… problems have a curious characteristic not yet adequately appreciated: they predict the future.

Rollo May, M.D., in Love and Will

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When I look around culture, I often wonder why it is that we do not take advantage of analytical psychiatry to detect what precisely is going on, what – for example – particular salient problems tell us about the condition of the human person and the culture he or she lives in.

I was once again struck by this in the very first chapter of May’s Love and Will.

In that chapter May, an analytical psychiatrist, discusses how the problems of patients reflect the problems of cultures at any given time, and he sees a manifestation of those individual problems in group behavior.  For example, when people witness a murderous assault on a vulnerable young women, but fail to intervene, May examines apathy and the apparent distance that allows a person to observe a murder but do nothing in response.

Likewise, Dr. May is interested in what in culture gives rise to this inertia.

In examining this issue, May discusses in Chapter One how people feel “affectless” as to their place in this life – they feel that they are powerless to affect any significant impact in their life and their surroundings.

He discussed, as a consequence, how this estrangement can manifest itself in aloofness, “cool,” withdrawal from feeling, indifference, depersonalization.

In his discourse, I would not help but think of the “coolness” and aloofness of Barack Obama.  He: a man from a broken and disordered nuclear family, raised by a grandmother, deserted by a bigamous, alcoholic father.  These circumstances: whereby parental warmth and presence was non-existent have got to be significant in a person’s primary footprint.

Imagine the deeds that a leader who has been unloved and unaccepted might be capable of.  Imagine the indifference to others that this might well foster.  The implicit anger that might well be housed in one such as this.  Think for a moment of such a biography repeated many times over in culture – and the consequences that this might well produce.  Hardly the profile for leadership, or for a healthy culture.

Without analytical psychiatry we do not see clearly and we can hardly trust others to tell us what is actually right in front of us.

Finally, most public voices have no clue as to what we face now each day – let alone the origin of the sickness so clearly evident.

Shalom.

By the way – How about the wizard who is charged with starting the Atlanta interstate highway fire this past week?  Arrested 19 prior times for drug dealing, assault and other offenses.  19 times and out on the street.  Tough on crime? Who is kidding whom?

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