Summary of Meeting the Shadow by Connie Zweig and Jeremiah Abrams

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  • Post last modified:October 11, 2023

Part 8: Enemy-Making: Us and Them in the Body Politic


We thrive thanks to enemies. If we don’t have any, we will make some because enemies fulfill the vital function of the scapegoat. This is why they often resemble our shadow – hence ourselves,

Scapegoating is critical in that it enables redemption. All wars are holy wars for a reason, and the most imaginable evil was carried out in the name of the good.

We wouldn’t have to struggle with an enemy if we owned our collective shadow.

Chapter 41: The Enemy Maker by Sam Keen

We create the enemies before creating the weapon we will use to fight them. Conservatives believe these weapons will scare them into civility. Progressists think they will become our friends if we get rid of our weapons.

None understand that they’re enemies because we see them this way.

We are driven to fabricate an enemy as a scapegoat to bear the burden of our denied enmity.

We project a target from our unconscious residue of hostility. Then we engage in wars, not to kill our enemies, but to kill these shadow parts of ourselves -> we need to change how we think about our enemies and ourselves.

We need to stop manufacturing all of the propaganda that justifies warfare.

Depth psychology has presented us with the undeniable wisdom that the enemy is constructed from denied aspects of the self.

Love your enemy as yourself means “love your enemy within.”

We do, in fact, love or hate our enemies to the same degree that we love or hate ourselves.

How we think about war is a matter of individual and collective psyche as both shape each other.

When we project our shadow, we dehumanize the enemy and blind ourselves to what we are doing. The process of embedding normal people into a hate cycle is called consensual paranoia. Paranoiac people escape guilt and responsibility with blame (aka scapegoating).

The first thing is to stop doing that and bring awareness to our enemy-making (and scapegoating) activity.

Chapter 42: Us and Them by Fran Peavey (With Myrna Levy and Charles Varon)

We always unconsciously do things that we blame people we don’t like for doing.

Chapter 43: The Chauvinist Mind by Susan Griffin

The chauvinist mind is the mind who believes that “human” means white men.

Chapter 44: America’s Outsiders by Audre Lorde

The oppressed are expected to explain to the oppressors about their own humanity.

Chapter 45: The U.S.-Soviet Mirror by Jerome S. Bernstein

The archetype of power, the scapegoat, and the shadow have been the most dangerous in USA-Soviet relations.

Both the US and the Soviets had shadow power ambitions that didn’t fit their ideology, so they projected these ambitions onto each other.

Projection and shadow depend on domestic policy. When officials lie about something they did abroad, they don’t lie for people abroad, but for those back home. If the US hadn’t lied about its multiple foreign interventions and their purpose, a part of its shadow would have been redeemed.

Chapter 46: Doubling and the Nazi Doctors by Robert Jay Lifton

The mechanism thanks to which Nazi doctors came to do the work of Auschwitz is called doubling: the division of the self into two functioning wholes, so that a part-self acts as an entire self.

Doubling involves five characteristics:

  1. A dialectic (negotiation between two opposing forces) between two selves.
  2. Doubling follows a holistic principle: the Auschwitz self succeeded because it could connect to the environment.
  3. Life-death dimension: the Auschwitz self was a way to survive.
  4. The avoidance of guilt
  5. Involves an unconscious dimension and a change in moral consciousness.

The conscience was transferred to the Auschwitz self which operated within the Auschwitz parameters.

Doubling is the psychological means by which one invokes the evil potential of the self.

Chapter 47: Why Psychopaths Do Not Rule the World by Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig

Aggression is the desire to advance oneself without necessarily doing harm to others. Aggression in normal people contains a certain dose of ethics. It’s something that people are born more or less with.

Psychopaths on the other hand use aggression to dominate and advance their own selfish goals.

Even the murderous and suicidal intentions we have deep in the shadow don’t have much to do with psychopathy.

The murderous and suicidal aspects of the shadow are important because they’re responsible for creativity.

Creative people possess profound destructive sides (in the shadow) and uniting sides (Eros) which when combined, form the creative. An absence of Eros would be terrible. That’s what the psychopath is: he surrenders to his shadow, or to Eros, but does not benefit from a balance of the two.

Psychopaths look very much like our shadows, so we hate them (when we don’t pity them).

The reason why they don’t rule the world today is that the top politicians don’t have enough power to attract psychopaths.

Chapter 48: Who Are the Criminals? By Jerry Fjerkenstad

We reject criminals and like to see ourselves as different from who they are. We believe that a world without criminals would automatically make it much better. But we forget that criminals sell us stuff (drugs, sex, etc) that we also desire.

The good road is not the road where we behave well. The good road is the Via Negativa, the wrong road, that is, the road where we know our darkness, the road of truth.

The only difference between the criminals and us, is that we don’t get caught. But we need some prison (aka transformational) time as much as they do. While their transformation consists of feeling empathy for the victim, ours consist of being aware of the criminal inside us. That’s the path to wholeness.

This explains why we’re fascinated by their personality (Aure’s Notes: true crime podcasts, etc) which we don’t want to admit to ourselves.

The desire to eliminate crime is really a desire to eliminate soul, imperfection, and the need for grace. It is an effort to create a world taken over by consultants, behaviorists, management consultants, and public relations people.

We need crooks in order to have someone to get caught other than ourselves.

We consider the Aztecs primitive for sacrificing a human being now and again to please their gods. We soothe our consciences by closing our eyes to the people we throw from the cliffs, the criminals we destroy, the third worlds we sacrifice to our prosperity, the future generations we sacrifice in order to have all the consumer goods we lust after.

Chapter 49: Devils on the Freeway by James Yandell

It is the good majority that leaves space for the criminal minority to commit their sinister deeds.

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