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Anima and Animus in the Business World

By Anna Milashevich


In this essay, I explore manifestations of the anima and animus in the business world, as well as contributions these archetypal energies make to our understanding of business creativity. These archetypes emerge in groups, collectives and domains such as business, and many individuals participate in them in one way or another – now from anima energy with projections, fantasies and ideas, now from animus patterns with know-how and more rational approaches. Thus, it is useful to understand the mutual relationship between anima and animus in terms of syzygy. In Jungian psychology, the term syzygy denotes a pair of psychological opposites whether in conjunction or opposition (Jung, CW9ii, paras. 20-42).

Syzygy contains many possible relational combinations. My argument is that a relatively stable functional syzygy between anima and animus is required to generate creativity in business and bring about an adequate execution of the project. This is the ultimate source of analytical imagination so crucial in the business world. This syzygy comprises a state of creative tension (neither outright conflict nor merger) where the differences are in dialogue with each other and working dynamically together, while preserving the necessary distinctions of their specific natures. The ideal functional syzygy is one that uses analytical imagination to offer novel answers to concrete problems in demand.

I will start with a brief overview of the Jungian understanding of the anima and animus and then move to the main part of this essay, which is the business application of these concepts. I will use start-up culture to illustrate my points and will end by shifting into a ‘case-study’ of Pinterest, a successful start-up company, to underpin the practical importance of syzygy for the business domain.

Anima and animus in Jungian psychology

Jung used the term ‘anima’ to denote the unconscious ‘feminine’ component of the man’s psyche and ‘animus’ for the ‘masculine’ aspects of the woman’s psyche. This classification, however, raised some concern even in his times; in today’s world, where gender is conceived of in somewhat different and more flexible ways, we would say that everyone has both an anima and animus. In this light, as some commentators (Samuels, 1985/2006, p. 212; Lopez-Pedraza, 1989/2010, p. 151; Young-Eisendrath, 1997/1999, p. 225) point out, these concepts can be viewed as metaphors for unconscious energies, arguably without losing their essence.

Importantly, Jung himself used the terms anima and animus to designate certain patterns of related psychic phenomena. According to him, the anima and animus contain attributes that are lacking from our conscious attitude, and thus indicate a more unconscious level than we realise consciously. Jung sees these archetypal factors as a doorway to the deeper levels of the inner world and as offering access to the collective layers of the unconscious (CW9ii, paras. 20-42). This applies both to individuals and to communities and collectives, such as the business domain.

Jung describes the anima as the projection-making factor in the psyche, which, like the ancient Indian Goddess Maya, creates illusions (CW9ii, para. 20). The ego consequently gets caught up in a web of projections that stem from this unconscious source, which represents the power of Eros[1]. Jung writes that the anima is ‘the glamorous, possessive, moody, and sentimental seductress in a man’ (CW9ii, para. 422) and that ‘[s]he intensifies, exaggerates, falsifies, and mythologises all emotional relations’ (CW9i, para. 144). The anima brings in feelings of excitement, fascination and the desire for union, if not total merger. She creates a version of reality in which we want to believe and participate and in this respect is every successful con-man’s greatest accomplice (Konnikova, 2016). It is due to the impact of the anima that we feel an immediate and deep connection to certain people, ideas or projects. Thus, we may become intoxicated by the speech of the charismatic orator, fall in love with a film star or envision a certain version of ourselves or the future – none of which may be grounded in our reality. The impact of the anima bypasses our ability for independent thinking and critical judgement due to a strong and immediate emotional affect. The animus, on the other hand, is associated with Logos[2], i.e. structure, discipline and independent thinking (Jung, CW9ii, paras. 20-42). We could say that the animus pulls the psyche in the direction of abstraction, reality-testing and the creation of order. However, the animus also has a tendency to become dull, judgemental and one-sided. Its constructions can be as illusory as the fantasies of the anima. Both are driven by unconscious energies that dissimulate as reality. However, as I will argue, both are necessary for creativity and execution in the business domain.

It could be argued that the anima and animus as principles broadly capture and contain the multiplicity of archetypal characteristics inherent and active within the collective unconscious.[3] Specifically, the anima (with its lunar energy) empowers Eros and the forces of relationship, while the animus (with its solar energy) drives structural factors and empowers Logos. Thus, for example, the shadow, puer aeternus and mother, with their relatively undifferentiated and marked lunar qualities featuring raw emotion and imagination, draw energy from the anima principle, while the solar orientation of the more differentiated archetypes such as the persona, senex and father draw their resources from the animus principle with its orientation toward structure. These archetypes then use the energy in their own characteristic ways. The syzygy, which combines the anima and animus in a larger composite totality, provides space for a variety of positions in the relations among the anima and animus oriented energies and opportunities for switching between different paradigmatic positions. Behind the syzygy lies the overarching ‘archetype of archetypes’, the self, which guides and controls all distributions of energy among the various archetypal patterns.

Manifestations of the anima and animus in the business world

The concepts of anima and animus can be instructive in addressing the current ‘execution gap’, which, according to many commentators, is endemic in our culture (Mankins and Steele, 2005). The term ‘execution gap’ refers to the gap between the setting of a strategy or goal based on a certain idea/vision and actually achieving it. This is often expressed in terms of ‘from X to Y by when’ (McChesney, Covey and Huling, 2012, p. 299).

I will use the notion of the anima archetype to refer to the workings of imagination and the spontaneous emergence of ideas and images related to a product, while its counterpart, the animus archetype, leads toward execution by introducing know-how, experimentation, ordering, estimation of markets and the possible structure of implementation. Thus, the anima picks up and introduces the unconscious knowledge of a business idea, while the animus, as the ordering agency, has unconscious knowledge of the market as well as how to make this idea work. It is my hypothesis that it is the ‘functional syzygy’ (i.e. a state of creative tension between these energy polarities where the differences are in dialogue with each other and working dynamically together, while preserving the necessary distinctions of their specific natures) that brings strategy and execution together and potentially integrates them into a whole. Through its dynamic presence in each, the syzygy effectively bridges the dichotomy that is responsible for creating both the theoretical and practical chasms between these two business concepts.

Strategy is about forward-looking vision and ideas (i.e. the anima), while execution, being about structural implementation, is shared by the animus and ego.[4] In the absence of the functional syzygy, when the animus and anima are not adequately relating to each other, there is a divide between strategy and execution: strategy is unrealistic and inflexible, while execution lacks motivation and is sterile and over practical. This strategy orientation is often cited as one of the major reasons for the execution gap (e.g. Leinwand and Carmichael, 2016), while lack of motivation on the execution side is another (e.g. McChesney, Covey and Huling, 2012, pp. 6-8).

 In this theoretical account, the ego shares the function of execution with the animus by following up on animus’ constructions. It is important to point out that the ego does not organise or structure execution; it rather implements the organising factors that the animus comes up with. Organising and structuring are creative acts. Jungian psychology holds that creativity fundamentally derives from the collective unconscious (Jung, CW15, para. 130) and that the ego is crucial for the realisation of creativity within time and space. Jung also stated that ‘the ego stands to the self as the moved to the mover, or as object to subject’ (CW11, para. 391), while emphasising that the self needs the ego in order to have presence in the time and space realm.[5] The latter view has been further elaborated by many Jungians. For example, Edward Edinger (1972) introduced the term/concept ‘ego-self axis’. In this context, it is worth emphasising the difference between true reality-testing and what could be called ‘pseudo reality-testing’. It is often assumed that the ego, as the centre of consciousness, does the reality-testing. However, the principal function of the ego is to determine what enters the centre of consciousness, and thus, as pointed out above, the ego only implements what the archetype, with which it currently identifies more, comes up with. For example, when the ego is under the influence of the anima or puer, it may ‘think’ that it is engaged in reality-testing, while in fact it is only protecting a certain idea/fantasy from reality (i.e. pseudo reality-testing). For the ego’s reality-testing to be genuine and effective, a connection with animus’ energies is necessary. Thus, it is the ego and animus together that constitute the reality principle, which is essential for execution of a project.  

When the anima and animus are working together as functional syzygy, this syzygy becomes available to both strategy and execution. It brings imaginal strategy and concern for the real world together and integrates them into a whole, thus making strategy more realistic and flexible and thus more in touch with execution. The functional syzygy contains both the anima voice, which whispers, ‘Yes, let’s do it! I am excited’, as well as the animus voice with its reassuring message, ‘I know where we are going’. This syzygy activates and motivates the ego, which then implements what the syzygy comes up with. The anima side of the syzygy creates a pervasive strategic attitude capable of supplying the necessary motivation to sustain the project through the everyday whirl of business routines while the animus side directs the project to move ahead, to change and possibly become something entirely different as that execution proceeds. Without this functional syzygy, all motivational tactics would be merely short-lived. Thus, through this syzygy, strategy contains within it the execution aspect (through the animus and its connection with the reality-principle), and execution contains the motivating strategic aspect (through the anima and its deep connection with unconscious creativity), meaning that the presence of the syzygy narrows the execution gap.

Start-ups as an example of the syzygy in action

The impact of these archetypes can be illustrated using the example of start-up companies, which I use because the dynamics of start-up culture demonstrate the patterns in the execution gap particularly vividly. That is to say, they exhibit the divergence between inspiration and vision (largely in the form of a new idea) and execution in a characteristically acute way. As the driving force behind the current trends of western economic development, start-ups are promising yet demanding and risky enterprises: research shows that at least 75 per cent of start-ups fail, with investors losing all their money in 30-40 per cent of cases (Cage, 2012).

There are no hard and fast rules to defining a start-up, and hence the definitions are many and often conflicting. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘start-up’ as: ‘the action or process of setting something in motion’ or ‘a newly established business’. Neil Blumenthal, co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, defines a start-up as ‘a company working to solve a problem where the solution is not obvious and success is not guaranteed’ (as cited in Robehmed, 2013).

Contrary to these definitions, co-founder of an influential start-up accelerator Y Combinator, Paul Graham, states that start-ups are defined in terms of exponential growth (Graham, 2012) and it is this that distinguishes a newly founded business from a start-up. For example, what distinguishes Google from a barbershop is not that its founders were extraordinarily hard-working or lucky or both; the difference is that the barbershop cannot scale up, while Google has the ability to attract a large market and thus experience high growth rates. Thus, Graham identifies two conditions necessary for a start-up: 1) a product with a large potential market; 2) the ability to reach and accommodate this market.

An equally useful definition is offered by Eric Ries (the acclaimed pioneer of the lean start-up movement, a modern business strategy helping start-ups to allocate their limited resources efficiently): a start-up is ‘a human institution designed to create new products and services under conditions of extreme uncertainty’ (2001, p. 8). Apart from emphasising the human element in start-up culture, the definition also specifies that the key factor required for their development and operation is extreme uncertainty, which includes not only market conditions but also lack of awareness of who their customer is, what their product will be or which obstacles they will have to overcome. It is these features that distinguish start-ups from what could be called more traditional business models and which are responsible for significantly redefining business operations. By presenting a formidable challenge to well-established companies (e.g. smartphones vs. Nokia), the start-up mentality with its emphasis on continuous innovation has integrated itself into the very matrix of the business domain. The amount of time for which a company can hold on to its earlier innovation has shrunk considerably, making even the most well-established businesses heavily dependent on innovation to ensure their future survival. For example, John Hagel of Deloitte’s Centre for the Edge (2002) states: ‘It’s not only getting harder and harder to generate profits, but it’s getting harder and harder to maintain market position – even when you are the very largest companies in the U.S.’.

My argument is that the concepts of anima and animus are useful tools for understanding the unconscious psychological structures behind start-up activity that contribute significantly to success or failure. Thus, it is important to see how they pull the psyche in certain directions (i.e. how we identify with these archetypes). As mentioned earlier, Jungian psychology states that creativity comes from sources deep in our collective unconscious. The anima acts as a gateway to this deeper level and is present each time we have an inspired idea, a so-called Eureka moment, such as ‘it would be great to do this’ or ‘I can see how I can make what exists better’. It inspires us, opens up a range of possibilities and energises and excites us so that everything seems possible and within reach. We could say that the anima makes us fall in love with an idea and thus pulls our psyche in the direction of heightened, even wild, imagination and creative energies. This process of idea-formation is important, since, although it may appear (albeit not necessarily to us) that we lose touch with reality in such moments of inspiration, this is when our ideas become conscious, begin to take shape and come alive. What, however, might equally happen at this initial stage of idea creation is that we get caught up in an idea and even become sick with it.[6] We can see this happening particularly often with start-ups. The idea can seduce and enslave us, as in the case of identification with our idea.

This unconscious identification can manifest as all types of defensiveness in relation to the idea, including the refusal to put it to vigorous reality testing. This may lead to inadequate research, lack of customer development interviews or badly designed questionnaires whose purpose is to support one’s own point of view rather than to get to the bottom of the situation. There is no interest in whether the product meets market needs, and instead a rather common temptation is to begin thinking that ‘first we will make something and then we will see how it can bring profit’. There may be a certain determination and rigidity of attitude: the idea is great and it must work. Here, the inspiring person may use the example of Twitter, which was also unprofitable for a long time (Smorodnikova, 2014).

At later stages, when it becomes apparent that the market is not responding, this rigidity contributes to the temptation to start adding further features to the product in order to perfect it. In contrast, an alternative to this behaviour is to pivot, which is a common practice in start-ups. Pivoting usually occurs when the current business model is not working and the founders thus resort to plan B. It is often the result of desperation, arising out of the urgency to change things before the resources run out. However, it is also about attuning to the voice of customers, and, by aiming to deliver the product that they want, forgoing initial preferences about expanding or changing the target markets (Ries, 2011, p. 149). Being in the grip of the anima means that new possibilities are overlooked and no pivots are undertaken; thus, the project loses momentum. As a result of this unconscious identification with the anima, we move further and further away from reality and begin to like our idea and vision more than the market, its users and their problems.

What is important at the stage of idea-formation is that one does not become seduced by the anima and cling to the inspired idea at all costs. Separation (i.e. individuation) is called for at this point. A degree of strong anima identification would be inevitable and even desirable in some cases, but it is the dynamic of identification that becomes a problem. Compared to normal jobs, start-ups take up days and nights of their founders’ lives and involve foregoing a stable income amongst other sacrifices that significantly affect the quality of life. A degree of strong identification ensures the required 100 per cent commitment, perseverance and even stubbornness. The other side of this identification, however, is that it can, especially under certain unfavourable circumstances, quickly spin out of control and drag a person with it. The idea in the head may become bigger and stronger, drawing more and more resources towards itself. It takes on all the time, effort, emotions, mental ability and finance and thereby becomes the centre of one’s life. In its demand for complete dedication, as in the case of a possessive lover who stops at nothing short of complete ownership of the object of desire, it might eventually suck all the blood and exhaust the life-force, throwing a person into an abyss of despair and self-deprecation. The short history of start-ups has already witnessed many painful examples of this happening, including cases of suicide (Carson, 2015).

What are the roots of this identification? The anima presents us with a brilliant idea, which has vast potential. Most importantly, however, it represents us in potential, where we stand for something that we are not at the moment. In that respect, it gives us a new identity. When we are presented with an idea by the anima-muse, we are suddenly removed from our mundane lives and transformed into the owner of some precious jewel or a hero galloping off on some glorious mission (slaying dragons, saving princesses and acquiring kingdoms). The anima ensures that all this will feel real, as it is not only the source of creativity in giving us ideas, but is also the master of grandiose illusions and deceptions.

One of the most damaging aspects of the anima is her tendency to whisper sweetly in our ear that we are special and that our ideas matter. Once the ego takes up this anima suggestion and locks it, as a sacred treasure, in a safe, that precious idea begins to dictate directions. Much of what the anima says or does in the background is barely detectable by the ego, which then suffers intolerably: on the one hand, there is a belief that guides all its actions, while on the other there is reality which often does not match this belief and instead requires a very different set of skills and resources.

The negative aspect of the anima with its powerfully charged conviction that the idea is everything features prominently in the start-up environment. If we look at the chart below, we can see how this anima-inspired Silicon Valley version of the Cinderella story can go bust: by far the top reason for start-up failure is a lack of market need for the product.

Top reasons for the failure of start-ups

(Source: CBinsights, 2014, The Top Twenty Reasons Startups Fail)

This single factor accounts for at least 42% of failures, followed by running out of cash (29%), issues within the team (23%) and being outcompeted (19%). However, looking at the chart, it is possible to say that fascination with the idea not only features prominently in the first item on the graph, but is also implicit in most of the other factors responsible for failure, such as running out of resources or burning out.

The observation that clinging to pet ideas could, in fact, kill start-ups and often effectively destroys the lives of their founders, points to the insight that the idea itself is not the most significant aspect of a successful start-up; what matters is how it is executed and how the eventual product is received by the market (Cooper and Vlaskovits, 2013, p. 4). The reason many start-ups die is because business creativity does not comprise an aspect of the self-exploration or self-realisation process (as it does in art, for example), but is primarily concerned with satisfying the rather specific needs of the market.

Thus, whereas the first encounter with the anima can be overwhelming, it is important to have a second and more conscious encounter. The anima does not operate in a linear fashion, but in terms of emotionally charged images. It is volatile and in need of containment. The animus, on the other hand, brings a drive toward order, rationality, reality-testing and know-how. It is responsible for the drive toward the structured development of an idea and therefore pushes for market research and will generally act to check the idea against market reality: is the market big enough? Is there a need for this product? How may the incumbents respond to our intervention? In the modern world, where almost everything imagined can be built, the animus interrupts the anima’s self-inspiring chatter: ‘Until we figure out whether we can build a sustainable business around the idea, it is not worth spending any resources on it’.

Thus, the animus interferes with the state of unconscious identification with the idea and with all the fantasies built around it. While the anima comes from the realm of the Mothers and can draw us back into the world of images and potentials (Jung, CW15, para. 159), the animus is connected to the Father principle and in that sense it, like the father, breaks the connection between the realm of the Mothers and the new-born idea. The animus introduces the necessary ‘third’ into the dyad. Ideally, its energy removes the idea from the realm of the Mothers while not entirely destroying the ego identification with the anima/idea. In this way, it adds energy in the form of structure and order and brings logical direction to the idea, thus helping it to form, develop, mature and scatter the seeds further.

Quite often what is needed is both big vision and small-scale steps. Here, the animus may break the anima’s vision into its component parts and conduct a vigorous testing that separates facts from assumptions. The animus’ emphasis on the scientific approach and experimentation works together with the anima’s vision, hopes, fears, intuition and judgements. Thus, the functional syzygy can channel the anima’s creativity into its most productive form. The animus’ productivity is not about efficiency, but about aligning the business idea with the needs of the market. The functional syzygy is an example of what could be called ‘analytical imagination’.

When the anima and animus are working together as the functional syzygy, work has meaning and thus the ego can sustain the necessary motivation throughout the project. It is this syzygy that activates and motivates the ego. The ego, being responsible for the actual execution of the task, mobilises the necessary resources to contain and persevere through the difficulties, and essentially allows for work to be conducted efficiently. It is not a perfect equilibrium, even once established, since the ego will still inevitably identify slightly more with the anima on some occasions and with the animus on others, thus causing the syzygy to change its character configuration or even collapse.

What is most important is that the ego does not claim creativity for itself. Instead, it invites further creativity and development. When a certain vision of a product is conceived, there is no insistence on how to use it. The developers look carefully to observe its actual usage patterns in the business environment, and they are flexible enough to pivot when a major pattern becomes evident.

An example

To conclude my argument, I would like to use the story of Pinterest to illustrate the workings of the anima and animus and their syzygy. The story of the company, like every story, is multidimensional and thus cannot be captured fully by any single narrative. What follows only claims to show the relevance of the anima and animus archetypes as important determinants in the formation of the company.

In the spring of 2012, Pinterest became an overnight success. Now, with nearly 73 million users worldwide, over 500 employees and an office in San Francisco, Pinterest, after displaying extremely high growth rates over the previous three years, was valued at $11 billion in June 2015 (Wikipedia, n.d.). The company was founded by Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp and Paul Sciarra in 2009 and the initial idea for their start-up came from Ben Silbermann’s interest in collecting things. His own childhood hobby, which he still holds dear to his heart, was collecting butterflies. Thus, he wanted to create a website that allowed people to explore and share their hobbies. At the core of his idea was the creation of virtual photo boards organised around one’s interests (Shontell, 2012). Following the basic logic of a butterfly collector, every time one sees a stimulating image online, all one has to do is to press the Pin-button for the image to appear on one’s board.

Silbermann’s idea for the company was derived from something he felt passionate about and this passionately held image was the source of his inspiration. At an early stage of business creativity, the animus served as the structuring agency in conducting the research and organising the founders’ ideas. As Silbermann said, ‘collecting tells a lot about who you are’, but there was nowhere on the web to share that side of one’s personality (as cited in Panzarino, 2013). The founders spotted a gap in the market that other social networks, including big incumbents such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and others, had overlooked.

The story of Pinterest can be looked at as the process of how Silbermann’s ‘problem’ (i.e. a lack in the current social media market which addressed his personal interests) became the problem of many other people (including those who may not previously have been aware that they had this ‘problem’). As Silbermann states: ‘There is a lot of value in helping people to discover things that they did not know they wanted’ (as cited in Simonite, 2013). To his comment it could also be added that the other side of the Pinterest story is that its founders did not know or could not foresee what kind of social network they would eventually create and are still creating. Anima dynamics lie in the emergence and persistence of a large and somewhat vague image or idea, which in typical fashion appears in the fog and requires a great deal of time and effort to take form in the real world. ‘It would be great to have a website for people to collect things’ is the idea indicating the anima’s motivating presence on the scene. This arises out of an earlier passion – collecting and pinning butterflies – and now becomes generalised and enters the business environment. However, there is more to the anima’s story. The anima brings with it the unconscious knowledge of all the other ideas that will eventually, given time and space, sprout from the first. The anima is generative and it is therefore crucial for creativity to respond positively and say ‘Yes’ to the anima, allowing it to bring its potential children into the world. Saying ‘No’ not only prematurely kills the idea itself but also aborts its potential children. However, it is also important to treat this image/idea not as a call to immediate action but as a call from the depths that opens the door to new possibilities. The anima brings with it a great deal of uncertainty, which it is important to tolerate without either succumbing completely to the pull of the collective unconscious that it elicits, or defending against it.

With its unconscious knowledge of the market as well as its possession of unconscious know-how, the animus is the appropriate mental structure to pick up and deal with the question marks posed by the anima. These question marks are just what are needed for market research, experimentation, the ordering of ideas and other activities involved in separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff. It is this syzygy that allowed for the remaining unconscious ideas (the children that the anima could deliver into the real world if it were adequately supported by the animus structure) to find their rightful place in the Pinterest story. At the core of this functional syzygy is the principle of co-creation: the founders’ creativity was matched by and combined with the users’ creativity. This combination allowed for often unexpected discoveries of other business venues, such as search engines, commerce and market and social research. Thus, for example, Pinterest demonstrated a strong correlation between pinning and buying relative to other social media websites, including commercially-oriented ones (Samuel, 2012). It is unlikely that the founders expected to see such a correlation, but by building features around it (e.g. tracking and other website links that brands can use for sale analytics), they clearly found a way to take advantage of it.

One of the most important aspects of Pinterest’s commercial success was that it offered a non-aggressive trading model. The team at Pinterest tapped into the emerging patterns of what some commentators refer to as the ‘gift economy’ (Bonchek, 2012), a phenomenon that came together with social media where the emphasis is not on product promotion as such but rather on building a relationship with clients, as well as facilitating people’s need to create relationships with each other. When the anima is well contained within the syzygy, through its connection to Eros, it becomes about relating and relationship. It gives rise to what could be called ‘imaginative empathy’, which gives emotional depth to a relationship and can also find an appropriate metaphor for it. The animus then, through its connection to Logos, gives direction to this metaphor and ‘translates’ it into a mode of relating, which is appropriate for a business project. Sohrad Vossoughi of HBR (2013) attributes this ability of Pinterest to drive engagement and commerce – and, importantly, to link the two together – not just to their functional features, which are next to flawless and are made to meet high aesthetic tastes, but to finding and utilising the right metaphor. One of the key aspects of Pinterest’s success in this area is that it rather brilliantly and effectively reintroduced the concept of the bazaar to the modern world. Pinterest converted this metaphor into a wide array of tools that link browsers and retailers and by so doing offer customers a sense of control, the possibility to explore the things they like at their own pace, multiple paths for discovery and the ability to co-curate with friends and other like-minded strangers (ibid).

The presence of the functional syzygy is also seen in its provision of motivation and perseverance during the long and difficult periods when the project was not picking up. It took approximately two exhausting years after presenting the product to the market for it to gain momentum. There were significant problems with funding all along the way, with 200 users when it was launched and only 10,000 users nine months later (Shontell, 2012). From most angles, it did not follow what could be called a typical start-up success path. What follows below shows this dynamic of syzygy in operation.

Silbermann’s initial idea for the company was to create a social platform where people could share their personal interests in an emotionally engaging and visually pleasing way. Thus, he had a certain vision of what kind of product he wanted to create. Right from the start, his team was passionate about the project and paid a great deal of attention to every single detail of the design. In Silbermann’s own words: ‘We were obsessive about the product. We were obsessive about all the writing and how it was described. We were obsessive about the community’ (as cited in Anderson, 2012). This obsession with detail was evident in many of the founders’ decisions. Thus, contrary to logic, and with virtually no users, he had his web-designer create 50 functional versions of the website’s basic layout, which differed in image size by fractions of an inch (Simonite, 2013). They spent months working on the design. Here, we see a strong identification with the anima at a point where to do so could potentially have been destructive. However, because the anima was paired with the animus at almost every step of development, that did not happen. Once the product had been launched and had a small number of users, Silbermann personally wrote to the first 5000-7000 users asking for their opinions and advice (Anderson, 2012). This syzygy between the idea and a proactive reality-check approach is something that the eventual Pinterest investors picked up on and responded to. Thus, one of the early investors, Brian Cohen, commented that he could not but marvel at how open and engaging the team was to advice and input from investors, clients, partners and designers: ‘I used to see him [Silbermann] in New York just taking out small rooms to meet with customers. I’d never seen anything like it’ (as cited in Ulanoff, 2012). Cohen pointed out that such ‘non-myopic behavior’ was at the core of the company’s success.

Months passed and the product failed to scale; however, they remained faithful to their idea. The anima did not allow them to abandon the project. It is here that we see how a certain strong degree of anima-identification (strong attachment to the idea, but without a blind fanaticism) can be helpful and constructive. As Silbermann himself admitted, he could not bear to tell others that ‘he and his project’ had failed (as cited in Lagorio-Chafkin, 2012), and this made him persevere when he would otherwise have given up in light of how much energy and other resources the start-up was using.

However, passion for their project did not stop them from trying to sell it at one very low point, the problem being that no one wanted to buy. It might have seemed only rational from the ego’s point of view to shelve the idea and treat it as an ugly duckling at some moments of disappointment that, despite all the effort, it had not turned out well. Here, the animus-mentality with its straightforward thinking that does not leave things in limbo actually came to the rescue. The animus does the research, weighs the odds and delivers the verdict: yes or no. After rethinking their situation in light of some new information, the founders decided that the project still had some potential. The breakthrough arrived in March 2011 with the launch of an iPhone app, and by the end of that year the company had topped over 10 million users and become one of the 10 most popular social networks (Pinalytics, 2014).


In this essay, I have shown how the Jungian concepts of anima, animus and their syzygy can be applied to the business domain and justified my hypothesis that the functional syzygy is required to bring about business creativity by demonstrating the relevance of this syzygy for the execution gap, characteristic of the start-up culture and a key issue on the current business agenda. I used a practical example of Pinterest, a successful innovative start-up, to underpin my hypothesis. On the example of the anima and animus, I also showed that the archetypal model, when used appropriately, can be helpful in containing the unconscious projected contents in the business world while these contents are consciously explored.


[1] Eros is the principle of love and life, which underpins connectedness and relationship between people (Young-Eisendrath and Dawson, 1999, p. 316).


[2] Logos is the principle of rational discrimination. Jung defined Logos as ‘the dynamic power of thoughts and words’ (CW9ii, para. 293).


[3] This hypothesis finds support in the works of Jungian theorist Erich Neumann. Neumann (1960/1989, pp. 320-382) wrote about the Vital Principle, which is the original manifestation of all diverse forms of creativity. The Vital Principle is pregnant with unlimited potential. It is always accompanied to varying degrees by the Ordering Agency, as both are at the centre of creation and existence. The Ordering Agency shapes, structures and maintains the boundaries of all the things that the Vital Principle is capable of producing. Its principle function is thus chaos prevention and excess elimination. Neumann also adds the third factor to his model of creation, the Directing Agency, whose function is teleological orientation. These three dynamically different factors form the Trinity, which is at the core of all activities taking place at all levels of existence. Neumann’s theory of creativity is complex, but what is relevant for my hypothesis is that, as Murray Stein suggests, the two aspects of the self, the Vital Principle and Ordering Agency, could be identified as the anima and animus respectively (2017, p. 125).


[4] This classification finds support in Stein’s interpretation of Neumann’s work (footnote 1). Stein writes: ‘Anima is the Vital Principle, the source of energy and imagination and fantasy; animus is the Ordering Principle, executing its will through the ego function’ (2017, p. 125).


[5] This perspective contrasts sharply with Freud’s famous statement: ‘Where id was, there ego shall be’ (1933/1973, p. 112) and emphasises that Jungian/post-Jungian psychology has a far more positive view of the unconscious than psychoanalysis and its modern variations.

[6] Jung stated: ‘The creative process has a feminine quality, and the creative work arises from unconscious depths – we might truly say from the realm of the Mothers. Whenever the creative force predominates, life is ruled and shaped by the unconscious rather than by the conscious will, and the ego is swept along on an underground current, becoming nothing more than a helpless observer of events’ (CW15, para. 159).

A New Ethic based on Depth Psychology could bring Peace to the World

A New Ethic[1] based on Depth Psychology could bring Peace to the World

By Francesco L. Cottafavi[2]

On a recent trip to Cuba[3] I had the chance to visit the country extensively and in any town, or village, I took a bike-taxi, i.e. a tricycle, with me sitting behind a little man (little in proportion to my size) who bicycled at very slow speed the poorest quarters in town, where I specifically asked to be brought to. The people living there were all smiling at me, warmly, as if they recognised me as one of their own. Actually, I recognised in them the real humankind, which lived for hundreds of thousands of years in, more or less, the same conditions, with a strong bond of solidarity among them, which helped them survive. I admired them because their thinking with the heart was so natural and a strong source of orientation[4].

All over the island, I saw the same people participating passionately in religious ceremonies, mostly Catholic masses, where the most revered image was the Black Madonna. For them, she was Yamaya (a goddess in “La Regla de Ocha[5] ).

The Black Madonna is a very important symbol in many cultures because it “represents a compensatory perspective of the westernised world, especially that world which seems driven to excess by profit margins, religious and political fundamentalism and indifference to the place of human beings in the natural order of life[6].”

An archetypal compensatory perspective is necessary, not only for the Cubans, because “the downfall of the old world orientation and the resultant dethronement of man has lead to a chaotic psychological situation. Modern man now sees himself as a peripheral creature on a tiny planet in a physically dead infinity[7].“

There, in Cuba, I felt a strong cultural anxiety[8] sharing the tension of my original Catholic education with the re-emerging polytheistic belief of human ancestry[9]. I felt that cultural anxiety was a gift to energise my search for a meaning to be shared.

Cultural anxiety is a very common state of mind. We live in an Age of Anxiety were most people understand that there is not only one reality but different alternatives, equally valuables, and they should be taken into consideration. Particularly, if one, or several of those realities, had been lost or repressed into the personal unconscious, this shadow reality should be considered a vital recovery for our consciousness to pursue. Even more important will be this recovery for our living together if the suppressed or repressed values also belong to the collective society in which we live.

“The tension between the opposites which, in the form of dualism, was the distinguishing mark of the old ethic, can by no means be simply abolished and denied…a new ethic has to “accept” the opposites and articulate them with the conscious mind”. Therefore, “It will inevitably be faced with the task of their assimilation.”[10]

In these days we see in several instances the “return of the suppressed or repressed values,” in other words of our collective shadow. I will address two of these events: The Brexit process and the Trump Presidency, with the aim to see how we can get new values out of integrating into our collective consciousness the shadow brought forward by these events.



The decision taken by the people of the United Kingdom to approve the referendum proposing to leave the European Union surprised everyone: because no-one had taken into consideration the cultural complex[11] existing among the British people.

This complex (a ghost of the cultural past) could be called  “Tradition against disruption,[12] as anything new is perceived as disruptive of a traditional perspective.

 Its parts are disconnected, but linked among themselves, as the components of a cubist painting.  In this complex co-exist a nativist fear of foreigners, strong determination to be independent, determined will to defend insularity[13], fear of globalisation, a traditionally strong English nationalism, some degrees of British exceptionalism, and nostalgia of imperial powers.[14]Its archetypal core is the “Island Home,” whose passionate defense is very well represented by Winston Churchill famous words:

“We shall defend our Island, whatever the cost might be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”[15]

The British cultural complex, like all cultural complexes, is “based on repetitive, historical group experiences which have taken root in the cultural unconscious of the group. At any ripe time, these slumbering cultural complexes can be activated in the cultural unconscious and take hold of the collective psyche of the group and the individual/collective psyche of individual members of the group”…”These complexes are a worldwide psychological reality and an integral part of the structure of the psyche.” “Mostly, these group complexes have to do with trauma, discrimination, feeling of oppression and inferiority at the hands of another offending group”…”Group complexes litter the psychic landscape and are as easily detonated as the literal landmines that scatter the globe.”[16]

The decision to hold the referendum detonated the landmine of the cultural complex affecting the British citizens which had remained in a status of political irrelevance, i.e. without receiving adequate attention, for an excessive amount of time.

The cultural complex exploded in England, more than in Wales. While in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Greater London, Brexit was soundly rejected. In England (without Greater London) Brexit won the referendum by a difference of 11%. A triumph of English nationalism, in the countryside.

English nationalism existed for centuries, within the United Kingdom, and dominated a large part of the world, throughout the British Empire. With Brexit, it aims to take back control. Anxieties about sovereignty convinced many voters of the need to re-establish it, in the nativist belief that if you share sovereignty with other countries, you lose it. It seems to be a case of cultural psychopathology that can be overcome, in time, only through taking conscious responsibility for the Imperial shadow of the United Kingdom and, therefore, recuperating genuine autonomy of being.

The process of confronting the imperial shadow of the United Kingdom is taking shape with the vivid international debate on the possible establishment of an “Ethics and Empire” project at the University of Oxford’s Mc Donald Centre[17]. The historians of the “British world” are living,  again, in modern times, the bloody events staining the image of the Empire and updating the knowledge of them, with the possible result of assuaging the English nostalgia for the British Empire.

The resurgence of English nationalism has helped other nationalisms to resurface all over Europe: in France, Germany, and Spain (which includes three separate national identities, with their languages: Basque, Galician and Catalan), in Austria, and in the former communist Visegrad countries, where nationalism is perceived as a defense against dissolution in the European Union and Nato, after having spent years dissolved in the embrace of communist ideology.

Nationalism and Nativism threaten the European Union, which was established, mainly, to absorb and dilute the nationalistic impulses that had fueled the cataclysmic destruction of the Continent in two World Wars.

It is meaningful that the former President of the Generalitat de Catalunya, Carles Puigdemont, took refuge in Bruxelles to defend the democratic right of all Catalani to vote for independence and to negotiate a regime of autonomy, against the will of the Spanish Government who wants to impose national unity.

Tradition against disruption” also exploded in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but against the United Kingdom. Thus creating the conditions for the devolved Government of Scotland to add in a future referendum the missing votes necessary to exit the United Kingdom and to remain in the European Common Market. While in Northern Ireland a resurgence of English nationalism could impede the proper functioning of the “Good Friday Agreement” and ignite the resurgence of the “Troubles”.

The national political vote called by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, entrenched the supporters affected by the cultural complex and reduced their numbers. As a consequence, the Labour party might be able to obtain a new round of political elections and, maybe, lead a new government while fighting with a re-founded conservative party led, perhaps, by Jacob Rees-Mogg, an aristocratic ultra-conservative English nationalist.

Anyway, to neuter the effects of a cultural complex is necessary to know of its existence and its compelling power and, very patiently, to mature all of its components till they reach the level of conscious responsibility in the minds of affected people. This result could be achieved through a constant confrontation of fears, desires and nostalgias with diffused knowledge of more complete and accurate realities. It is a very demanding process of cultural and political education, of expansion of consciousness, but a democratic vote decided that the United Kingdom has to go through it.

All the politicians, journalists, educators, members of the “elite”, who paid insufficient attention to the existence of the cultural complex, have now to put a remedy to it participating actively in the public debate opened on the reasons and possible consequences of the Brexit process.

The discussion in the British Parliament should be extensive, continuous, and reported accurately by the media. All details regarding negotiations with the other members of the European Union should be widely diffused and freely discussed, in all of their aspects and possible consequences. The European Union should inform all of his members accurately on the negotiations with the United Kingdom, with the view to allow a complete public assessment of the probable consequences of the Brexit process[18].

After the conclusion of the negotiations, the British people (at that time, adequately informed) should be allowed to vote in a referendum to approve the result, because real democracy requires the best knowledge of the possible consequences of a decision, before adopting it.

The experience will be helpful also to the European Union, which should learn that a Union cannot be built without making space for all differences to breath freely and to harmoniously cooperate.

The Brexit process would be helpful not only to the Europeans but also to the rest of the world, interconnected as it is.

Everyone should be able to learn how to gradually evolve personal and collective consciousness out of a political process, because an increase in the capacity of consciousness to take responsibility for the shadow (the unappreciated unconscious side of ourselves) is needed, to renew our ethical values.

Already Dante met his shadow in a poetical conscious way. The Divina Commedia begins” Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita / mi trovai per una selva oscura, / che la diritta via era smarrita.” Out of this encounter with the shadow, Dante wrote a poem, as an example for all others to follow, maybe through more modest means.    

To achieve this renewal: “A process of continuous self-questioning and self-control is required.”… and… “This Ethical duty is carried out by the conscious mind.”[19]


When Hillary Clinton called “Deplorables” the supporters of Donald Trump, I got worried that she was going to lose the elections, because she thought that the Americans wanted to elect the best, while they merely wanted to choose a candidate reflecting their views.

She was fighting against a narcissist trying to impersonate an archetypal image representing “America.” Some have defined it “The John Wayne archetype.” [21] In all cases, Trump was tapping into the psychic energy of a cultural complex affecting, maybe, a majority of North-Americans (precisely, the “Deplorables”, who were unconsciously encouraged by Hillary Clinton to vote for Trump).

The John Wayne archetype was already acted upon by Ronald Reagan, who carried out openly and neatly, the image of the mythical cowboy, who knows well who are the enemies, shoots them from the hip and carries the task of conquering the frontier. A man faithful to monotheism, to his principles, to his wife and to his peers, who is ready to fight the evil out there with all available means. A real hero of the Old Ethic, willing to promote the projection of the collective shadow on an enemy[22] “to relieve the individual from the sense of guilt caused by the repression, or suppression, of the projected element”.[23]

Donald Trump “Make America Great Again” is a motto with no traditional values in support. It is a good name for a cultural complex. It is an appeal to all narcissistically centred Americans, caring mainly for themselves because they don’t feel about the others. They want their old jobs, lost to globalisation; they want back their social status, reduced by successful immigrants; they want to be men, respected by women; they want to feel that America is still dominating the world.

Theirs, is a lower level of consciousness, in a transitional phase, with limited ethical values, where collective shadow elements have more respect and some space to be enacted.

With the promotion of white supremacy, racism is an essential component of the negative core of this complex and of the North American shadow. Episodes of racism are disseminated everywhere in American history.

If we remember the Charlottesville events,[24]with deadly violence and the defence of white nationalists by President Trump, we can see how many emotions are compressed in the “complex” memory of the Civil War and how quickly they are detonated.

Cleaning out racism in this cultural complex involves much more than the proposed removal of statues of Confederate generals or leaders. Much more than the proposed removal of the statues of Christopher Columbus (for his treatment of native people), Frank Rizzo (former racist mayor of Philadelphia), Italo Balbo (fascist hero, called “il trasvolatore” remembered in Chicago for his record-setting flying from Italy to the United States), or the proposed removal of the plaque commemorating, in New York, Henry Petain (President of the French Government supporting the German occupation of France), and the dismantling of the building called Faneuil Hall, located in Boston (donated to the city in 1743 by the slave trader Peter Faneuil), and the cutting of the foot on the statue of don Juan de Onate (the “conquistador” of New-Mexico, who used to cut feet off rebellious Acoma people), or the “defacing” of the statue of Junipero Serra (the 18th Century Franciscan friar who eradicated indigenous culture in California).

Taking conscious control of racism in North-America requires even more than spreading all over the country historical plaques remembering racist events (In the Yosemite park a plaque might state:” On this spot, in 1851, American militiamen shot Tenaya’s son in the back, let him bleed out in the grass, then dragged the leader of the Ahwahneechee tribe to have a look at his son and enjoyed watching him weep.”).

Cruelty should be accepted as an important component of the American shadow and courage to resist racism should be celebrated.

As an example, the house of Rosa Parks, the black woman who resisted to leave a segregated seat and ignited the civil rights movement in Alabama, should be brought back to the United States. By the way, how did it happened that her house could not remain in Detroit, and not even in America, but had to find refuge in Germany?

The eight border wall prototypes built on the Mexican border, in the Otay Mesa neighbourhood of San Diego, should be preserved for posterity, because they represent, as an image, the racism of President Trump ed all his supporters who believe a physical or juridical wall should be built to separate “themselves” from those coming to “America” from shithole countries. For years to come, many students should be brought to the Otay Mesa neighbourhood of San Diego to visit a symbol of modern racism in America.

“This is a painful, uncomfortable moment. Instead of trying to get past this moment, we should sit with it, wrap ourselves in the sorrow, distress and humiliation of it… No one is coming to save us.”[25]

The Trump Presidency is a transitional phase, where monotheism downgrades to the image of oneself[26], where the Old Ethic rigorism on traditional principles eases its grip on the collective, and the shadow is free to stay with less need to be projected away because people have a lesser sense of guilt. It has the positive power of setting us free from established conventions. It is a collective self-portrait of ourselves. It is a selfie taken by each of us with President Trump. We are somehow very attracted to him because we have an “Inner Trump,” i.e. “the shadow personality of the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton intellectual progressive consciousness.”[27]

With all his tweets he calls the attention of the “Inner Trump” within us. The shadow of a culture is activated, and all the people in North America (and all the “Trump supporters” in the rest of the world) confront themselves, in an undisciplined, impulsive and adolescent way, with racism, sexism, bullying, narcissism, selfishness, superficial imperialism and the nostalgia of burning fossil fuels.

Trump protects his family, more than his country. He is an entertainer, more than a leader. He does not hide his thoughts and feelings behind polished statements. He merely says what is on his mind and believes it should be law. “He is a Titanic adolescent, undisciplined and impulsive, often comically soo, with grandiose fantasies of himself.”[28]

“Trump manages to be truculently wrong on every existential question facing humanity… he has the integrity of a con man, the temperament of a neighbourhood bully, the breathtaking ignorance of an arrogant know-nothing, the political instincts of a Fuhrer, and the policies of a tribal nationalist…Trump does not qualify for a mental disorder, but he does present with one of the world’s best-documented cases of lifelong failure to mature. He is a boy/man who expects everything to go his way and experiences the world as an extension of himself…Trump fancies himself the nation’s Big Brother, but he is really our neediest Big Baby. Trump is bad, not mad, but we the people are mad for having elected such a terribly flawed person to the most powerful position in the world.”[29]

 With such a leader, It is still far away reaching the proper attitude of caring for the collective or personal shadow while consciously controlling it: like peacefully suffering white privilege nostalgia. But the transitional phase represented by the Trump Presidency could be a step in the right direction, if properly handled.


Politically speaking, the Republican Party floats between the supporters of the Old Ethic, who tend towards the impeachment of President Trump, and all the others which are already in the transitional phase. The Democratic Party could join the Republican supporters of the Old Ethic in an effort to oust President Trump, but it will also have to set the standards of the New Ethic, including space for the shadow in politics (for the “inner Trump”), if it wants to have a leading role in the future.

In the transitional phase, the danger is a progressive lowering of traditional ethical values and, therefore, a higher risk of dogmatic absolutism coupled and supported by the promotion of violence. A lowering of ethical values could set a perilous standard in the behaviour of the administration, with the military capacity of the United States under the command of Donald Trump who could gradually learn how to implement all the powers belonging to the President effectively. The establishment has reinforced and reasserted all check and balances, but the transitional phase could quickly run into a crisis:

Internally, the possibility that the investigations conducted by the Special Prosecutor would be brought to Congress, for impeachment proceedings, could ignite a “firework” response by the President. He might dismiss the Special Prosecutor and the Deputy Attorney General  (who is responsible for the Special Prosecutor). But if eventually condemned[31] by the Parliament as guilty of having colluded with Russia[32] to influence the U.S presidential elections and/or having obstructed justice, (while having violated consistently traditional ethical values[33]), he will have no choice but to resign or be impeached. Time will tell, but it seems unlikely that impeachment proceedings could start before midterm elections, unless the Republican “elite” understand the party will significantly lose the midterm elections, if their remain in support of President Trump and his drive to cancel any investigation regarding him.

Internationally, President Trump could start a serious confrontation with North Korea, igniting a war which could cause the loss of tens of thousands of people and expose the U.S. to a serious nuclear risk[34]. He could militarily confront Iran, intervene in Siria, or in any other conflict situation in the Middle East, with the aim of promoting the projection of the American shadow somewhere else, to divert political attention from internal difficulties, such as the beginning of impeachment proceedings or a growing loss of credibility. By the way, all those provocative actions against Muslims, in general, and specifically against “the Rocketman” in North Korea, might motivate terrorist actions against the United States.

President Trump is planning to increase investment in nuclear weapons and to make their use easier, by building new low-yield ones. He is also planning to use nuclear weapons against “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” which means using nuclear weapons against cyber, biological and chemical weapons attacks. This policy should be prevented from coming into effect, or should be discontinued before other countries feel justified in emulating it and terrorist organisations find a way to the increased numbers of weapons available to acquire one and send it in a container to the United States.

Investigative Journalism should focus its initiatives on exposing the road to war the Trump administration is following with Iran, in a similar way to the road to war pursued by the Bush administration in Irak. A war with Iran would be disastrous, several times more than the war in Irak.

In his first year as President, Donald Trump has very effectively promoted the decline of American influence in the world, withdrawing into self-centred isolation.[35]The unilateral recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has contributed to the alienation of the rest of the world well represented, numerically, by the votes expressed in the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations. The foreign minister of Germany, Sigmar Gabriel,  has declared that “the most important changes affecting our western world and, indeed, the world as a whole” stem from “the United States current withdrawal under Trump from its role as a reliable guarantor of western-influenced multilateralism”. With a certain irony, the foreign minister of Canada, Chrystia Freeland, has thanked the United States for its seven-decade-long stewardship of the international system.

When President Trump delivered a speech at Davos, he was presented to the elite participating in the “Economic Forum” together with the most incredible “military band” one could conceive. Uniforms with plumes coming, probably, from a Barnum type circus were displayed together with the President of the United States of America, who looked unusually uncomfortable, as he might have understood that he was celebrated as a sort of “clown”.

This also happens because all his tweets and outrages suck the oxygen from all important issues worldwide, causing a global vacuum of moral leadership.

The European Union might try to fill in the power vacuum, with the franco-german engine, while China is blazing a new trail for other developing countries to achieve modernisation. The Chinese President Xi Jinping noted that” China would become the new guarantor of the global trading order.” Also trying to fill the power vacuum are a host of smaller, illiberal powers (Turkey, Russia, Iran, Saudi Arabia) which are surging forward in their respective regions. The world is evolving, through an evolution in the traditional balance of power.

The “grown-ups” within the Administration will have the task to “mentor” President Trump and to prevent him from causing major damage to the United States and the World, besides bragging that he has a much bigger “nuclear button” than anyone else.

 He might accept that control reminding his training in a military school. Although, having military leaders act as “grown-ups” might suggest that civilian leaders lack the capacity to govern by themselves, which is certainly true in the case of President Trump.




Elevated risks are also present in the management of the economy. Deregulation of the financial system[36] and the pursue of protectionism[37] could quickly derail financial stability and economic growth in the United States and the world.

At the Symposium sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, in Jackson Hole, the Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Janet L. Yellen and the President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi delivered stern and coordinated statements on these topics.

Yellen underscored to the participants that “From the beginning of 2008 to early 2010, nearly nine million jobs were lost in the United States. Millions of Americans lost their homes, and distress was not limited to the U.S. economy: Global trade and economic activity contracted to the degree that had not been seen since the 1930s.

The economic recovery that followed, despite extraordinary policy actions, was painfully slow.” “A decade after the onset of the most severe financial crisis since the Great depression substantial progress has been made toward maximum employment and price stability, in putting in place a regulatory and supervisory structure that is well designed to achieve a stronger financial system.”

“As a result, any adjustment to the regulatory framework should be modest and preserve the increase in resilience at larger dealers and banks associated with the reforms put in place in recent years.”

Yellen concluded: “ I expect that the evolution of the financial system in response to global economic forces, technology, and, yes regulation, will result sooner or later in the all too familiar risks of excessive optimism, leverage, and maturity transformation reemerging in new ways that require policy responses.”

Draghi strengthened the message stating: ”One of the main reasons why multilateral institutions exist is to create regulatory convergence, and therefore to increase trust between countries. And perhaps the most important area where this applies today is global financial sector regulation.”[38]

Draghi also underscored the historical tendency of “open markets” to dislocate the factors of production and to promote protectionism, as a natural response to the very high economic and human cost of dislocation. Instead of protectionism, promotion of trade is necessary to lift productivity in ageing societies and multilateral cooperation is crucial in safeguarding fairness, safety, equity and, more in general, in protecting people through regulatory convergence from the unwelcome consequences of openness.[39]

The first example of protectionism is the establishment of tariffs on washing machines and solar panels. Measures representing the economics of “dirty old men,” as defined by the Nobel prize winner Paul Krugman, since they will merely increase their cost and not their production in the USA, while reducing the number of workers dedicated to the installation of solar panels. Burning coal, instead of using solar energy, seems to be the policy promoted by “the dirty old men”.


Most people who did not vote for Trump are gradually recovering from their “Post Trump-matic Stress Disorder” (PTrSD)[40] in which they fell after the elections. Several, with a high sense of social responsibility, are intelligently promoting national ethical standards with sympathy and feelings towards the multitudes who do not share them and are suffering in this transitional phase from the process of assimilating their own shadow.

The deplorables are suffering, because they unconsciously feel a deep extinction anxiety.[41] At this time, their anxiety ”is based on the fear of the loss of white America as they have idealised it, the loss of America’s place in the world as they have known it, and ultimately the destruction of the environment and the world itself.”[42]  Many, suffer from the loss of their traditional jobs and, frequently, of their houses, and do not see any policy acted or at least planned by the government really capable of addressing the situation.

Additionally, men “in transition” (including President Trump) are being exposed, frequently, as sexual harassers and obliged to confront their lack of consideration for women and their use as sexual objects. The age-old patriarchal tendency to consider women “unclean”, because of menstruation, seems to be shared by President Trump, with his continued innuendos aiming at diminishing the value of women who criticise him.

The “Me Too” movement is beginning to address the need to bring the feminine values on the same level of the “patriarchal” values established by men, for themselves. It is a step in the right direction, but feminine values re-vitalization should be at the centre of the process to establish new ethical values. A step in the right direction seems to be the movie “Call me by your name,” where the actors Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet interpret a Dionysian masculinity[43] which disregards traditional sexuality and brings love very much alive. Accepting a beautiful representation of love between men, as a value, is new, and promotes the transformation of traditional patriarchal values.

Men, in general, should be abandoning all violent activities, including sports promoting violence. Families should restrain their children from participating in dangerous sports like boxing, football and wrestling, safeguarding our “pledges to the future” from concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries and also preventing them from familiarising with archetypal patterns which will consistently promote violence in their future lives.

To bring the American shadow to consciousness, everyone will have to understand that “The responsibility of man includes collective guilt (in America, the wish for a renewal of supremacy of native North-Americans who are white and men) that should be recognised and accepted. Vicarious suffering ensues and should be taken as part of personal responsibility.”[44]


Most people in America and Europe have lost reference to the image of God as the monotheistic centre who integrates and orientates their lives. Moreover, the return of the suppressed or repressed cultural shadow, in the USA and the United Kingdom primarily, but also in the rest of Europe and the World, has set up a cultural fragmentation promoting many centres of reference[45] for the psyches of human beings. A polytheistic imagery would be more apt to reflect this reality[46].

When we chase multiplicity from our own self-definition, we are condemned to live our fragmentation in society.[47]

 Europe, and even more the rest of the world, are historically and culturally closer to a polytheistic variety of psychic reference points.

The disintegration of societies built on the Old Ethic, with its monotheistic bias, is, therefore, more easily accepted in “less developed societies” and all the people, closer together than before, tend to lower their moral and ethical standards to allow for more shadow carrying and socio-political relieve.

This transitional condition is called in political terms “populism,” because it consists in promoting the projection of the suffering shadow of “the people” on “the elites” who are not solving the problems affecting “the people”. This projection enables the populist leader to transfer the guilt raised from the complaints of the voters to the elites, and to ask for the “the people” to vote for them, primarily as a punishment of the scapegoated “elites,” which must lose their power since they have not exercised it with success.

Therefore, populism[48] is incessantly critical of existing political representation and aims at de-constructing major international economic and political systems perceived as not being attentive to the needs of “the people” who are suffering the consequences of the Great Recession and worldwide globalisation. Those systems are routinely identified with the European Union, the EURO, the international banking system and financial institutions (like the Federal Reserve and the ECB), the IMF, the United Nations, NATO, WTO, and several international trade agreements like NAFTA or the Paris Agreement promoting common actions against climate change.

In the United States, the de-construction of the Federal and State Administrations aims at abandoning progressive taxation and the social benefits it gives to many people in the low-income brackets. In the long run, it aims at ending public education, Social Security, Medicare, minimum wage laws, foreign aid, the Environmental Protection Agency, and at further reducing taxes and regulations to the point where it will oppose spending on almost anything other than the military. This message is promoted by some of the wealthiest families and several corporations allowed to spend significant sums of money, in affirming their views, by the Citizens United decision of the Supreme Court. They ultimately aim at widening American economic inequality in favour of themselves, while diminishing the power of local communities to marshal relief for vulnerable people.

If humankind has the determination to move decisively out of populism, its degenerative tendencies, like Nativism (opposing foreigners and immigrants); Nationalism (opposing international organisations and multilateralism); Authoritarianism (opposing the State of Law), Isolationism (each Nation by itself) and the De-construction of the State (on the behalf of the “deplorables”) will not prevail.

They will not be needed to keep together societies which are falling apart. Titanism will not be called, even more, to patch up the loss of power of monotheism. Meanwhile, the closeness to consciousness of the shadow will allow for its more accurate consideration by all of us in following new ethical values.


 Establishing new values is going to be a long and demanding process, where all the people capable of contributing to the enlargement of collective consciousness will have to make a very determined effort to prevent further disintegration and significant weakening of previous values, while the new values are defined.

“Selfish survival instincts that worked so well fifty thousand years ago now push us to act self destructively in a world that requires cooperative planning. We have conquered our external world; the question now is whether we can conquer our internal impulses.”[49]

“Tertium non-datur,” i.e. the new images emerging from the existing and colliding realities are not known, but they might be intuited and provisionally imagined.

As already stated, the new ethical values will be born from the acceptance of the depths of our personalities and the recognition and conscious control of our individual and collective shadow. In this process of growth, in consciousness, particular attention will have to be given to the archetypal patterns followed in establishing new ethical values[50].

As an example, following only an Athenian-Minerva-Ananke archetypal pattern will imply “normalising” the actual transitional period, making space to contain it and weaving into this space the excessive and the abnormal (including the “inner Trump”).

The weaving of the excessive and the abnormal, the titanism of these days, will have to be promoted by the goddess of wisdom in everyone, especially in politicians capable of the small work necessary to this traditional activity of bringing down to reality what is flying too high, creating damages. Following Athenian-Minerva-Ananke consciousness means being inspired by the traditional feminine values that keep humanity together, making our common living amenable to others.

The ethical norms established, or re-established, with the help of this archetypal pattern will be enforced by both the virtue and the tyranny of judgment of Athenian consciousness.

To reduce tyranny in the implementation of ethical values, other archetypal patterns should also have an essential role in their design and implementation. 

Hermes-Mercurius,[51] with the Trickster[52] component well represented by President Trump, could undoubtedly play a role in guiding the process, encouraging negotiations and inhibiting the acquisition of excessive powers, by anyone, even by the United States of America.

The intolerability of President Trump, with endless words that bring nowhere, underscores his Titanic nature lacking forms, images and limits. He unconsciously impersonates well the collective Titanism of these days serving the useful purpose of calling attention to it and encouraging conscious control of the cultural, economic and political processes.

“Maturity in an individual (or a society) requires substituting reasoned thought for wishful thinking and immediate gratification…we can’t expect to change Trump, but we must work to undo the societal delusions that created him.”[53]

Dionysos archetypal pattern[54] could help individuals to stay within themselves, well collected, to avoid the disruption of current societies. They could drink, they could dance, they could enjoy corporeal life, provided that they follow the advice of Winston Churchill to “stay calm and carry on”. Their task is crucial for the survival of humankind, as was the task of British citizens during the Second World War.

Dionysos will offer “a reclaiming of the embodied creative, relational, erotic and passionate masculinity available to men.” His marriage with Ariadne[55] provides the pattern to break through all repressive forms of patriarchy, where men and women will share cooperative empowerment and will enter a new phase of consciousness. Women fighting by all means available to overcome oppressive patriarchy might conquer a new Conscious Femininity and bring men to the sacred marriage, to join the new ethical values born within them. Women, through love, might be able to change the course of our civilisation.

This analysis of archetypal patterns “to be followed” will continue, at a later stage.



What is already happening in The United States and the United Kingdom with the continuous and sometimes distressed debate on the Trump Presidency and the Brexit process indicates the way.

The more the partially unknown and emotionally charged subject is discussed, the more it becomes conscious.

The press has a daunting task in bringing all the unconscious material up for discussion[56]. This function should be actively supported by all individuals, particularly psychologists[57], politicians, artists and billionaires who reach an understanding of their crucial role in promoting conscious growth. The debate could be expanded horizontally, i.e. worldwide, as already partially is, and discussed locally, in-depth, and analogically applied to local subjects. The means of communications are television, press, social media (facebook, twitter, etc.) books, films, community meetings.

People should be helped to reach a higher level of consciousness by all organisations having some capacity in

the field[58].

First of all, every religious creed should promote solidarity and growth of knowledge, regardless of belief.

The school systems, worldwide, should enter with the humility of the apprentice the field of allowing the shadow to become a controlled part of consciousness.

The French Government is giving a good example with the decision of President Macron to fight the real “fake news,” i.e. regulating information transmitted through the internet. A new law regulating the internet is already entered into force in Germany.

The universal growth in consciousness and in the capacity to control the shadow should be promoted and helped not only by States, the press, and international organisations but by artists and private donors, as well.


Steven Spielberg in “The Post” sets a rallying cry for optimism in America while telling the story of a Journal publishing the “Pentagon Papers,” the famous documents evidencing the lying of four presidents and their administrations over twenty-three years to conceal plans and actions of mass murder in Viet Nam and Laos. Optimism for a better future is based, in the movie, on journalism fighting for the truth and revealing the American shadow, at the highest levels.

The international refugee crisis calls the attention of humanity on sixty-five million people, around the world, who had been forced from their homes by conflict and persecution. The artist Ai Weiwei represented it, in New York, through the spectacular exhibition entitled “Good Fences Make Good Neighbours.” More than three hundred artworks displayed throughout the five boroughs focused the attention on this “Human Flow” shacking the World. Daniela Ortiz, from Perù, has proposed replacements for monuments to Christopher Columbus in Lima, Madrid and New York, including a ceramic sculpture of a refugee wearing a shirt saying:”The migratory control system is the continuation of colonialism”.

The Welcome App. Sweden connects refugees with a community of locals willing to help them feel at home. Many more apps. perform a social function like helping to find a community willing to share support for your illness or guiding you around town if you are of limited mobility, or helping you through child rearing, etc. etc.. App. development for social purposes is unlimited in its capacity to promote thinking through the heart.

“Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” by Damien Hirst, was displayed at Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, in Venice, to expose what could emerge from the seas, where our cultural past is submerged. The images, sculpted by Damien Hirst, are vivid and sensually modern. They represent mythological images encrusted by coral and shells (since they were forgotten for two thousand years). They represent, beautifully, the re-emergence of polytheism.

Many other artists are trying, like Ai Weiwei and Damien Hirst, to revive the world of images in which we used to live, as pristine human beings. They are following the lead given by W.B. Yeats, at the beginning of last century, with The Second Coming[59].

They see and represent beautifully many images carried forward from the ancient times by the Rough Beast…who… Slouches Towards Bethlehem to be Born.

Innumerable entrepreneurs and App developers take initiatives capable of enlarging the capacity of human beings to live the imagery contained in their archetypal background fully. It is the renaissance of imagery through the development of Applications and the initiatives of artists and entrepreneurs.

Recently, Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr Priscilla Chan wrote a letter to their newborn daughter, Max, saying that during their lifetime they will give 99% of their Facebook shares to charity.[60]The new “Chen-Zuckerberg initiative” will focus on “personalised learning, curing diseases, connecting people and building strong communities”.

By using a limited liability company, instead of a non-profit organisation, they will be able to go beyond making philanthropic grants. They will invest in companies, lobby for legislation, and seek to influence public policy debates (activities restricted to nonprofits by the tax laws).

The Zuckerbergs signed on the “Breakthrough Energy Coalition” organised by Bill Gates to contribute towards a multi-billion dollars clean energy fund. They also joined “Giving Pledge,” started by Warren E. Buffet to get wealthy families to give away more than half of their worth.

In their letter to Max, the Zuckerbergs wrote that ”having this child has made us think about all the things that should be improved in the world for her whole generation.” “The only way we reach our full human potential is through unlocking the gifts of every person around the world.”

The Zuckerbergs’ letter is a good example of “thinking with the heart”, of consciously using the thinking and feeling functions harmoniously, as our ancestors were capable of doing. It is also a very practical answer to populism, using the freedom of individuals to promote directly, with their own money, the well-being of the others. It will not be the well-fare State. It will be the well-being of individuals supported by other individuals. The promoters will give money because they wish to do so, not because they are taxed.

Many more Billionaires should follow their example if they decide on the intelligent use of their money and the power[61] that comes with it. Unfortunately, at this moment, too many Billionaires use the power that accompanies their money to exert political influence in favour of their business, to reduce taxes and regulations and hire experts to avoid paying their share.

On the other hand, the “elite” at Davos tried to build consensus on the necessity to create a “Shared Future in a Fractured World.” More investments in infrastructures, job training and education, worldwide, coupled with “universal basic income” should make a difference, in their view.

Governments can think through the heart too.

Recently, the German Government proposed a Europe-wide “Marshall Plan for Africa” that would, among other things, shift development-aid funds to underwrite private investment and take the first steps toward lowering trade barriers into Europe. Thus the European Union will be allowed to import products from Africa, instead of workers, and by the reduction of trade barriers, those workers will be enabled to work in their own countries. The European “Marshall Plan for Africa” would also favour those States that embraced reform, giving a strong incentive for the regional leaders to get their act together. Moreover, aid to development will not go to local governments unless they substantially reform in a way to guarantee complete avoidance of corrupt practices.

Maybe it is the time that the other European governments acknowledge the leadership role in building up values acquired by Germany, while taking responsibility for the historical shadow emerged during the Second World War, and let it guide the European unification process.

Merkel and Macron should be able to take substantive leadership in guiding the European Union out of the waters agitated in a confusionary way by English nationalism and many others European nativisms and promote measures aiming at strengthening the Euro System, like debt mutualisation. They should, finally, establish a permanent Security Council seat for the European Union and promote an integrated European defence system and a common foreign policy.

If their political power lasts a sufficient amount of time, they should aim at promoting transparency and harmonising world-wide tax laws and regulations to reduce inequality, since inequality in wealth distribution is the most disruptive factor in political equilibriums, worldwide.

In the meantime, we should take note of the various proposals, or even initiatives, aiming at the universal distribution of a basic income to correct inequality of wealth. The International Monetary Fund published a report on the subject, Finland is giving a try to it, together with Oakland and Stockton, in California, the Province of Ontario and several cities in the Netherlands are experimenting with it. Even nonprofit organisations, like GiveDirectly, proceed with plans to distribute universal cash grants in developing countries.  

A few years ago I was in a little bookshop in Camden, Maine, and I saw a table filled with many copies of “Capital” by Thomas Piketty[62]. To my questioning the reason for the exhibition, the owner of the shop answered that the book of 600 pages of economic history was a bestseller, all over the world. After reading it, I understood why: it was the incontrovertible proof that the tendency of returns on capital to exceed the rate of economic growth was the primary driver of economic inequality. After many years, the product is extreme inequality, which stirs discontent and undermines democratic values, because the few become richer, while the most lose the capacity to pay. Inherited wealth matters more than effort and talent.

Leaving private companies alone to manage the revolutionary process of technological growth and globalisation, was evidently equivalent to abandoning the poor and uneducated to a progressive worsening of their situation. International companies optimise globally rather than nationally. They aim to maximise profits across the world, placing investments where it is most beneficial and finding labour where it is cheapest.

How could anyone believe, in his right mind, that millions of poor and uneducated people could behave rationally? They didn’t in America, and they significantly contributed to the election of Trump as President. A proper message to the elites?

The commendable initiatives of private entrepreneurs, like the Zuckerbergs, should not be left alone but accompanied by a major effort of existing International Organisations and States to reduce inequalities effectively.

The European Union could take a leading role in sustaining openness in a dynamic global economy,[63]promote regulatory convergence in the global financial sector (also correcting differing tendencies emerging in the United States), be a clear example of how education, retraining and welfare policies support economic growth and reduce inequalities.

 A model, for all, should be the economic and social success of the free movement of people, goods and services within Europe.

Parallel to the implementation of the “Marshall Plan for Africa,” the European principle of free movement of people and goods should be gradually expanded with and within the developing world. The United Nations could help, coordinating more effectively the migratory movement of people worldwide.

Furthermore, the European Union should promote worldwide harmonisation of rules and regulations in accordance with those embedded in the common legal framework.

As already stated, the extreme inequality in which we all live today is the major economic cause of political instability. Therefore, while we are promoting the growth of consciousness to reach a new ethical balance, worldwide, new  policies should take into account the dramatic formative process in which we are all living and provide everywhere the fundaments of a stable market economy: education, property rights, the rule of law, reliable tax schemes, a properly working banking sector and truth in advertising.

 To finance all of that worldwide will be necessary to establish a progressive global tax on capital[64] coupled with a very high level of international financial transparency.[65] Off-shore governments and law firms should be put under constant scrutiny, reducing their capacity to foster tax avoidance. Deductions should be allowed if taxable wealth is donated. Ultimately, the progressive global tax on capital will contain and overcome the natural tendency of capitalism to promote inequality. 

Regarding the banking sector, additional measures to existing regulations have been proposed[66] to reduce the use of derivatives,[67] create an efficient electronic payment mechanism to minimise fees on card transactions, close off the off-shore banking centres and to make Banks more transparent to avoid excessive risk-taking.

Efforts should also be made to create, worldwide, a more progressive income and corporate tax system-with fewer loopholes.

As an example, the United States and the European Union could conclude an international agreement on the taxation of corporate profits establishing that any firm selling goods in the U.S or Europe will be paying taxes there on its global gains, with a deduction for corporate profits taxes paid in other jurisdictions.[68]Many other countries will be encouraged to become part of the agreement seeing their right to tax corporate profits already established but implemented only by the parties to the international agreement.

Consideration should also be given to creating an international estate tax system, to prevent that successive generations inherit estates without any personal contribution to their growth.

Equalizing wealth, in other words, will bring more peace to the world, and more capacity for human beings to cooperate for the common good.

International leadership working consistently to achieve that end will acquire growing political power and respect.

 If a coalition of governments and international organisations will be able to equalise wealth gradually, it will also gain the political power needed to promote the establishment of new ethical values.


At the conclusion of Civilization and its Discontents, Freud wrote:”…there is one question I can hardly evade. If the development of civilisation has such…similarity to the development of the individual…may we not be justified in reaching the diagnosis that…some epochs of civilisations… possibly the whole of mankind has become neurotic?[69]

Robert Sardello adds to it:” The individual presented himself in the therapy room of the nineteenth century, and during the twentieth, the patient suffering breakdown is the world itself… The new symptoms are fragmentation, specialization, expertise, depression, inflation, loss of energy, jargoneze, and violence. Our buildings are anorexic, our business paranoid, our technology manic.”

To follow James Hillman:“it is now very difficult to distinguish clearly between neurosis of self and neurosis of the world, psychopathology of self and psychopathology of the world.”…” The world, because of its breakdown, is entering a new moment of consciousness by driving attention to itself.”… So it’s time for… “the examination of culture with a pathological eye”… “the world is inundating me with its unalleviated suffering. After one hundred years of the solitude of psychoanalysis I am more conscious of what I project outward than what is projected onto me by the unconsciousness of the world.”…”we cannot inoculate the individual soul nor isolate it against the illness in the soul of the world.”

“Money holds the soul in the vale of the world, in the poetry of the concrete, in touch with the sea as facts, those hard and slippery facts, so perduring, annoying, and limiting. And ceaselessly involving one in economic necessity.”[70]

Equalizing the capacity of human beings to deal with economic necessity will free their minds and souls to imagine the world in its reality.

To imagine the beauty of nature, with its myriad manifestations of infinite variations of colours and shape.

To imagine the wisdom of animals, who never try to build their egos out of its natural shape, or impose their communities on everyone else, or permanently destroy nature.

The freedom of our minds and souls will allow us to see the Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World, with all its infinite images sensually proposing themselves to our love.

The suffering of our ego for the conscious bearing of our shadow will be rewarded by the capacity to see and live the beauty of Nature. The values emerging from this enlargement of our vision, from the capacity to see the innumerable existing images, will allow our egos to assume a proper dimension within the context of Anima Mundi. The process of letting the archetypes recuperate their space is not going to be magical, but only natural. They will have to design the interiors of our interiority.

The motto for a new morality should be: “ Man, if thou knowest what thou doest, thou art blessed, but if thou knowest not, thou art accursed, and a transgressor of the law.”[71]

Coming to our times, instead of suppressing and repressing the contents of the unconscious the New Ethic accepts their existence, everywhere, and structures a way of living with them within the conscious mind. 

To what I have already written about archetypes, to guide us in living and surviving the breakdown of our culture,[72] I should add Aphrodite-Venus. She is the Archetype our collective culture is missing, nowadays, as an image fully present at the conscious level, empowering our capacity to see aesthetically ourselves and the entire world. Our society runs instead after minimal sexual fantasies or pornographic images, reducing her to an intimate performance of pornstar exhibitionism[73].

Virtual reality and robotic technology are even providing a variety of products able to substitute the real experience of our physical sexuality. Reducing Venus to a visual literalization, maybe with robotic qualities, is the equivalent of trying to kill a God, to suppress or repress any experiential value provided by a natural contact with the image.

We have to open our eyes to the beauty of Aphrodite-Venus, in what remains of the natural world, and cherish that sense of beauty, of aesthetic value, to be fully in our souls and enliven our human-made reality. To remain breathless in front of the beauty of nature, is the real life.

Thinking with a hearth full of aesthetic values will enable us to reach a new Renaissance.

“During the European Renaissance the ancient myths were revived, and the Gods and Goddesses restored as dominants of imagination and categories of reflection. This revival gave Renaissance thought immense complexity. Single-mindedness was splintered into a pantheon of possibilities. Meanings proliferated. Yet action during this same period was spectacularly decisive and enduring. Scientific experiment, global exploration, financial innovation and artistic accomplishment were carried out boldly, all the while paradox and subtle innuendo governed thought.”[74]

 Illuminated by aesthetic values, we should guide our society in mending the territories on which we live: Re-building our cities and their connecting routes, providing energy to our living and travelling, caring with love and respect for Nature and all living beings.[75] In learning from them how to live within the natural limits of our egos.

The Renaissance of our culture through Aisthesis will free our societies from all limits put on real and beautiful growth. Nothing will be flat and unidimensional because everything will flourish.

As an example, the initiative of Amazon, Berkshire Hataway, and J.P. Morgan-Chase, to develop a private and efficient health care system, for themselves, could be the beginning of universal health care system for the United States and, later, for everyone, worldwide. Private companies thinking through the heart, might be able to promote a universal and efficient health care valid for all beings.

To see the “fake growth” we are living within, now, let’s go back to Robert Sardello and James Hillman:

“An object bears witness to itself in the image it offers, and its depth lies in the complexities of this image…

Hence, to call a business paranoid means to examine the ways it presents itself in defensive postures, in systematisations and arcane codes, its delusional relations between its product and the speaking about its product, often necessitating gross distortions of the meanings of such words like good, honest, true, healthy, etc.

To call a building catatonic or anorexic means to examine the way it presents itself, its behavioural display in its skinny, tall, rigid, bare-boned structure, trimmed of fat, its glassy front and desexualised coldness and suppressed explosive rage, its hollow atrium interior sectioned by vertical shafts.

To call consumption manic refers to instantaneity of satisfaction, rapid disposal, intolerance for interruption (flow-through consumption), the euphoria of buying without paying (credit cards), and the flight of ideas made visible and concrete in magazine and television advertising.

To call agriculture addictive refers to its obsession with ever higher yields, necessitating ever more chemical energisers (fertilisers) and mass killers (pesticides, herbicides) at the expense of other life forms and to the exhaustion of agriculture’s earthen body.”

Let me conclude with Erich Neumann, who was the first to challenge our culture, calling for a new Ethic just after the end of the Second World War.

“Modern man has lost his way; but the road which brings salvation to him is a road which leads downwards to a reunion with the unconscious, with the instinctual world of nature and with the ancestors, whose messenger is the shadow. He/it is who brings the good news of the treasure hidden in the depths, of the herb of healing which grows in the darkness and whose secret power is able to staunch the Amfortas[76] wound of modern man.”[77]

Modern man should enter his wound with courage and determination, with a leap of faith, because through entering the wound in his psyche he will be able to renew the destiny of humankind[78].
























[1] This presentation is based on Depth psychology and a New Ethic, by Erich Neumann (Boston, Shambahala, 1990).

[2] Francesco L. Cottafavi is a former Italian diplomat who served, as a multilateralist, also at the United Nations and for the United Nations, dealing with human rights, international security and disarmament issues. He is working now on a project to center policy planning on cultural complexes and their archetypal determinants.

[3] Organized by the New York Center for Jungian Studies.

[4] “It would be important for the westerners of the twenty-first century to understand how crucial are these comparisons with a mental capacity which seems to be far, in time.” Translated from Psyche, by Luigi Zoja (Torino, It: Bollati Boringhieri, 2015).

[5] La Regla de Ocha (called in Spanish La Santeria) is a polytheism, originally from Africa, worshipped by the Yoruba people, and syncretized with Catholicism by the slaves in Cuba, and in other parts of the Americas, in order to respect the creed of their owners.

[6] Fred Gustavson, The Black Madonna of Einsiedeln ( Einsiedeln, Switzerland: Daimon Verlag, 2012)

[7] Erich Neumann, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, pp 134.

[8] Rafael Lòpez-Pedraza, Cultural Anxiety (Einsiedeln, Switzerland, Daimon Verlag, 2012).

[9] David L. Miller, The New Polytheism (Dallas, Spring Publications, 1981). 

[10] Erich Neumann, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, p.99

[11] “An emotionally charged aggregate of ideas and images that tend to cluster around an archetypal core and is shared by individuals within an identified collective” Thomas Singer, with Catherine Kaplinsky, “The Cultural Complex,” in Murray Stein, ed., Jungian Analysis: Working in the Spirit of C.G. Jung (Chicago: Open Court Publishing, 2110), pp.23-See also Thomas Singer and Samuel L.Kimbles, eds., The Cultural Complex: Contemporary Jungian Perspectives on Psyche and Society (London: Routledge, 2004).

[12] See: On Art and Psychology, by Rafael Lopez-Pedraza, in Archetypal Psychologies, Stanton Marlon ed. (New Orleans, Spring Journal Books, 2012).

[13] The island had not been conquered for a thousand years. See also: Jules Cashford, Autonomy and Insularity in an Island Race, in Europe’s Many Souls: Exploring Cultural Complexes and Identities (Spring Journal, 2016).

[14] British exceptionalism is also a consequence of having dominated a large part of the world for a long period of time. America has followed suit with the victory in the Second World War and with American exceptionalism. If approved, a manifestation of British exceptionalism might be the “Great Repeal Bill” (repealing the E.U. legislation and setting a mechanism to incorporate it into British Law) because it contains the so called “Henry VIII clauses”, which will allow government ministers and civil servants to decide, without recourse to Parliament, which aspects of E.U. legislation and regulation can be kept, amended or discarded.

[15] Winston Churchill, wireless broadcast, may 7, 1940; speech to the Houses of Parliament, June 4, 1940

[16] Thomas Singer and Samuel L. Kimbles, ibd pp.7.

[17] Read: The Great British Empire Debate, on the New York Review of Books, NYR daily.

[18] Brexit had been defined by” The undefined being negotiated by the unprepared in order to get the unspecified for the uninformed.” This amusing and somehow accurate comment went viral (i.e. widely distributed).

[19] Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, pp 123

[20] For a very accurate history of the Trump candidacy and the beginnings of his Presidency read: One Nation After Trump, E.J:Dionne, Norman J. Ornstein, Thomas E. Mann (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2017).

[21] Steven Buser in A Clear and Present Danger (Chiron publications, Ashville N.C., 2017)

[22] The collective projection of the shadow from North-America is very dangerous, because it “transforms military campaigns into attempts at destroying the North-American shadow: the dark wilderness of the Native American tribes, the darkness that has corrupted many Latin-American regimes, the imperial blackness of international Communism. Ultimately, the two World Wars were wars for the Europeans, but were perceived as a round-up of outlaws by the American Armed Forces.” In: Violent Hearts: America’s Divided Soul, by Luigi Zoja, in Politics and the American Soul (Spring vol. 78).

[23]  Erich Neumann, ibid, pag.51

[24] Note-worthy, that Charlottesville ended up covering the statues of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in black shrouds, as an unconscious way to underscore that their memory had been put back in the collective shadow. The Washington National Cathedral followed suit dismantling stained-glass windows representing the same Confederate generals.

[25] This recommendation to live with our shadow present, at the conscious level, is the excellent suggestion of Roxane Gay, associate professor at Purdue University, published by the New York Times (January 15th 2018). The NYT is beginning to publish articles taking into consideration psychological facts connected with the Trump Presidency.

[26] For a narcissist, God is reflected in the mirror. The cure of narcissism is to go deeper into it, till polytheism is re-discovered. For President Trump and all of his followers it would be diving in the image of self (or, the Inner Trump, for his followers) and to discover all archetypal images.  

[27] See the interview with Murray Stein by Robert S. Henderson, available at the Ashville Jung Center website.

[28] See the quoted interview with Murray Stein.

[29] See Allen Frances, twilight of american sanity: a psychiatrist analyzes the age of trump (New York, Harper Collins, 2017).

[30] It is interesting to note that after Trump election Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, reached the top of Amazon best-seller list.

[31] See Trumplethlnskin, Narcissism and the Will to Power, in A Clear and Present Danger, pp 69-85

[32] Russia’s campaign to influence U.S. elections was a sort of response to the equally successful campaign conducted by the U.S., at its time, to promote democracy in the former Soviet Union. 

[33] A growing sector of the Republican Party, inspired by senators John Mc Cain, Bob Corker and Jeff Flake, might move gradually towards the impeachment of president Trump, because of his incapacity to respect traditional conservative values they believe should be the unshakable base of the Republican Party and of political life in the United States.

[34] The Korean War was interrupted on July 27th 1953 with an Armistice. Several experts and some governments believe that beginning negotiations for a peace treaty would diminish the need of the North-Korean Government for nuclear deterrence and that China will be reassured that the United States has no intention of re-unifying the two Koreas, bringing U.S, troops to its border.

[35] See the 29th December 2017 post by Fareed Zakaria: The declining of U.S. influence is the great global story of our age.

[36] See the statement delivered on August 25th by Janet L. Yellen at the symposium sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

[37] See the statement delivered on August 25th by Mario Draghi at the symposium sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

[38] Trust between countries could be jeopardized if President Trump will nominate to chair the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System candidates like John Taylor, or Kevin Warsh, or similar ones estimated as incompetent, for the task, since they supported fears of inflation at the beginning of the Great Recession and never recognized the mistake made at that time. Less dangerous could be the naming of candidates like Jerome H. Powell, although he might be easily tempted to deregulate the control of major financial institutions and Banks. Also “predicting inflation that did not happen” is in the record of the new Board member of the Federal Bank, Marvin Goodfriend.

[39] Protectionism was one of the pillars of Mr. Trump candidacy. He proposed to rip-off existing trade treaties and impose hefty tariffs to protect American workers.

[40] See A Clear and Present Danger, pp.8-9.

[41]“Extinction anxiety is the cultural psyche’s equivalent of the anxiety about death in an individual”. See A Clear and Present Danger, pp.33,34

[42] See the emotional charge emerged with the Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and following ones, and the diffuse disorientation of people who denied climate change and did not consider nature capable of becoming so powerfully destructive. The image of a Hurricane gives well the sense of the terrible vindictiveness of Nature, if it is not properly taken care of. It seems a synchronistic event aiming at raising the screen of lies covering the disastrous effect of human activities on the environment.

[43] See page 28

[44] Erich Neumann, ibid, pp 130

[45] Hillman diagnoses cultural fragmentation as the return of repressed polytheism. See: James Hillman, A Blue Fire (New York, Harper Perennial, 1991).

[46] See David L. Miller, The New Polytheism (Dallas, Spring publications, 1981)

[47] See James Hillman, quoted.

[48] In America, populism coincides with a vast majority of Trump’s supporters. In Italy we have the “Movimento Cinque Stelle,” accompanied, all over Europe, by a resurgence of neo-nazist and neo-fascist parties promoting authoritarianism as the only way to deal with the consequences of the Great Recession and Globalization.­

[49] See: Allen Frances, twilight of american sanity, ibd.

[50] James Hillman ed., Facing the Gods (Dallas, Spring publications, 1980) pp.26-32.

[51] “Hermes Mercurious is the spirit of the unconscious, responsible for transformations, border crossings, and guidance across boundaries and into new territories.” Murray Stein, Outside Inside and All Around (Chiron publications, Asheville N.C., 2017).

[52] See: Paul Radin, The Trickster, A Study in American Indian Mythology, with commentaries by Karl Kerenyi and C.G.Jung (Schoken books, New York, 1972).

[53] See: Allen Frances, twilight of american sanity, ibd.

[54] See: Rafael Lopez Pedraza, Dioniso in Esilio, La Repressione del Corpo e delle Emozioni, (Moretti &Vitali, Bergamo, 2000).

[55] See:A. Marina Aguilar, Alchemy of the Hearth, The Sacred Marriage of Dionysos & Ariadne (Chiron publications, Asheville N.C., 2017).

[56] A significant help to the press might be brought by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism. It might be able to collect massive information on tax evasion and corruption, world- wide, and allow the press to write very interesting and factually documented articles on these subjects.

[57] It should be noted that 27 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts decided to assess The Dangerous case of Donald Trump (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 2017) warning “that anyone as mentally unstable as Mr. Trump simply should not be entrusted with the life-and-death powers of the Presidency”.

[58]  A mention for capacity, determination and meaning, should be made for the analytical work of the Asheville Jung Center in defining the Trump Presidency, also through the publication of the book: A Clear and Present Danger-Narcissism in the Era of President Trump (Chiron, Asheville, N.C., 2017).

[59] “Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, / The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / The ceremony of innocence is drowned; / The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity./ Surely some revelation is at hand; / Surely the Second Coming is at hand. / The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out / When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi / Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand; / A shape with lion body and the head of a man, / A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, / Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it / Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds. / The darkness drops again but now I know / That twenty centuries of stony sleep / Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, / And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

[60] The equivalent of forty-five billion dollars today. A significant amount, for a gift, although a part of it might come from tax avoidance.

[61] See: James Hillman, Kinds of Power, (Doubleday, New York, 1995).

[62] Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by Thomas Piketty (Cambridge, Harvard U.P., 2014), translated from French by Arthur Goldhammer.

[63] See the quoted statement by Mario Draghi, President of the ECB.

[64] See Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, (Cambridge, Harvard U.P., 2014). Pp.516-534.

[65] See the possible future developments in the Report published by the IMF in Digital Revolutions in Public Finance at

[66] See Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Great Divide, (New York, Norton&Co., 2012).

[67] So called financial weapons of mass destruction, by Warren Buffett.

[68] See Joseph E. Stiglitz, The Great Divide (New York, Norton&Co., 2012) pp, 277-278.

[69] See James Hillman, The Thought of the Hearth and the Soul of the World (Thompson Conn, Spring Publications, 1992).

[70] See James Hillman, A Contribution to Soul and Money, (Dallas, Spring Publications, 1982) pp.42

[71] See Jung, A Psychological Approach to the Dogma of the Trinity, C.W.II, p 197

[72] At pages 25-28.

[73] See the photograph of Trump hugging the pornstar he allegedly paid not to reveal they had a sexual relationship. Look in his eyes, and see what remains of Venus.

[74] James Hillman, Kinds of Power, (New York, Doubleday, 1995). Pp.247

[75] I would suggest to see Jane Goodall act and talk like a female chimpanzee trying to seduce her male, in order to feel how much we have to learn to understand the world we live in. (at:

[76] The breakdown of harmonious cooperation of psychic forces in instinctive life is like an ever open and never healing wound, a veritable Amfortas wound.

[77] Erich Neumann, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, p.144

[78] To encourage a “Leap of Faith” read: Trolling with the Fisher King, by Paul Pines (Asheville, N.C.Chiron pub., 2017).

Keep Calm and Carry On – An interview with Murray Stein about Donald Trump

By Robert S. Henderson

MURRAY STEIN, PhD, is a graduate of Yale University (1965), Yale Divinity School (1969), and has a doctorate from the University of Chicago (1985). In 1973, he received his diploma from the C. G. Jung Institute in Zürich. He had a private practice in Wilmette, Illinois, from 1980 to 2003, and was a training analyst with the C. G. Institute of Chicago. Since 2003, he has lived in Switzerland and is a training analyst with the International School of Analytical Psychology in Zürich (ISAPZurich). Murray is an ordained minister (retired) in the United Presbyterian Church. A founding member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts, he was also the first president of the Chicago Society of Jungian Analysts (1980–1985). He is a former president of the International Association for Analytical Psychology (2001–2004) and a former president of ISAPZurich (2008–2012). 

He is the author of several books, including The Principle of Individuation: Toward the Development of Human Consciousness, In MidLife: A Jungian Perspective, Transformation: Emergence of the Self, Jung’s Map of the Soul, Jung’s Treatment of Christianity: The Psychotherapy of a Religious Tradition, and Minding the Self: Jungian Meditations on Contemporary Spirituality, and he is the editor of Jungian Psychoanalysis. 

ROBERT HENDERSON is a Jungian pastoral psychotherapist, a poet, an ordained Protestant Minister  in Glastonbury, Connecticut. He and his wife, Janis, a psychotherapist, have had many interviews published in Psychological Perspectives, Quadrant, Harvest, Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, and Spring Journal, and are the authors of the three-volume book of interviews conducted by email, Living with Jung: “Enterviews” with Jungian Analysts. Correspondence: 244 Wood Pond Road, Glastonbury, CT 06033. Email:


The title  “Keep Calm and Carry On”  was on a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for World War II


RH: I have wondered how Jung might have understood Donald Trump. I believed Jung had spent some time trying to understand Hitler. Do you think Jung would have spent any time trying to understand Trump?

MS: Of course. Jung was deeply interested in the political figures of his day, so I can’t imagine that he wouldn’t have been fascinated with Trump, just as many Europeans are. Trump is headline news in the Zurich newspapers almost every day. I just now reread the famous Knickerbocker interview with Jung (C.G. Jung Speaking, pp. 115-140). There you can see how closely Jung observed the political personalities in his day. The title of the interview was “Diagnosing the Dictators,” and it appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine in January 1939, so at a very tense time in Europe. Jung showed great interest in the personalities of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin. He doesn’t diagnose them psychiatrically in this interview but rather speaks about their character types. I assume he would take the same approach to Trump. What would he say about Trump? I can only offer my best guess. I don’t think he would put Trump in Hitler’s category (mystical magician). More likely he would put him in the category of Stalin and Mussolini (alpha males and tribal chieftains), although he doesn’t fit this profile perfectly either. Trump has such obvious trickster features, which were not evident in Stalin and Mussolini. In other words, what we project on Trump is different from what people saw in the three dictators discussed by Jung.


RH: In that famous interview, Jung said that Hitler is

 “the mirror of every German’s unconscious….Hitler’s power is not political; it is magic…..magic is that part of our mental constitution over which we have little control and which is stored with all sorts of impressions and sensations; which contains thought and even conclusions of which we are not aware…they lie beneath the threshold of conscious attention.”  Do you find any of this true about Trump?


MS: No. Trump is no Hitler. His power is not that of the magician. It’s blunt and often quite stupid. He does not relate to the American psyche or speak for it the way Hitler did for Germany in the ‘30’s. Jung saw Hitler as a man without qualities, without a personality of his own. He drew his personality from entering into a state of participation mystique with the German collective. He was in this respect mostly unconscious and devoid of personal wishes or ambition. He was not married to a woman; he was married to “das Volk.” He had little connection to his family or to personal possessions, and he showed no interest in enriching himself financially. This is totally unlike Trump. The German people spoke through Hitler using his voice, a sort of ventriloquism, and his popularity increased over time as he became more aggressive and belligerent echoing their frustration.

     Trump’s appeal in America is actually quite small and limited, if you consider the whole population. He doesn’t inspire awe. He’s more of an entertainer than a “leader.” I think in Trump we see a different type of the alpha male, a titanic adolescent, undisciplined and impulsive, often comically so, with grandiose fantasies of himself as King. There is ta difference between the Titans and the Olympians: Titans are gross and clumsy; Olympians have finesse. Trump would like to be an Olympian like Zeus, but he can’t manage it. Obama was an Olympian. Trup is not a normal politician, a man of the party, a leader of a political group. He’s more like a Mafia godfather, and it’s all about the “family,” not the country. A Titan does not hide his personal thoughts and feelings behind political correctness or polished ideological statements. He simply says what’s on his mind at the moment and assumes it will be law. To his base this is appealing because they like an authoritarian boss, all the while thinking they can avoid his catastrophic consequences. Trump wraps them in this illusion as he tweets his mind across the globe.

      Another of Trump’s appeal to his base is that of a “bad boy.” Resentment and inferiority feelings might be a common denominator with Hitler and his base. Trump’s appeal is to the shadow of American society, as was Hitler’s to Germany in his day. But Trump’s appeal is quite shallow by comparison. He doesn’t carry the numinous aura of an archetype, which instills fear and trembling. In our time superficial is popular, much more than profound or visionary, and that’s why he’s successful to the degree he is. This is the nature of postmodernity. Trump is, in a sense, a man of these times. Maybe he does belong on the cover of Time magazine after all. He represents well the spirit of these times.


RH: Murray, I know many who would disagree with you and would feel you are underestimating the devastating impact Trump is having on our country and world. These people feel that we have a mentally ill President who is being supported by the ruling party in Congress. Many feel he is destroying our democracy (by not standing up to Russia and their invasion of our electoral process) and wrecking our international relationships with his decisions. They feel we have a mad man in the most powerful position in the world running our country with no one so far able to stand up to him. The fear grows in imagining such a disoriented person individually holding the nuclear code or engaging in an international crisis. What do you say to such a person?


MS:  I share those fears but have some distance, living in Switzerland. Here we feel somewhat insulated from Trump’s antics and the clear threat he poses to stability, if there is such a thing in the world in these times. But even Switzerland is not invulnerable to earthquakes and political disruptions on the global scale of a Trump, and we also see in the media clear signals of the danger Trump poses. Your question about whether he is in some way like Hitler, as Jung saw the German dictator, raised in my mind many differences between them, as I have noted. There are also significant differences between the American system of government and the German one of that time. Hitler could and did become a dictator; Trump can’t and won’t. So this gives me some comfort.

     But to this person I would also want to say: while I share your anxiety, it occurs to me that we may be missing something important here. Let’s think more psychologically. What if Trump reflects the American psyche today, maybe in only a partial but still a significant way? And assume further that you and I are embedded in that same psyche. We are part of it, not totally separate even if consciously we think we are. And assume further that we are in an alchemical process of transformation of consciousness on a global scale. We know that there is a lot of turbulence as the opposites find each other and interact. The opposites can split the psyche, individually and communally. Is it possible to take this process up in ourselves and find a balanced position within that contains these opposites? First of all, we would have to find the “inner Trump.” And for many of us, this is exceedingly distasteful. Trump is the disdained and hated “other.”


RH: How do you see the “inner Trump” in the psyche of America?

MS:  “The inner Trump” is the shadow personality of the Barack Obama/Hillary Clinton intellectual progressive consciousness. Many of us identify with the latter attitude wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm. Now along comes Trump on the stage of history, and he dramatically exposes the shadow side of progressive America, its racism, its continuing Patriarchalism, its misogyny, its narcissism and selfishness and all the other unsavories that have been mentioned already by so many enlightened people (I do not say this with irony!). The psychological reality, however, is that racism, to pick just one of these negative items, will never be effectively dealt with unless we all recognize its existence in ourselves individually and collectively. That’s the “inner Trump.” It’s not possible to ameliorate the toxic elements that make up the shadow of a culture or an individual until they are made conscious. Trump’s presidency offers America that opportunity. The White House spokespeople say, in response to complaints about Trump’s antics, “Well, you elected him!” and they are absolutely right. Whatever his standing in the polls, Trump represents the people – and I mean ALL the people – in the country, whether we like it or not. This has to be recognized and integrated, by which I mean it needs to made fully conscious that racism, sexism, bullying, moneyism, entitlement and all the rest of Trump’s ignominious features are a part of the face of America now on display, and they reside subtly in all of us. Liberal bullies are as nasty as Trumpists. Other countries and cultures have seen these qualities in us for a long time. Talk to our neighbors in South America, for instance, and you will hear about the nasty “gringo,” more than you will want to take in. Now with Trump up there on stage, front and center, we can see a collective self-portrait for ourselves, and it’s not a pretty picture. This is who we are as a nation. Think of Trump as a mirror. So this realization has to be brought into relationship – not repressed, but also not identified with – with the noble ideals and global vision of an Obama. Personally, I feel that America did not deserve a president as balanced, brilliant, and perspicacious as Obama. He is a Nobel Peace Prize winner for good reason. If there were an anti-Nobel Peace Prize, Trump would be a top candidate for it. So we have a pair of opposites before us in these two presidents, and America has performed a classic enantiodromia in first choosing the one, then the other. What comes after this? Will it be a swing to the opposite of Trump, which would perpetuate the split in the collective, or will it be a “third,” as Jung writes about the resolution of the problem of opposites? I’m afraid that the nation’s fate hangs on this question. Without a uniting “third,” the split will deepen and could destroy us as a nation.


RH: In unprecedented ways, many of our respected psychologists and psychiatrists have put forth diagnosis of Trump, leaving the impression that America has a disturbed and crazy person with unchecked access to the nuclear codes and with the power to set forth policies impacting the climate, education, Supreme Court appointments, and international relationships. Is this also part of the Shadow?

MS: To diagnose Trump is also to diagnose the collective society, if you follow my argument. From the outside, many people have diagnosed America as crazy and dangerous already in the past and not only now. The “ugly American” is a familiar figure around the world, and not only ugly but a bully and extremely dangerous because of America’s oversized military. We are seeing the shadow of America in an especially dramatic way in the image of Trump. Most of us also tend to overestimate the power of the president, and this produces a kind of hysterical reaction to Trump. We expected too much of Obama, and we fear too much in Trump. The president does not appoint Supreme Court justices, for instance, he recommends them to the Senate. They have to be approved. This puts the ball today in the hands of the Republican Party. If Trump recommends an extremist for a chair on the Supreme Court and the Republicans approve him/her, you can’t put all the onus on Trump. The Party supports him, and if he is crazy and they don’t do anything about it, then aren’t they crazy as well? And the people who elect them, aren’t they crazy? It’s not just one person. He is a figurehead. To say Trump is narcissistic is to say the obvious, but then is not the American collective also equally narcissistic and self-centered, concerned only with its own business interests in the world (“America First”) just like Trump? Trump is playing the tune, but he didn’t write the music. Look to the base of his support and all the people surrounding him who benefit from his crazy ways. In Europe now, the attitude is to go its own way and ignore Trump and America as much as possible. This isn’t so bad because Europe has been too dependent on the US in the last half century. Where this may lead is one of the big questions of the day.

RH: In his poem “In Memory of Ernest Toller”, W.H. Auden gives us a line which I think Jung would have appreciated: “we are lived by powers we pretend to understand.” Are there powers living America and Trump now that we are pretending to understand?

MS: Yes, I think that would be an accurate assessment. There are always causal explanations for everything and now for Trump, too – the financial crisis, the loss of jobs in manufacturing, the sexism and racism endemic to American culture that generated a reaction against Obama and Hillary, the disconnect between the rich and the rest – but they don’t answer the question: what is the meaning of this? What more is behind this phenomenon? I am not advocated global conspiracy theories as some people do, but it is worth considering larger forces behind the evident story of Trump and his effect on our time. We can pretend to understand, but do we? Are our explanations convincing? From a Jungian perspective, we recognize the role of the irrational in life, the power of millennial movements in the depths of the collective unconscious such the much discussed change from the Platonic Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius, the role of the archetype of the Trickster in collective life who disrupts the stable certainties and structures of knowledge built up over centuries of inquiry and rational discourse, and of course the role of acausal synchronicity (meaningful coincidence) on the disruptive movements in history. Is the appearance of Trump, who so unexpectedly and surprisingly breaks on the scene like a titanic eruption, a signal of change that we cannot comprehend until we have more historical perspective? Is the unconscious up to something that is beyond our ken right now? Are there powers in the shadows that are living us collectively and that we cannot grasp with our limited cognitive abilities? Auden lived with this question, and now we must too. I would keep an open mind. We need an oracle, but we don’t believe in that any longer. Trump makes me want to visit Delphi or consult the I Ching. It’s that strange.

RH: Perhaps visiting Delphi or consulting the I Ching would be helpful in surviving the era of Trump. What will you be telling yourself or doing in order to make it through the next 4 or possibly 8 years of Trump’s presidency? 

MS: To tell you the truth, I hope Trump won’t be in office that long. But the question is valid because it is not only Trump but more importantly what supports and thrusts him forward into the limelight: how can we cope with troubled times like these and continue to grow and individuate in spite of, or with the help of, this challenge to our wellbeing and even our sanity? I think of Churchill’s dry but inspiring advice to the British people as Hitler’s bombs were raining down on their cities: “Keep calm and carry on.” Beyond that, I would take a page from Jung’s biography who, when confronted by instability and the threat of insanity, personal and collective, turned away from the “spirit of the times” and followed “the spirit of the depth” into his Red Book adventure. The first stage is to confront the shadow, and after that more will follow. The path is archetypal. As Clarissa Pinkola-Estes cried out upon Trump’s election (I am paraphrasing because I have lost track of the text), “Jungians, be of good spirit. We were trained for this!” Deep Jungian analytic work creates a solid resource for keeping calm and carrying on while the world goes mad. In the depths of the unconscious, there is an inner Philemon or Sophia. When Jung reached this level, he could rest. If we make contact, we will also find confidence that not only survival but a more conscious and balanced and humane and just future cam emerge on the human scene. It depends on many individuals doing the necessary inner work.

Mary Harrell, Ph.D.

Mary HarrellAuthor Chat: Living an Imaginative Life
By Mary Harrell Ph.D.

Are imaginal experiences real? What is the nature of the beings that live in that space between matters of the natural world, and ideas of the reasonable mind? How do they help us live a life imbued with wonder and mystery? These questions compelled me to begin exploring what French philosopher Henry Corbin called the imaginal realm, the mundus imaginalis. Corbin coined the term “imaginal” to distinguish between that which is “made up” – a flight of fantasy – and that reality residing on the border between waking experience, and a more generative kind of knowing and being.

Carl Jung and the Jewish Mystical Tradition Part III

The Orchard of Pomegranates by Moses Cordovero

From the 1591 edition of Moses Cordovero, The Garden of Pomegranates

The Sefirotic Tree of Life

By Tony Woolfson, Ph.D.

In the winter of 1944 Jung lost his footing when out walking, fell, and broke his foot. Perhaps the symbolic significance of losing his footing contributed to his suffering a heart attack shortly thereafter. For several weeks he hovered in a liminal  state, on the threshold of death, often with the feeling of being way above the Earth in an altered state entirely. He was certainly in a mystical condition, in an out of body near-death situation. The down-to-earth reality of the daily hospital routines irritated him intensely and about the only time he experienced a complete relief from the vagaries of his illness was late at night when the night nurse brought him some soup. Perhaps she brought him chicken soup, a symbolic cure-all that Jewish mothers will tell us cannot hurt, and it might even do some good. Jung even fancied that the nurse was an old Jewish mother figure, preparing ritual kosher dishes for him. And only then was Jung able to eat, and with appetite, as he describes it in his Memories, Dreams, Reflections.

Carl Jung and the Jewish Mystical Tradition Part II

The Archetype of the Wandering Jew

Wandering Jew

By Tony Woolfson, Ph.D.

This is a photograph taken in 1938 in Cracow, Poland. Within two years at most the old man in the photograph was most likely dead, and most if not all his fellow Jews in Cracow would be living in conditions of near complete desperation, consequent to the invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany on September 1 1939, the complete occupation of Poland soon thereafter, and the institution of policies designed more or less to annihilate both the Slavic Polish population and of course the more than two million Jewish people then living in Poland. Although the image looks as if it could have been taken straight from a newspaper of the time, so authentically papery and faded and grey does it look, it was in fact recently reproduced from a book of photographs of Jewish life in Eastern Europe taken just before the outbreak of WWII. The photographer, Roman Vishniac, was commissioned by an American Jewish agency to make a pictorial record of Jewish life in Eastern Europe before it was too late, it being fairly obvious by 1938 that time was not on the side of Eastern European Jews. The lucky ones, like the archetypal figure of a modern-day Job in Joseph Roth’s legendary novel of the same name, had made it across the ocean to the “goldene Medina” (yes, Medina of Moslem fame), the U. S. of A. Six million of the rest were unable or unwilling to tear their lives up by the roots, again, and take to the road of the Wandering Jew. Click here to register for Jung and the World Religions So deeply embedded in the Jewish psyche is the reality of wandering that the very word has a deep symbolic significance. As he or she is alluded to in the Hexagram of The Wanderer in the I Ching, the wanderer really has no home, the wanderer is truly a rootless cosmopolitan. We might note that it seems that ever more people in our day have to live the life of a wanderer, fortunate indeed if they ever reach a welcoming shore and a home they can call their own. Jewish people have also learned how to find consolation and a much more fulfilling life in their next “home from home”. For example, had Biblical Joseph not been sold into slavery in Egypt, his family might have starved to death when they had to leave Canaan because of famine. Similarly, the horrific end to the rich Jewish life in the Iberian Peninsula had the unintended consequence of bringing many thousands of Jews to relative safety in Turkey, much closer to the Holy Land. The expulsion surely contributed to the extraordinary flourishing of Kabbalistic mythology in Safed, which we will be discussing on Saturday. In our photograph, then, all this symbolism should be readily apparent. It is a classic image, mystical in its depth and intensity, perhaps due to our, the viewers, knowledge of what awaits this old man and his people within two years from the photograph’s being taken. The old man, a rabbi, knows what we know, however, and the briefest glance at the dishevelled and dislocated architectural background, like a context to the photograph, only adds to the sense of desolation that so often is associated with eternal wandering. A Mediaeval legend that must have contributed significantly to the idea of the Jew as always leaving, never to be trusted, and generally a despised Other is the Legend of the Wandering Jew, deriving from the completely unfounded story of a Jewish inhabitant of Jerusalem’s making an archetypal refusal to give water to the suffering, exhausted, and thirsty Jesus as he proceeded up the Stations of the Cross to Calvary and his martyrdom. For his refusal, it is said that Jesus condemned the Jew to a life as an Eternal Wanderer, knowing no rest and with no place to call home. Roman Vishniac bethought himself to ask the old Rabbi in Cracow how long he had been wandering. “From the beginning,” he replied. For more from Dr. Tony Woolfson please register for the Jung and the World Religions 5 seminar course from the Asheville Jung Center.