Thursday, April 20, 2006

External War

External War

This is the obvious title to follow that of the previous post.  “War” or conflict between people is obviously an outward expression of much inner disharmony.  Let us think of our places of work.  Who are the angry workers?  Who are the ones with the “chip” on their shoulders?  Who are the bitter ones?  Who are the power trippers?  They probably stick out like a proverbial pikestaff.  Those with big egos, who always have to prove themselves, who always bask in the sunlight of praise, who have to be seen as the person to really get things moving and finally achieved are quite often ill at ease in themselves – insecure in their self-image and often lacking in real though not in apparent confidence.  Bullies, who like to throw their weight around, are really somewhat pathetic beings who pick on weaker members of staff to give them the satisfaction of being able to wield their power.  All of the resultant external conflict mirrors a deeper internal struggle.

My previous post spoke about the internal struggle between passion and reason.  This is possibly one of the most important aspects of the “human condition.”  Here I would like to allude to the shadow aspects of the human psyche, to which the great psychiatrist Jung devoted much of his time and effort.  Oftentimes those who wreak havoc on the external world have many unresolved internal “shadow” issues.  A good example here would be Senator Joseph McCarthy of the communist witch hunt fame in the U.S.A. of the fifties.  As recent studies have shown, this powerful egomaniac, who happily went around outing communists at will, was a homosexual who in common parlance had never “come out.”  The point of his being a homosexual is of course irrelevant – as irrelevant as the colour of his skin.  What are relevant are the inner turmoil of unacknowledged truth and then the projection of that denial outward onto others where he now becomes the “outer” of suspected communists.  An interesting comment was made on Joseph McCarthy’s outward ruthlessness by a lawyer friend, Edward Hart, who had campaigned with him:  “I always felt that Joe lived in a different moral universe. He asked himself only two questions. What do I want and how do I get it. Once he got rolling, you had to step aside. It was every man for himself, sort of what anarchy must be like. Edgar Werner (a political opponent) was an honest man. Joe went after him in a way that was unconscionable. Maybe that's what he had to do to win. I don't know. But it's a hell of a price to pay. You've got to live with yourself.”  In the end Joe McCarthy drank himself to death at the age of 49.  This man projected his inner unresolved problems and misery outwards onto others and brought about much innocent suffering and anguish.  Hitler, of course, (whose autobiography, Mein Kampf, Joe McCarthy had studied by way of learning strategies and tactics to win and keep power), is a brilliant if too often quoted example of externalizing one’s inner unresolved conflicts onto the outward world.

I have often thought that politicians who constantly see “demons” running riot in the opposition must be interesting fodder for armchair psychiatrists and would-be psychotherapists.  What interesting clients or patients or candidates Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness on the one hand, and Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson (the oldest and longest surviving deputy leader in the history of any political party) on the other would make for the psychiatrist's chair.  Both parties project their worst unresolved internal conflicts onto their opponents – thereby demonizing the other side.  If we do not face our own inner demons then they haunt us so much that we must project them onto others.  I suppose each rival community projects its own worst unresolved fears onto the other in like manner as we do as individuals.  External conflict then is oftentimes the projection of unresolved inner issues.  World war is also, then, the projection outward of unresolved and unaccepted national identity issues - such as, say, collective megalomania reflecting superiority complexes etc. The picture I have inserted centre top of this post is of the sea water breaking over rocks at Cefalu, Sicily. Inner conflict must always break loose into the outer world!

1 comment:

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