The making of a terrorist-coddling war-mongering Wall Street-loving….

This is the latest cover of Newsweek magazine. 

In case you can’t read it, the small print at the bottom says ‘[who isn’t actually any of these things].’  Just a sensationalist cover – or a huge projection of the dark shadow underpinning the American dream?

This cover is getting a lot of attention in Jungian circles because there is a view that Barack Obama, perhaps like many political figures, carries and receives  a nation’s complexes and projections as well as its hopes and aspirations; and that maybe he will even be able to transcend and reconcile these polarities through his own individuation process. 

I like to define individuation as ‘becoming the person you are meant to be’.  As Len Cruz says in his recent blog on The Asheville Jung Center website,  ‘…individuation is one of the most important tasks to which a person can apply herself or himself.  The more individuated person will be capable of dynamically holding tensions such as those depicted on the cover of Newsweek.  The process of individuation improves the likelihood that there will be persons who recognize that from the depths of their unconscious there arise life affirming, inspiring, seemingly charmed currents but there also arise sinister, destructive, rejected forces.  These darker, unconscious forces often make themselves known through their projection upon others.’  People who are in the process of individuation are more able to own their darker side and do not get stuck in unconsciously projecting it on to others.

It occurs to me that maybe we have glimpsed the darker forces projected at moments even on this blog!

I’m also wondering whether our coalition government is projecting its own darker side on to the previous Labour administration and the increasingly beleaguered public sector (itself also carrying the bankers’ projected shadow).

It terrifies me when I see groups of people stir themselves up in a shared hatred of the despicable actions of others; there can be a holier-than-thou zeal present in such a crowd feeling righteously incensed by vindictiveness.  Even when the outrage is justified, it worries me when there is an apparent lack of self-awareness that we all have the potential to do bad things, to act with self-interest as a governing motive, to fail to help or care for others.

 A good example of such zeal is the way that Fox News (renowned for its own sensationalist tactics) has pounced on the Newsweek cover: you can watch it on

It is only through empathy and a recognition that we all have our shadows that balance and humanity can be restored. 

A well-known phenomenon is to turn our ‘celebrities’ into heroes and heroines, often aligned with the Jungian archetypes. 

Robert Romanysyn, amongst others, describes Diana as a fairy tale princess who tapped ‘into an archetypal, collective root.  That is why it was such a powerful release of world-wide grief [when she died].  In this archetypal context we saw briefly something of her Orphan, waif-like character. She was for a moment the abandoned princess. Ironically, however, the image of the fairy-tale princess was also the way our collective consciousness could dismiss it. The princess dies – a nice fairy tale.’

Which are the archetypes associated with Obama and what will be the end of his tale?

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13 Responses to The making of a terrorist-coddling war-mongering Wall Street-loving….

  1. Stephen says:

    You don’t want to believe everything you read in the papers. This is a phrase I frequently use for my friends who insist on reading the Daily Mail. I was going to say that these days you are what you read (or see on TV) but perhaps it was ever thus. And of course we are also selective as to what we read and choose to believe – I read the Times but even this has its bias and can be prone to sensationalism (carried an article about Wayne Rooney’s alleged misdemeanours [who cares]) – after all it sells newspapers.
    Similarly I’m always cautious of anyone who feels passionate about anything, the downside of this is that it could lead to mediocraty. Of course being passionate about a good cause has to be applauded however we are back to the oldest question of all “what is good?”.
    I don’t feel qualified to comment on the development of self and how this maybe displayed by any individual – I barely know myself!

  2. estragon007 says:

    Let me help you. Why is the USA dumping all its problems on Obama and trying to transfer their failings onto him ?

    An interesting and complex question. In large part it is cultural. The British are well able to support their troops while dissaproving of the government policy that sent them there. The Americans tend not to do that. They are either for it or agin it.

    No sane person could support war in either Afghanistan or Iraq – but I wouldn’t say that in a bar in Brewery Gulch in Bisbee. They would think I had insulted the flag.

    The 9% 0f the British with a modicum of education regard their government as a bunch of liars on the make (very perceptive of them)- but the Americans really want their Government to lead them and be good people. It does not seem to occur to them that anyone who raises zillions of dollars and puts up with piles of crap to get elected to might have a reason- beyond wanting to talk to Bono.

    This terrorism thing thats all Obama’s fault. Thats hardly fair on him. Where is this terrorism in the USA ? What are they afraid of ? A bunch of illiterates ten thousand miles away in frocks with old kalashnikovs made in the back streets of Peshawar. Just how many of these folk can afford air tickets to the USA ?And even if they could- not even Pakistani Airways lets folk get on their planes with things that go bang. People seem to want to believe that a bunch of bearded loonies are a serious threat, whereas the evidence rather suggests most muslims would rather make a profit and buy a Mercedes.

    The Diana outpourings are part of a similar delusion. The UK proles have been ill served by their spiritual leaders who have kept them in poverty, poorly educated, poorly fed, with no moral leadership-this of course was deliberate- if they kept them ignorant they would hate other parties(that they perceived as priviledged) and keep their socialist leaders in fine houses and wealth.

    Their ambition is to be on TV – on the stage in the X factor- they don’t care how awful they are so long as Simon Cowell speaks to them on TV. That overrides their lack of learning, their rotten housing, unmarried parents and life of low level drudge- just a moment’s fame.

    So when the ex potential queen of England is killed in a car with her iffy lover driven by a drunk employed by a man the UK govt has refused to give citizenship to – and heaven knows they are not fussy- they weep for her.

    Why ? They have not even met her. They were never going to meet her. She was a manipulative adulterer (her husband was worse) .

    Its the magic thing. Like being spoken to by Simon Cowell. Its an escapist fantasy.

    The alternative is reality in all these cases- and in all these cases reality requires folk to face up to their own failings. So pass the fairy dust and pray that no one else dies for the proles to grieve over and that Obama doesn’t nuke Teheran if his poll ratings drop further.

  3. Dody Jane says:

    Oooo – you got me riled up, Karin! (smiling) I am not deep enough to consider Jung. I never took anything except behavioral psych 101 and all I remember were the ethical queries. This post has me stumped!

    I don’t like Newsweek. I think Obama is overrated and was under scrutinized before the election. Fox is Fox, but the news show Special Report is very informative, balanced intelligent, informative and fair. I prefer it to CBS, NBC or ABC. MSNBC is as far to the left as Fox is to the right. I watch both to balance myself.

    But, I am not articulate enough or organized enough to explain how I think it will all play out. I am not a fan of President Obama. I find that I can not discuss him calmly with those who are, my own sister included, although she has admitted he isn’t as much of a centrist as she proclaimed he would be (she worked hard for him) so I prefer to keep my mouth shut and think my thoughts and write about the things that make me happy.

    He is president, he is on his path. He is in charge with the power making the decisions he is making. That is what I know. That is the way it is. I think people ascribe qualities to him that simply ARE.NOT.THERE.

    He will either sink or swim. But another fifty billion tells me he has decided to sink.

    I am fascinated by politics. And yet, I hate what politics does to the Thanksgiving dinner table.

    I will say that I was one of those silly people who sat on my couch and wept and wept about Princess Di. I have thought about that often, Why? Why did I weep so? Because as estragon007 said, I never even met her. I had no idea who she was and to top it all off, I thought her wedding dress was too fussy and wrinkled too easily! Poor fabric choice. So what was it?

    I think it was the picture of her boys. It was some of the music at the funeral – there was a particularly gorgeous Elgar and a piece called Elegy, I think. And all those English FLOWERS! And then they put her on the island, all alone, and I wept even harder.

    But, in the end, all that weeping was like eating Chinese food, it just wasn’t substantial. I often think back and sigh, what was that all about?

    • Chris says:

      I didn’t weep over Diana but if I had done it would have been for a young life wasted. But the further the event recedes the more I wonder whether it was a life wasted. Did she not leave a good legacy in her children and would they have been raised in the way they have been without her influence, both on them and on the British royal family, in their early years? And that leads me to wonder whether, in the greater scheme of things, any life is ever wasted.

  4. Karin says:

    Hi Dody Jane – I love your writing as ever! especially the Chinese food analogy which captures the experience/phenomenon so well. Both you and estragon007 have outdone yourselves.

    Prescribing qualities that simply/probably aren’t there is quite possibly a form of projection – projecting either the hopes on to Obama, or the hatred/anger from within. An excessive irrational reaction like the Diana weeping suggests that an archetype may have been activated in some way at a very deep level; the ordinary death (people are killed in automobile accidents everyday) of an ordinary princess (if that isn’t an oxymoron!) somehow tapped into a well of shared (primeval?) emotion which turned into a global torrent.

  5. estragon007 says:

    Presidents are not in power.

    Presidents occupy the position so evil men can do things in their name, while they preen and delude themselves as to their achievments..

  6. Dody Jane says:

    Yikes! I will give you preen. (Preen is such a good word!) But, I also think there is a little bit of power there.

  7. Stephen says:

    Oh Michael (estragon007) I just love your rant. As for presidents having power, I agree, I doubt it very much. To become President they have had to promise so much to so many moguls and industrialists that all they can do is deliver on the promises to these people and the ordinary folk will wait and dream forever. Of course when we speak of Obama we maybe forgetting Bush who could barely string a sentence together and made some of the worst diplomatic gaffs of any president ever. So who voted for Bush?
    No matter – as estragon007 would often say, anyone who wanted to be a politician shouldn’t be allowed to be.
    In the UK, the aftermath of our own election continues to reverberate with the latest news being the nonsense about appointing another greed merchant to CEO of Barclays Bank and the previous head of HSBC becoming a government minister. Nepotism and greed continue to function, the old boys network isn’t old, it isn’t dead and all we can do is sit on the sidelines and bemoan the state of humanity.
    We get the politicians we deserve – if we don’t like it then we should change it or move to somewhere where politics is seen as the joke it really is – Australia.

  8. estragon007 says:

    You mean cos they put a girl in charge ? Not such a bad idea with their rugby team.

    I went to Oz a couple of times.

    The first time the bloke on the desk at immigration said ”any convictions ?”

    I said ”I didn’t realise it was still a requirement ”.

  9. Dody Jane says:

    Oh – I love that! ‘Any convictions?’ and your response – priceless! That would be a good post topic- whether anyone has deep convictions anymore.

  10. Glenn Berger says:

    Obama has qualities of the hero. The hero represents the new order that struggles with the established order to bring about cosmic renewal. This force always runs into a tremendous amount of murderous resistance. This is a central mythic theme. The king receives a prophecy that the son will take over the universe, and so the king eats the son. When the queen finds out that her step-daughter is more beautiful than she, she orders her heart cut out. To embody one’s authentic power in the face of such danger is what Paul Tillich called, “The Courage to Be.” Tillich says there are two groups, those that fear the void and those that fear the trap. The right fear the void (change) the left fear the trap (the status quo). Because of our collective pathology in the West, we do not want to let go and make room for the next generation — we do not want to grow old, lose our power, die. (Because we did not get what we need from our fathers, who also were unwillingly to ‘give the blessing,’ as Robert Bly would put it.) This collective pathology all too often turns violent. See: Jesus, King, Kennedy, etc. We are seeing this played out with Obama now. We can only hope he survives. He is one brave guy.

  11. Karin says:

    Hello Glenn, thanks for this thought-provoking comment and I agree with your general observations. I am especially interested in what you say about the two groups Paul Tillich has identified, and your apparent political equation of the right with a fear of the void (change) and the left with a fear of the trap (status quo). While that makes sense on the face of it, I have been reflecting on the UK’s current political situation. On the surface the right seem to be advocating apparently radical change, but actually the kind of and approach to change they are advocating sits well within the status quo. It is not transformational. And I don’t see the left advocating a transformational change outside the status quo either. So I am feeling that our whole society is falling short of the challenge and invitation offered by ‘the courage to be’.

  12. Chris says:

    Glenn and Karin,

    Interesting exchange between you. I laugh wryly as politician after politician stands up and advocates change. It’s become the buzz word. But so few of them seem able to persuade people of the rightness of the end state or of how to make the journey. I think we all know that change, even change for the better, is a hard road so maybe they mostly fail to make the journey because the political systems and electorate will not let them get to the end. And if they did what would politicians do after that? My money would be on starting the full circle of changing back again. I think it may be the destiny of all good men who advocate change to be gone before the change they wanted gradually creeps into being. And like Glenn, I hope Obama achieves at least some of what he is striving for. He looks to me like a good man.

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