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Arthur Colman
412 Napa St.
Sausalito, California 94965, USA

415-332-5627 voice
415-331-3734 fax


What is an underlying question that gives form to your work or interest in this field?

What is the relationship between collective and individual phenomena?

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 and meaningful.

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 this field?

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

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