed beast, a Cerberus (see link above).  I stand in harsh judgment of the scoundrels who exploit the capitalist system better than I do, I envy the spoils they enjoy, and it turns out that when the psychological dust settles I am a pragmatist.  I don’t know if I will get in bed with Goldman Sachs since I still maintain Goldman Sucks but if I buy Goldman Sachs low and sell high I will be reconciled to the fact that Goldman Sucks no more than I do. Len Cruz, M.D.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Continue Reading 9 Comments

Like Asheville Jung Center Asheville Jung Center on LinkedIn Asheville Jung Center on Twitter Asheville Jung Center on YouTube

Register your E-mail for
New Jungian Seminars and Exclusive Offers