Caught in the Crosshairs: Gun Violence in America: An Archetypal Perspective
Ethology refers to the natural patterns of animals in the world. For instance, we find a number of videos on the internet of elephant herds banning together to save an endangered calf. Once safely back within the confines of the herd, the adults literally form a circle around the calf to convey that the calf is now once again safe and secure, and perhaps speaks of a renewed security and trust in its elders. Then too, we findelephant’s mournful response to the death of their calf and of member of their herd. Safety and an honoring of their dead, are cherished values within their fold. When we look at the ethological behaviors of animals we are actually seeing into the very nature and behavior of humanities inherited archetypal patterns and can begin to speak of an “Archetypal Ethology”. Survival of the species requires a strict adherence to these time honored archetypal behaviors and instincts, whereas their absence may have catastrophic consequence for their individual and collective survival. It was Jung who reminded us that Neurosis represents estrangement from the archetypal currents of life.
What shifts must be made in our psyche as we watch our youth both mourn their slaughtered friends, and struggle to find ways to protect their right to safety and realize they are in fact, joining in an individual and collective moment that has existed since the beginning of time? This is a movement that is responding to the archetypal need to protect and to mourn. Now in unison, individually and collectively, we join a line of others who have sought to protect and needed to mourn since the very beginning of time. Fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, lovers, mentors and more pay their last respects to the deceased, knowing that anyone involved in such an atrocity will never be the same or will never again fully know joy. The slaughter of the innocents is an act against nature, against the natural order of life, which will never and should never be forgotten. So too, anyone profiting by the slaughter of our innocents has transgressed against an archetypal way of life- that is to protect and secure the life of our young. Such an estrangement from these in-born archetypal and spiritual values, while not new to current times, remains an assault against human nature.
Now, as over half a million young people across the country hold walkouts both in memoriam to their fellow classmates and in protest to the continued reality of gun violence in the US, we see firsthand a personal expression of the archetypal needto protect and to mourn that which we love. So too, we now have a collective mobilization of a desperately needed response to loss and danger to members of our tribe. Yet we find far too many individuals and politicians who are seemingly possessed by the archetypal imperative to bear arms; a response that speaks to how these emotions remain undifferentiated. Can we really see any adult whose decisions allow for the ongoing sale of assault weapons within the public sector as influenced only by the personal and political, and not also blinded by archetypal currents? I pray this is not the case, but unfortunately, history is replete with story upon story of collective violence, and the sanctioning and the closing of our ears to the slaughter of our innocents. Can the sanctioning of semi-automatic weapons really be motivated by a need for personal gain and profit? We are not only a country divided, but a psyche divided, responding to, as well as being possessed by, these overwhelming archetypal themes. The on-going debates, media coverage, blistering news articles and editorials illustrate a collective polarization of archetypal values relative to the right to bear arms and the right to a reasonable expectation of safety in our nation's schools, churches and public spaces.
With this ongoing proliferation of school shootings we are, in fact, witnessing something so profound and troubling, in that this speaks to a killing of our own children, and the inability or refusal to do what is needed to provide the protection which so many of the animals in the world provide so naturally for their young. Perhaps as we watch our children display their love for those who have died, and struggle against the old order to bring a much needed sense of safety into the world, we are witnessing the re-emergence of universal, and archetypally generative tendencies.
Join Us for a Complimentary Panel Discussion! Monday, April 2nd, 2018 8:00 - 9:00 PM EDT with Michael Conforti, Sukey Fontelieu and Hank Brightman
An Archetypal Perspective on the Epidemic of School Shootings in the US Monday, April 9th, 2018 8:00 - 9:00 PM EDT
Random shootings by disenfranchised young men are happening on a weekly basis in the US. This horrific problem first gripped the nation with common reactions of fear and disbelief when, in 1999, the Columbine massacre was transmitted live on national television. The alienation birthed in the shooters’ hearts by the bullying they had endured at school devolved into stagnation about their futures and then congealed into a desire to die a dramatic death and to, in their words, kick-start a revolution. These feelings eventually burst forth, resulting in the massacre. Rather than sober, national reflections on what is alienating so many in America, the media interpreted the two as anomalies, “bad seeds” who, with their families, were solely to blame for the loss of innocent lives. From Columbine until today, little has changed politically or in the bias of the media coverage. This channels public opinion into polarized areas of discussion, such as being pro or anti gun control. By attempting to see the bigger picture through applications of Jungian theory to modern American anxieties it is possible to come to a clearer understanding of the ways in which American culture has become caught up in an anxious and fearful cultural complex. Many modern American reactions to cultural trauma currently fall into the instinctual pattern of fight, flight, or freeze. This instinctual pattern is found to be the structural dynamic in the myths of Pan and the nymphs, which are analyzed using Jung’s theory of the applications of myth to psychology. If we can accurately pinpoint what is prompting psychological aspects of the American psyche to be projected out onto the disenfranchised and bring greater containment to these destructive tendencies, this could influence the negative outcomes these complexes are producing.
Sukey Fontelieu, Ph.D., has been on the faculty of Pacifica since 2000 and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who practices Jungian-based psychotherapy in Santa Barbara. She brings her creative background in film and writing to her current work as an educator and psychotherapist. Her upcoming publication, The Archetypal Pan in America: Hypermasculinity and Terrorism, reflects her research interest in amplifying cultural events through applications of Jungian and mythological theory.
Warriors and Protectors: The Challenges of Archetypal Confusion in American Policing Today Monday, April 16th, 2018 8:00 - 9:00 PM EDT
The recent tragedy in Parkland, Florida in the United States demands archetypal pattern analysts discuss objectively the issues and challenges observed in law enforcement’s response. Specifically, while engaged in regular policing duties, how does the psyche of those who serve in the law enforcement community differ archetypally from military members and the missions they perform? This presentation will explore the origins of policing through the lens of the protector archetype, and how this perspective differs from the warrior archetype that is commonly found in military service. Lastly, this session will discuss how, when critical incidents such as the heartbreak at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School occur, archetypal dissonance unfolds -- with tragic results.
Dr. Heath “Hank” Brightman is currently the EMC Informationist Chair and a tenured full professor in the Civilian-Military Humanitarian Response Program within the College of Maritime & Operational Warfare at the Naval War College. From 2011-2016, he served as a Professor and Director of Applied Research & Analysis in the War Gaming Department of this institution, and was an associate professor in this same department from 2008-2011. He previously served as a tenured associate professor and Department Chair at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, New Jersey from 2000-2008. Dr. Brightman maintains a part-time private trauma and wellness practice in Newport, Rhode Island, where he specializes in trauma support and clinical hypnotherapy. He is also a Lieutenant Commander in the United States Navy Reserve, who previously commanded two Naval Security Force units. Lastly, Hank spent fifteen years in a variety of law enforcement, investigative, and intelligence analysis positions with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the United States Secret Service.
With respect to academic credentials, he holds a Bachelor of Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a Masters in Criminal Justice Administration from Boston University, two master’s degrees from Salve Regina University (Counseling and Holistic Leadership, respectively), and a Doctorate in Educational Administration & Leadership (Ed.D.) from Seton Hall University. He is a proud graduate of the Archetypal Pattern Analyst program at the Assisi Institute.
The views and opinions expressed in this presentation do not represent those of the U.S. Naval War College, United States Navy, or the Department of Defense.
Benevolence and Transgressions of Moral Codes Monday, April 23rd, 2018 8:00 - 9:00 PM EDT
Jung’s work seeks to understand the tapestry of life woven by humanity since the beginning of time. Examining thread upon thread, he looked at human nature to understand those inborn tendencies existing within the psyche that we all have to wrestle with. From the desire to create, to love, to procreate and to make a good life, to the compulsion to destroy, to do harm and to profit by others loss, he found each thread rooted in some deeper strata of the psyche and the collective unconscious. Not only does this work articulate many of these characteristics of the “antique soul,” but it helps us to understand what it means to be taken over and possessed by these different archetypal currents of life. While he often spoke of the need for a conscious life lived in accordance to these innate tendencies, he also saw firsthand the devastation caused when individuals and the collective were taken over by these universal forces.
It was Alfred Lord Whitehead who taught us that when something happens with a high degree of regularity, it is evidence of a natural pattern. Here we can understand that natural pattern is synonymous with patterns of nature and archetypal patterns. The proliferation of gun violence in schools is an expression of a psychic tendency now activated in the lives of these shooters. With mounting evidence that there is little, if any, security or procedures required to purchase these weapons, we see that there is a similar psychic movement of dis-interest and lack of genuine concern for the welfare and safety of the children. This freedom and essential human right is not only allowed within the United States, but is lauded as virtuous. Something is obviously wrong with this, and especially when lawmakers find so many ways to support those voices championing these values. The right to bear arms, and civilian rights to carry assault weapons are two totally different things, however in our collective lack of understanding about the archetypal meaning of this right to bear arms, we fall into the pit of literalizing.
This talk will focus on the inherent archetypal issues involved in a collective where our children are not protected and live at the mercy of these shooters, and of all those who do little if anything to support their safety. In many ways, this talk reflects an extension of Jung’s call for us to live a “Symbolic Life” and to strive to understand and not simply concretize the deeper meaning of those currents which can take us down some transformative and treacherous paths.
Dr. Michael Conforti is a Jungian analyst and the Founder and Director of The Assisi Institute. He has been a faculty member at the C.G. Jung Institute - Boston, the C.G Jung Foundation of New York, and for many years served as a Senior Associate faculty member in the Doctoral and Master's Programs in Clinical Psychology at Antioch New England. A pioneer in the field of matter-psyche studies, Dr. Conforti is actively investigating the workings of archetypal fields and the relationship between Jungian psychology and the New Sciences. He has presented his work to a wide range of national and international audiences, including the C.G. Jung Institute - Zurich and Jungian organizations in Venezuela, Denmark, Italy, Colombia, Russia and Canada. He is the author of Threshold Experiences: The Archetype of Beginnings (2007) and Field, Form and Fate: Patterns in Mind, Nature and Psyche (2002). Dr. Conforti maintains a private practice in Mystic, CT and consults with individuals and corporations around the world.
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