What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?
What is the relationship between collective and individual
What is your personal experience of collective
wisdom in groups?
I am convinced that the collective is a wholeness analogous
to individual wholeness which contains wisdom based on experience, reflection,
dynamics, composition etc. I work all the time with trying to help groups
find their own special bits of wisdom which often, particularly at first
levels of reflection, means helping collectives not to spend all their
time scapegoating aspects of themselves and others when they come upon
difficult issues. There is a level beyond scapegoating but it’s
hard to get to without a great deal of reflective work at a group level.
I have been writing in this field for many years--my book, Up From Scapegoating
talks directly to this. Some of my recent work in South America with
sexism, Appalachian areas with classism and particularly in South Africa
with post apartheid problems stretch the boundaries of getting beyond
the scapegoating issues for real. Much of that is talked about in my
book and a recent paper Collective Consciousness and the Psychology
of Human Interconnectedness Group vol 24 nos 2/3 2000.
What is it about the work in this field that excites
you and connects you to your own deepest self?
I feel that I am part of the collective so work in this
area is always working on myself. In many ways joining with the collective
is joining with the unknown in myself which makes this work so important
Please provide a brief storyline or snapshot of
what brought you to this work.
I went to a Tavistock workshop, a type of group self
analysis when I was a physician in the Vietnam War. The Army is so much
about groups and acts as a particularly kind of scapegoat for the rest
of the society. Seeing how that worked was revelatory. It brought into
perspective so much about roles in family which constructed so much
of my reality. David Rioch, one of the most influential voices in psychology
and psychiatry the last half of the 20th century is certainly the major
mentor that comes to mind. He dealt with both the mystical and the pragmatic--a
consultant to government at the highest level and someone I worked with
during my time at Walter Read as a kind of grandson. I took a minor
part in planning his trip to see General Westmoreland, a powerful and
secret effort by many in the government and the Pentagon to try to stop
the planned change from consulting to South Vietnam to fighting--that
it failed despite his wisdom and the collective wisdom of the group
he represented was one of the critical points in my career. There are
stronger forces than wisdom in our species. It takes work to maintain
a modicum of wisdom and a great deal of sacrifice. What a lesson.!!
How would you like to be available to others in
Besides my work as a Jungian analyst, I work as a consultant
to groups and individuals working with groups whenever she, he or they
want me. I've consulted all over the world trying to help groups find
a deeper level within their collective. Most of the time I'm not as
successful as I imagine I can be. Sometimes there's growth and new wisdom.
Those are the moments I treasure
Links to this site or others:
Seed Paper: The Dark Ecstatic
and Collective Wisdom