"The gigantic catastrophes that threaten us today are not elemental happenings of a physical or biological order, but psychic events. To a quite terrifying degree we are threatened by wars and revolutions which are nothing other than psychic epidemics. At any moment several millions of human beings may be smitten with a new madness, and then we shall have another world war or devastating revolution. Instead of being at the mercy of wild beasts, earthquakes, landslides, and inundations, modern man is battered by the elemental forces of his own psyche. This is the World Power that vastly exceeds all other powers on earth.[i]"
C. G. Jung
THE MADNESS OF GEORGE W. BUSH:
A REFLECTION OF OUR COLLECTIVE PSYCHOSIS
by Paul Levy
George W. Bush is ill. He has a psycho-spiritual dis-ease of the soul, a sickness that is endemic to our culture and symptomatic of the times in which we live. It is an illness that has been with us since time immemorial. Because it is an illness in the soul of all of humanity, it pervades the field and is in all of us in potential at any moment, which makes it especially hard to diagnose.
Bush's malady is quite different from schizophrenia, for example, in which different parts of the personality are fragmented and not connected to each other, resulting in a state of internal chaos. As compared to the dis-order of the schizophrenic, Bush can sound quite coherent and appear like a "regular" guy, which makes the syndrome he is suffering from very hard to recognize. This is because the healthy parts of his personality have been co-opted by the pathological aspect, which drafts them into its service. Because of the way the personality self-organizes an outer display of coherence around a pathogenic core, I would like to name Bush's illness "Malignant Egophrenia" (as compared to schizophrenia), or "ME disease," for short. If ME disease goes unrecognized and is not contained, it can be very destructive, particularly if the person afflicted is in a position of power.
In much the same way that a child's psychology cannot be understood without looking at the family system of which he or she is a part, George Bush does not exist in isolation. We can view Bush—and his entire administration: Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, etc., as well as the corporate, military industrial complex they are co-dependently enmeshed with, the media they control, the voters supporting them, and ourselves as well—as interconnected parts of a whole system, or a "field." Instead of relating to any part of this field as an isolated entity, it’s important to contemplate the entire interdependent field as the "medium" through which malignant egophrenia manifests and propagates itself. ME disease is a field phenomenon and needs to be contemplated as such. Bush's sickness is our own.
THE DISEASE IS NON-LOCAL
Being a field phenomenon, malignant egophrenia is non-local in nature, which means that it is not bound by the limitations of time or space. Being non-local, this disease pervades and underlies the entire field and can therefore manifest anywhere, through anyone, and at any moment. The disease's non-local nature makes the question of who has the disease irrelevant, as we all have it in potential. It is more a question of whether or not we are aware of our susceptibility to fall prey to the disease. This awareness itself serves as an immunization protecting us from the pernicious effects of the illness, thereby allowing us to be of genuine help to others.
Bush, like all of us, is both a manifestation of this deeper field and simultaneously an agent affecting the field. He’s become so fully taken over by the disease, all the while not suspecting a thing, that he’s become a "carrier" for this death-creating disease, thus infecting the field around him. He’s become a portal through which the field around him "warps" in such a way as to feed and support his pathogenic process. A non-local, reciprocally co-arising and interdependent field of unconscious denial and cover-up constellates around Bush to enable and protect his pathology. People who support Bush are actually complicit with and enabling Bush’s madness in a co-dependent, self-reinforcing feedback loop that is "closed," which is to say it is insular and not open to any feedback from the "real" world.
Bush supporters are not merely disinterested in seeing that they are in denial of reality; on the contrary, they actively don’t want to look at this—they resist self-reflection at all costs. Bush and his supporters perversely interpret any feedback from the real world reflecting back their unconsciousness as evidence proving the rightness of their viewpoint. All of Bush’s supporters mutually reinforce each others’ unconscious resistance to such a degree that a collective, interdependent field of impenetrability is collectively conjured up by them that literally resists consciousness.
People who don't recognize Bush's illness and support him are unconsciously colluding with and enabling the co-creation of the pathological field incarnating itself into the human family. People who support Bush become unwitting agents through which this non-local disease feeds and replicates itself. By supporting Bush, they collaborate with and become parts of the greater, interconnected, and self-organizing field of the disease.
The situation is analogous to when seemingly good, normal, loving Germans supported Hitler, believing he was a good leader trying to help them. The German people didn't realize that the virulent malignant egophrenia pathogen had taken possession of Hitler and was incarnating itself through him. By not seeing this and supporting Hitler, they became agents used by this non-local, deadly disease to propagate itself. This is why Jung says, "…evil needs masses for its genesis and continued existence."[ii] What happened in Germany was a collective psychosis, and this is what is taking place in our country right now.
IIt is not that the threat of terrorism is unreal, but that Bush's policies in dealing with terrorism are actually fueling the fire. The way Bush is fighting terrorism is in actuality the very act invoking and creating more of it in the first place. Bush is so dissociated from the darkness within himself that he splits off from it, projects it outside of himself, and then tries to destroy it. He is fighting against his own shadow, a battle that can never be won. Bush’s inner process, because of the position of power he finds himself in, is being dreamed up and played out on the world stage.
Egophrenia is unique in that it is an inner disease of the soul expressing itself via the medium of the outside world; it collapses the boundary between inner and outer. We could even say that the inner core of egophrenia actually in-forms and gives shape to the outer universe so as to express itself.
By creating more of the very thing he is fighting against, Bush is enacting the repetition compulsion of the traumatized soul. In Bush’s case, it is the repetition compulsion gone awry, to daemonic proportions, getting acted out on the world stage. To quote noted psychologist Rollo May, the daemonic is "any natural function which has the power to take over the whole person [or whole nation]…the daemonic can be either creative or destructive[iii] [i.e., demonic]…violence is the daemonic gone awry...ages [such as ours] tend to be times when the daemonic is expressed in its most destructive form."[iv] [Please note: comments in brackets are the author’s emphasis unless stated otherwise].
The daemonic aspect of the disease can develop an autonomy of its own and literally possess the person or group, as it is self-generating, self-perpetuating and self-organizing in nature, like a closed and negative feedback loop. The person who is taken over doesn't suspect a thing, as the field secretly conspires, colludes with, and enables their psychosis. For example, Bush, in his delusion, imagines he is divinely guided. His supporters want to believe this to feed their own adolescent fantasies of wanting to have a divinely inspired leader take care of and protect them. Because of this need, they invest in Bush’s delusion, which just confirms to Bush all the more that he is indeed God’s instrument. Bush and his followers are co-dependently and reciprocally feeding and supporting each others’ unconscious narcissistic needs in a truly pathological and ultimately self-destructive co-dependent relationship.
Both Bush and the terrorists are projecting the shadow onto each other, seeing their own shadow reflected in the other, as though looking in a mirror. It's interesting to note that the inner meaning of the word mirror is "shadow-holder."[v] Both Bush and the terrorists see each other as criminals, as the incarnation of evil. By projecting the shadow like this, they locate the evil "outside of themselves," which ensures that they don't have to recognize the evil within themselves. Ironically, by fighting against their own shadow in this way, they become possessed by the very thing they are trying to destroy, thereby perpetuating a never-ending cycle of violence. Jung comments on this very situation:
The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided [not in touch with both the light AND dark parts of themselves] and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves.[vi]
Projecting the shadow is an activity that relates to lying, both to oneself and others. It’s interesting to note that one of the inner meanings of the word Devil is "the liar." Projecting the shadow, according to Jung, "…deprives us of the capacity to deal with evil."[vii] Jung stresses the importance of consciously developing what he calls our "imagination for evil,"[viii] which is to consciously recognize our potential for evil. This recognition means embracing and integrating our dark side into our wholeness, which is made up of both light and dark. If we have no imagination for evil, to quote Jung, "…evil has us in its grip…for only the fool can permanently disregard the conditions of his own nature. In fact, this negligence is the best means of making him an instrument of evil."[ix]
By projecting the shadow, Bush unwittingly becomes a conduit for the deepest, archetypal evil to possess him from behind, beneath his conscious awareness, and to act itself out through him. At the same time, ironically enough, he identifies with the light and imagines that he is divinely inspired. To quote Jung, a person in a position of power who has become dissociated like Bush, "…even runs the grave risk of believing he has a Messianic mission, and forces tyrannous doctrines upon his fellow-beings."[x] He then believes that any action he desires is justified in the name of God, rationalizing it as being God's will. Unable to self-reflect, he is convinced of the rightness of his viewpoint, which he considers non-negotiable.
This is a very dangerous situation, as Bush has become unconsciously identified with and possessed by the hero, or savior archetype. This figure is religious in nature, as it derives from the transpersonal, archetypal dimension of the collective unconscious. Being inflated with the hero archetype, Bush (archetypically) wants to save the world from evil and liberate the planet.
This is the height of irony since, in reality, Bush is acting as an unwitting conduit for evil by instigating wars and taking away peoples’ freedoms. This incongruity brings into bold relief the severe dissociation characterizing Bush's condition. His inflation blinds him to the destructive consequences of his actions, and is one of the easier aspects of his pathology to recognize. Being inflated due to an unconscious identification with an archetype is, in essence, an expression of having forfeited one's humanity, a state in which humility becomes impossible. "An inflated consciousness," to quote Jung:
is incapable of learning from the past, incapable of understanding contemporary events, and incapable of drawing right conclusions about the future. It is hypnotized by itself and therefore cannot be argued with. It inevitably dooms itself to calamities that must strike it [and others within its sphere of influence] dead.[xi]
Having the most powerful man in the world be unconsciously identified with and inflated by an archetype is a very dangerous situation for everyone involved, which is all of us.
DRUNK WITH POWER
Bush has fallen into a state that is the embodiment of arrogance. Succumbing to the temptation of power, Bush has become corrupt, which is the inevitable consequence when one prefers power over truth. The original sin of the Bush administration is love of power for its own sake. Bush has fallen into a vicious cycle where he has become addicted to power. To quote Senate minority leader Harry Reid, "This administration is drunk with power."[xii] Bush’s unrestrained lust for power is like an alcoholic’s compulsive thirsting for and being controlled by alcohol. Bush is like the typical substance abuser, only in his case, the substance he is abusing is power, and the family system that is the recipient of his abuse is the entire world.
We need to not be naïve and realize the danger of our situation: People addicted to power as Bush is will literally stop at nothing to retain their power, no matter how vile the means. To quote Karl Rove, the administration is willing to do "whatever it takes" to stay in power.
Not only does Bush not see the depraved nature of the situation he has fallen into, he doesn’t want to see it. Being in the role of having power, there is a counter-incentive to self-reflect, which simply feeds the compulsion and reinforces the addiction, a truly pathological process.
The inner name of ME disease is "Mad Emperor" disease, as it is what happens when a person in a position of power falls prey to and becomes seduced by that power. When a person becomes addicted to unrestrained power, they make a Faustian pact with the Devil, selling their soul in the bargain. Having let the "genie" out of the bottle, a person stricken with Mad Emperor disease discovers that, instead of the genie serving and empowering them, they ultimately become obedient and a slave to the genie. A person who has fallen into this perverse state has, because of their interminable arrogance, literally hypnotized themselves and become their own victim, totally losing their internal freedom in the process. People in this state of utter depravity, such as Hitler, Stalin, Hussein and George Bush, are truly possessed by an overwhelming lust for power that compels them to perpetrate endless violence on others. They believe that there is no higher authority—pronouncements to the contrary—and hence, feel they can literally get away with murder.
Bush has become possessed by the very power that he has conjured up—a powerful, seemingly "other," external energy has co-opted Bush to be its instrument. Because of his unending greed, Bush is allowing himself to be used by others, manipulated by darker forces like a puppet on a string. Having sold his soul, he is for sale to the highest bidder. At the same time, these seemingly "external" darker forces are an expression of something deep within himself that he has become a stranger to. Unless recognized, this pathological situation always results in self-destruction. To quote Jung, "…a mass always produces a ‘Leader,’ who infallibly becomes the victim of his own inflated ego-consciousness, as numerous examples in history show."[xiii]
The indigenous author Jack Forbes, author of Columbus and other Cannibals, describes those who are suffering from this malady as being infected with a literal illness, a virulent and contagious disease he calls wetiko, or "cannibal sickness." Those so afflicted consume, so to speak, the lives of others—human and nonhuman alike—for private purpose or profit, and do so without giving back anything of their own lives. They simply exploit others, be it people or the environment, as objects to satisfy their own unending narcissistic hunger. Like a vampire, they feed off of other peoples’ blood. William James described it well, "Evil is a disease."
HIDING FROM HIMSELF
At the root of Bush’s process is an unwillingness and seeming inability to experience his own sense of sin, guilt and shame, as if he is afraid of being exposed, of being found out. He’s clearly unable to feel any remorse and experience his own weakness and vulnerability, his own sense of failure. This is too great a threat to his narcissism. Another way of describing Bush’s psychic numbness is to say that he cannot, under any circumstances, allow himself to feel.
This inability to feel his shame and guilt sets in motion a self-perpetuating cycle of denial, cover-up and projecting the shadow, all of which are based on a lie. Bush then falls into an endless loop of hiding from his own lie, which is to say, from himself. This process allows Bush to become taken over by egophrenia and become a conduit for the disease to incarnate its malignant aspect through him. As the Buddhist Maharatnakuta Sutra says, "A liar lies to himself as well as to the gods. Lying is the origin of all evils."
Commenting on this resistance to self-reflection and endless cycle of self-deception, Jung says,
Hysterical self-deceivers, and ordinary ones too, have at all times understood the art of misusing everything so as to avoid the demands and duties of life, and above all to shirk the duty of confronting themselves. They pretend to be seekers after God in order not to have to face the truth that they are ordinary egoists.[xiv]
Malignant egophrenia is the embodiment of the separate self, the narcissistic ego, spinning out of control to an extremely pathological degree—hence the name "ME disease." If we want to understand the malignant aspects of egophrenia gone berserk, all we have to do is to contemplate the actions of George Bush. Being the incarnation of this disease, he is its revelation in human form.
A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR
Jung said, "…involuntary one-sidedness, i.e., the inability to be anything but one-sided, is a sign of barbarism."[xv] Bush’s unconscious, dis-association from himself manifests as a compulsive, "involuntary one-sidedness" that results in primitive, uncivilized and truly Neanderthal behavior. Because of Bush’s position of power, he expresses his inflexibility in the most brutal of ways.
Bush has the seductive coherence of someone who is fanatically identified, like the typical fundamentalist, with only one side of an inherently two-sided polarity. Falling victim to one's own deception as Bush has can have a mesmerizing and gripping effect on others, as he appears so convinced of what he is saying and is able to project this conviction. Jung tells us that:
Nothing has such a convincing effect as a lie one invents and believes oneself, or an evil deed or intention whose righteousness one regards as self-evident…things only become dangerous when the pathological liar is taken seriously by a wider public. Like Faust, he is bound to make a pact with the devil and thus slips off the straight path.[xvi]
Jung reiterates the point by saying, "I should like to emphasize above all that it is part and parcel of the pathological liar’s make-up to be plausible."[xvii] In addition, Jung makes the point that pathological liars are in the habit of:
presenting their wish-fantasies partly as easily attainable and partly as having been attained, and who believe these obvious lies themselves…. In order to realize their wish fantasies no means is too bad for them…. They "believe" they are doing it for the benefit of humanity, or at least of the nation or their party, and cannot under any circumstances see that their aim is invariably egoistic. Since this is a common failing, it is difficult for the layman to recognize such cases as psychopathic. Because only a convinced person is immediately convincing (by psychic contagion), he exercises as a rule a devastating influence on his contemporaries. Almost everybody is taken in by him.[xviii] [Emphasis in original]
Monk and author Thomas Merton, commenting on the case of the obviously demented Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, points out, "One of the most disturbing facts that came out in the Eichmann trial was that a psychiatrist examined him and pronounced him perfectly sane."[xix]
A key feature of malignant egophrenia is that it is very hard to recognize when someone is a carrier, because the person can seem so normal and even endearing. The person afflicted can be very "charming" and have a charisma that can entrance those who don't see through their subterfuge.
Just as Hitler struck a chord deep in the German unconscious, Bush is touching something very deep in the American psyche. Both Hitler and Bush dreamed of and are exponents of a "new order," which is one of the reasons people fall for them. Like Hitler, Bush is acting out on the world stage an under-developed psychological process that deals simplistically with issues such as good and evil. It’s as if he hasn't grown out of and fully differentiated from the realm of mythic, archetypal fantasy that is typical of early adolescence. This immature aspect of Bush's process speaks to and resonates with those voters who support him, as it is a reflection of their own under-developed inner process.
The most dangerous leaders are those who are adept at acting out our forbidden impulses, urges we would never allow ourselves to consciously give voice to in our individual lives. We vicariously experience these hidden desires through our unconscious identification with both the leader and the group for which he is the "conductor." There is a safety, a comfort, a familiarity in being accepted and embraced by the prevailing mass psychology of the collective. There is a secret attraction to be on the side that seems "right," to be on the side with power, to be on what is perceived as the winning side. The cost is high, however, as we lose both our sanity and our "Self" in the process.
Whereas Hitler’s evil was more overt in its cruelty and sadism, Bush’s dark side is much more hidden and disguised, which makes it particularly dangerous. People who support Bush are blind to what is very obvious to others. It’s as if they’ve become hypnotized and fallen under the spell Bush is casting.
Why would people vote for someone stricken with malignant egophrenia? People who support Bush are suggestible and susceptible to the same malady Bush is embodying, as if they have a predisposition for it (based on their own trauma, dissociated psyche, and tendency to project the shadow). Supporting Bush is a sign that a person not only doesn't see the deadly illness that is incarnating itself through Bush, but is an expression that this disease has taken up residence in their being and is using them to do its bidding.
A COLLECTIVE PSYCHOSIS
ME disease is an Orwellian world where up is down, as its flawless illogic is convoluted and inverted at its core. Malignant egophrenia is crazy-making. It induces a very hard to recognize form of insanity. When we fall prey to egophrenia, we are unable to recognize that we are taken over, as we become bewitched by our own projections, accusing other people of doing what we ourselves are doing. For example, Bush is guilty of the very thing he accuses Saddam Hussein of when he calls Hussein, "A man who has defied the world," and "A man who has made the United Nations look foolish." Similarly, Bush is talking about himself when, referring to the terrorists, he says we are "facing a radical ideology with unalterable objectives to enslave whole nations and intimidate the world." He is unknowingly giving voice, shape and form to his unconscious shadow.
Part of the sinister nature of the disease is that when we point at it and call it by its true name—as being a form of insanity called ignorance—people who are stricken with the disease will see us as the one's who are crazy. Because egophrenia hooks us through our unconscious, when we are infected with it, just like a sociopath, we don’t experience ourselves as being sick or needing help. When we are taken over by egophrenia, we always see the problem as existing in someone else.
In addition, when we are stricken with egophrenia, we think we are successfully hiding and concealing our shadow activities. We imagine that others can’t see the underhanded nature of what we are doing, all the while not realizing that our criminal activities are their own revelation and could not be more obvious for all who have not fallen under our spell.
By being duplicitous and trying to hide his ulterior motives, Bush is unwittingly revealing them. Bush made a telling "Freudian slip" when he said "Our enemies are innovative and resourceful and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." In this slip of the tongue, Bush was unknowingly giving voice to the unconscious shadow, the part of himself whose intentions are the polar opposite of what he consciously imagines and represents them to be at that moment. Bush’s shadow was speaking through him, revealing what was being acted out through his unconscious. Bush had become transparent, blowing his own cover in the process. Egophrenia is a form of psychic blindness in which we have become so unconscious that we literally project out our own blindness and imagine that others, instead of ourselves, are the ones who are not seeing.
Egophrenia hides in the shadows of human consciousness and secretly influences perception in ways that prevent the disease from being perceived. Unless we recognize the insidious nature of this psychic disease, there is a crazy-making field around it that will make us a part of itself. Collective psychosis is like that.
THE PSYCHIATRIC COMMUNITY HAS THE DISEASE
There is only one reason why the mainstream psychiatric community is not studying this contagious psychosis as it spreads through Bush, his regime, and the surrounding field—they haven't yet recognized that the disease even exists. It is through our unconsciousness that this non-local pathogen flavors our perceptions to suit its purposes. By not recognizing the nature of the disease, the mental health community becomes its unwitting agents, helping the disease to propagate. What clearer sign do we need of a collective psychosis than when our mental health system itself, whose job it is to monitor such phenomenon, not only doesn't recognize that there is a collective psychosis running rampant in our society, but are themselves infected with it?
The DSM-IV, the psychiatric diagnostic manual, is continually expanding and including new diagnoses as we deepen our understanding of and map the contours of the human psyche. The problem is that the DSM-IV is an expression of an "old paradigm" way of thinking in that it looks at mental illness as it exists in individuals, regarding the individual as an object existing separate from the field around them. This is based on an illusion, for the individual is embedded in the greater field—family system, society, and planetary culture—and is an expression of this multi-textured field. The individual and the field around them interpenetrate and condition each other so fully that they can't even be regarded as two separate aspects that have become joined together, but rather must be seen as inseparable parts of a greater whole.
Egophrenia expresses itself non-locally throughout the entire field. Consequently, instead of being viewed through the lens of the fragmented, separate self, it requires a more holistic vision that recognizes the existence of the interdependently co-arising field. It’s not a question of integrating ME disease into the existing DSM-IV, but instead of radically expanding, up-leveling, and re-visioning our understanding of the nature of illness itself.
To view the world through the lens of the illusory, separate self is to pathologize certain individuals as if they exist separately from ourselves. When we recognize our interdependence, however, we concurrently get into focus and see the deeper, unified field expressing itself through us and connecting us with each other. It is like instead of contemplating one finger on a glove, we can recognize the hand moving the finger in relation to the other fingers, which are recognized to not be separate from each other. Instead of studying the individual fingers, we can focus our attention on the underlying hand animating and in-forming them.
On the level of the separate self, Bush can clearly be pathologized as being a sociopath, a malignant narcissist, as well as many other things. From the limited (and illusory) perspective of seeing Bush as separate from the unified field, there is no arguing with these diagnoses. But to concretize Bush in this way would be analogous to only seeing the circle that a three-dimensional sphere makes as it passes through a two-dimensional plane. The circle is a lower-level reflection of a higher-dimensional entity (the sphere), just as Bush being a sociopathic criminal is a lower-level expression of a deeper and more pervasive process non-locally expressing itself throughout the interconnected field.
Bush is merely being dreamed up to play a role in a deeper process. Even though he has fallen prey to a deadly disease that has hooked him through his unconscious, Bush is still fully accountable for his actions. We are always ethically responsible for our Faustian bargains.
It’s profoundly important that the mental health community at large recognize this age-old disease with which we are all afflicted. Doing this changes this community from being part of the problem to being part of the solution. The disease literally feeds on our unawareness of it. The recognition of the disease is itself the beginning of the cure. By recognizing the nature of this collective psychosis, we snap out of being part of it. Malignant egophrenia, unrecognized and misdiagnosed until now, has wreaked havoc all throughout human history, and is at the very root of our current world crisis. To the extent we are unaware of the nature of this collective psychosis, it has us in its grips and will unconsciously be acted out through us in a destructive manner. The choice is truly ours.
This disease, if it gets out of control, means self-destruction for both victim and perpetrator. There are no winners. The entire interconnected web supporting Bush can be recognized as tentacles of this virulent, non-local pathogen that, to the extent it is not seen, is potentially gaining more and more sovereignty. Like a sci-fi movie, we have dreamed up a higher-dimensional Frankenstein monster that has taken on a life of its own and truly threatens us all.
THE IMPORTANCE OF NAMING THE DISEASE
One of the signatures of ME disease is that it hooks people through their unconscious blind spot, so when people are afflicted by this deadly disease, they are truly asleep to what is being acted out through them. Like a true Manchurian candidate, Bush is being manipulated, used and victimized, like a puppet on a string, by a deeper matrix of cover-up and deceit that has been perpetrated by him and his very regime—and has now taken on an autonomous life of its own.
Malignant egophrenia is an expression of, and is at the root of, the extreme polarization and dissociation in both the human psyche and the world process at large. The disease is archetypal in nature, which is to say that it has eternally re-created itself and played itself out over the course of history. We can even say that it’s the "bug" in the system that has in-formed and given shape to all of the conflict and disharmony of human relationships. ME disease is as old as the human species. However, we’re now at the point in our evolution where we can finally recognize it, see it, give it a name, and diagnose it.
Egophrenia is an expression of the deepest level of our being, the archetypal dimension of the collective unconscious. Just like we cannot describe any archetype completely, but can only realize the nature of the archetype by its effects, we are not able to specifically and completely define or solidify what egophrenia is. We are only able to know it as it reveals itself to us, by contemplating its multi-dimensional expressions. Just like we approach an overwhelming abuse or trauma by studying its symptoms, we come to know egophrenia by contemplating its reflections.
Malignant egophrenia is truly diabolical in nature and is what the ancient, indigenous cultures would call a "demon." We, as "civilized" people, have withdrawn our projection of Gods and demons from nature (which has therefore become "depsychized"). Jung said, "Even though nature is depsychized, the psychic conditions which breed demons are as actively at work as ever. The demons have not really disappeared but have merely taken on another form: they have become unconscious psychic forces."[xx] [Emphasis added] Jung warned that a difficult task lay ahead of us after the mass insanity of the Second World War. He pointed out that after the "demons" abandoned the German people, these negative energies weren't banished. Jung elaborated by saying, "…the demons will seek a new victim. And that won't be difficult. Every man who loses his shadow, every nation that falls into self-righteousness, is their prey."[xxi] Projecting the shadow literally opens the door for malignant egophrenia to take up residence in our being.
What the ancient people called demons, Jung calls autonomous complexes. These are split-off parts of the psyche that can compel one-sidedness, possess a person (or a nation), and seemingly develop an independent will and quasi-life of their own. Autonomous complexes can be likened to the rabies virus, which travels to the part of a person’s brain controlling the whole person. It causes him to reject water, for example, so that the virus cannot be spit out of the mouth. This is analogous to how Bush supporters reject the facts, which if considered, would cause them to snap out of their spell. The rabies virus ultimately controls and enslaves its victims, taking away their creativity and mental freedom, as it forces them compulsively, like a vampire, to further the propagation of the virus. Autonomous complexes work in exactly the same way; they can warp and destroy the whole psyche of the person (or nation) so afflicted, infecting the surrounding field in the process. Journalist Jacques Julliard of "Le Nouvel Observateur" recently has recognized this state of affairs when he simply states, "America has rabies." Once the virus has eaten up and consumed its host, it leaves him for dead and moves on to its next victim. Etymologically, the word rabies is related to the word "Lucifer."
These autonomous complexes can't stand to be seen, however, in much the same way a vampire can't stand the light. Malignant egophrenia will shape-shift and do everything in its power to resist being seen. It’s elusive, mercurial, and very much a trickster. The disease obfuscates itself, creating any number of distractions to hide behind, and will even react violently to being seen, for being seen takes away its omnipotence and autonomy.
The disease works through the irrationality of the unconscious. As Jung described:
Once this function (of the irrational) finds itself in the unconscious, it works unceasing havoc, like an incurable disease whose focus cannot be eradicated, because it is invisible. Individual and nation alike are then compelled to live the irrational in their own lives, even devoting their loftiest ideals and their best wits to expressing its madness in the most perfect form.[xxii]
The importance of seeing the nature of the disease we are dealing with cannot be overstated. Jung goes on to say, "As with all dangers, we can guard against the risk of psychic infection only when we know what is attacking us."[xxiii]
When we see a demon, we know its name. Naming it is exorcistic, as it dis-spells the demon's power over us. To name something is to symbolize it. The word "symbolic," which means that which unites, is the antidote and antonym to the word "diabolic," which means that which divides and separates. George Bush claimed to be "a uniter, not a divider." However, he has only united one thing—the majority of the world against us. To see this diabolical aspect of what is coming through Bush, namely, that he is an instrument creating separation, is to be seeing with symbolic awareness.
Naming the disease helps us to (alchemically) contain it, so that it can't possess us from behind and act itself out through us unconsciously. Once the disease is named, it’s anchored to consciousness so that it can't vaporize back into the unconscious. This de-potentiates the disease, beginning the process of re-integrating it back into the profound unity of the psyche. The energy bound up in the compulsion to endlessly re-create the disease becomes liberated and available for creative expression. The prescription for this disease is simply for enough of us who see it to connect with each other in lucid awareness so that it can be contained, metabolized, and healed. We can put our collective realization together and dream a much more grace-filled universe into incarnation. This is an evolutionary impulse from the universe in which we are invited to participate.
Encoded in the disease is its own medicine. If we remain unconscious of the psychic nature of the disease, it will act itself out through us in a purely destructive, life-negating, and hence, demonic way. Hidden in the daemonic is our guiding spirit and genie (as in "I dream of…"). This is our true genius and inner voice. This is why Jung called the daemonic the "not yet made real creative." The fact that such a dark shadow is emerging in our world is an expression that light is nearby, as shadows are themselves an expression of light. Demons are actually blessings in drag. Lucifer is truly the bringer of light.
A MODERN DAY PLAGUE OF EGYPT
Malignant egophrenia is manifesting itself, both literally and symbolically, hidden yet visible for all who have eyes to see, simultaneously veiling and revealing itself. Symbolically encoded in egophrenia's literal manifestation is the key to its re-solution. Symbols are the language of dreams. A symbol brings together and reconciles two contraries into a greater whole. A symbol concurrently reflects and effects a change in and of consciousness itself. A symbol is both the expression of, as well as the doorway into a more transcendent, higher-dimensional part of ourselves.
People don't see egophrenia because they don't recognize the symbolic dimension of existence, but rather are absorbed in the literal dimension of reality. It is very convincing to only take things literally and see these literal facts as "the (one) truth," as events in this world ARE literally happening. They're as real as real can be. This can be very entrancing, particularly with the evidence right in front of our face. People are dying. Seeing symbolically doesn't negate the literal dimension but instead complements and completes it, as both are true simultaneously. The literal and symbolic dimensions of reality interpenetrate each other so fully that they can't be seen as two separate things joined together, but rather are interdependent parts of a greater whole. The birth of symbolic awareness not only more fully completes our picture of the nature of the universe we live in, but gives us access to the way to actually deal with this deadly disease.
Egophrenia is truly initiatory—it is a wake up call to the symbolic awareness of our mythopoetic imagination, a higher dimension of our being. Recognizing the deeper, symbolic mythic process in which we are partaking snaps us out of relating to our life in a literal, linear, and objectively existing way. Instead of authoring our life as if we are writing prose, when we connect with our mythopoetic imagination, we create and express our life through the eyes of a poet. To mythopoetically re-imagine the prevailing myths of our culture, which have become rigidified, imprisoning and suffocating, is to creatively give birth to the universe as an ongoing work of art. We are the creative artists through which the revelation of the universe as art becomes manifested. All that is needed for malignant egophrenia to reveal its blessing is for us to recognize its revelatory function.
Jung said, "Everything could be left undisturbed did not the new way demand to be discovered, and did it not visit humanity with all the plagues of Egypt until it finally is discovered."[xxiv] Malignant egophrenia is a modern day plague of Egypt. If we don't see what it is symbolically revealing to us, malignant egophrenia will destroy us. It's a gesture from the universe, beckoning us, demanding we integrate it and thereby receive its blessing. By prompting, pressuring and challenging us to come to terms with it and receive its gifts, malignant egophrenia has the potential to awaken us, thereby furthering the evolution of the species.
To say that egophrenia has a potential blessing aspect is not new age fluff-speak which spiritualizes everything and pretends that the world is made of celestial rainbows. ME disease is a genuine horror that causes destruction, or as the Bible calls it, an "abomination that causeth desolation." Contrary to escaping into a dream world or flying off into the self-soothing fantasies of the imagination, egophrenia demands we incarnate into full-bodied form, in this present moment.
It is in the act of coming to terms with ME disease’s horrific aspect, which demands consciously feeling our grief, rage and guilt that we begin to access its blessing aspect. Instead of being a flight into fantasy so as to escape our pain, the blessing aspect of egophrenia is a direct result of embracing the pain of incarnation. The darkness of the disease is a portal into the light. Because it is not separate from the light, the darkness itself is the expression of the light.
The fact that malignant egophrenia is manifesting in fully visible form in our world right now is an expression that this particular energy is available for assimilation in a way it previously was not. When an unconscious, daemonic content is ready to be metabolized, it causes the universe to self-organize in such a way so that it can become manifested and thereby transformed. This is to say that when a dark, demonic power is dreamed up into fully materialized form, such as is happening in our world right now, this is an expression that this particular energy is in the process of potentially becoming integrated into the wholeness of our being. Its full-bodied manifestation is the medium through which this process of transformation takes place. This physical universe is the dimension in which the energy bound up in the infinitely regressing feedback loop of the disease is dreamed up, accessed, and transmuted. The agency which accomplishes this process of assimilation is consciousness itself.
Egophrenia is a disease of consciousness—it is consciousness itself becoming sick so as to create a greater level of health and wholeness in itself. Egophrenia is our consciousness materializing into form so as to expand and evolve itself. The disease is the conduit through which consciousness grows into greater orders of freedom. In the disease, consciousness is revealing itself to itself, which is to say that the disease is an unfolding revelation.
Encoded into the very fabric of egophrenia is an infinitely precious jewel waiting to be unlocked. Our act of consciously recognizing what egophrenia is showing us redeems, transforms, and liberates egophrenia’s malevolence and actualizes its grace-filled nature. Because malignant egophrenia is a disease of consciousness itself, it can only be healed through the dimension of consciousness. The cure for egophrenia is the very expansion of consciousness which it necessitates and demands. Encoded into the disease is its own cure.
This quantum leap in consciousness being offered us by egophrenia is fully imaginable into being in this very moment. If we can make use of its lessons, ME disease becomes a portal into a more whole and integrated part of our being, both individually and collectively. Egophrenia is introducing and initiating us into the dream-like nature of reality, where this universe is like a mass shared dream we are collaboratively dreaming up into full-bodied materialization. This is to have the realization that we are interconnected and not separate from one another, that we are parts of and contained in a greater being. We wouldn’t be able to have this expansion of consciousness without egophrenia, which means that egophrenia is a "potential" blessing in a very convincing disguise that it's not.
Being a non-local field phenomenon, the malignant egophrenia epidemic is something all 6.4 billion of us are collaboratively creating and dreaming up into existence. Bush is an embodied, mirrored reflection of a part of ourselves, just like we, reciprocally, are a reflection of a part of him. His disease is our disease. Bush and his regime are a living, full-bodied reflection of our collective shadow, as we are of theirs. We have all dreamed each other up to play out these archetypal roles, in full living color, so that we can see and start to integrate these parts of ourselves. Embracing these parts of ourselves that we see so clearly reflected in Bush and Co. is the first step towards healing our situation, because it dispells the polarization and separation that are the root factors preventing reconciliation. Bush and Co. are playing out roles existing deep inside the collective psyche of all of humanity. If Bush and Co. weren’t around, there would be someone else sent by "central casting" to pick up and play out these very same archetypal roles. Compassion spontaneously arises when we truly recognize these fear-ridden parts of ourselves.
GENUINE COMPASSION AS ACTIVISM
The malignant egophrenia epidemic is happening right in front of us. It is self-evident for all who have eyes to see. If we don't look at what’s happening, if we turn away, ignore it, and contract against it, we are lying to ourselves. Then we’re colluding with and unknowingly feeding the disease. Our looking away is a form of blindness. Our looking away is a form of ignorance. Our looking away, our contraction, IS itself the disease. Our resulting complacency and inaction is, in fact, an expression of our lack of compassion. Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said, "One who passively accepts evil [allowing it to happen] is as much involved in it as the one who perpetrates it."[xxv]
There is a great danger when we see evil, though. We cannot bear witness to evil and remain unaffected—something inside of us becomes ignited when we experience evil. Malignant egophrenia forces upon us the responsibility to come to terms with the evil inside our own hearts. If we solidify Bush as being evil and react with righteous indignation, we are guilty of the very same thing we’re accusing Bush of, i.e., projecting the shadow. We then become a conduit for the very evil we’re reacting to. Who among us has not been guilty of being a channel for ME disease at one time or another? Who among us has not been guilty of falling asleep and unwittingly acting out our unconscious? Unlike Bush, most people simply incarnate the disease locally, within the domain of their sphere of influence, which is usually their family system.
If, when we see this virulent pathogen, we contract against it and react in any way, be it in judgment, hatred, anger or revulsion, we’re helping to perpetuate the diabolical polarization that is the signature of the disease. Our reacting in this way, which is typical of many political activists, is itself an expression that we ourselves have the disease, or to say it more accurately, the disease has us.
This disease literally has the potential to humble us. We may think, "Not us, we could never catch this disease." However, this very arrogance leaves us open to falling prey to the virus. We may think, "Let's step out of our arrogance, for who are we to know anything? Let's be an enlightened bodhisattva and not judge what Bush is doing, for who are we to judge? Or let's be an enlightened psychiatrist and not diagnose, name or pathologize Bush in any way, for we don't want to cast any spells." However, to have these attitudes is to fall under the seductive spell of the bug, causing us to disconnect from and give away our power. In this way, we forsake one of our greatest spiritual treasures, the act of discernment.
Being a spiritual warrior embraces and includes the most extreme discernment, which is the ability to differentiate and see clearly. Discernment is different than when we are unconsciously caught in judgment, which is a reaction to and contraction against something. Discernment is the ability to make distinctions, which is an expression of an expanded and evolved consciousness. Wielding the wisdom of discernment is an expression of genuine compassion.
Compassion is sometimes fierce, however. Sometimes it says "no," and sets a boundary. Genuine compassion is not always smiley-faced, otherwise known as "idiot compassion," which just enables and reinforces unconsciousness. Genuine compassion is not passive. It propels us to act for the benefit of all beings. True compassion demands us to be willing to consciously step into our power, mediated through the heart, and to find the courage to speak our true voice: The malignant egophrenia epidemic has induced a form of criminal insanity in the entire Bush regime that we are all complicit in by allowing it to happen.
With Bush as president, it’s as if we’re in a car going over the speed limit being driven by a drunk adolescent who has fallen asleep at the wheel. It’s our responsibility to recognize the extreme danger of our situation and come together to do something about it, whatever that might be. If not, if we continue to passively and helplessly watch what is playing out in front of our very eyes, then we have no one to blame but ourselves. Abraham Lincoln said, "We—even we here—hold the power, and bear the responsibility." Now is the time to join together and creatively express our true voice. As the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Malignant egophrenia is a true "reconciling symbol," in that it unites the opposites. Malignant egophrenia is both a deadly disease and the highest blessing co-joined in one phenomenon. Is it a wave or a particle? It is a true "coincidentia oppositorum," a conjunction of opposites, an expression of divinity. The question is, do we recognize what is being symbolically shown to us by egophrenia, or not? Will these apocalyptic end-times we are in be an initiation into a more expansive part of our being? Or will it destroy our species? The choice is truly ours. All that is needed is for enough of us to recognize what is being revealed, and to creatively act from this realization.
Paul Levy is an artist and a spiritually-informed political activist. A pioneer in the field of spiritual awakening, he is a healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dream-like nature of reality. He is the author of The Madness of George Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis, which is available at his website www.awakeninthedream.com. Please feel free to pass this article along to a friend if you feel so inspired. You can contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org; he looks forward to your reflections.
[i] Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 471.
[ii] Jung, The Symbolic Life, CW 18, par. 1378.
[iii] May, Love and Will, p. 123.
[iv] Ibid., p. 130.
[v] Spiegel, the German word for “mirror,” is cognate with the Latin word speculum and goes back to Old High German scukar, “shadow-holder,” from skuwo, “shadow,” and kar, “vessel.”- Von Franz, Projection and Recollection in Jungian Psychology, p. 182.
[vi] Jung, Aion, CW 9ii, par. 126.
[vii] Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 572.
[viii] Ibid., par. 572 (Jung also talks about “imagination for evil” in Memories, Dreams and Reflections, p. 331).
[ix] Ibid., par. 572.
[x] Jung, The Symbolic Life, CW 18, par. 1662.
[xi] Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, CW 12, par. 563.
[xii] Interview with Buzzflash (http://www.buzzflash.com/ ), posted August 1, 2005.
[xiii] Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 500.
[xiv] Jung, Alchemical Studies, CW 13, par. 142.
[xv] Jung, Psychological Types, CW 6, par. 346.
[xvi] Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 419- 420.
[xvii] Ibid., par. 421.
[xviii] Jung, The Symbolic Life, CW 18, par. 1384.
[xix] Merton, Raids on the Unspeakable, p. 45.
[xx] Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 431.
[xxi] Jung, Psychological Reflections, p. 152.
[xxii] Jung, Two Essays on Analytical Psychology, CW 7, par. 150.
[xxiii] Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 493.
[xxiv] Jung, The Development of Personality, CW 17, par. 323.
[xxv] King, Stride Towards Freedom.