In her article Bonnie Bright refers to contemporary „Age of Trauma” – massive disconnection from nature and cultural roots caused among other by industrialization and violation on ecosystem. Basing among others on the Kalsched’s theory of archetypal defenses, Bernstein’s theory of Borderland and the case of U’wa tribe from Columbia Bonnie Bright adds an important voice to discussions that consider trauma, culture and environment.
From the article:
The Western notion of individuality maintains that we are separate individuals experiencing something unique to each of us and others are disconnected from our experience. However, it is likely that in many cases, we have simply bracketed out the “outside,”—the collective memory of traumatic events that has accumulated over generations. Presumably, others with whom we have relationships are also experiencing the same trauma but it is unconscious, marginalized, silenced, and therefore invisible. (…)
Even decades ago, Jung pointed out that our collective culture mirrors an individual who is suffering deeply from soul loss, manifesting in symptoms such as falling into conflict with himself, fragmenting into splinters in his pursuit of goals, interests, and occupations, and forgetting his own “origins and traditions…even losing all memory of his former self” (Jung, as cited in Sabini, 2005, p. 182). Disregard, numbing, or not wishing to see or feel the distress and negative effects that soul loss brings also moves us ever further away from deep connection an into a society where meaning is hard to find, compelling us try anything to fill up the gaping sense of emptiness that results, staving off the fear of annihilation that is core to the experience of trauma. Jung correctly diagnosed our compulsive, cultural tendency toward hyperactivity, saying, “we rush impetuously into novelty, driven by a mounting sense of insufficiency, dissatisfaction, and restlessness” (as cited in Sabini, 2005, p. 141). (…)
Ostensibly, western culture is founded on displacement and disconnection from place, from land, from home. The New World is built on immigration, on people leaving home to make a new place for themselves in the world, and on colonization, the displacement of indigenous people for whom the new land was already home. Craig Chalquist (2009) points out that America is built on the archetype of the pioneer, always moving, conquering frontiers and the threats that accompany them—always designated as “the other”. Though sacred sites connected to earth and place along with the spirits and ancestors who dwell there have always deeply situated indigenous peoples, those of us whose living ancestors migrated to this place have no such history, no living landscapes. It is no wonder why we easily devastate ecosystems, deforest mountains, or destroy bodies of water. We are not, for the most part, deeply tied to home, nor to the holding context the landscape provides. We don’t know the myths nor do we engage with the spirits that live in the landscape. We don’t listen in through our dreams or our moods when in specific areas.
Bonnie Bright, Ph.D. is the principle and and founder of Depth Insights, Depth Psychology Alliance, and Depth Psychology List. She holds M.A. degrees in Psychology from Sonoma State University and in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA.
Bonnie’s work has appeared in Towards Beginnings: Images of End (The Journal of Archetypal Studies, 2012), the 2012 anthology Occupy Psyche: Jungian Perspectives on a Movement, the Jung Journal Spring 2012 issue, and the 2010 anthology, Rebearths: Conversations with a World Ensouled, published by World Soul Books. She presented at the 2012 annual Assisi Institute Conference n Assisi, Italy and at JSSS (The Jungian Society for Scholarly Studies) in New Orleans in 2012, the „Aesthetic Nature of Change” International Conference hosted by the Institute for Cultural Change in Ojai, CA, and „Conversations with a World Ensouled” at CIIS (California Institute for Integral Studies) in San Francisco and JFK University in Pleasant Hill, CA in 2011.
Bonnie frequently hosts an online radio show/podcast, „Depth Insights” where she and her guests take a depth psychological look at news, events, and phenomena in today’s world, and is the Executive Editor of the semi-annual Depth Insights scholarly e-zine.