Friday, October 28, 2011

"Ego and Archetype": Inflation and the psychology of politics

I'm reading Ego and Archetype by Edward F. Edinger and it's bringing up several ideas which I will explore in various posts - the first one is on Edinger's concept of inflation.

He identifies identification of the ego with the Self as the cause of inflation. I disagree - the identification with the the Self is healing. I think inflation is caused by the false inflation of the ego - where the ego tries to take on the role of the Self unto itself. When the ego tries to give itself a sense of meaning and value, cut off from the Self, it runs into problems like narcissism. Edinger does say that healing is caused by re-establishing a connection with the Self, which I agree with.

I wonder if this is related to coming from a Christian worldview? I'm not sure, but all of his examples are from Christian theology and mythology. Christianity would view identification with the Self (or "God") as sacreligious and anathema so it's possible - I'm 1/4 into the book and I have yet to see an example from a fairy tale or a non-Christian myth.


Individualism and right wing ideology

On page 59 Edinger describes a dream that vividly outlines the process of this re-establishment of connection with the ego - and not only re-establishment but giving control over to the Self - and I thought of the preoccupation in the United States with individuality and the concept of the importance of the control of one's destiny. There's an almost pathological (if not actually pathological) obsession with not letting others control one's self. I can imagine the reaction of your typical American to the dream, which includes consciously giving over control of one's body and one's very thoughts to the "Central Source of Energy and Law" and how it would be interpreted as some sort of evil Communist plot to take over our minds and wondered if this very attitude wasn't a part of American pathology.

I do a lot of work on various political issues and one thing people consistently come up with as a part of their resistance to various social initiatives (health care, high speed rail, bike share) is the loss of personal control. This fear is a large part of the basis of right wing politics, with it's horror of the "nanny state," but can also be found in other political groups, libertarians in particular but even among self identified progressives, especially those who are strong proponents of what they believe to be "real" democracy (ie. that which isn't under the control of corporations.)

This appears to be closely related to the tendency of conservatives to "splitting"- dividing people into all good or all evil. Anyone who promotes ideas that frighten them are communists or helping the terrorists. Conservatives often express a complete inability to understand perspectives different from their own and, in fact, a strong tendency to demonize them. There's a strong thread of fear and paranoia, and the attendant tendency to attack, even try to annihilate, their opponents, with attitudes and behavior becoming more extreme the further to the right ones goes.


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