The Myth of Negativity

A theme I have encountered regularly in nearly 30 years of practice as a psychotherapist is the request to help people ‘deal with negativity’. What consistently emerges is that the person concerned is at war with themselves.

And not just ‘in conflict’ as such..

but more of a campaign….

…a series of military strategies to counter that which fails to fit an ideal,  as though..

…on a crusade to exorcise the Devil himself.

Invariably, the ‘negativity’ was some shadow quality urgently needed by the personality to bring wholeness. The problem was not the ‘negativity’ itself but the refusal to give it time, credibility or discern its meaning.

Its a worrying trend. There are swathes of books out there to help you ‘deal’ with this demon, whole websites, FB pages, entire spiritual disciplines dedicated to the cause of suppressing, countering, warding off….. these vital shards of the Self.

The scary thing is that this is done in the name of spirituality.

A Zen student came to Bankei and complained: “Master, I have an ungovernable temper. How can I cure it?”

“You have something very strange,” replied Bankei. “Let me see it.”

“Just now I cannot show it to you,” replied the other.

“When can you show it to me?” asked Bankei.

“It arises unexpectedly,” replied the student.

“Then,” concluded Bankei, “it must not be your own true nature. If it were, you could show it to me at any time. Think that over.”

The master is pointing out that the student’s anger and his desire to be rid of its discomfort are not spiritual matters. They are matters of pride and the wish for an easier life, let alone the failure to enquire into the meaning of his temper.

So, we shoot ourselves in the foot with all this high fallutin’ efforts to get rid of Negativity. The motivation to do so invariably comes from an idealised vision that compells us to devalue the rest of our lives.

”so that any time I’m not experiencing love, or not being joyful, [it feels like] I’m not being who I really am, and so I become only conditionally alive.” D Whitmore.

What we consider to be negative often actually…

”contains valuable, vital forces, they ought to be assimilated into actual experience and not repressed. It is up to the ego to give up its pride and priggishness…’ML von Franz.
When we label something inside us as negative we are in fact falling into an unconscious piece of prejudice, often derived from collective morality which is set against us carving our own unique path through the forest.

The negative thought or feeling is an aspect of personality that has been sacrificed to help us ‘fit in’, but without which there can now be no real self knowledge. It is up to us to be humble enough to find the context for such thoughts or feelings and give them the credibility that they are there in our psyche for some good reason.

For example, a young man thinks of himself as unattractive. In fact he’s disgusting. No-one could possibly want him. He counters these ‘negative thoughts’ with affirmations, telling himself over and over that he is handsome and desirable. But what we resist persists and so despite his endless efforts all he succeeds in doing is exhausting himself.

Moreover, the internal clash of opinions gives his ‘confidence’ a comical, wooden performance that no-one believes and winds up just reinforcing his deeper conviction.

A series of dreams begins to tease out the condemnation his mother had of anything to do with his body. Memories follow, being punished for using cologne, being mocked for combing his hair a new way, derision and sarcasm for thinking he could get a date to the prom.

In the absence of any support he identified with her neurotic attitude. Gradually he allowed the feelings of being so belittled to surface. His pain and anger were in fact the index of his own self-esteem. And as he gave an honourable place in his psyche to his grief and rage he began to feel better about how he looked.

“Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for.” J Campbell.

When it comes to one another, judgements of ‘negativity’ are really shorthand for refusing to enter that person’s world or walk a mile in their shoes. Its actually lack of compassion and the unwillingness to stretch the comfort zones of our own self-constructs. In doing so we unwittingly keep ourselves small and pass up the opportunity for personal growth.

”The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” Krishnamurti.

To judge another’s attitude as negative demeans you both. The other is reduced to the cut of your own cloth so that a true sense of I and Thou is lost. The resolution of purpose required to undertake great things is eroded.

”Moral courage has it’s source in identification, through one’s own sensitivity, with the suffering of one’s fellow human beings.” Rollo May.

Moreover, getting caught up in the ego’s preoccupation with conventional morality and what it means to be good can rob us of spontaneity and trustworthiness.

We confuse being positive with being authentic.

Another Zen story refers to this..

Two Zen teachers, Daigu and Gudo, were invited to visit a lord. Upon arriving, Gudo said to the lord: “You are wise by nature and have an inborn ability to learn Zen.”

“Nonsense,” said Daigu. “Why do you flatter this blockhead? He may be a lord, but he doesn’t know anything of Zen.”

So, instead of building a temple for Gudo, the lord built it for Daigu and studied Zen with him.

If we are to be whole, grounded and fully in our bodies we need to debunk the Myth of Negativity. We must take all the thoughts and feelings that arise within us as equally valid, if perplexing, and to be so thoroughly aquainted with it all that it no longer impedes the goal of life, realisation of the Self.

Abraham’s Children.

In ancient times, the Ark of the Covenant, housed in the first temple of Solomon, was protected by two immense images of the Divine made of olive wood and covered in gold leaf. They represented Yahweh and Hokmah/Wisdom, his consort.

After the destruction of that temple, these images were interpreted as male and female aspects of Yahweh alone. With the building of the second temple their significance was changed further to mean the union of Yahweh and his new bride, the people of Israel. Over centuries the Goddess was deposed, made secular and excluded from Divinity.

Remaining pockets of those faithful to the Goddess were systematically persecuted. Hilltops to which the Goddess had effectively been exiled were defiled with bones and ashes. Even groves of trees within a certain distance of Jerusalem were cut down to prevent Her taking refuge there.(Exod 34 13-14).

Later still, the bible itself was purged of any book relating to the power of women.The Apocrypha, those books that managed to escape the flames, all have something in common. They are feminine. They are either about women, the books of Esther and Judith, about the Goddess Herself, (the book of Ben Sirach), or, as in the Song of Solomon, the unashamed delight of man in the Queen of Heaven, Wisdom. The Apocrypha is what remains of those works that celebrate Yahweh’s consort.

At one time it was included in the Bible, at the back. Then it was published separately, though it was freely available. When I researched it myself I had to order it from an inter library loan because there was no copy on the shelves and when it arrived after two weeks it had a stamp on the fly leaf saying, ‘last copy in the county’. The Goddess is in the final throes of banishment.

What will happen to us all if She disappears altogether?  Both the extremist factions of the Islamic and Christian camps have this in common, a deeply ingrained contempt for the feminine that then brings out the worst in men. Solomon’s Wisdom is degraded to being a mere attribute of the man himself. Such inflation must end in disaster. ‘Inflation’, say the Alchemists, ‘beckons the raven’s claw’.

When the male psyche is sufficient to itself and devalues the feminine he loses his anchor in Nature. He becomes so puffed up he feels he can do no wrong and dispenses with his conscience. He ceases to care about what kind of legacy he leaves for his children and is overcome by the kind of ennui that only adrenaline and the cry of battle can momentarily relieve.

I have had all kinds of people with all kinds of problems come through my doors over the years. I have noticed something consistently throughout. When a person develops a sense of the Divine Feminine or simply feels the void in themselves for want of it, their issues are more readily resolved. To have a living relationship with the Great Mother makes all kinds of suffering tolerable and brings balm to many a wound.

Perhaps psychotherapy itself only becomes a necessity in cultures with belief systems that uphold the disrespect of other faiths as a virtue. We have to love our neighbours not for their sake but for our own. For as long as we demonise others our own devils will get the better of us. When our successes are at the expense of others we can never really enjoy them or be fullfilled. If we are to live well, it has to be on the basis of equality with others. And it is not enough to agree in principle. We have to root out the extremism in ourselves that says our religion, our way of life, is better than the next.

God, after all is, not a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim. When we can celebrate the wonderous diversity of the Divine and honour the variety of all religions that are nothing less than the many faces of God then there will be peace in the world and fellowship between nations. My mosaic project ‘Abraham’s Children’ (above, and  ) which contains elements of all the world’s religions, symbolizes this equality and represents my own fervent hope for atonement between his estranged offspring.

Narcissism and the Bottomless Pit.

In thirty years of practice as a psychotherapist I never came across an indigenous person with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The reason is that native people generally have a way of raising their kids that is  radically different to parents in the ‘civilised’ West.

This does not mean that Western women are bad mothers, but that they have to contend with a split reality endemic in our culture that makes it difficult for baby to cross certain developmental thresholds.

On the one hand the child, as depicted in the majority of psychoanalytic literature, is a voracious power hungry little monster who battles mother for dominance and has to be brought to heel at all costs.

”Babies have become a sort of enemy to be vanquished by mother…on the premise that every effort should be made to force baby to conform when it ’causes’ work and ‘wastes’ time.’ J. Liedloff

On the other hand, and by way of compensation, we have the effusive and liberal face of Dr Spock, whose sales of his book ‘Baby and Childcare’, come second only to the bible on the best seller list. Spock advocated ‘childcentric’ households which effectively have children ruling the roost. Detractors claim he cultivated Narcissism in millions as the most trusted name in childcare and parenting since 1940 and even hold him personally responsible for the moral decline of  western culture.

”When a society becomes out of control, it is because its members elevate self-indulgence and lack self-control…and [have] come to see gratification as a right.” R. Bradley.
 These radically polarised veiws of parenting presented by Freud and Spock, often operating without reference to one another under the same roof, have something strangely in common. Both the liberal, anti-authoritarian mandate of currying entitlement in children and the cold hearted philosophy of ‘you did it to yourself’ inherent in Freudian theory, marginalised the fact that women have been having babies for seven million years without the input of opinionated men in lab coats.
 Both men’ knew better’ than the feminine soul. To the extent that these theories were imposed upon women’s natural instincts, their innate knowing, their connection to their own mothers and to the Divine Feminine that presided over childbirth and motherhood, so too was their role undermined, ancient wisdom eroded and intrinsic understanding of what was right and proper, subverted and injured.
So whilst it may be true that excessive permissiveness fosters narcissistic tendencies and a sense of entitlement, it is also the case that narcissistic wounds are inevitable when the bond between mother and child is intruded upon by someone who thinks they know better than Nature herself, irrespective of the received ‘wisdom’ under consideration.
You’re probably familiar with the educational maxim ‘would you teach a fish to climb a tree?’ but we forget that its even more undermining to teach a fish to swim.
A centiped was happy, quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, ‘pray which leg follows which?
This raised her doubts to such a pitch
She fell exhausted in a ditch,
Not knowing how to run.
“If we have learnt certain [things] so that they have sunk below the level of conscious control, then if we try to follow them consciously we very often interfere with them so badly that we stop them”. Carl Popper.
It follows that if mother has it instilled in her that she doesn’t know her job  without instruction from a clipboard wielding MD then baby will be similarly confused and struggle with developmental tasks, understandably preferring the relative safety of remaining partly fused with mother in a state of  ‘symbiotic omnipotence’. (M. Kahn).
This interupts the process of separation and healthy growth, preventing the child from crossing the threshold associated with ‘symbol formation’. This is significant because it is symbol formation that is responsible for the experience of others as persons in their own right, and for the development of values associated with feelings about others having their own purpose and destiny. The child can get eternally caught  in the concrete thinking of symbolic equations where, for instance, worth is measured in terms of money,  loveability in terms of sexual conquest, power in terms of domination of others, all the things we recognise as symptoms of NPD.
‘No-one loves me, because you don’t wipe my chin.’ Liedloff.
The figurative representation of ideas, conflicts or wishes cannot be experienced and so metaphorical notions of honour, faithfullness, duty, empathy and so on remain conceptual ideas rather than lived and experienced realities…
”from which intellectualism is only to ready to emancipate itself.” C.G. Jung
This is most obvious in our relationships because Narcissism does not really experience the Other as such. Their humanity remains conceptual. The notion that others have equal rights is an abstract idea to be rationally concluded without actually being lived.
Racism and sexism are the most common outcome of such a mind set, but the irony is that the Narcissist has equal trouble conceiving of ‘his own’ in fully human terms unless they remain entirely joined at the hip. Humanity is not experienced, it is deduced, much as Socrates ‘worked out’ that one day he would die.
‘Socrates is a man. Men are mortal. Therefor Socrates will die.’
On the basis of such abstract deduction ordinary instinctual care for one another is occluded. One’s own self barely exists in its own right, how shall another fare any better?
The developmental threshold of symbol formation affords not only the recognition of the otherness of the Other, it also affords value and significance to the otherness of oneself, in other words to the fantasies, intuitions and aspirations emerging from the archetypal layers of the psyche that take over the job of feeding the child, as it were, from within.
This leads to a lack of faith, not only in others but towards life itself which cannot be trusted to provide. The child becomes a consumer…
‘clinging to objects and people, investing them with magical powers, ferocious in [the] demand to possess and control.” Liedloff
Asking Narcissism to share is thus experienced as an attack on all that is holy because money and resources have been imbued with a kind of spiritual manna. Losing hegemony over it is tantamount to desecration. The paranoid tendency of the Narcissist  is not simply that someone is out to get him, but that all he holds sacred is under attack.
And so the predominant experience of life is one of being a victim, no matter how much one has, nor how much there is available. It is like being a planet without a sun, or worse, having a black hole to revolve around which threatens to drain and crush at every turn. Without the inner ‘other’, there is nothing to mediate the dark forces of the cosmos.
”Our connection with a sacred centre [gives] a sense of real existence that counters the terror of chaos and nothingness, helps [a person] find their bearings and makes order of the Universe’. Bizint
Since what we cannot integrate is invariably projected it will seem to those who stub their toe on at the threshold of symbol formation that some illegitimate other has stolen the key to happiness. He lives, not only in a state of lack but as if his divine inheritance is being withheld. And because he’s in the bind of having to deny what he needs, his lack and being witheld from is acted out in the world, which perhaps explains the conundrum of how it is possible for the richest and greatest nation in the world to sweep one of its most powerful men to high office on the shirt tails of the  slogan, ‘make America great again’, as though it were a mere dispossesed guttersnipe on the fringes of the stage.

Quantum Physics and the Doctrine of Signatures.

You would think that the Church would grasp with both hands at anything that seemed like a proof of God and yet the closest we have come to it, the ancient and profound wisdom rooted in the Doctrine of Signatures, was suppressed without mercy.

The Doctrine of Signatures, initially propounded by Greek physicians Discorides and Galen in the first century, says that plants resembling various parts of the body can be used to treat ailments pertaining to those parts.

”Nature marks each growth… according to its curative benefits.” Paracelsus.

Lungwort looks like the lungs and is good for bronchial conditions. Kidney beans are good for those organs. Carrots, the cross section of which looks like an iris, are good for eye infections and so on.

It seems like a pretty innocuous belief, and useful enough to have persisted in medical and herbal practices for centuries, surviving to this day in homeopathy and Bach flower remedies. So why were healers persecuted for its practice? Surely the notion that divine intervention had given humanity a helping hand is good PR…

Not so.

Modern medicine wanted its cures devoid of divine meddling and the church preferred that Nature was not something sentient in its own right.

Somehow the notion that Nature might be helpful and intelligent undermined religious convictions about who was running the show. It was the wrong kind of divine intervention.

The problem for the authorities was that the Doctrine of Signatures represented a challenge to the official position on Salvation, you have to deserve it. Not only was the veiw of Nature according to these early gnostic philosphers and healers  lacking in blood thirstyness it was decidedly benevolent, irrespective of a person’s moral rectitude. Not only was Nature sentient, it was unconditional, happy to heal saints and sinners alike.

Moreover, it encouraged folk to have their own relationship/dialogue with Nature which marginalised the intercession of earthly powers.

The Doctrine of Signatures was duly deemed blasphemous and could cost you a great deal more than your health because it went further than affirming the existence of God. It also begged the question of divine disposition.

The notion of divinity unconcerned with sin or retribution, positively helpful to all regardless of upstandingness and offering redemption from suffering in the here and now rather than in an anxious future beset with fears was, err..


So you can imagine how the church fathers’ abject consternation might increase as they considered and mused over its further implications..

because it meant that life itself was full of useful signposts and synchronicities   that helped people, not only freely laid before us and not just as a system of unconditional connecting principles, but as a means by which we might actually experience ourselves in continuity with the natural world.

and if we are not separate from Nature then we need have no fear..

and we have no fear then we cannot be controlled, threatened or manipulated.

oh dear.

One of the stories I like best about plants is the native discovery of Curare, a deadly poison used by Amazonian Indians to tip their blow darts. It is made by combining, in specific quantities, the leaves of three or four entirely unrelated plants, each of which is entirely benign on its own.

The chances of finding this out accidently is about as likely as waking up one morning and deciding to vapourize mayonnaise in the presense of Lithium dichloric oxide and snorting the results as a remedy for gout.

So how did they find out about it?

Simple, the forest told them.

The discovery of Peyote is better documented. For those who haven’t tried it, allow me to assure you that Peyote, a small desert cactus in central Mexico that has strong psychoactive properties, is the most disgusting, bitter, rancid, vomit inducing substance you could ever encounter. It contains natural emetics that make you puke so hard you will wish for imminent death; but before that, a taste so foul your entire body mitigates against it. Imagine the worst childhood medicine topped with dog shit and sprinkled with the contents of Mr Twit’s beard.

apologies to Roald Dahl.

Yes, its that bad; the point being that no-one in their right mind would ever try it unless they also had a taste for paint stripper by the pint with chasers of albatross guano cut with baboon snot.

Legend has it that two young brothers got lost in the desert. Their elder sister became worried once night fell and went in search of them. She too got lost and had to sleep out in the cold. As she slept she dreamt. A voice told her that when she woke she’d find that she’d used these low lying cacti as a pillow. She must eat them. The visions that followed would lead her to her brothers and that’s what happened.

The brothers were saved.

Unless we call such things miracles and subsume them under God’s Will, neither church nor science has much use for them. The reason is that we have been led to believe that our sinful egos are all we are, or, at best that if there is an unconscious then it is derivative, and ‘nothing but’ the garbage heap of the mind.

This maintains the ego as master of its own house but disconnects it from Nature and stops us from experiencing the vastness of Psyche, much of which we are bound to experience as ‘outside’ us.

‘Some think that fish contains the sea, but actually the sea contains the fish.’    C. G. Jung.

This formulation of things, a central pillar of the gnostic world veiw, is expressed by the Sanscrit, ‘Tat Tvam Asi’, ‘thou art that which thou perceivest’ and again in the Talmud as, ‘We do not see things as they are. We see them as we are.’ It is  expressed in the buddhist tradition by the saying, ‘you cannot cover the sky with your palm,’ and invites us to completely re-think, to re-experience, our relationship with the Universe.

More recently quantum physics concurs. When asked what the fuss was all about by a journalist at a press conference convened to discuss Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, Niels Bohr is reputed to have said, ‘ I’m not sure, except that you may throw yourself down on Mother Earth in the sure knowledge that you are one with her and She with you.’

The story goes that the chemist Kekule had spent years trying to figure out the shape of the carbon molecule. He just couldn’t get it until one day he was passing a school yard thinking about something else when he saw a group of children holding hands and singing ring-a-ring-a-roses and suddenly he had it, the carbon ring, and the Universe had helped him find it.

We might pooh-pooh such things, and resist giving up what we consider to be the separateness of the ego, from ego’s point of veiw its very sovereignty, and yet we need only look at a person describing the day as miserable to know they are talking about themselves. When bidden a good day by a neighbour, Dutch mystic Miester Eckhart replied joyfully, ‘every day is a good day’.

In the absence of such experience life has to be ruled by moral codes of conduct which assume our separateness from one another with the subsequent need to bring these disparate others into line. ‘Love thy neigbour as thy self,’ is then taken to mean ‘be as nice to others as you are to yourself’. Its a moral injunction, a thou shalt. Very different to, ‘love thy neighbour who is none other than thyself’, wherein compassion for others is no mere moral goodness but a recognition of the other as oneself, a shard of the universal hologram.

Hello me.

This does not mean that the ego is an illusion or that we have to get rid of it, but that it is mere garnish to the banquet of life which ordinarily we’d give little more attention than a sprig of parsley…

which, incidently, is very good for gall stones….





Attack on the Child.

In order to understand the pathological need for wealth, fame and consumption that typifies Western Culture, we need to look further than mere greed. Having the moral high ground is not enough. You might still miss what’s so interesting about wanting more than you need….

The Rule of Intention says that the way things pan out has to do with the intentions of those who are involved.  If children in their millions are starving then someone is witholding the spoon. If thousands have no education then that’s by design. If families are living on the streets someone put them there.

So then what does it mean that we collectively aspire to more than we need? Why is it that we regard excessive consumption differently from obesity? You’d be shocked if a person’s goal was to gain a hundred pounds…

and yet

”We are screwing the planet to make solar powered bathroom thermometers and desktop crazy golfers.” G Monbiot.

Are we then simply diplaying our wealth? Is there some arcane connection between wanton destruction and attractiveness? I think not, but whatever the answer it  lies deeper than our greed or stupidity.

Symptoms of dis-ease are never arbitrary or simply unfortunate. They are the unconscious expression of something yet to be named. There is hidden meaning in desperately pursuing stuff you don’t actually need, stuff whose production enslaves and destroys into the bargain. Calling it addiction doesn’t quite work either, despite the added caveat to greed that there is more at work than mere self indulgence.

Believing we can convert the rhythms of work into cash so that real life might then begin may feel worth the price to be paid by aliveness, but what many of us do in our leisure time is just more of the very same consuming of life from which we most need to a break. In our millions we become even further absorbed…..

”in the electronic reproduction of life, the passive consumption of the twittering screen.” A Watts.

So we save up for our hols, to get away from it all, when proper enjoyment can get under way, only to find that it too is also somehow pasteurised, with boxes to tick and schedules to fill. Been there, done that…  We wait to be amused, wonder what’s  next and if we’ve had our money’s worth.

All of which..

”gives rise to a culture devoted not to survival but to the actual destruction of life.” ibid

So is our devouring of life a form of collective suicide, a Chomskian rushing to the precipice?

No, its scarier than that.

It is an attack, not just upon ourselves, but on our children. The planet that their parents are pillaging is, after all, their inheritance. The spiritual malaise and attendant acting out of the developed world is far greater, far more malicious, than mere apathy, denial or disinterest.

”Once you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes.

If we want to understand consumerism and its attended ravaging of the planet we need to ask what it is that people are really hoping for with the must-have item on their bucket list. Irrespective of its concretisation, the new car, the fancy vacation, the latest gadgetry, what people seem to be striving for is a sense of worth, of being safe and held and fed.

Collectively we are seeking the in-arms experience of infancy which, as a culture, we have simply not yet had.

‘When the expected does not take place, corrective or compensatory tendencies make an effort to restore stability.’ J. Liedloff.

Consumerism is a parody of contented infant satiation. We want life dribbling down our chin. We want to be in the ‘lap of luxury’. We want the safety of maternal embrace whose alternative is the poor substitute of being gripped by her dark and compulsive sister, (mater)ialism.

‘The infant (like the guru) lives in the eternal now, in a state of bliss; the infant out of arms is in a state of longing, the bleakness of an empty Universe. Want is all there is..’ ibid

Amassing the unnecessary to the detriment of  life on Earth looks entirely crazy until we consider it in a symbolic light, the unfulfilled need of a culture seeped in denial about what is truly indispensible. Mother.

This denial reaches its acme in psychoanalytic theory with Freud’s Drive Conflict theory which entirely marginalises Mother as relevant to baby’s health or illness.

According to this theory dis-ease is not down to how we are treated, whether we are held and loved, but on dysfunctional ‘object relations’. You did it to yourself, a doctrine of victim blaming that also constitutes the final eradication of Mother’s relevance to life. In thirty years I have never found Freud to use the word ‘mother’ even once.

This denigration of life’s most important role impoverishes our entire culture but it does far more and has consequences you might not have considered.

Not only does the dominant form of spirituality in Western Culture fail to nourish, but our anxious preoccupation with and eternal focus on the future with its promise of salvation…at some point…does have the appeal  that the indiscretions of today may be swept under the carpet, but in the process of ducking conscience we are also bound to be gripped with envious spoiling for those who are able to be in the moment where real life happens, where all bliss, joy, gratitude and celebration are to be found.

Much of the West’s ferocious subjugation of the ‘childlike’ third world has to do with this same improbable truth, that we envy them. Despite their poverty they seem to have something we do not, a living for today where the real riches of life are to be found. And so they are happy. For all our wealth and power in the West we are miserable. Our worrying about tomorrow means we cannot  enjoy our mountain of stuff  today because all enjoyment is Now.

I once asked an African man on a dusty savannah roadside in tropical heat when the bus he was waiting for would arrive. ‘Today”, he answered contentedly.  By contrast and half a world away, commuters on Stuttgart railway station platform follow the digital clock ticking over, . At the exact same moment they all look in disappointed unison at their watches and turn to stare down the track as if they were practicing impatience for a show.

Our collective obsession with time and tommorow means that the aliveness gets sucked out of today.  We become chorus lines to celebrity others whose lives have somehow become more real than our own. The togetherness, the gratitude for simply being alive can’t be entered into and like the uninvited guest, ‘Now’ turns cold, vengeful and wooden.

”Unlived life will not sit idly on the shelf, it will turn round and bite you.” M.L. von Franz.

If a sense of Self that transcends self-interest can’t be embodied it will be projected. The recipients will invariably be the next generation who are as yet untutored in guilt, whose feeling of belonging has yet to be eroded, who have yet to know alienation.

and who are handy…

The child..

‘will arouse certain longings in the adult. . . longings which relate
to the unfulfilled desires and needs of those parts of the personality
which have been blotted out. . .’ C. G. Jung.

Whilst we idealise, cosset and run around endlessly with compensatory gestures of slavish devotion,  so too do we silently envy and spoil. The secret bit about narcissistic brats is that they were made that way by parents who first loaded them down with not only their own unfulfilled expectations but with all the potentialities in today that we can’t shoulder for the sake of insuring ourselves against tommorow.

The horror of growing old and dying without first having properly lived is all too much and become split in our affections.

I will pat you on the head whilst I poison your earth.

My father personally favoured random electrocution as a means to express his envious grievance at my blossoming youth. Bare mains wires ran down the walls both inside and outside my room. They would set window frames and brickwork alive, especially when it rained. You might say that most parents are not so pathological and yet the quest for more than you need means you have to go out and take it off someone else, perpetual warmongering for which youth in their millions are most necessary.

I once spent three days as part of a tiny force of  green berets sitting under a tree waiting for the go ahead to take on 300 defected enemy soldiers who’d changed their mind and taken their new commander hostage as a prelude to melting back into the bush with shiny new G3 semi automatics. We all knew it was a suicide mission should the order finally came through, but the predominant feeling amongst us was one of quiet acceptance, the calm of sacrificial beasts under a stone knife, as though fulfilling some preordained narrative.

Saturn is eating his children.

Behind closed doors it’s usually less flamboyant than electrified bedrooms or going to live in a war zone but after three decades of being a psychotherapist I have to say that everyone who ever came to see me had the same issue. Their true self had been attacked and their destinies subverted by someone they were entitled to trust.

Which is why having more than you need is a form of poison. Its not just greedy. It’s a blow aimed at those who would be better stewards of this earth than ourselves, our children.

this article contains excerpts from my new book ‘Abundant Delicious.. on attaining your heart’s desire’.…ot-off-the-press/







Those that Offend Us.

Its not uncommon for people to feel as though they have fallen into another’s power. Some childhoods are defined by it. But when it comes out of the blue in later life, when there is someone out there who wants to crush you and has the means to do it, life gets interesting in the same vein as the blessing, ‘may you live forever.’

I was once in the grip of a judge in a series of custody hearings, where not only did I lose my horrified child but I was threatened with arrest and  imprisonment for refusing to comply with a court order.

The court refused the testimony of my 12 year old boy who I raised pretty much single handed, nor the testimony of the townsfolk that he was settled and happy living with his father. Experts, later disgraced and fired, attacked my character in lengthy documents which her honour snapped up with eyes aglitter.

We had to meet secretly in the woods at a special tree. Months rolled by.  I’d bring hot chocolate and muesli bars for the cold weather. I kept fighting and eventually he was returned. He’s now a fine young man, studying for his ‘A’ levels and doing well.

There were many things that helped me through the most difficult days of being at the mercy of this powerful other. One was a dream that I had been called by some third party to go visit this woman. I was escorted to a great stone built Keep. It was guarded by armed men standing either side of massive wooden door studded with huge iron rivets. The door was inched open and I was shown inside, down a long stone flagged corridor.

There were no windows, just hand held pitch and pine torches. The guards were silent. We walked on, down stone steps, down and down, the roof getting lower, the atmosphere hotter, oppressive, musty, damp.

Eventually we arrived at a low wooden door which the guards opened. Inside was a small cell. She sat on a small stool beneath a dim bulb dangling on a flex above her. She sat impassively, hands folded in her lap, with lowered head. The guards waited at the door.

I went in, called her name quietly to announce my presence but she did not respond. I walked over, taking in the squalor and stench of the small room. I stood in front of her and called her name again. There was no response.

I leant forward, gently taking her head in my hands and kissed the top of her forehead, then stepped back, turned and quietly left.

After that I stopped feeling like a fugitive. Nor did I want her ‘power’. I lost the desire to reverse our roles, to be vengeful. I began to realise that she was a kind of inadvertant teacher, challenging me to stay with my own reality, compelling me to dig deeper within myself for the resources I needed to manage my new situation.

”Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous times would have lain dormant.” Horace.

But the main thing, the thing the dream wanted me to see, was the inner, hidden reality of this person I otherwise experienced as so powerful,  like Dorothy’s discovery of the real wizard of Oz.

This helps us not to envy and so the spell is broken. You cannot defeat someone who doesn’t want your stuff.



Freedom and The Fates.

It’s said that the Moirai, the Three Fates of ancient time who determined both a person’s quality and span of life, had but a single eye between them. They squabbled over which should have it, the two blind ones eternally conspiring against the sighted third. In the form of millenial sisters, State, Church and Capitol, this bitchy pattern spills over into mortal affairs.

When Capitol and State team up against Church, Fascism will have a dark spiritual underbelly, religious bigotry.

When Church and Capitol collude without State, then you’ll have Empires without respect for Sovreignty.

When State and Church get chummy, then Jihads of Aquisition brew. Despite oneself,  the ‘must haves’ of life assume an almost mystical quality. Spirit and Stuff get mangled in the deification of the dollar. Consumption, like prayer, becomes an end in itself.

According to which sisters are pally at any given time, people get to be controlled in a particular way. Capitol/State favour  Big Stick. Capitol/Church use Guilt. State/Church prefer Propaganda.

Sometimes allegiances can change over night when The Girls are in a bad mood. But on one thing they agree. Democracy is rule by the Great Unwashed.

In 1921 influential American thinker W. Lipman coined the phrase, ‘the Manufacure of Consent’, a necessary technique for controlling the democratic electorate since,

”the general concerns of all people elude the public.’ W Lipman

People don’t know what is good for them. Their fates are too random.

Then came Bernay’s, Freud’s nephew, head of US post-war, ‘Dept of Public Relations’,

”I decided that if you can use propaganda for war you can certainly use it for peace. But propaganda got to be a bad word because the Germans were using it so what I did was to find some different words.” Bernays.

and so began the truly organised perception of Reality as commodity-to-the-highest-bidder. Bernays was instrumental in the US media portrayal of Guatamala as a nest of Russians in 1954, sufficient to overthrow democratically elected Arbenz.

The Russians did not even have diplomatic relations with Guatamala at the time. So how do you so pull the wool over people’s eyes like that?

Bernays was using the four principles of Lipman’s Manufacture of Consent. These four principles are also the weak spot in the Single System system. They show how its possible to bring the cyclops down.  And its not by force of arms. No monster makes rules of engagement and strategy unless it also has vulnerability. We may find its weakness in the rules that it makes.

One, Create Fear

Up until the collapse of the Russian federation it was ‘The Reds.” After 1990 it quickly became Islam, once…

”threats to our interests… and the serious problems we face, can no longer be laid at the Kremlin’s door” N. Chompsky

Recognising attempts to frighten you for what they are takes courage in any situation. The deliberate manufacture of fear is more scary than the fear of some random and arbitrary event because it involves betrayal. Someone you trusted is trying to make you feel bad and so its tough to point to its efforts.

Two, fuel a Two-Paradigm Debate.

So, find common ground. The  greatest wish of our lords and masters is to see us get embroiled in arguments about race and religion. Divide and rule. Corporate power feeds from it and rears up to its most unrestrained during times of martial law. Wasting spit on partisan divisiveness is playing the game. .

“We should be cautious about putting too much faith or fear into elected officials, we have to create it ourselves.”  E. Snowden.

Three, Create a Diversion.

Bread and Circuses for the people. Selotaste and plastoslurp. And for as long as you’ll settle for life’s consolation the Fates have you by the short and curlies will fFill you with entitlements, couch you on routes of least resistance.

If life can’t be easier then at least say that it should be and let a silent grudge be formed, an invisible resentment that life should be other, if only it weren’t for the Other, fueled by framing it as payback, maleable into a force of oppression overnight.

”the devil doesn’t come with a red cape and pointy horns, but as everything you ever wanted.” T. Max.

What the Media does best is never stated out loud. It’s implied, its the thread that joins all the sensational stories and the fear mongering. You should have it better. You poor thing. Your inheritance has been stolen. And while you are learning to grind your axe and mutter under your breath, you don’t notice that burglars are making off with your stuff there and then, nor that you are shackled to your grindstone.

The invitation to regress, to be babied, to have no more demanded of us than the cosy simple values of wanting dens cached with chocolate, makes for citizens that are entirely controllable.

‘Christian children all must be, mild obediant good as He.’ C. F. Alexander

And that means you,

but its okay,

especially if you can be eternally rewarded, not just with one product or another but anything in the name of your narcissistic entitlement. Something that when you stick it in your belt says, ‘I’m big.’

No lonely desert wandering, no shitty soul searching, no struggle to find words or slice yourself on the edges of critical thought.

And if you can be fed the idea that you are a poor misbegotten child into the bargain then so much the better…

except that you might have a shotgun under your coat.

The need to be given everlasting priviledge and be treated as special can undermine even the smartest person. This is because being seduced into believing in your own rightness is so tempting that if you have to forgo a healthy adaptation to reality in the process, waa’l… so be it.

I once made a clinical appointment with a highly qualified man for the following week. He said he would call on the day to confirm, as if offended at having to be pinned down to a particular time.

He neither rang nor showed up. I waited a day and then said something. His infallibility was so strong that he was finally compelled to assert, despite his intelligence, that he still intended to confirm the appointment which had not only passed but whose existence he now also denied.

When I said, like a terrible witholding mother, ‘you can’t have both confirmation and denial’, he fled.

Four, Keep Telling The Lie.

People will suck in all kinds of shit without any discrimination, so long as it is the same old shit. We do it to keep our worlds from turning too much, from having to be re-invented by what we come to realise. We collude with the Lie, bend ourselves out of shape to believe it.

I recall at about fourteen hanging out in a gang of white supremacist lads who suddenly realised that the ‘kaffir-boy’, the black servant in the house, spoke five languages. The confusion as to how this was possible was clearly visceral, they were contorting themselves with ad hoc explanations and rationalisation. For me, it was simple. He was smarter than us. Yes, a moment of clarity, but I suddenly felt very lonely and had to leave.

”Assimilating a new sort of fact demands a more than additive adjustment of theory, and until the adjustment is completed- until you have learned to see nature in a different way- the new fact is not quite a fact at all.” Thomas Kuhn.

And so what is truth and what is a lie become confused if it means making a paradigm shift in order to come to a conclusion.

So we believe the lie…

but pay for it by having to lurch collectively from crisis to crisis in order to make it through the day, like an addictive, accident prone histrionic, twisting to the twine of the Fates. The policy of, ‘never let a crisis go to waste’, means that our fingers must always be in Someone Else’s Pie. Always take at least one side and preferably both. Never be the moderator. Never be the voice of reason. It won’t pay the bills or fill the holy coffers. Be free, under Our control.

Turkey and Pepper Spray.

Thanksgiving 2016.

When patients tell me that they hear voices, I think, ”ah, hope”. Why? Because you can at least address a voice. You can call it out of the shadows and give it an armchair,

or a soapbox  …

an invitation usually grasped with both hands.

Voices have a lot to say and should be taken seriously. Not just acted upon, I hasten to add. The voice that tells you to chop people up with a machete should not be allowed to run the show. But it should still be heard.

The great danger is when there are no inner voices at all, nothing to question, no reflection to be had, no internal conversation. No I to talk to me.

Inner disagreements can’t then be mused over. Values can’t be weighed. And the stuff you’ve swallowed whole in order not to have to chew over its bitterness or its gristle is suddenly masquerading as personal opinion.

So, instead of a latterday Jiminy Cricket sitting on your shoulder telling you how shit you are, you do the job yourself. I’m shit. And because it’s now part of your self structure, you will hang onto that conviction like grim death..

”as though it were something precious.” F Perls.

All the feelings you then need to express to others get destructively turned in on oneself….

and the path is then smoothed between you and whoever has hijacked your life….

”selectively sponsoring the hyperdevelopment of certain mental functions in the child and retarding others.” M Kahn.

It looks great. They are so close, so attentive. But the child…

never gets a chance to develop his own personality, because he is so busy holding down the foreign bodies he has swallowed whole [which] moves the boundary between himself and the rest of the world so far inside that there is almost nothing left.” F Perls.

This leads to dissociative tendencies in the child which allows them…

”to both perceive and deny the character of their early environment.” M Kahn.

Which brings us to Thanksgiving.

It turns out that there really was an occasion in which early settlers sat down with Algonquin people and ate turkey, but for the main part Thanksgiving had a very different meaning…

In 1637 near present day  Groton, Connecticut, over 700 men, women and children of the Pequot Tribe had gathered for their annual Green Corn Festival. In the predawn hours the sleeping Indians were surrounded by English and Dutch mercenaries who ordered them to come outside.  Those who came out were shot or clubbed to death while the terrified women and children who huddled inside the longhouse were burned alive. The next day the governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony declared “A Day Of Thanksgiving”. Susan Bates

Because the special child is treated as though he can do no wrong and because he is permitted to deny reality in the service of a symbiotic omnipotence with the Other personified by parent/church/state, he can effectively do as he pleases and even think of himself as a liberator.

Following an especially successful raid against the Pequot in what is now  Stamford, Connecticut, the churches announced a second day of “thanksgiving” to celebrate victory over the heathen savages.  During the feasting, the hacked off heads of Natives were kicked through the streets like soccer balls.  Even the friendly Wampanoag did not escape the madness. Their chief was beheaded, and his head impaled on a pole in Plymouth, Massachusetts — where it remained on display for 24 years. ibid

This attitude of entitlement is enbodied by endless permission to do as he pleases, rooted in the parent/state’s idolisation that has given the child god-like status in lieu of his own emotional/cognitive innards. His identity is not rooted in himself but rather in a collusive relationship between himself and an all powerful Other.

The killings became more and more frenzied, with days of thanksgiving feasts being held after each successful massacre. George Washington finally suggested that only one day of Thanksgiving per year be set aside instead of celebrating each and every massacre. ibid

Nor will he expect to be called to account or have to explain his actions because of this early bias…

”that he is special, cannot be understood and that communication is futile.” M Khan.

So the upside of this terrible loss of relatedness is that you don’t have to explain or have qualms, or doubts or confusion. You need not contemplate the personal significance or meaning of the word ‘violation’, because you could never do such a thing and therefor you did not. You can rape in the name of love, kill in the name of life and steal in the name of proper government.

Yes, I’m judging. But no more than I judge myself for having been just such a gun toting pioneer myself, attacking peacable people in the name of Progress or believing that the road and rail links into their lands to rip off their resources were for their benefit.

We bought them down from the trees….

so ungrateful

yet for all of that priviledge and wealth, it doesn’t touch the sides on its way down. The gluttonous consumption of land and people, crammed in to try and fill that empty craving maw where the ontological security of being loved for who you are with all you limits, warts and imperfections might be…..

never does what it promises..

and so we need black fridays where we can trample one another to death in the sales for a bargain, the day after being so thankful for all that we have.

and have another desperate go at filling the hole where our own personal destinies might have been.

It’s a loss that makes it difficult…

”to conceive of the other as having a separate, unique mind.” H Meloy.

and so much as their being crushed won’t matter too much, neither can the gratitude be felt that banners the event….

or the cognitive dissonance that our giving of thanks co-incides with the remnants of the Indian Nations being subject to human rights abuses on the last pocket handerchief they are still able to call their own.

In the Face of Adversity.

When I was a boy growing up in Africa we had a Pawpaw tree in the garden which refused to fruit. The gardener, Kimberley, suggested hacking a large hole in the trunk of the tree and stuffing it with a house brick. He assured my mother that this brutal treatment would have the desired effect.

She was horrified and refused to go along with the idea. In time the tree withered even further. Short of chopping it out entirely she eventually agreed to Kimberley’s extreme plan. The hole was duly cut with a fearsome looking panga right through the trunk of the scrawny tree and a house brick jammed into it. The tree perked up and within a year bore a crop of impressive fruit.

What induces growth is sometimes counter-­intuitive. Providing the best of all possible environs is not necessarily going to yield results. Sometimes what is actually required is adversity.

The pawpaw wasn’t fruiting because its life was too easy. Its comfort made no demands of it. It was being watered, mulched and excessively tended. Life was good for the pawpaw. Too good. Kimberley’s solution was to threaten its comfort zone in order to improve its motivation, to give it a ‘now or never’ ultimatum and the pawpaw duly rose to the occasion.

Are we so different? When did you ever achieve anything soulful when all your needs were being taken care of? When was your last, most productive period? What were your circumstances at that time? Most of us will identify with the pawpaw. Paradoxically we tend to fruit when times are toughest, when we seem to have the least resources.

Under difficult circumstances we are compelled to transcend the cultural and family safety nets that normally keep us safe but also limit and constrain. When we are happily living off the fat of the land we have enough to satisfy ourselves. When times are abundant there is no pressing need to embark on difficult adventures.

From this vantage point hardship and evolution itself are interlinked. Recent studies show that the further away from the cradle of infancy in the Alduvi Gorge humanity roamed, the more complex our DNA became, culminating in the most complex genetic codes in the people of South America who travelled furthest. In other words there is a direct link between genetic evolution and facing the unknown.

It’s as though the Psyche were compensating the hardship of life by flowering into it. Nature is self­ regulating. If circumstances don’t boom then consciousness will. You may wish for an easy life but the consequences for your inner world could be potentially disastrous. In the music business it is a standing joke that second albums are second rate. Their initial success  can rob the performer of the hunger upon which genius feeds.

Without struggle there is no fruit. We cannot help wishing for some­one to step in and relieve us of the burden of having to deal with the world but if the longing to be rescued is granted it…

‘sterilizes the inner process’. (Von Franz 1986)

You need only look at the fate of figures like Elvis Presley, Jimi Hendrix, Amy Winehouse and dozens of others who lived the dream to see what a nightmare it actually turned out to be. There are just as many examples from history: writer Jakob Boehme who deteriorated under the protective wing of Baron von Metz, abstract artist Roger Hilton who drank himself to death, Mark Rothko who blew his brains out at the height of his career and Tchaikovsky who drank infested water and died after being feted for writing his greatest symphony, the 1812 overture.

All this gives rise to a very real problem. Since creative endeavour wants to be ‘out there‘, bringing success and ease in its wake, how are we to sustain it when the fruit of our labour has a way of killing the tree that bears it?

Perhaps you could say by analogy that the creative principle is like a jealous lover who makes us endure a great deal for her attentions. She will tolerate our being friends with Success and Reward, but if these others become the focus of our attention, if we flirt with them too much, she will storm off in high dudgeon.

The lived sense of an inner relationship is what helps to prevent the creative fruit from rotting on the tree. Humility is a dynamic quality that acknowledges its sources. I saw this best put by Elizabeth Franklin in a Ted talk. She’s the author of ‘Love, Eat, Play’, and was speaking about how to avoid the dis­ease of success. The trick, she says, is to recognise that genius has its own life.

In ancient times ’genius’ was recognised as a daemon that inspired, literally, that we breathed in. It was other, not-­me, but helped co-­create the project at hand. Nowadays we are tempted to view genius as an aspect of the personality, which is to remain in an arid, unconscious identification with Sublimity.

When we do this we suffer the fate of Adonis who didn’t know the true identity of his lover, Venus. He has a night of passion but then goes swiftly to his death. Suffering and meaning are indivisible from one another. Struggle is necessary to growth without which meaning withers. We learn the lessons that life has for us through these experiences of suffering or psychic discomfort.

‘Pain, grief, loss and ceaseless frustration of every kind are there for a real and dramatic purpose; to wake us up, to enable and almost force us to release our imprisoned splendour.’ (Sogyal Rimpoche 1996).

We may rarely understand what is being invited of us at the time, but if we resist our suffering on account of this we can only multiply our misfortune.

‘Our suffering is [as much] produced by an attitude of intransigent
rebellion to the circumstances at hand as by the circumstances
themselves’. (Martin Israel 1998).

The sages agree, that which banishes suffering is none other than itself consciously embraced, or, to quote the Tao te Ching (1993),

‘only if one suffers from this suffering, does one become free of

So long as we try to escape our suffering we cannot be free. Why? Because freedom is the experience of unconditional participation in life, all of which occurs in the here and now. Any attempt to escape from suffering means also the attempt to escape from or avoid what is happening in the moment.

This is not to say that we then find meaning in suffering by the trite formula that ‘everything happens for a reason’. Such a mechanistic rendering simply echoes the archaic beliefs in a vengeful god punishing us for indiscretions we have yet to confess. It also presupposes a childlike wish that we can keep tragedy at bay simply by being good.

As such it is no more an evolved philosophy of life than refraining from stepping on the cracks in the pavement so the bears won’t get you. It is a way of thinking about life devoid of chaos where we can continue to play at reflecting upon life for as long as it is uncomplicated. I much prefer the rendering of Joel ben Izzy (2005),

‘I still believe that things in this world do, indeed, happen for a reason. But sometimes that reason only comes after they happen. It is not a reason we find, but one we carve, sculpted from our own painand loss, bound together with love and compassion.’

Wanting to be free of suffering or feeling we’ve deserved it somehow is mostly what suffering is made of. There is no escape and no blame to be had. Any attempt to escape or explain just makes it worse. If you would diminish suffering you can only let it be. It is through suffering that one may begin to gain some semblance of self knowledge that may then throw perspective on the experience. Suffering actively embraced can help us cultivate compassion and empathy for self and others. Our wholeness hatches in some strange nests.

Consumer culture has so conditioned us to experience any frustration of our desires as something to be surmounted without delay that we find it almost impossible to attribute adversity with value. There is an apocryphal story about Jung who one day had a man come and see him in a terrible crisis. He had lost his job and his wife in the same week. Jung excused himself from the room but quickly reappeared with a bottle of champagne and two glasses. ‘What are you doing?’ asked the man. ‘Celebrating,’ replied Jung, ‘You’ve just been given the opportunity to completely reinvent yourself.’

This article is an excerpt of my new book, ‘Abundant Delicious’,

On being Important..

When I was a child of Empire, the nice chaps from Propaganda came to our school. The first thing they did was to tell us that we were the most dazzling, resplendent boys they had ever seen.  They held their chins and shook their heads softly, bottomless eyes blinded by our majesty.

We were the cream of the cream. We were special, the destined leaders of tommorrow and they softly ruffled our hair with their smiles when we blushed at the thought.

We were then shown gut churning photographs of what-the-enemy-did, though, strangely more memorable than the dry heaves, was the final part of their act, a symbolic gesture to convey the inevitable demise of the enemy, our undoubted Triumph over Evil.

The two man team, all booted with medals and serious look, picked up the respective assault rifles of either side and demonstrated with wry, delighted smiles, that ‘our’ safety catches were marginaly quieter than theirs. It was a moment of pure victory! Their gleaming eyes conveyed to us all that this fact alone would win us the war! We boys all looked at one another with triumph and relief.

The entire hall exhaled. It was going to be ok. We were going to be victorious heroes!. It was guarenteed. The fact that my fingers were cut to pieces from days of forced labour punishments the previous week, no less than any slave and the only option to which was a beating, did not inform this wonderful news.

What so shocked me about the war that then unfolded, one in which we were actually cut to pieces by the loud safety catch, was not the horror of it all,  but just how easy it had been to march me to my death.

I’m an intelligent bloke.

and the fact I survived still puzzles me. I got shot at a lot.

a few scrapes and bruises, hey lads!

One of the greatest dangers posed to us by authoritarian leaders is not simply the subsequent suffering of the people, but that the people themselves are far more subject to authority than they are willing to let on and are therefor able to be controlled without realising it.

The chilling Milgram Experiment, conducted by Stanley Milgram in the 50’s explored the extent to which subjects would administer ‘corrective’ electric shocks to another, supposedly wired up in the next room, if they got answers wrong to simple questions. Of course it was rigged but the one admininistering the shocks didn’t know this.

What they found was that 65% of the white male test subjects would administer maximum voltage, despite pleas and screams, if simply and persistently persuaded to do so by an authoratative man in a white coat.

Test subjects even continued to deliver the shocks after the begging from next door had died away….

synopsis of the Milgram experiment

the full film of the Milgram experiment.


What Milgram discovered, to his own surprise, was the hidden suggestibility, the poverty of empathy, that can exist when you combine a latent willingness to submit to authority and be free of the burden of life’s responsibilities for an afternoon, with the invitation to wield a little power yourself.

And all it takes is to be ‘selected’  from others who are not selected. To be spoken to seriously in a scientific place with switches and dials by someone standing over you in a uniform.

What Milgram accidently discovered was the tide of ‘pathological entitlement’ that runs through Western Civilisation, the feeling of being owed, of being  inherently priviledged with right which easily overides secondary considerations like other folk.

The ‘Monument’ in my apartheid Alma Mater was inscribed, ‘That Might Have Right and Have it More Abundantly.’

‘Ave it., boys, ‘ave it! You know what you want! You shining lads, you lusty Sons of the Nation…

What makes a pavement psychopath, makes him different from those he rubs shoulders with in the metro, is not that he dreams of power, but that he feels it is his denied right. This subliminal grievance, coupled with the sudden recognition of his god-appointed wonderfulness..

after all this time..

makes men into putty. Moments before their entire loss of soul you will find them muttering, ‘finally!’

So the great danger is not the powerful dictator. Its the sum total weight in our collective consciousness that wants to be important for a day.

Not in my Name.

War is funded by those who profit, not only from the sale of arms, but from the new opportunities that emerge as a result of war; contracts for re-building, user-friendly puppet governments, aid packages with lots of small print and..


Of course, you can’t go to the public and say, ‘ look here, bit delicate, we need to mug someone, smear his name and beat hell out of him for his lunch money.’ It doesn’t have quite the right ring to it.

Its… uncivilised.

Fortunately, the profiteers have the advantage that we are easily lied to. The collective delusional belief in our superiority leaks over into the fantasy of what great judges of character we are. We can’t be fooled. No Sir! You have to get up pr’itttty early in the morning to put one past John Bull.

We believe politicians only tweak the truth. We pick our news channels according to what we want to hear. We are not informed by the media, we are vindicated by it. Whether it is real or not is garnish to the main course, which is that we are confirmed in our opinions.

This leads to some peculiar exchanges, chillingly demonstrated in a discussion I recently followed between a Syrian and several western commentators who spent their entire time, not enquiring, not wanting to know, but denying that he could possibly know what was happening despite the fact that he was there, on the ground, in his own country.

It turns out we have been told a terrible lie….

A recent press conference at the UN of the US Peace Council (9/8/16) said unanimously that the war in Syria is not a Civil war at all and that there is no grounds whatsoever for interfering in the sovereign affairs of a democratic country.

Just as there were never any Weapons of Mass Destruction in the time of Saddam, so too, are there no chemical weapons attrocities in Syria. It was a lie, a pretext for invasion. Why change your gambit when it has proved so successful under similar circumstances that, even when the lie is out, no-one is made to pay for it?

What has been sold to us as ‘regime change on humanitarian grounds’ is actually the unlawful invasion of a sovereign nation by gangs of armed mobsters including yours truly. The Council, independent observers from many walks of life, say that ‘Islamisation’ is low on the list of insurgent priorities. Its a land grab and we Westerners have both our hands stuffed in the pie.


Just prior to Assad’s supposed attrocities, crimes sufficient to warrant the removal of a democratically elected Head of State, a Saudi/Turkish/Quatar delegation approached him about building a pipeline from the ‘South Pars’ natural gas fields, largest in the world, across Syria to serve the wealthy European market. Assad said no, prefering a deal with Iran.

The Saudis were very miffed and sought out their Western client’s help to topple him, help they were only to pleased to give.

Its not about preventing atrocities, or ‘barrel bombs’, or Islamisation, its about 51 billion cubic metres of natural gas.

We’re gullible. I’m gullible. Somewhere in Faraway land there is a wicked monster and we, the noble and virtuous, must go and save the people from it. But actually, we are the monster. And not just because we would slander some moderate nation to the point of justifying their pillage but because we’re doing it with the help of those we parade at home as our mortal enemies. Its a collective form of selling your soul to the devil.

Syria is the National equivalent of Standing Rock. No pipeline without our consent. Media silence about it is pepper spray.

Being ontologically split, being able to deceive and oppress for the others well being, is the collective adult expression of early cultural damage, of a rooting snout into the sacred space of mother/infant relations where we learn from touch and kinesthetic apperception how to be, what is right, how others are to be treated.

Erosion of the Principle of Relatedness, the embargo on touch, on intimacy, on holding, takes its toll not just on our feelings but on our values. That’s how come its so easy to be given a big stick and go crush others for their own good. The wound is overlain with a compensatory  vision of almost sublime identification with the Motherland instead. Not to mention promotion from citizen to patriot.

These Unheld go through life saddled with a chronic, unfulfilled yearning to belong. This yearning is so great, the need to be contained so strong, that we will often set aside our own instinctual selves, which can smell a rat and know what’s what, in order to acheive it. Its a kind of abdication of oneself, wanting to believe more than wanting to know. Needing to belong more than to become.

We white folks are poor judges of character. Centuries of thinking we already know the answer and are somehow at the peak of Darwin’s tree has made us soft, easy to manipulate, bereft of the knowing that might come from the hair on the back of your neck.

St Augustine was once asked,’ how can you tell saint from devil since one often comes as the other?’ he answered, ‘by the taste in the back of your mouth.’ But what if we have renounced such self-knowledge out of the unmet need to be belong to something that requires nothing of us?

This split from our own instinctual selves cuts us off from our gut feeling about what we’re told and what kind of people it is that are doing the tell. So we take candy off anyone and accept rides from strangers.

When I became part of ‘special’ forces, protecting ‘our way of life,’ it quickly became apparent to me that I was simply suppressing the local people whilst corporations ripped off the land. I was disgusted and had to buy my way out.

The Syrians are a bit more civilised. They even have a Ministry of Reconciliation, headed by Dr. Ali Haidar whose own son was killed in the fighting, facilitating the process of combatants changing their mind and laying down their arms.

Its the kind of cultural sophistication matched only by Nelson Mandela in recent times and yet Assad is portayed by the Western Media as a monster.

Of course our bombing of democracies has an infamous precedent so we should hardly be suprised and yet our incredulity at their wickedness is precisely what mass deception relies upon. In Feb 2015, a delegation of the American and Architects and Engineering Association met in Stockholm to present irrefutable evidence, signed by twelve hundred of their memebers, that 9/11 was an inside job.

Its almost inconceivable that a government could bomb its own people, let alone the democratic people of Syria. Yet perhaps once you’ve crossed that line everything is fair game which is, perhaps, the real object of the exercise.

Not to mention the opportunity to immediatly project what has been done on someone else and then go to war with them, something a perpertrator is compelled to do in order to suppress his own conscience.