As we force these dreadful and murderous aspects of the psyche further into the recesses of the unconscious, they gather strength and emerge in a distorted and even more dreaded guise. The everpresence of such violence, hatred, and terror in world history provides more than enough evidence that human denial, religion, repression, and governmental policies are no foil for these unimaginably powerful agencies within the psyche.
We are, once again a nation and a people under siege, from an enemy outside and an enemy within. Just walk down any street for evidence of this siege mentality, where we still find Hummers driving down city streets, and an escalation of violence on many corners. To allow the civilian use of assault weapons is an atrocity and the fact these have not been banned raises the question of culpability for these senseless murders of our children and loved ones. While no one really wants to point a finger, we have to say that in the absence of a deeper psychological and archetypal uunderstanding of these events, there should at least be a ban on the rifles known to be used in many of these shootings. Perhaps it is fair to lay part of the blame on the governmental agencies that coud have made a difference. However, rather than addressing the real issue, they prefer to engage in a rhretoric that reveled in the degree of denial that these casualities wore sneakers and pigtails. While it may be politically and culturally incorrect to lay blame at the feet of our political figures and the agencies they represent, is it really any more difficult to tell a parent that their child has been shot and died from multiple bullet wounds?
To move beyond the veil of governmental policy, the jockeying of the NRA and all of our public outcries, we need to ask what pattern is expressed through this proliferation of violence in the world. So what story is it, what pattern would have these individuals going on these killing sprees, and in turn, our collective response to take arms against them- of against whatever this threatening force might be. What we see is a pattern- a response pattern to a nation and of a psyche under siege. Fearing for their lives, rifles are clung to, arsenals are set up within our homes, and we encourage our wife and husband to buy that little gun “just in case” something happens. This is not an homage to gun control; rather it is an attempt to understand what it is that we really fear.
We are living in a time of terrible paranoia, and yes this is justified by world events, but world events are fueled by psychic events and the exploding of contents from the psyche into the world. In Depth Psychology and the New Ethic, Erich Neumann explained that paranoia, especially collective paranoia represents the projecting of internal contents onto others- the enemy who we see as the ones to be eliminated. He went on to say that while this projection of ones own issues onto the other works for a time, ultimately, we sense that these contents are coming back to haunt us, as they are in orgins really our own.
We are living under siege from these unconscious contents we refuse to accept about ourselves and fight to acknowledge. It is against these internal enemies and contents that threaten us on every front, and it is against their entry into our life that we stand armed, and create illusions of safety while driving our proverbial Hummers. But we are not safe.
It is this very point which takes us to the next unconscious reality behind this issue, from the introduction of Hummers into the market place a few years ago, to the proliferation of civilians buying assault weapons, these both suggest that there is an evolving, deep seated unconscious, psychological reality that we are all under siege. In war time conditions, we grab our weapons and are ready for war, and this is what has now occurred in our country. Unless we begin addressing these deeper unconscious dynamics, all of our legislation will serve to only make the task of buying these weapons a bit more difficult, as it will not address the reasons why we feel they are needed.
Michael Conforti, Ph.D. is a Jungian Analyst, and is the founder and director of the Assisi Institute. Dr. Conforti's work has resulted not only in a training institute based on his discoveries, but also the development of a new
discipline, Archetypal Pattern Analysis.