In my last post I talked about the psychological concept of an individual Shadow, and mentioned that analyst Carl Jung also believed in what her termed the "collective unconscious." The collective unconscious basically is the Shadow for a group -- which means we could open a conversation about a national Shadow. While a very big group, our country does consist of a group of people. All of our unconscious attributes -- things we don't like about ourselves and don't want to acknowledge as part of our personalities and/or behavior -- go into the accumulation of a national Shadow.
Wait a minute, you may be thinking , America is a great country. How could we have a Shadow? We’re all about growth, progress, and “being the best we can be.”
Well, I encourage you to consider our media. Not just the media Donald Trump railed about not liking him – but what is portrayed on a national level through our TV shows and movies. We hear about studies done about whether the degree of violence that pervades our video games, television and movies can affect the minds of our children – yet most of us don’t seem to take that very seriously. (While the incidence of shootings at schools across our country escalates…) If one really looks at the majority of shows saturating our country’s entertainment industry, what do we see?
I’ll tell you what I see: Violence, anger (even rage), sex and greed. For good measure, sci fi adds a strong dose of fear. Everywhere. Excepting comedies, it’s hard to find a new show without at least one of them. And they are portrayed in BIG fashion: the largest TV sets ever, IMAX movies, and the all-encompassing sound effects of surround sound. No subtlety about it, for sure!
Where does this come from? As for the anger part, a line from a book I enjoyed recently titled Breakfast With Buddha (by Roland Merullo © 2007) comes to mind. The book is about a regular “Joe Schmoe” American named Otto who ends up having to drive his “woo-woo” sister’s guru across the U.S. from New Jersey to North Dakota. One of the things Otto does on a fairly regular basis is listen to Christian talk shows on the radio. Partly in response to the shows, and partly to address Otto’s mostly unconscious attitude, the guru asks several times, “Why so angry?” Initially the question itself sparks anger in Otto, but not wanting to start an argument he shrugs it off. (By the way, a handy example of how a feeling, unaddressed and un-expressed, can become part of one’s individual shadow.) After he is asked several times, he pauses to think. His reply is that most people think our way is right, and we don’t have much tolerance for those who don’t see it like we do. Sound familiar? (For me, that is the endearing aspect of that book – its genuine human-ness.)
Back to our national Shadow. I’m not going to go into the historical events in support of this – well, I suppose I could, but that would be at least a book's-worth. Where did we, as a country, get this deep, deep storehouse of such strong emotional content? Sex I suppose I can see – perhaps the repressed desires carried over from our country’s foundation on Puritan principles. And it certainly seems reasonable that the years of racial inequality in pursuit of – hmmm… methinks that could be greed! – led to an underlying simmering of anger and rage. Rage at being treated less than human, in spite of the fact that our Constitution states we are all equal under the law, and the Bible says we are all God’s children.
And add to that the anger many, I think, feel at the globalization of work, with potential U.S. jobs being outsourced to other countries. I’d say this is also in support of greed. After all, if you’re the financial officer of a major U.S. corporation wanting to keep your earnings statements high so Wall Street approves of your corporate performance and your stock goes up (making your investors rich), why on earth pay Americans a decent wage when jobless people overseas are happy to be employed for much lower wages? We can even watch movies like The Big Short and, immediately after leaving the theater, go back into denial about how our country's very foundation seems based on financial greed. It’s OK to be greedy and get all we can – just so long as we don’t get caught for the devastation this path may create in its wake. Somehow, Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness have come to mean “get rich,” even though most of us are willing to at least say (if not fully accept) that wealth does not necessarily lead to automatic happiness.
So how does Donald Trump win the election? He is the face of our national Shadow. Billionaire, angry, blaming, alternating between bully and victim, and willing to tolerate violence. The undercurrent that runs throughout the people of our country was projected onto this candidate, and people loved it. They may not want to acknowledge those character traits in themselves – but when they see it in someone else they can avidly support it! All their unconscious feelings and desires being played out just as they wish they could do, but, for the most part, would not dare. This person understands! If he gets the job, he’ll do things the way we think they should be done.
I believe that is how Mr. Trump won this election.
Before you throw up your hands in either disgust or hopelessness (both?) and prepare to post some nasty replies, please take a moment to wonder.... OK, this sounds pretty grim. Is there hope?
Yes, there is! There are a few things that give me hope, despite people’s fears about this man as leader of our country. I will present them in my next blog. Stay tuned!
Susan C. Moyer, MSW
Is a sound healer and transformational coach. She has 25+ years experience in using alternate states of consciousness to access deeper healing on all levels: physical, psychological, mental and spiritual.