Cultural Therapy

I once had a very vivid nightmare that made me wake up shaking. In my dream, a man approached me and pointed to a wound inside my heart that I myself was not aware of, which was buried deep beneath the skin. He then told me how the area above my forehead is ill.

At the time, I was not able to understand what the message of this dream was. Now I feel like this nightmare gave me more insight into psychopathy. It made me think that this could partly be a condition created by an injury to the heart, and that in many ways Western culture suffers from it.

In his autobiography, Jung (1961/1989) recollected his encounter with the Pueblo Indians in his visit to New Mexico. There he met a chief of the Taos pueblos, named Ochwiay Biano. Biano shared with Jung his observation of white men, saying how “the whites always want something; they are always uneasy and restless” and that “we think that they are mad”. When Jung asked him why he thinks that way, Biano said “they say they think with their heads.” Jung asked him with surprise, “Why of course. What do you think with?” He replied, “We think here …indicating his heart” (p. 248).

It is possible to realize that in a sense, Western culture has gone mad through it losing connection to the heart. A predator manifested as an expression of psychopathy now is working within our mind and just as I saw in my dream, we are all in a sense mentally ill. This culture that has become divorced from the heart has put people into hypnosis and keeps them asleep. With this, we become automatons, never examining whether desires and thoughts are truly our own.

Looking back at history, we can see the spread of this kind of illness in the rise of Adolf Hitler. Now we might be seeing another form of this in the creeping authoritarian state unfolding in America. Back then, people fell asleep and were dragged down into fascism, becoming ‘good Germans.’ Perhaps now we are becoming ‘good Americans’ never critically examining those official stories or challenging that authority.

Our mind is enslaved by a beast that suppresses feelings, disconnecting us from our own experience. Not being able to feel, we lose empathy for one another, which is the seat of conscience. Revolt against the tyranny of the head demands that we find courage to feel and claim our own experience. This requires a kind of cultural therapy. Our sincere engagement with self-work could resuscitate our heart, giving birth to a new subjectivity.

Waves of whistleblowers, from Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond to Edward Snowden have shown us the way. These courageous heroes of our time listened to that tiny voice of conscience that sparked them by putting themselves into others’ shoes.

Poet ee cummings eloquently wrote about this battle of reclaiming the feeling that is truly our own:

A POET’S ADVICE by ee cummings

“A real human is somebody who feels and who expresses his or her feelings. This may sound easy. It isn’t.

A lot of people think or believe or know what they feel—but that’s thinking or believing or knowing: not feeling. And being real is feeling—not just knowing or believing or thinking.

Almost anybody can learn to think or believe or know, but it’s very difficult to learn to feel. Why? Because whenever you think or you believe or you know, you’re a lot of other people: but the moment you feel, you’re nobody – but – yourself.

To be nobody – but -yourself– in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else–means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.

As for communicating nobody-but-yourself to others, that means working just a little harder than anybody who isn’t real can possibly imagine. Why?

Because nothing is quite as easy as just being just like somebody else. We all of us do exactly this nearly all of the time–and whenever we do it, we are not real. If, at the end of your first ten or fifteen years of fighting and working and feeling, you find you’ve loved just once with a nobody-but-yourself heart, you’ll be very lucky indeed.

And so my advice to all young people who wish to become real is: do something easy, like dreaming of freedom–unless you’re ready to commit yourself to feel and work and fight till you die.”

In order for us to gain connection to our feelings, we have to learn to discern; to recognize sentimental feelings and what is seen as love is often not our authentic emotions and are even manufactured. Feelings of the heart are not just feel-good ones, but accompany a sense of serenity. When we awaken the feelings of the heart, they bring forth a new thinking and with this we can attain true objectivity.


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Cultural Analysis

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