By Rashma Imhasly-Gandhy June 2002In times of peace archetypes lie latent, like a volcano. When violence breaks out they are activated and devour anything that comes their way. The author, a psychotherapist, was forced to reflect on humanity's darker side by the events in Gujarat. Anthony Storr, in his book, Human Aggression (1968), says: 'The sombre fact is that we are the cruellest and most ruthless species that has ever walked this earth; and that, although we may recoil in horror when we read in the newspapers or history books of the atrocities committed by man upon man, we know in our hearts that each one of us harbours within himself those same savage impulses which lead to murder, to torture and to war.' The fact that we as human beings are blamed for our 'animal nature' for perpetuating such heinous crimes is a misplaced statement, for animals would not in their wildest moments conceive of the crimes that we humans have committed and continue to commit. Consider the 15,000 Bulgarian captives when Basil the II had them all blinded in 1014; boiling Turkish children alive as did the 12th century Greeks; sending six million Jews to the gas chambers during the Nazi regime; burning train bogies; killing, looting and burning a minority community. The propensity for perpetuating such horrendous acts is dormant in every one of us. It is the ego that controls and keeps the 'animal' in us locked away in what the psychologist Jung termed the 'shadow'. In psychology we recognize 'shadow' in dreams as the 'shady dark character; the inferior creature', the kind of person I can never acknowledge being. Integration of the Shadow-acknowledging the devil within and coming to terms with one's own evil-is the first and most important stage of conscious evolution Aggression is an unavoidable fact of human life. Territorial rights demand the use of aggression. Without being taught the 'first come, first served' principle, it is an inherent trait. Consider walking into a train compartment, do we not automatically recognize the territorial rights by asking the person already there: ''Is this seat still free?'' Animals too mark their territory. He who occupies the territory first sets the order that is followed. Holding on to territory demands the use of aggression, boundary markers and fencing follow. The need for security leads to the formation of social grouping; surrounded by one's 'socially accepted group' one feels more secure. Xenophobia too is an instinctual, innate propensity. A child does not dare to go into the hands of the unfamiliar person; it is reluctant to venture out of its 'known' territory. The existence of territorially linked social groups is the essential condition for warfare. Sir Arthur Keith, in his book, Essays on Human Evolution (1946) says that 'the conditions that give rise to war-the separation of animals into social groups, the 'right' of each group to its area, and the evolution of an enmity complex to defend such areas-were on earth long before man made his appearance'. Andreski, in his book, The Origins of War (1964) expounds the theory that evolutional advance disturbs ecological balance. Populations rise and so does the competition for resources-that is where mutual killing started. Wars between humans have not only been about territories, resources, and succession, but also about ideologies-religious and other. Ideological warfare makes man rigid about ideals. History has proven that they turn out to be the most bitter and protracted of all conflicts. Durbin and Bowlby, in their book, Personal Aggressiveness and War (1938) say men will 'die like flies for theories and exterminate each other with every instrument of destruction for abstractions'. The sinister truth for groups to thrive is that we need the enemy just as much as we need friends. Why is this so? The external threat to a group eradicates interpersonal in-house differences that bond the group against the external enemy. It provides the glue for a community to hold together. When there are no external enemies, tribes are known to turn against each other. The countries most prone to internal rioting are those that are least inclined to international territorial gains: Africa, Latin America, Indonesia and the Indian sub-continent. On the other hand, if we look at the more peace-loving communities like the Tibetans, for instance, they have been forced to migrate. Is it any wonder that the prospering nations need to have an enemy to project their shadow. The enmity is used to create divisions. The reasons are twofold: it creates patriotism-love for one's own land and people-and it channels the negative emotions onto the 'enemy', and at the same time it allows the war industry to prosper. Shadow projection is used as a mechanism to turn the 'other' community into the devil. It is the systematic use of indoctrination of the 'them' vs. 'us'. The difficulty with this methodology is to be able to contain the polarity. The balance is precarious and it does not need much for violence to break out. Social prejudices become politicized, they move from one impasse to another. All political controls give way when the floodgates of violence break out. Individuals get caught in the archetypes; archetypes are instinctive drives that repeat themselves. In times of peace they lie latent, like a volcano. When violence breaks out they are activated and devour anything that comes their way. Archetypes are highly contagious, they trigger our own patterns of being betrayed while we go on betraying; the ring of hate and revenge alternates. Man does to others what is done to him; he is forced to take sides. 'You are either with us or against us.' The Nuremberg trials made the Germans aware of what had possessed them: there was an almost virtual collapse in the authority of the personal father. The psychologist Alexander Mitscherlich, in his book, Society Without the Father (1969) says that when there is a lack of the personal father 'it exposes us collectively to the ills of alienation, social and personal irresponsibility, neurotic anxiety and uncontrolled aggression. In the absence of direct paternal instruction, individuals orient themselves by reference to each other, thus giving the peer group its contemporary significance, with its concomitant infantilism of envy, rivalry, and trendy 'other-directedness''. When the weak personal father is replaced by the weak 'collective father figures'-national leaders who abdicate their responsibility to punish undisciplined elements-anarchy rules. It perpetuates the recurrence of mob violence. Man then easily falls prey to the archetypes: civilization has not managed to domesticate the fury of the slumbering primeval beast when awakened. As a matter of fact, leaders are well known to use factionalism for their political games. The psychologist Carl Jung warns that all mass movements need to be treated with a lot of suspicion. He explains that the total psyche of the group is below the level of the individual psyche. It inevitably sinks to the level of mob psychology. A so-called collective experience as a member of a group, takes place on a lower level of consciousness than if one had the experience alone. In a crowd, one becomes a victim of suggestibility. Masses on the other hand can have positive effects too, if the group energy is channeled in the right direction; it encourages individuals into performing heroic tasks, human solidarity being one of the greater examples. But masses have the sinister side too. If a proposal is backed by the entire crowd, one is all for it, even if the proposal is immoral. We may ask ourselves why this is so? In a crowd one feels no responsibility but also no fear. It does work a change but it does not last. As soon as one is removed from the crowd one is unable to create the previous state of mind. It is because the mass is swayed by what is called 'participation mystique'-there is no differentiation between subject and object. The mind cannot step away from the ego; it is merged with the collective reality. This is the reason why mass movements are breeding grounds for psychic epidemics. Altruism to the kith and kin removes the guilt, and the personal sense of responsibility is redefined concurrent with the morality of the group. Is silence considered a crime, we may ask ourselves if we do not speak up for what we think is morally right. Are we aiding and abetting and allowing the atrocities to continue? Why was the majority
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