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The Wounded Cultural Psyche

When I was a kid growing up in the 60s music was an outlet for enlightenment, frustration or rebellion. It was more about individualism. Today it’s just like a big business.

Joey Ramone


So, the New Year begins and like everybody else I am wondering if indeed I will be able to do more of the things I love.

One of those things being travel, I adore travelling. It is an education in itself. Each country I have visited has fascinated me with its history and how the history has been intrinsic to the cultural flavour of each place. Built into that culture one can see the attempts for a utopian society but also there are the remnants of dystopia. This can create a melange of heady individual nationalism and a morbid fear of the predator. The predator being the catalyst for growth and evolution; but that is not what this piece is about.

Over the years I have learnt to trust Spirit; I go where I am sent.

In these places I have noticed a wound in the cultural psyche. This often stems from war, hardship or political decisions that have gone wrong. This wound is carried forward into each generation. All wounds must heal and as lightworkers we can find ourselves on the forefront of encouraging the healing of the wound and inspiring enlightenment in the individual.

There is a sense that a cycle must be broken, the mirror of yesteryear must shatter and a new dialogue emerge in order for a society to evolve.

People are much more informed these days. In general, folks have political and social savvy no matter how meagre. As a result cultures are becoming under pressure to maintain their identity. This questioning of identity shifts things about. Society experiences inconsistency and vulnerability both as a collective and as individuals. Psychocentrism and therapy culture is formed (Hierophant).

Current affairs in the UK and America are interesting right now.

I find myself asking how is it that we have Trump in power in the United States? This is an important question to ask from someone who works in the Therapy culture. We get the society we deserve; could it be that the advocates and executors of self-help, personal discovery, spiritual and social enlightenment, energy healing et al have inadvertently created a Frankenstein?

Could it be that by healing an old wound, a new one has opened and isn’t that the nature of woundology?

Are we attracted to the wound like a moth to a light? Are we experiencing a social Darwinism and purporting the survival of the fittest, if so, in what capacity?

The Therapy industry, which is indeed an industry and in the UK alone is worth around 60 million pounds per year, with its spiritual paraphernalia has supported individualism. Politically this spells Neo liberalism. Whatever your political persuasion, Neo liberalism is never far away. Laissez faire economic liberalism is not just for one party.

At the heart of Neo liberalism is the tenet that society should be shaped by the free hand, liberty and equality through the free market (Fool). Free enterprise and competition. Whilst success is founded on the division of labour, this enhances the success of the entrepreneur. This raises the question of what happens to those that do not have entrepreneurial skills? Does Therapy culture support them or can self-enterprise be taught? (Page of Pentacles).

At this point it is worth remembering that spiritual, social and political are all part of the same family…the human condition.

The cultural level of the psyche exists in both the conscious and unconscious. It is all about self. That is what it all boils down to. How we perceive the world based on prima materia of self.

We can see the identity of cultures in two ways. People from an individualistic culture (eg. America, Magician), demonstrate an independent view of the self and is about personal achievement. Collectivist culture (eg. India, 10 of Pentacles), focus on the group and the interdependent view of self.

When a culture explores global issues it deploys a cultural empathy, using one’s own culture to understand that of another (Lovers). The same could be said of how we individually experience and express the world (World).

However, we run the risk of ragged individualism, and could reinforce poor social conditions. Individualism means that we have to be able to utilise the tools of psychological self-regulation of the human potential, this in turn breeds an alternative view of self which can receive a kind of spectacle or sense of ostracisation.

Groups and circles sprang up to address the issues for people who felt they were living in the margins, tackling internalised oppression, at the same time mass activism waned and self-help books flourished.

Therapy culture had its foibles.

A less attractive aspect is the de-politicisation of empathy and relativity towards cultural and embodied distress. This heightened idea around structural causes of inequalities and the administration of power got in the way of the development of brand me.

Everyday psychology and therapies have served the Neo liberal ideology very well. Encouraging individuals to be responsible for their own autonomy and behaviour. CBT, for example, provided a window to view personality traits which did not fit with the free market, material environments and belief systems, did this amplify or negate mental stress, poverty or hopelessness?

We live in a world that pushes us ever deeper into isolation and discrimination.

This is fuelled by a media that shapes our inner landscape thus reproducing the phenomena in the exoteric. Therapy culture provides a helpful solution to the problem, it begs the question: are therapists and coaches and consultants actually exponents of the self or are they marionettes of the media and political circus? (3 of Swords).

How conscious are we of the drive to ‘help’ others, which, frankly, is never a good idea!

It could be true to say that therapists are the great enablers of Neo liberalism. All the while we were thinking that we are empowering and enabling the individual, when in fact we were creating comfort zones to abide in a cultural norm. We became the Hierophant, a new style of dogma is once more the soma for the masses, not only that but it puts people like Trump in power and keeps them there (7 of Pentacles).

Psychocentrism operates within the parameters of change; we are witnessing a call for change. This could be the natural order of things yet there are many mixed messages to contend with, as a collective to find strength but the individual, or at least the individual that can operate in a free market is the likeliest to succeed. Trump and others like him are there because he represents something deep within that has percolated to the surface to find expression.

Self made man is all very well, as is the utilitarian view of serving the greater good but the individual has to see that this operates on many levels. Homogeny dictates the two, self and greater good, us and them, will not entwine. A new kind of hero is born.

I think that there is a need for the radicalisation of therapy goals.

Attention must be paid to the fact that therapy does not create new paradigms but merely sustains the status quo. When we talk about ‘living the dream’, whose dream are we referring to?

Good therapy revitalises the tools we are given to thrive and strive and to live the life we were born to. This is not a new concept, but there is room for change. Perhaps anarchy is called for but this anarchy has to start within. Change can’t happen from the outside, it has to emerge from the spirit.

Art and the counterculture will offer moments for reflection.

Great art emerges from the angry and marginalised, the artist carries the actual wound of the cultural psyche. Public art and self-empowerment balance out the opposing factors. Will therapies, like art, redeem itself by becoming the activist?

At this time it is perhaps prudent to see Brand me as an illusion, our focus might be Brand us. Personal achievement is collective achievement.

We are here to do the great work. It is not about who is right but what is right. As our calling gets stronger, so must our awareness, when we hold the energy for another, it must be our finest work of art (Temperance).
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