The Dragon: Integrating the Archaic Psyche and the Shadow


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"The Sleeping Beauty, the Prince and the Dragon"

An Exploration of the Soul

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Seminar 4   Myths, Fairy Tales and Dreams  click here
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Seminar 4   Animals in Dreams 
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Seminar 7 The Great Web of Life   click here
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Seminar 8 The Brain and the Neuro-psycho-immune System  click here  
Seminar 9
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Seminar 9 The Dragon: Integrating the Archaic Psyche and the Shadow this page
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Seminar 10 Rebalancing the Masculine and the Feminine click here
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Seminar 11 Base Metal into Gold: The Process of the Soul's Transformation click here
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Seminar 12 Individual Soul, Cosmic Soul and Spirit
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Seminar 12 The Wisdom Texts
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Seminar 9


copyright©Anne Baring

Paolo Ucello - 15th century

It is becoming ever more obvious that it is not famine, not earthquakes, not microbes, not cancer but man himself who is man's greatest danger to man, for the simple reason that there is no adequate protection against psychic epidemics which are infinitely more devastating than the worst of natural catastrophes."                        C.G. Jung, The Undiscovered Self

Man is bound to follow the adventurous promptings of his scientific and inventive mind and to admire himself for his splendid achievements. At the same time, his genius shows the uncanny tendency to invent things that become more and more dangerous, because they represent better and better means for wholesale suicide. The "conquest of nature" is our biggest illusion for we have not gained control of our own nature.             C.G. Jung, Man and his Symbols, p. 101

If we could see our shadow, we would be immune to any moral and mental infection…As matters now stand, we lay ourselves open to every infection, because we are really doing practically the same thing as they. [arms race and arms sales, development of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons etc.] Like the instincts, the collective thought patterns of the human mind are innate and inherited. They function in more or less the same way in all of us. Emotional manifestations, to which such thought patterns belong, are recognizably the same all over the earth. Instincts in humans function like the flight pattern of birds or the annual journeys of animals and fish to their breeding or feeding grounds…The instincts are the primordial soul. Man and His Symbols

Two hundred and fifty years ago, the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau began his book The Social Contract (1762) with the words, “Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.” Today, as we witness the shocking violence in so many parts of the world, and the suffering that results from it, it is obvious that humanity is still in chains, still in bondage to atavistic habits of behaviour which lurk behind political or religious agendas.             
One of the greatest needs of our time – one on which our survival as a species may depend – is to gain insight into how we are still under the control of the primordial soul and its deeply unconscious programming. To do this, we have to understand the immense power of this programming or conditioning, how difficult it is to change it and how easy it is to activate it through trauma and fear.
            The dragon is one of the most ancient and eloquent images we have of our primordial soul. It is a powerful symbol of archaic and unconscious instincts: instincts that are embedded in the limbic brain system: survival instincts, territorial instincts, instincts for relationship, sexual attraction and the millions of years-old pattern of predator and prey. Because these archaic instincts are activated at an unconscious level we, who see ourselves as the summit of creation, are still vulnerable to being taken over and controlled by atavistic instinctive drives formed during pre-human or early human phases of evolution. We recognise these patterns in animals and distance ourselves from them. It is very difficult to recognise them in ourselves and to bring to conscious awareness these age-old patterns of behaviour, either within individuals or within specific groups of people. How powerfully do they affect, for example, our political decisions, our religious conflicts, our commercial ambitions, the behaviour of the media and all the interactions between people in our society? And how easy is it to activate them when the call to war goes out?
           It has taken between thirteen and fifteen billion years for the universe to come into being as we know it today, four and a half billion years since the formation of the planet. All life forms that we call nature are the result of this immense evolutionary process. Our own physical bodies and the vehicle of consciousness – our brain – have evolved out of the matrix of nature. Over billions of years, we have evolved from undifferentiated awareness to self-awareness and have much further to go. Our gradual evolutionary separation from nature and the development of the modern mind has distanced us from instinct yet instinct still powerfully affects the way we behave towards others.
           Observations about the biological relationship between human beings and animals have been unpopular because they seem to conflict with idea of free-will and self-determination. There has been even more resistance to understanding the psychological connections between animal and human ways of behaving and how we may still be controlled by instincts that belong to our primate ancestors and even to the dinosaurs. When people are horrified by some predatory act, they say, "he acted like an animal." The predator/prey pattern is a genetic behavioural habit laid down over millions of years (60 million years of mammalian and 250 million years of reptilian evolution. We carry this habit in our own biological inheritance and are deeply conditioned to act and react as both predator (attacker) and prey (victim). In our memory are imprinted the archetypal behaviour patterns of all creatures who were predators and all creatures who were prey or food for them. The human species has known the experience of being prey to certain animals and predator to many others and it is this experience that is our greatest problem.
          From it has come our capacity to act as predators towards members of our own species and our fear of becoming the prey of other people and nations. Paradoxically, the group or individual who has had the experience of being prey to another (perhaps a child in the power of a cruel adult, perhaps an ethnic group in the power of a psychopath or tyrant) may later act as predator to someone else. We can follow this pattern of behaviour in the history of our tribal relationships with each other through the recorded history of humanity. The predator/prey programming is carried in our limbic brain system or autonomic nervous system, which may act as a conduit for collective memory "fields" which exist in the web of life beyond the physical brain. These ancient memories can be re-activated by any situation which appears to constitute a threat to our survival, whether as an individual or as a group.                     
         Our ability to imagine, to feel, to think, to create and destroy, to devise new solutions to problems, new responses to challenges, rests on the ancient foundation of primordial instinct. Our instincts are not something intrinsically different from instincts in animals; they are a further evolutionary development of them. We need to take instinct much more seriously in any attempt to comprehend the root of our violence towards each other. More than ever before, because we have access to more insight and understanding, we now have the possibility of freeing ourselves from the unconscious instinctive programming of countless millions of years. As the compulsion to embark on a war to eliminate the "axis of evil" has made clear, we are in no sense free, rationally directed creatures but are still bound by the spell of habits of behaviour that form part of what Jung called the individual and collective shadow. Awareness of this fact could give us a measure of choice.
           In the myths and fairy tales of older cultures the dragon guards a priceless treasure that is traditionally won by the hero facing and overcoming it, thereby simultaneously winning the treasure, the kingdom and the princess. Often the help of the princess is the essential factor that enables the hero to overcome the dragon (see the Egyptian story of the night journey of the sun and Jason and the Golden Fleece in Seminar 4). The struggle with the dragon is also a major theme of alchemy. Today, this theme is more than ever relevant to our own times but the old image of the fight with the dragon can be re-framed in the light of psychological understanding. We need to gain insight into the archaic patterns of the instinct within our psyche and accomplish the supremely difficult task of integrating its immense power with our conscious awareness, thereby gaining some measure of freedom from its control of us. It is not wise to kill the dragon either in oneself or others because the attempt to repress or eliminate instinct compounds fear, guilt and anger in the unconscious; rather one has to find ways of recognising its behavioural patterns and their power over us, befriending it, listening to it, transforming it at both the individual and collective level. This capacity for insight and relationship can be identified with the figure of the woman in the picture above who seems to be connected to the dragon by a lead. At its most elemental, the image of the dragon stands for primordial fear; fear that is translated into aggression towards others.
          I remember a dream I had just after I had decided to publish The Birds Who Flew Beyond Time against the advice of a close friend. She was frightened that I might incur a fatwah for daring to use a famous Islamic text to create a modern story for children. I told her that I had taken the decision to go ahead with publication. That night I dreamt that an enormous dinosaur was laying waste to the countryside, devouring hundreds of people every day. There was no-where to hide, no protection from its devouring jaws. The fear I experienced in the dream was greater than that engendered by any other life experience. I realised that this dragon was an image of primordial fear carried in my psyche that I had to face and overcome. It was also the very archetype of fear: an image of anything that has aroused fear in human beings (and other species) since the beginning of our evolution on this planet. One could recall here the experience of volcanic eruptions, the 'Great Flood' and the impact of asteroids with their devastating aftermath.
          The separation from nature and the birth of self-awareness was an immense evolutionary step. But it brought with it awareness of death and focused the archaic survival reflexes on the supreme effort to ward off death. With the activation of those survival reflexes comes the desire to control life so that fear can be eliminated or contained. Being powerful in relation to others (or killing others or seizing their territory or their possessions) becomes a way of eliminating the deep unconscious fear of death. Power becomes essential to survival. Power can be seen as the expression of our unconscious need to defeat death and to give us a sense of security. Fear of death and the need for power to protect us against that fear both lie in the unconscious aspect of our psyche. This massive defence system might be transformed if we knew for certain that we survive bodily death.
Do you remember the story of Beauty and the Beast and how, at the end of the story, Beauty's love for the Beast transforms him from Beast into Prince as he lies dying because she has forgotten her promise to return to him? Without her love, the Beast could not become the Prince. What is deeply unconscious and dangerous to us in its unconscious state cannot undertake its own transformation until we become aware of it and lovingly help it to transform. The instinct in us needs the love, the insight, the help and understanding – not the denial, repression and rejection – of the part of the psyche that has reached a certain level of conscious awareness in order to accomplish this truly prodigious transformation.
          Freud and Jung were great explorers of the territory of the soul who penetrated the veil between conscious and unconscious thought processes and built a bridge for us between these two aspects of our nature; their discoveries have made possible a new understanding of the roots of human aggression. Another explorer was Erich Fromm who wrote a book called The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness. Many others have built on the foundations that they laid.
           Jung drew attention to the fact that no matter how brilliant our technology and our capacity for logical, rational, analytical thought, our emotional maturity and moral values lag far behind these achievements. It is this moral immaturity that is the greatest threat to our survival as a species. And the root of moral immaturity is ignorance of the instinctive drives of the unconscious.

It is true that much of the evil in the world is due to the fact that man in general is hopelessly unconscious. It is also true that with increasing insight we can combat this evil at its source in ourselves. Modern Man in Search of a Soul, Collected Works, Vol. X, par. 166          

Jung used the word shadow to describe patterns of behaviour, complexes and life experiences and their effect on us that we are not aware of — a deeper aspect of the personal unconscious. The shadow ties into the matrix of the older brain systems that still influence and control us however rational and in control of our lives we believe ourselves to be. Through the shadow we are connected to the still deeper level of the collective unconscious where the collective complexes of our species lie hidden, ready to emerge when they are called forth by events. The less aware we are of our shadow, the more we are likely to be taken over by powerful emotions arising from the collective unconscious of the species that can engender fanatical hatred of others and justify the perpetration of any kind of barbarity. When the shadow is controlling the conscious personality it may express itself as an absolute conviction of rightness which may be used to support a scientific theory, a religious belief, a political course of action or an act of aggression against another person or state. It is difficult for us to be aware of our own shadow, particularly when it is supported by the shadow aspect (the drive for power) of politics, religion or science. Some of the symptoms of the activation of the shadow are omnipotent behaviour, the drive for power, and the demonizing of an enemy through propaganda that is usually disguised as a call to patriotism. Another characteristic of someone who has been taken over by his or her shadow is humourlessness, rigidity and dogmatic certainty. The media continually projects stereotyped elements of the collective shadow onto situations and people.Jung developed his ideas about the danger of shadow drives overwhelming civilization in his essays on events in Germany (Collected Works, vol 10)and in his book The Undiscovered Self. In 1946, just when people had thought that the war to end all wars had been fought and won, he warned of the potential eruption of the archaic tribalism latent in the European psyche that could lead to the devastation of whole countries and the slaughter of millions. He begged us to become aware of our shadow projections and to see how they can build up from relatively innocuous ones coming from individuals to the political arena where negative traits are projected onto the opposite group and never acknowledged in one's own. "If we project evil onto "the others" we lose the possibility of insight and the ability to deal with evil." (Marie-Louise von Franz, Jung: His Myth in Our Time, p. 171)
         As long ago as 1959 Jung wrote:

Today humanity, as never before, is split into two apparently irreconcilable halves. 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 and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves. CW 9, Part 11, par. 126

Elsewhere he wrote:

The horror which the dictator States have of late brought upon mankind is nothing less than the culmination of all those atrocities of which our ancestors made themselves guilty in the not so distant past. Quite apart from the barbarities and blood baths perpetrated by the Christian nations amont themselves throughout European history, the European has also to answer for all the crimes he has committed against the colored races during the process of colonization. In this respect the white man carries a very heavy burden indeed. It shows us a picture of the common human shadow that could hardly be painted in blacker colours. The evil that comes to light in man...is of gigantic proportions.

Since it is universally believed that man is merely what his consciousness knows of itself, he regards himself as harmless and so adds stupidity to iniquity. He does not deny that terrible things have happened and still go on happening, but it is always "the others" who do them...In reality we merely lacked a suitable opportunity to be drawn into the infernal melée. None of us stands outside humanity's black collective shadow." The Undiscovered Self  CW 10. pars. 571-72

The shadow aspect of religion can be recognised as the impulse to draw vast sections of humanity into one belief system named as superior and the sole purveyor of the truth. It is also reflected in the insistance that certain passages of Scripture or religious laws must be obeyed to the letter because they are believed to be God's will (condemning homosexuals because the Old Testament did so or condemning a woman to death by stoning (Sharia Law) because of her adultery). Often the dark shadow of deeply established tribal custom lurks beneath the cloak of religious teaching, particularly in relation to the treatment of women. If we look only at the shadow side of Christianity, we can see the suffering caused by 'holy' wars, 'sacred' crusades, witch-hunts, anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, attempts to convert "heathen" peoples and to eliminate animism. Together with the practices of the Inquisition developed to hunt down heresy, these constitute the still unacknowledged shadow of the Christian Churches. The call to attack and kill others, promulgated by a priesthood of any religion – a call which in no way reflects the actual teaching of their founders – still ratifies the murder and persecution of others. We see today how unspeakable atrocities are perpetrated by those people who call themselves Christians, Muslims, Jews and Hindus and who claim that the elimination of an 'enemy' is a religious duty. Faith can be used as a tool of oppression because people have for centuries been trained to obey implicitly the dictates of their spiritual leaders and still do not question the moral content of what they may be asked to do to others in the name of God. When one religion is pitted against another, or even one religious group within the same religion against another (Sunni and Shia in Islam, Partition in India), archaic survival and territorial instincts are aroused in the faithful as they are exhorted to act as one in defence of their beliefs and to attack and murder people belonging to another group or belief system.

The shadow aspect of politics is reflected in the drive for power, even omnipotent power. The desire for control underlies the proliferation of bureaucracy and all those ideologies that claim to bring lasting benefits to humanity regardless of the means that are used to attain these benefits. It is also reflected in the colossal amounts of money that are consistently wasted by the state. The shadow aspect of politics can be reflected in the belief that it is our moral duty or role to eliminate evil in others. "Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.'' (George W. Bush)

The shadow aspect of science can be seen in the Promethean tendency to omnipotence and god-almightiness. Belief in the "conquest of nature". Science may demand a free hand to do whatever it wants in the name of scientific progress. Nothing must be allowed to impede that progress. Shutting out many aspects of human experience and human aspiration as irrelevant. Dogmatic certainty that it knows the truth. (e.g. alternative therapies, belief in the paranormal or challenging scientific ideas may be attacked as heretical).          

Very primitive instincts can be at work in all three domains - above all the territorial instinct: "my" religion, "my theory", "my moral right" etc. The unconscious rivalry between males is often projected onto rivalry between religions, nations and academic or scientific theories.
           In today's world, the shadow is becoming more and more easy to see, not only in the behaviour of our "enemies" but in our own. Things are being brought to light about the conduct of government that the people had no idea of (viz. the dubious justification for the war with Iraq). The people of the world want peace yet through the development and sale of weapons to unstable or even persecutory regimes, their governments continually prepare for war. Financial scandals are being uncovered. Sexual misconduct on the part of the clergy as well as very deeply held prejudices against women and homosexuals in Christianity and Islam are coming to light. This uncovering of the shadow aspect of religious, political and scientific life is very positive.
           Deeply buried trauma as well as fear, anger, guilt and repressed sexuality in the personal unconscious can all activate shadow projections onto others. When enough people with similar shadow projections draw together under a charismatic leader, you have a collective shadow situation which can be very dangerous and can erupt into conflicts in the outer world (George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden). Wherever there is a polarisation of opposites and negative projections building up into a situation where the 'other' is demonized and named as evil, a shadow situation can be recognised.
           The unconscious shadow, connecting us to a still deeper matrix of life, carries the potential for both good and evil, the divine and the demonic. It can lead us to pursue and justify actions which are intrinsically and from a spiritual perspective malefic or demonic, calling them necessary and expedient in order to achieve certain political or survival aims and therefore "good." The men currently dominating the world stage – George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Osama bin Laden and now Donald Trump – attract projections from millions of people all over the world. Each of these men is unaware of the shadow projections that they themselves are casting onto their opponents, naming them as the embodiment of evil. If only "they" can be eliminated the world will be a better and safer place. Wherever you have a strong polarization of opposites, you have a situation which attracts shadow projections. Falling into the power of the unconscious shadow we can condone and justify behaviour that our conscious values may condemn, particularly when our survival instincts are aroused. The scapegoat who carries projections of evil from millions of others relieves us of the responsibility of looking at our own shadow.
             Alexander Solzhenitsyn commented on the difficulty of recognising our own latent capacity for evil:

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. (Gulag Archepelago)

Jung wrote these words about shadow projections:

It is in the nature of political bodies always to see the evil in the opposite group, just as the individual has an ineradicable tendency to get rid of everything he does not know and does not want to know about himself by foisting it off on somebody else.           

The biggest danger comes from mythic inflation - or the identification of leaders with the role of being a vehicle of God's will. Leaders then feel that God is supporting them in a moral task to get rid of evil or an evil regime. They unconsciously fall into omnipotence. Wherever the words good and evil are mentioned, there may be the beginnings of a religious or moral crusade and the call to eradicate evil. Jung warned us about this:

We know today that in the unconscious of every individual there are instinctive propensities or psychic systems charged with considerable tension. When they are helped in one way or another to break through into consciousness, and the latter has no opportunity to intercept them in higher forms, they sweep everything before them like a torrent and turn men into creatures for whom the word "beast" is still too good a name. They can then only be called "devils." To evoke such phenomena in the masses all that is needed is a few possessed persons, or only one. If this unconscious disposition should happen to be one which is common to the great majority of the nation, then a single one of these complex-ridden individuals, who at the same time sets himself up as a megaphone, is enough to precipitate a catastrophe. C.W. vol. 18, The Symbolic Life, par. 1374)           

Collective demonisation that is encouraged by politicians and the media can lead to the situation where the collective mind is flooded with shadow contents. It is to the credit of people all over the world that they have been able to recognize a shadow situation and protest against the war in Iraq (2003) even though they have been unable to prevent it taking place. Now (2017) the details are coming to light of how the people were manipulated and duped by politicians, and nations committed to war on inadequate Intelligence (Chilcot Inquiry).          
For millions of years the male and, to a lesser extent, the female of the mammalian species has been conditioned to act as predator both for reasons of hunting for food and for territorial reasons, and also for the purpose of defending or establishing his position as primal (alpha) male or as a male in relation to the primal male and other males. The primary function of the male animal is to guard his territory. For hundreds of thousands of years the male of the human species has been conditioned to hunt animals for food and to defend the tribe or clan against attack by other tribes or clans. For the last five thousand or so he has been conditioned to prepare for war in order to defend the tribal group or to establish his primacy or the primacy of his group over others. This pattern can be observed today in relation to political and religious institutions, business interests, commerce, medicine, science and dozens of other situations too numerous to mention. For millions of years the preyed on animal has been programmed to react instantaneously to a threat coming from predators. This is an unconscious reflex that we still carry in our older brain system.
          Of all the memories carried in our 60 million year old mammalian brain system, that of being a helpless prey at the mercy of a predator is perhaps the most terrifying and it is this that is carried forward into our contemporary responses to danger. In defence of our territory or our life, we ourselves may be compelled to act as predators. We can observe how, in the modern world, whenever there is a threat from outside (another country or group as in the current terrorist threat), males band together to plan defensive or aggressive action. Above all, they look to a primal male - a religious leader, a Prime Minister or President - for leadership. This unconscious pattern of behaviour is carried into all our relationships with each other at the political level. But it also activates certain primary instincts that also are rooted in earlier phases of our evolution. Of these, three are of great importance and influence:

1. the survival instinct: the need for food, safety, shelter. Need to seek protection from predators and to protect the young from them.

2. the territorial instinct: the defence of territorial boundaries - the attack on any animal that doesn't belong. This pattern can be seen today seen in the tendency to attack on anyone who is an outsider, an enemy or "different" - who is perceived as a threat to the group because he is "different". This pattern of defence is carried into he realm of ideas where the established group will defend its "territory" against any idea that is "new" and therefore a threat.

3. the primal male instinct: the dominant male or group of males imposes his/their supremacy by attacking and chasing away rival males. We see this instinct active today in the rivalry between nations, ideologies, religions, football teams, intellectual ideas, scientific theories, psychological institutions etc. (Freudians and Jungians). Candace Pert has vividly described the rivalry between science laboratories in the race to publish a new theory (Molecules of Emotion). This instinct may be at the root of the desire to win or to conquer - being the victor - the supreme male or male group. We also see it in the desire to follow a leader, particularly in a time of danger for the group and the rigorous testing of a leader by other males to see whether or not he is indeed strong enough to protect them. Attacks will be mounted against him to test his strength. The aim is to identify and eliminate the "weak" leader.

4. the male bonding instinct for hunting and war (war is an extension of the hunting instinct). This bonding can be seen in all kinds of situations today: Church, State, politics, sporting institutions etc. Males bond together to hunt the common threat/enemy - usually another male or group of males. They also bond together to create law and order, to maintain the status quo, to set up institutions (Church and State). In the past females have been excluded from these male groupings but this situation is slowly changing.

5. the male instinct to protect his chosen mate and their children and to protect and defend the group when the group is threatened.

There is a different pattern of instinctive behaviour in females:
1. defence and protection of the Young - found in mammals and humans

2. mother-child bonding in mammalian evolution - giving the experience of safety, warmth, suckling, protection, care, nourishment. With rare exceptions, a young animal does not survive without its mother to feed and protect it. This instinct may be one root of our human moral sense. It inculcates the capacity for empathy, relationship, caring for the weak and vulnerable.

3. bonding of the female group - mothers and infants (caribou for example) stay together and often feed separately from the male group. This is generally still true today - female relationships are the foundation of the community while the men go off to work or to war (the hunt) although in the last half century, this pattern has been changing as women also leave home to work. Both sexes bond for sexual reproduction but also for companionship and for the protection of the young. Companionship is more emphasised in bird species than in mammals. Today there seem to be three principal instincts or drives that are activated in relationships between nations:

1. the survival instinct
2. the territorial instinct
3. the drive for primacy and omnipotent power

Until today, females have tended to accept the dominance of males and to conform with whatever (in political life) males decided.   It has been primarily through the male – because his has been the physically more powerful gender in most species – that these drives have been focused. When, in our human species, one or more of these drives becomes fused with religious beliefs, political doctrines, commercial interests, even medical or scientific hypotheses, these may be defended with the ferocity of an animal defending its territory or an alpha male establishing his primacy over other males. Any of these issues may take on the intensity of a fight for survival. The whole tribal group may be drawn to follow the drive of a dominant male or group of males through, for example, the call to patriotism and the shaming of those who are not "patriotic". Look at the primal males who have recently fought to establish their control over immense territories: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Tse Tung, Ceaucescu, Milosovic, Saddam Hussein, Robert Mugabe and many, many others. Over 200 million people have been slaughtered because of them. More tyrants are arising in our current world 2017.
          One of the highest human achievements is our capacity to become aware of this unconscious power drive and gradually to disentangle ourselves from its control over us. Our survival as a species now depends on our ability to accomplish this Herculean task. Christ's injunctions to turn the other cheek and to love our neighbour as ourselves run directly counter to the survival and territorial instincts of our reptilian and mammalian brain system. When these instincts are fused with a messianic or mythic ideology or belief system then the predatory programming we carry can be activated as fanaticism, tyranny or a persecutory system that may endure for decades; even for centuries. The dark side of these ideologies is the drive to eliminate a group that is perceived as expendable (the Jews in Germany, the kulaks in the Soviet Union, the intellectuals in Cambodia or Mao's China) Religious institutions see themselves as "good" and do not acknowledge their archaic shadow reflected in past and present struggles for power. Because of this deeply unconscious predator/prey programming, evil and suffering come into being and are perpetuated century after century. Evil is not always recognised and named as such because tribal custom defends it as "right" and even pleasing to God. In that lies our unconsciousness of our shadow. (see Faces of the Enemy by Sam Keen for a brilliant presentation of the way propaganda works and how shadow projections are manipulated by governments. See also the penetrating analysis of totalitarianism by Tzvetan Todorov in Hope and Memory: Reflections on the Twentieth Century, 2003).

An Attempt to Define Evil and how it comes into being
A very fine line separates civilization from barbarism. In the past century and currently in this one, in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, we have seen the eruption of barbarism, the perpetration of evil, on an unparalleled scale. Hundreds of millions of people have been the powerless victims of the dragon. The invention of nuclear, biological, chemical and genetic weapons that now threaten the survival of our species and even the life of the planet is forcing us to try to understand the unconscious dynamic that directs us from the shadow and gain insight into and control of certain patterns of behaviour before they bring about catastrophe. How does evil arise? What does it consist of? Where does all the violence in the world come from? Why are we so powerless to free ourselves from the compulsion to repeat the pattern of violence?
          Generation after generation until the most recent decades of this century, men and women have accepted their suffering and the immense suffering of humanity over thousands of years as an inescapable fact of life. Because they had no choice, they have accepted the sacrifice of their children in war, and have had to endure the misery and suffering generated by war and persecution. For generations they have asked 'What have we done to deserve such a terrible fate?' Imagining God as all-powerful and on the side of 'good' they have asked why God didn't intervene to help them or have accewpted their fate as willed by God (Muslims). But, until now, too little attention has been paid to the fundamental causes of human aggression and to the reasons why certain behavioural patterns are re-enacted over and over again and are being enacted before our eyes today.
          Can we define evil?

I think evil can be defined as the intention to inflict terror, suffering, humiliation, torture or death on a human being or group of human beings.

But how does this capacity for aggressive behaviour take over a group? It may be because the group is unconsciously conditioned to obey or follow a primal male. When the primordial shadow takes hold of many individuals, an instinctive psychic - almost a hyponotic bonding - spreads like fire through the dry tinder of a group. Few can resist it. It is as if a paralysis of rational awareness takes place and people simply react to what their leader identifies as a designated threat like a herd of animals. When millions of individuals function as virtually unconscious units of a tribe, given permission by political or religious leaders to act out their most archaic instincts, then you have the potential for an explosive collective shadow that may demonize others. When, in addition, there are long-standing grievances over many generations (as in the relationship between Christianity and Islam), then the shadow complex is even more dangerous. For all our brilliant scientific discoveries and technological inventions and our power to improve the physical conditions of our lives, we seem to be still largely unconscious of how instincts can suddenly take us over and destroy the fragile layer of civilisation that has been built up over millennia.
          Jung wrote extensively about this problem:

The supreme danger that threatens individuals as well as whole nations is a psychic danger. Reason has proved itself completely powerless, precisely because its arguments have an effect only on the conscious mind and not on the unconscious. The greatest danger of all comes from the masses, in whom the effects of the unconscious pile up cumulatively and the reasonableness of the conscious mind is stifled. (The Symbolic Life)         

Jung developed his ideas about the power of shadow drives to overwhelm civilization in his essays on events in Germany (Collected Works, vol 10)and in his book "The Undiscovered Self." In 1946 he warned of the potential eruption of the archaic tribalism latent in the European psyche that could lead to the devastation of whole countries and the slaughter of millions. He begged us to become aware of our shadow projections and to see how they can build up from relatively innocuous ones coming from individuals to the political arena where negative traits are projected onto the opposite group and never acknowledged in one's own.

The Personal Shadow
How does the collective shadow build up from the individual one? Over our lifetime, we build up a personality that we identify with but which does not (until we become aware of it) include elements from the hidden shadow aspect of our psyche. Everyone carries a shadow, said Jung, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the denser it is. The shadow is experienced in projection upon a situation or a person outside of us. The other is always to blame as long as we are not aware that the darkness is in ourselves. Many elements go to make up this aspect of ourselves: parental, educational and religious programming and beliefs, personal wounds experienced in childhood and long neglected; various complexes that are not recognised and therefore cannot be transformed.
          When we come to consider the origin of collective behavior in our own personal shadow, it is vital to know that hatred of and aggression towards others may have its roots in self-hatred and deeply unconscious feelings of anger, guilt and fear that are carried in the unexplored recesses of our soul. We may also carry in our shadow a negative pattern of behavior imprinted by a controlling or critical parent. Consciously we may reject that pattern of behavior but unconsciously, we may copy it in the way we behave or in how we speak to other people, particularly our partners, children or siblings. A powerful self-destructive shadow can be constellated by the experience of abandonment, the absence of love, the loss of a parent through death or divorce or a constant regime of sadistic repression and punishment. In certain individuals - perhaps more vulnerable or fragile than others - a deeply unconscious internalised pattern of guilt and self-persecution may later on give rise to recurring states of rage, grief, anxiety and depression and to aggression towards others. It may also give rise to the desire for omnipotent power to control others. We have seen the tragic outcome of this internalised pattern in the eruption of rage in those individuals who have taken a murderous revenge on their fellow students and teachers (Virginia 2007).
          Chronic states of rage, grief, guilt and depression come from forgotten memories of a situation where, as a child, one was unable to protect oneself or someone else through terror of punishment, unable to express vocally or physically the anger, grief or distress appropriate to the situation. The natural instinctive response to danger was shut off because it was too dangerous to express it. The memory of what was experienced in the past is projected forward and anticipated in the present. Because one was powerless to act and terrified in the past, the limbic memory says that one will be powerless to act and terrified in the present or future. Hence, because of these unconscious reflexes, we become fixated in the past, prisoners of the terror we once experienced as children, constantly re-living these memories at the unconscious level. We are never able to discharge the emotion that could not originally be released in a spontaneous and natural instinctive feeling response. This emotion is stored as a chemical pattern in our bodymind organism.
          The defence against crystallised pain and guilt takes many forms, including the attempt to offload it later in life by projecting the inner persecutory experience onto others and attacking them verbally or physically "out there." The ancient layers of predator/prey experience held latent in the collective unconscious and mediated through our limbic brain may be compulsively released years after the initial experience when activated by an external situation that reminds us of the original one. I say compulsively, because, without insight, it is often beyond the power of the individual (or the group) to withdraw the projection and restrain the instinctive response. If a family can be destroyed by one severely depressed or psychopathic parent who has no insight into his or her aggression and therefore cannot control it, how much more is this true of whole cultures that have experienced the trauma of war and cannot free themselves from the memory of that experience. Unless we can discover methods to heal this deep suffering carried in our unconscious shadow, we are condemned to repeat the destructive and self-destructive patterns of the past. There are many degrees of pathology associated with this internal sado-masochistic pattern depending on the degree of suffering endured and the fragility or strength of the individual and the degree of love and help he or she receives. (We do not know precisely what enables some deeply traumatised people to surmount this pattern and others to succumb to it).
          In his Anatomy of Human Destructiveness, the psychologist Eric Fromm uses the term malignant aggression or necrophilia (the fascination with death) - to describe the tendency to sadism and cruelty in some deeply traumatised individuals. Fromm defines sadism as the passion to have absolute and unrestricted control over a living being, whether animal, child, man, or woman." To force someone to endure pain or humiliation without being able to defend himself is one of the manifestations of absolute control. The sadistic act, Fromm says, "is the transformation of impotence into omnipotence." I would add: the transformation of the impotence of the child into the omnipotence of the adult. The original situation where the child was forced to endure the pain and terror inflicted on him by an adult or to witness the torture or murder of a beloved parent or of an individual whose suffering he was forced to witness may be inflicted in reverse on a future victim. (Alice Miller's study of the childhood of Hitler and Stalin has shown how the pathology of this repetition compulsion comes into being). Sadism is the ultimate expression of an imagination rendered malignant by trauma and bonded to a nervous system perpetually on high alert against attack. I would ask you to think of all the people on this planet who are engaged in imagining and creating weapons of torture and destruction, and in trying to control, humiliate, attack or destroy people, beliefs, or ideas perceived as threatening to themselves. What does this reveal about the childhoods of the people so engaged, the activation of primal instincts and the buried pain and fear they are projecting onto others from their shadow? What future suffering is invited by the traumatised child victims of war who have known only abandonment, barbarity and hunger?

The Totalitarian Regime
Totalitarian regimes draw these traumatised individuals into positions where they are given carte blanche to be as sadistic as they like because they are the servants of a regime which elimates anyone who challenges its legitimacy or anyone who is designated as expendable for ideological reasons. Their main characteristic is their incapacity to feel any empathy for their victim; on the contrary, to take pleasure in "final solutions" and the evidence of their victim's terror and pain. The archaic pattern of the predator takes control of the psyche. Men and boys boast of their prowess in torture and murder. Yet beneath the persona of the predator may be the deeply traumatised childhood victim of another predator. Tyrannies are created by individuals who suddenly find themselves in possession of the power they never had as children, in a position to inflict their buried anger, pain or fear onto groups or individuals perceived as enemies. Studies of the childhoods and rise to absolute power of Hitler, Stalin, Saddam Hussein, Ceaucescu and Milosevic (and his wife) support this conclusion. Brutal or tragic childhood experiences may create brutal adults, particularly in a state system that encourages cruelty and brutality as a method of establishing absolute power and control over its citizens. In the psyche of the tyrant or of the man or woman taken over by the shadow drive for power, there is no mediator between the conscious will and the instinctive drive harnessed to serving it. Power is unconsciously experienced as essential to survival because the surrender of power means being vulnerable once again to pain and terror - the equivalent of death.
          Fromm suggests that a totalitarian state with a highly controlled bureaucracy draws to itself sado-masochistic individuals. It weakens the independence of the individual and his capacity to think critically. Each person controls someone below him and is controlled by someone above him. Individuals with the desire to feel effective and powerful by the control they exercise over the lives of others are attracted to bureaucracy and the service of the state. They are attracted to serve the government as its agents of control and worse, of terror, torture and killing. The most damaged individuals may be rise to positions of authority where they can excercise power over others. Eichmann wrote in his memoirs,

"From my childhood, obedience was something I could not get out of my system…It was unthinkable that I would not follow orders."

In such people, sadism becomes the approved norm of behavior. When enough of such individuals serve a leader who gives the orders to liquidate, torture or terrorise, the predatory collective shadow takes over and thousands may fall under its spell, accepting as normal what is in fact pathological behavior.
          Documentaries have shown how surviving guards and commandants who supervised the gulags in the former Soviet Union showed no remorse for what they had done fifty years earlier. Obeying the orders of superior males, blindly serving an ideology, they were unconscious of the moral evil of what they were doing. There is no consideration in these struggles for primacy and territory for the suffering inflicted on innocent civilians, whose homes and lives are destroyed without guilt or remorse. If an ideological goal demands it, countless lives may be sacrificed without guilt. That is the dragon and that is what we are up against as we attempt to become aware of the power of our archaic instincts. Fromm writes:

It is hardly necessary to stress that severely necrophilous persons are very dangerous. They are the haters, the racists, those in favour of war, bloodshed, anarchy and destruction. They are dangerous not only if they are political leaders, but also as the potential cohorts for a dictatorial leader. They become the executioners, terrorists, torturers; without them no terror system could be set up. But the less intense necrophiles are also politically important…they are necessary for the existence of a terror regime because they form a solid basis, although not necessarily a majority, for it to gain and hold power.            

He also suggests that our capacity to destroy others today comes from the situation where chronic boredom, poor education and low self esteem afflicts millions of people, only alleviated by the superficial excitements of sex, drink and watching violent imagery on television. It is a short step from the passive enjoyment of the spectacle of violence to attraction to real violence and cruelty. From there to the orgy of blood-lust we witness in different parts of the world is another short step in a society which does not respect the individual and has no respect for life. Violence then becomes the only way of feeling alive, of feeling effective. Killing others becomes a way not only of avenging oneself on others for whatever reason is given by leaders but for breaking the monotony of life - "as easy as saying good-morning", as one Serb killer put it in the recent catastrophe in Kosovo. Necrophilia and sadism emerge as the result of stunted growth or psychic "crippledness" in a certain proportion of the population of any nation.          
            Another important aspect of a sadistic pattern in our shadow is the fusion of a highly developed technology with the power to destroy. The destructive propensities of the malignant imagination are exalted in the creation of weapons of mass destruction. The man who designs these weapons or who pushes the button or trigger releasing them is simply following a programme in the service of the state. His target may be in Afghanistan but he is directing the missile by remote control from Florida. He has no affective experience of the pain, terror and death the weapons he is inventing, manufacturing or discharging will inflict or are inflicting on 'the enemy'. Feeling is split off from function. He is empowered and entitled to liquidate people, whole communities, without feeling anything beyond the satisfaction that he has obeyed orders (Hiroshima). He does not see the shattered limbs and lives ("collateral damage") of those hit by the weapons he releases. This scenario is possible only when we have become so alienated from our instinct for empathic relationship with each other - the inability to bear another's suffering as the Dalai Lama has put it - that we act in a more and more "objective" and unrelated way. The language NATO used during the bombing raids on Serbia - shocking phrases like "intelligent missiles" or "degrading the enemy" - typify this objectivity. This schizoid or even schizophrenic situation is increasingly typical of warfare today with its highly developed technology, and belongs as much to the unrecognised pathology of our own military machine (as in the bombing of Baghdad) as to that of the so-called enemy.
          All of us are in danger of colluding with the ethos of the remote control of life through technological expertise. According to the conscious position, our intention is to eliminate evil or progressively to transform life for the better. But our shadow is polluting the planet with the toxic residues of our technology, even to the depleted uranium used in our missiles. It is continually accelerating the arms race which is itself an invitation to war. Once the latest technology of destruction is available, it is almost impossible to not to try it out to see if it works. The Pentagon's phrase "Full Spectrum Dominance" means the power to win any war anywhere in the world by challenging a designated enemy with the power of its (America's) weaponry.
          Here is a perfect example of the unrecognised predator in our shadow that is projected onto the "enemy" we plan to destroy. Integrating this dragon-shadow is a huge undertaking. It is a lifelong, centuries long process of recognition, integration and healing. The shadow is generally unconscious until other people or life events force us to take notice of it. To see our shadow, we need the help of our chosen partners, our children, our friends and our adversaries as well as the insights of those individuals who have seen further than we have into the dark propensities of our nature. The last word can be left to Jung:

If you imagine someone who is brave enough to withdraw all these projections, then you get an individual who is conscious of a considerable shadow. Such a man…has become a serious problem to himself, as he is not able to say that they do this, they are wrong, they must be fought against. Such a man knows that whatever is wrong in the world is also in himself, and if he only learns to deal with his own shadow, he has done something real for the world. He has succeeded in shouldering at least an infinitesimal part of the gigantic, unsolved problems of our day.

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