Authoritarianism and the Escape from Freedom

Authoritarianism and the Escape from Freedom

In the case of freedom that is found after political revolution, these archetypes, on the positive side, might involve images of the great warrior or martyr. The images associated with these archetypes might interplay with images of nature and birth rights evoked by even more primitive archetypes of the sacred mother or images of kingdom and progeny evoked by an archetype of the all-powerful father. These archetypes might instead (or in addition) evoke images of a new utopia—a paradise on earth.

There are negative archetypes, residing in the shadow domain of our unconscious, that can be potentiated by politically activated freedom. The archetype of chaos is readily activated—and it evokes images of the inundating flood—leading to massive destruction. The complementary archetype of Satan evokes images of powerful evil forces that are sweeping in to fill the void (chaos) and take command—leading to Armageddon. These compelling positive and negative images swirl around one another, creating a confusing and ultimately quite frightening intra-psychic storm.

The Psychic Storm

What does this psychic storm look life? We can get some sense of the storm’s nature by looking at its more benevolent manifestation. Jung (and Otto) would suggest that the storm takes place when we are transported to another domain of experience while listening to a Bach mass or an opera by Mozart or Puccini (depending on our “taste,” i.e. amenability). This type of psychic storm is a numinous-inducing experience. We view a miracle, in the form of a newborn child or the recovery of a loved one from a life-threatening disease. This leads us to a sense of the numinous.

The storm can be quite horrifying—yet still somehow enthralling. Horrible and dreadful images and pictures of gods in primitive cultures continue to attract us—think of the superhero movies that populate our movie theaters and cable channels. These competing images lead us to feelings of profound admiration or profound disgust—often both. This is the perfect psychic storm. Somehow, a power from outside time or space seems to intervene and lead us to an experience that penetrates and changes our inner psyche. And we don’t know how this happens. It is beyond our control or true comprehension.


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About the Author

William BergquistWilliam Bergquist, Ph.D. An international coach and consultant in the fields of psychology, management and public administration, author of more than 50 books, and president of a psychology institute. Dr. Bergquist consults on and writes about personal, group, organizational and societal transitions and transformations. His published work ranges from the personal transitions of men and women in their 50s and the struggles of men and women in recovering from strokes to the experiences of freedom among the men and women of Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In recent years, Bergquist has focused on the processes of organizational coaching. He is coauthor with Agnes Mura of coachbook, co-founder of the International Journal of Coaching in Organizations and co-founder of the International Consortium for Coaching in Organizations.

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