Like many in my Baby Boomer generation, I was late to arrive at an appreciation for my gruff-spoken, close-to-the-chest, Greatest Generation father’s military service. Maybe it was years of dealing with his alcoholic, crazy parenting. But having only the fuzziest idea of what he’d done during the war, I grew up in the belief that Joe Carroll had been no great hero at all.
Psychologists today understand that when individuals act against their own better interests, unconscious processes in the form of a complex are most likely at work. These same unconscious processes can also operate in a nation's psyche: that force field made up of symbols and historical memories accumulated by a people over time.
I was well into my second decade of analysis when I hit a wall in my freelance writing career. It was early 2000, and, gathering my courage, I’d submitted a query to George magazine—with its marriage of politics and celebrity, one of the coolest “glossies” on the newsstands at the time—only to have it politely rejected.
"[t]he culture of fear that emerged out of 9/11 has to be understood in the context of an apocalyptic experience, as much as the actual event itself. Because it was so intense, so awful, such a surprise and so totalistic, our experience of it was apocalyptic. But we have to distinguish between what the event actually was, and our experience of it." Charles B. Strozier
"I say this again and again—but it happens that we were the ones to make the bomb first, and to use it, and this has had its impact on us. The raw nerve exists because we have a need to fend off any kind of guilt or self-condemnation." Psychohistorian Robert Jay Lifton, M.D.
A man of his time, Joe Carroll had been shaped by previous eras as much as his era had shaped my own. Like one of those Chinese nesting boxes, his psyche had been formed by the psyches of each of his own parents, who had in turn been shaped by events of their time—and so on back through generations.
Decker said, "I once had an interview with the Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama. When I asked him for his advice on how to work with veterans he said . .first, they had to have some kind of spirituality. And secondly, they had to know that it was their job—their duty—to kill people.He also made a distinction between having to kill during war, and committing murder."
It has often seemed to me that the only way humankind will change in time to avert its headlong course toward environmental destruction will be through the emergence of a new myth. Gary S. Bobroff, a Jungian-oriented psychologist, has devoted his life to studying the emergence of just such a history-changing myth: the emergence of . . .the phenomenon of crop circles.
In the third installment of my interview with Thomas Moore on his book, "A Religion of One’s Own: A Guide To Creating a Personal Spirituality in a Secular World," we examine the psychological dimension of a spiritual practice. In the absence of culturally sanctioned religious authorities, for instance, how do we handle feelings of guilt? What are we to make of our dreams?
In Part Two of our interview, Thomas Moore says that while he encourages individuals to develop their own personal spirituality outside religious traditions, he is not against religion. Rather, he advocates…finding a “different way of dealing" with religion by studying the world's traditions—then composing those tenets into a faith of one's own.
In his latest book, former monk, bestselling author and psychotherapist Thomas Moore offers a new vision of how seekers can fashion their own unique connection to the sacred out of the materials of ancient faiths and everyday life. The first in a three-part interview.
Reflecting on the past and how it shapes the present is the animating spirit of psychology. And although Dad had never been to therapy, it was to his enormous credit that during his dying last days he became as fascinated with exploring the geography of his memories as he’d once been excited to visit a foreign country.
Each scene, repeated to me over the years, is engraved on my memory—a series of bleak Christmas cards reminding me of the Norman Rockwell family my father never had.In this tableau, my father sat next to my grandfather. Happy and high-spirited, young Joe joked around, patting his father on the back, urging him to take second and third helpings of the Christmas meal.
As I learned during my own long hours of therapy, we are internally constituted of our two parents. And when a father neglects or even smashes in his daughter those critical qualities of agency and authority, those girls are at risk for growing up into women who lack the personal power to defend themselves, or to claim their dreams and the life they want.
“Where were you when Kennedy was shot?” was not just a pop culture question. To answer it located a person along both a political and personal timeline, validating the truth that we are as emotionally and psychologically impacted by large, historical events as we are by the parental abandonments and failures of childhood.
Among the trove of photos handed down to me, it was the images of my father's face that became the locus of my memoir. For even as the shoebox photos told the story of his eventful outer life, Joe's face as it changed over time revealed the truer, tragic story of his inner life.
Most of us probably don’t see ourselves as the next Martin Luther King or Gandhi. But almost all of us could see ourselves as part of a potluck group that’s making a significant impact in our hometown. Even though community organizing has been the engine for change in this country since the beginning, it’s not a model that we teach or talk about.
"One of the places we could use an addiction model in this discussion on climate change is around the question of forbidden topics -- and the secret that everyone knows. Because one of the biggest problems is that the frightening changes happening to our planet is not being discussed."
It’s not so much the part around money that’s healthy and well functioning we’re examining: It’s the way in which our culture as a whole gets caught by it and over-identified with it, and where money has become a substitute for other things.