Collective Psyche, by Iona Miller 8/2009
The Psychic System
COLLECTIVE PSYCHE is a meta-theory of mankind and the primordial field of consciousness/matter, first proposed by Jung. We have no control over the collective psyche, the dynamic totality of all conscious and unconscious psychic processes. It is a self-organizing process with its own structure and flow (archetypes and dynamics).
Global sociopolitical life mirrors this condition (including deeply ingrained conflict, the will to live and depression). Systemic global problems are mirrored in each of us. So are collective delusions. But our collective hearts are increasingly crying out for something beyond that myopia.
We must uncover and challenge the disabling myths of the collective psyche, triggering the drive to reach for the inspirational, the extraordinary. Change starts with the questions we ask because they are embedded with the potential to shift our awareness to more expansive and unexpected views. Can we harness what we've learned the hard way?
When we contemplate the same images, seeds are planted that may be unseen but express themselves through metaphor. Poised at the critical edge of creative process, we can reconfigure our strategies and resources into a living system with transcultural dialogue. All we have to do is apply decentralized, wise, creative, compassionate decisions wherever we can.
If consciousness is the root of matter, as some physics models suggest, it includes everything we imagine, experience and know as well as what we cannot know. The dichotomy of psyche and matter has collapsed in the transpersonal perspective. Realizing we share the same field, the new paradigm encompasses psyche and Cosmos.
Real awareness is being present in the moment. The confluence of future and past is eternally present now, pregnant with potential. Collective psyche "remembers" the future before it arrives, runs all superimposed scenarios in the multiverse before collapsing into ordinary reality. Collective psyche can provide prescient glimpses into possible futures. Can we, therefore, change undesireable timelines and outcomes using collective psyche as applied human survival technology?
Both individual and collective psyche possess layers that lie below consciousness. We can examine the beliefs and behavior of our global society, in general, just as we can analyze and foster emergent creativity in individuals with therapeutic effect. Is collective perversion inherent in the very processes that make us human? Collective behavior often defies apparent rationality by being toxic, pathological and malignant.
None of us is uncontaminated by what goes on outside of ourselves in the world. We all feel "violated" by some form of psychosocial trauma. This is the root of alienation. Have we become strangers to ourselves by projecting collective blame and suppressing collective wisdom?
How can we kindle a cultural placebo effect for spontaneous healing? What initiations do we need to find new meaning and make a collective transition away from "collective neurosis" toward the newly emerging concept of spiritual wellnes and compassionate maturity?
Will we assume a higher level of personal and social responsibility or remain numb to our collective dysfunctional behavior? What forces are undermining our collective psyche and why do we permit them to remain in play? How can we process and transmute our collective guilt into effective transformation? Can we stop transmitting our collective dysfunctionalities to future generations?
Can we heal the traumas imprinted on our collective psyche, recognizing there will always be conflicts from organizing principles in the psyche? Archetypes are composed of autonomous dynamic tensions arising spontaneously in individuals and the collective psyche.
The Transcendent function, according to Jung, resolves the split between opposing dynamics and recognizes the spiritual dimension of the psyche. Flow describes the state of harmonious order.
Can we take a collective spiritual journey beyond competing religions and isms toward collective vision? "Recovery" has taken on new meaning in the collective psyche since the global economic crash. We have to "take stock" of the new situation. As economic foundations crumble, we can't afford to be irrationally complacent.
Psyche, Science & Society
How can we modify the processes arising in the political context without changing the social context? The collective shadow of the old paradigm still plagues us with collective memory of political events, state terrorism, covert action, control mechanisms, public visibility (transparency), collective violence, class conflict, collective security, provincial national and cultural interests.
Psychosocial trauma is repeated as violations of person and property, competition for scarce resources, discrimination, our collective involvement in torture and such Frankensteinian science as biowarfare. In the asymmetric war of repressor and repressed, these are only a few of the manifestions of such tensions and our reactions (collective action) to them.
The insult is to our entire biopsychosocial being. Our institutional approach to trauma breaks down somewhere in the process. Global trauma occurs in the context of global drama. Traditional therapeutic paradigms don't work for this kind of trauma inflicted in the macro-social context of savage plutocracy, hegemonic capitalism and brutal totalitarianism. But there are pre-existing conditions in the structure of society and we have to deal with them as best we can.
The ghosts of such large-scale structures can only be exorcised for collective welfare by the introduction of new information, new contexts, new meaning, new structures and new paradigms. Models of collective history and psychological perspectives on society effect our worldview. The collective psyche of many groups has been brutalized. We need new models of collaboration and conflict resolution at the individual and collective level.
The collective psyche itself demands resolution or at least makes us obsess on its elusive nature. To find peace in the world, we must find it within. Images arising in the collective psyche are internalized as dreams and visions. We sense autonomous forces beyond us at work. Deity resides in the collective psyche. Even in physics and life sciences, psyche and matter are no longer split.Collective intelligence and identity are externalized online in social networking and digital alchemy. The web is a window on collective psyche that invites eruptions from its depths. This superset is a new human identity, embodying that tangibly greater than self. We are practicing higher order collective cooperation, collectively reinventing ourselves as a species. Collective conversation moves at the speed of light.
Openness, inclusivity, decentralization, nonlocality and virtuality are keywords. We are not only merging with one another, we are e-merging our nervous systems with our technology. We are letting go of personal identity to collective intelligence in a new way, teaching one another as we explore that frontier beyond the doors of perception. We are each a unique center.
Our collective aspirations are guided by archetypal fantasies. Our disenchantment and collective grief is arguably over loss of the world soul. The collective psyche points toward and guides us through the transition period we now face. New images are arising, reframing the future. Images have healing properties. They speak to us in our sleeping and waking dreams, forging shared stories relevant to everyone in the process as well as the Cosmos itself.
We cannot separate our psychophysical symptoms from the collective environment. There is a missing dimension in our worldview and mindscapes. We sense it, even though the market and media have attempted to drain all depth from our experience. Emergent events are not merely responses to economic and climatic conditions or social engineering, but eruptions of the collective unconscious.
Mobilized, the archetypal dynamics and creative forces of the collective psyche perturb psychosocial trends, creating new possibilities. Archetypes are the psychic skeleton fleshed out by events that matter. We can't keep our collective skeletons in the closet anymore. We can no longer charge the future to pay for our past. The marks have wised up and no longer trust the control systems.
What doesn't effect the Collective Psyche? Perhaps humanity has never faced more multi-dimensional challenges. We need to retrieve and upgrade our human survival technologies for our metamorphosis. Healing emerges from pathology. Edge artists are the shamans of the new millennium.
Maybe we are still addicted to the Hermetic myth of futurism when we need to live in the here and now. Like Hermes, the future is a perennial Trickster: this is what you want, this is what you get -- lowered expectations. Why do we hurry to live in the future? Futurism speculates about the unknown, robbing us of the present and its opportunities.
There is no quick cure for collective ills but we can find new metaphors, deeper meaning and more relevant stories. There is no therapy but moving forward creatively into the future, experimenting with solutions. Inspiration can emerge from infinite potential in any instant.
What's New with My Subject?
The only certain way to heal the personality or the world is getting to the source of wisdom. Collective consciousness is tied to the health of each individual. Healing power emerges from integration. Looking within, we arouse our tacit knowledge for participatory wisdom -- the active wisdom of the collective psyche.
The same patterns are at work in the individual and collective psyche, something ungraspable in the depths. Larger patterns are at work in the collective. Global awareness, multiculturalism and multinationalism are basic to the collective psyche. But we fear the loss of old boundaries. Is this our collective Borderline disorder, emphasizing relationship disturbances that challenge our beliefs about ourselves? Is it the source of our unremitting crisis and vulnerability?
Joy is the only antidote to anxiety. We need to create better environments, newer myths, and more compassionate beliefs so we can thrive, not just survive. Rather than conspicuous consumption, new buzzwords include ZPG, "downsizing," "aging lean," "design intelligence."
We need new models for creative art and science that move us beyond the nihilism of postmodernism into the transmodern era. The exhausted culture must die for the new to emerge from its ashes. The collective death-wish plays out in a myriad of ways. The psyche is not amenable to reduction. It cannot be contained or restricted.
Politics, Economics, War, Disease, Natural Calamities, Science and Technology, Natural Resource shortages, the Population Bomb, Pandemic, Forced Migration, Climate Shift, Energy Crisis and more have the capacity to instantly morph our worldview and lifestyles.
Destructive states need to give way to an opening of imagination as we continue to free our collective selves from oppressive mythologies. Hopefully, we can find a more sustainable means of existence. Therapeutic interventions can be performed by anyone at any level.
For example, consumers are radically revisioning their spending, saving and investment patterns. Artists are learning what it means to design new bodies and virtual environments. Art can be read as the archives of collective vision. Our collective intelligence is transforming through social networking. We can retrieve our geneologies and test our DNA to find out exactly who we are and where we come from. What we find is we are all more closely related than we formerly thought.
We can benefit by a wide-ranging holistic examination of nature and our own nature as a species. Humans, science tells us, are 99% genetically identical to primates and even closer to one another -- we are one family of man. Battles are symptoms. In psychology, symptoms are where boundaries are shifting.
Collective psyche is as multi-faceted as mankind. The meme biological "race" -- a social construction -- is an irrelevant folk belief that is culturally ingrained divisive view. The global human population is genetically homogeneous compared to other mammals. There are no subspecies in our global family.
Dysfunctional Family of Man
However, we are dysfunctional, detached, alienated. The collective demands of our culture have drained us. We have endured unbearable collective "cognitive dissonance" between the traditional and transitional paradigms. Such mental epidemics arise in the collective soul. One treatment is to reinvest in perennial collective values, such as democracy. If you hold a value, you must speak for it. Lack of passion indicates numbing.
We yearn for something deeper than consumerism in terms of mass mind. Fragmentation is the metaphysical and existential condition that leads to compulsive creation of the false self as compensation for lack of authentic identity. Omega points embody our existential despair, our apocalyptic yearning, our narcissistic desire to have everything reflect our own emptiness.
Despair can lead to suicidal thoughts. In Suicide and the Soul, James Hillman suggests the impulse to suicide is psyche's intense desire to change, and die symbolically to be reborn or renewed. We also long for renewal in our global culture and for the sake of our offspring. But do we have to be collectively self-destructive in the process?
Collectively, we are experiencing a disorder of adaptation that manifests in dissociation. Distrust, greed, apathy and burn-out are symptomatic. We have only recently crashed from a series of socially manufactured hyper-manic investment "bubbles," awakening us from a delusion of limitless growth.
We've become numb and overwhelmed. Numbness masks our collective spiritual hunger, which is the root of all addiction. Our paranoid culture is hyper-vigilant with Post-Traumatic Stress.
Holding all this tension is "weathering" or wearing us out. Economic collapse has sent many back to square one, desperately trying to reinvent themselves for survival. Old personas grow constrictive when we are role-bound into conventionality or the equally cliche eccentricities. Even your rebellions are socially engineered. Identified with the social mask, when we lose our job or 'mission' we lose our identity.
In the same way, we have to reinvent our culture, fractally, from the bottom-up and top-down. Some areas of cultural activity are more pathological and malignant. We literally and metaphorically need to 'cut it out.'
Ancient cultures have much to teach us in this regard; we need to listen deeply to one another. Psycho-spiritual forces of transformation are also in play, such as conceptual reorientation and memes that remain to play out, such as 2012 and technological singularity.
The Collective Psyche is also vulnerable to manipulation through a variety of means that modulate the order/disorder scale. Propaganda is used for organizing chaos in accord with specific agendas through memes, media, education, social values, military, medicine, politics, intelligence and business. Ideas are replicators, much like genes, and can be "cancerous" and require radical treatment.
The very Fabric of Reality is woven in our collective thoughts and embodiment. Consensus reality is formulated and ratified at the level of the human unconscious where all minds are entangled. This matrix determines the context and meaning of individual and collective being.
Currently, we are in the midst of a profound paradigm shift. For the first time in history we have sweeping knowledge of the historic panoply of our planet and humanity's place in it. We know who we are but we don't know where we are going, except into the Great Unknown, the abyss that represents the universal Mystery. Indications are that we are becoming "transhuman." The sadpart is most of have failed to becoming "fully human," living up to our human potential, before the transition.
Shared beliefs and attitudes operating as a unifying social force create Collective Consciousness which embodies the Social Cradle. This fractal and systems awareness can be raised to new heights through transformations in tacit and articulated knowledge with behavior rooted in new understanding. This is how new self-organizing order emerges from the death of outworn toxic systems.
In therapy, we hae to get to the root of the problem for more than a "bandaid" cure. Negative instinctual forces tend to keep this positive potential in check, but we are also capable of making quantum leaps in consciousness, particularly since our survival depends on it. We need to develop a system we can trust in once again.
The social drive behind transformation is the over-arching awareness that we are all in it together. New physics has revealed a deeper level of reality where we are at one with each other, the world and Cosmos. We need to begin operating from realization of that interconnected awareness.
Culture's Strange Attractors
Both individuals and cultures have internal maps of reality that condition their beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviors. C.G. Jung introduced the model of a Collective Unconscious and also a Collective Consciousness. Its primary structures are archetypes or patterns behind our religious, mythical, thought and social lives.
All the most powerful ideas in history arise from archetypes: religious ideas; the central concepts of science and philosophy. In their present form they are variants of archetypal ideas created by consciously applying and adapting these ideas to reality.
The Collective Psyche is complexed, subject to distortions in healthy dynamics. They revolve around the perennial problems of mankind -- the Strange Attractors of collective life. Projections territorialize the aspects of the collective psyche, but we are all part of that collective body.
Collective behavior also has a Shadow-side as we find in individuals. It causes us to project evil onto other individuals, groups and nations, disowning our complicity. Often there is an abyss between our overt and covert intentions and their real-world effects due to a myopia that prevents us seeing into our collective blind spots.
What is going on in the collective psyche? Oppositional thinking and projection mean we live in a time of accelerating polarization: us versus them, good versus evildoers, and splitting and projection based in creeds, isms, and other congealed dogmas. What we need to examine are the effects, not intentions, of those beliefs.
Cultural narcissism and oppositional thinking are deterants to peace in the world. We need to begin taking collective responsibility for our pathology to overcome our collective denial that has fouled our environment and interpersonal relations at the individual, national and global level.
Frontiers of Consciousness
We gain in meaning and value by fearlessly examining our collective psyche to find hidden dynamics at work below the surface of events that could make or break our intergenerational futures. These dynamics are conditioned by archetypes just like individuals share these common drives for good and evil.
Global Architectronics is the evolving architecture of our common culture, shaped by a variety of internal and external forces. Some of them plague mankind and some have the potential to raise us to a higher level of being in the world and with one another.
The dynamics of Chaos Theory illuminates the process of radical culture change and the challenges of our currently shifting society. We are in unprecedented flux and recognizing that changes in one area of the globe potentially effect the whole system. There are no "closed societies" in the Information Age. This is the era of Glocalization. Order emerges from chaos, but chaos also overwhelms us when order breaks down in our bodies, minds or societies. Then we need emergent healing that comes from deep within, not introjected from outside of ourselves but welling up from our core. In this new Depression, we need deep healing, individually and collectively. Our sick system needs to heal from corruption and mismanagement. The planet needs to heal from human impact and overpopulation. It is a complex problem which can only be addressed by a radical shift in healing paradigms and means. The transformative process takes many forms in working with chaos through nature's way.
Order emerges from chaos, but chaos also overwhelms us when order breaks down in our bodies, minds or societies. Then we need emergent healing that comes from deep within, not introjected from outside of ourselves but welling up from our core. In this new Depression, we need deep healing, individually and collectively.
Our sick system needs to heal from corruption and mismanagement. The planet needs to heal from human impact and overpopulation. It is a complex problem which can only be addressed by a radical shift in healing paradigms and means. The transformative process takes many forms in working with chaos through nature's way.