Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Occupy Wall Street and Soul-making

The late Psychiatrist, James Hillman, writes about the Greek myth of Puer Aeternus (the Eternal Youth). Hillman suggests that a psyche stuck in the mode of "staying forever young," and free from the burden of having to grow up and face failures, responsibilities, aging and death--refuses to self-reflect and learn from the inevitable shortcomings of youth.

Perhaps this observation contains one explanation of the Occupy Wall Street phenomenon. The puer aeternus is characterized by excessive "openness" which is really the inability to stop whining and do some personal soul-searching, disguising childishness as "truth telling" and "justice" as a cry to be taken care of by mommy or daddy.

The puer aeternus is obsessed with a need for praise and validation from the outside world. Forty-six year old Charlie Sheen is the poster-child for this Western psychic pandemic: someone who "acts or speaks without thinking, lacks the reflection needed to avoid repeating past mistakes, has unrealistic expectations about his or her own capabilities, and has difficulty in establishing or sustaining deep and lasting relationships. Instead of turning inward and going deeper into one’s own emotional soul-life, the puer aeternus spontaneously and continually turns outward, looking for praise and meaning from others and the outside world."

Perhaps the OWS, in part, reveals a festering psychic symptom of a culture refusing to grow up and take personal responsibility--looking for wealthy corporate daddies and political mommies to kiss their owies and make it
all better.

Not the complete truth, but a point of view.

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