IT’S A VERY DARK ELECTION BECAUSE . . . PART 3

This article, also, written in response to the US Election cycle,
is not only about the US. It is about all of us… all over the world.

After the election …
we will still not be responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
After the election …
we will still be just as responsible for healing those wounds as we are now,
maybe even moreso.
After the election …
we will be just as responsible and accountable for the damage we do,
including any damage we have done through the election cycle.

The election is not far away, and there is so much more we need to learn about what is in our unconscious selves and about how we act that out in our world … starting with how we act it out in our elections.

Do you know what transference is? Today I’m going to teach you about transference … and how alive it is within our unconscious. Our unconscious individually, nationally, and globally.

Transference is a word that comes out of the world of psychology. When working with a therapist, a client, among other things, explores their transference onto the therapist. But transference doesn’t exist only in the therapy room. It exists in our relationships with other people, too, every day, day in and day out. We experience transference with our partners, friends, colleagues, bosses, employees, our doctors, our clergy, our other leaders – spiritual, economic, governmental, political, healthcare and more.

What is transference?
When we transfer onto the current time, situation, people, and things the thoughts, feelings, attitudes, perceptions, and experiences we had in the past – in our childhood – particularly with authority figures like mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, big brother, big sister, the babysitter, etc. … we are in transference.

We all experience transference more than we know, more than we can even imagine. It’s something that occurs unconsciously. And even when someone helps us identify and name it, we still have work to do in our unconscious selves to dissipate, heal, and resolve the transference. For it’s not something that can be resolved in our minds. It can’t be resolved just by knowing about it. It needs to be known and understood. But to be healed … it has to be healed on the level of our feelings.

I can’t tell you how many times someone I work with tells me something like, “I understand in my mind that you aren’t going to get fed up with me and leave me. I know you are committed to helping me heal to the root. But my feelings tell me you will get fed up with me.”

And I respond back to them with, “It’s good that you can make that distinction. The feelings you’re having are those that are still alive from when Mommy would yell at you saying, ‘I’m fed up with you. I’m going to my room!’ or ‘I’m fed up with you. Go to your room!’ We need to work with these feelings so you can work through them consciously, so you don’t need to transfer them onto me or anybody anymore.”

Here’s an example outside the election process … one that can easily be tied to it:

Samantha grew up in a home with two parents – mother and father – and 2 older brothers. When Samantha was 5 her parents got divorced and her father moved out of the house and to a town a few towns away from hers. She felt rejected by her dad. And, even more, abandoned.

He promised her she would see him every other weekend … but that didn’t always happen. Sometimes it was once a month. And no matter how much she saw him, it didn’t alter her feelings. She cried when he left their home. She cried when he brought her back home after spending the weekend together. Her parents tried to get her to understand her way out of her feelings; her brothers tried to tease her out of it, both so she wouldn’t cry and to hold their own deep feelings at bay.

Samantha had a number of experiences in her childhood of losing people. Her grandfather died. Her brothers went away to college. And her favorite teacher, Mr. James, got married and moved to California with his new wife. Each time, Samantha re-experienced her father’s leaving. Each time, for her it was a re-enactment of her father rejecting and abandoning her. And each time she went through it unconsciously she proved to herself that if her father didn’t want her, nobody would; and that she would always be left. She had already begun transferring her father and her experience with him onto other people – all other people – without being aware of it.

As she started to date, Samantha, without knowing it, was imagining on one level that this time he (Dad) would stay, while deep beneath her awareness she was knowing he would leave, and in unconscious ways setting it up for him to leave. She was transferring her dad’s leaving onto her dates and boyfriends already, before the relationship even really began.

Beneath her awareness, she would draw people to her who, in an uncanny way, she knew would leave. She would interact with them in ways that would cause them to leave – like pushing them away emotionally, disagreeing with them a lot, questioning them, acting cold. Or worst of all, sometimes she was just going along her innocent way loving them and thinking they loved her, when bam! They were gone. Just like Dad.

All this time, from the time her father left the house, Samantha was terrified she would lose her mother, too. She couldn’t bear that and pushed the feelings of terror down by being extra, extra careful not to do anything that would make Mom leave. She wouldn’t hold on too tight, she would try to take care of Mom just right, she wouldn’t let her mommy know she needed anything. She would just be a really good girl and do everything her mother wanted. And stay with her mother no matter what. No matter how cold Mom was. No matter how much of a wall Mom had up that held Samantha out. No matter how much Mom ignored her. No matter what her mother did.

In summary, Samantha’s painful childhood wounding and potential transference: The father who promises to be there and take care of her but leaves – who she wants more than anything or anyone in the world. The mother who is distant and cold, who she tries to take care of and stays with no matter what to keep from ending up all alone in the world without any parents at all.

So let’s take this example and apply it to the campaign. And even more in our faces, the debates.

Remember the debates? Remember Hillary and Donald on the stage together, debating? Well, transferentially … that’s like Mommy and Daddy arguing. It had the potential to trigger, unconsciously, anyone whose mother and father argued, or fought, treated each other with contempt, humiliated each other, or even downright battered each other in their childhood.

So if in the campaign and during the debates you were in transference – beneath your awareness – like many in the population … there on the stage fighting for your vote are mommy and daddy – fighting like the dickens for your vote, your loyalty, your love. And anyone who’s triggered in this campaign, who sees mommy and daddy and not the two actual candidates … will vote, not for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump but instead for mommy or daddy. And will vote, not from the adult in them, but rather from the little child still alive within them.

This will all be unconscious. But it will be what is occurring.
Do you understand? Those people will not actually be campaigning for and casting their ballots for the real live here-and-now candidates, but instead will be voting for their parent … or against one of their parents.

Let’s go back to Samantha …
In this example, Samantha might go either way, depending upon what’s triggered unconsciously in her own psyche. She might favor Donald Trump, transferring onto him the father who promises to be there and take care of her but leaves – who she wants more than anything or anyone in the world. Or she might favor Hillary Clinton, transferring onto her the mother who is distant and cold, who she tries to take care of and stays with no matter what to keep at bay even the thought of ending up all alone in the world without any parents at all.

And she would have no idea that she is favoring, and casting her vote, based on transference. Based on her parents, and not the candidates themselves at all. It would all be beneath her conscious awareness.

Perhaps that is why there was truth in the statement by Trump that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody” and his followers would stick with him. Without his even realizing it, he was speaking to the transference amongst his following.  The transference of a child onto someone, Trump, of their own father, with whom they would stick, no matter what.

Here are some other examples of transference onto the candidates …

A woman* whose mother took care of her and her family and her mentally ill father, is transferring father onto Donald Trump. With each day during Trump’s march toward melting down, this woman experienced panic beyond her comprehension.  She thought she was panicking about Trump’s meltdown. Instead she was, beneath her own awareness, regressed to 5 years old and panicking about her daddy’s impending meltdown – one of his 5 mental breakdowns during the woman’s childhood, breakdowns that sent him to the hospital for months. And from that panicked young place in her, she couldn’t see the candidates.  Certainly not Donald Trump. And not Hillary Clinton either. She could only begin to really see them once she began doing the deep feeling work with her panic as a little girl, leading up to her daddy’s breakdowns. Without doing her work, she might vote in transference for her mother and not her father … in an attempt to make sure the father/president didn’t have a breakdown.

A woman whose father lied mercilessly to get his way – with her, with her mother, and with her grandmother –  found herself in a blind rage at Donald Trump’s and Hillary Clinton’s lies. Enraged way more than any here-and-now anger about lies could be. In fact, it wasn’t all current day anger. About an inch deep of it was about today. The rest, down to the depths, was old anger from childhood at daddy’s lies … lies so obvious even a 4-year old child could tell. Now how was this woman in transference, from a 4-year old part of her, going to vote for either candidate?  Would she instead vote for Gary Johnson or Jill Stein? Would she not vote at all? And as a result, would her transference then help to give the election to one of the major candidates anyway? But not by adult choice?

I could give example after example. For now, just two more:

I could give an example of a woman whose father and brother were bullies and whose mother made her deal with the bullies all by herself. The woman, from a young place inside, would likely transfer the bullies in her childhood onto Trump, and deal with the bully by voting against him. She might also identify with Clinton’s having to deal with the bully herself.**

Or I could give an example of a man whose father was mercilessly competitive and wanted his son to be a winner. A man whose father treated him like a ‘nothing’ if he didn’t win. And celebrated him as a ‘king’ if he did win. This man, from the child still alive within himself, would likely transfer his father onto Trump and be desperate to win with Trump, meaning to vote for Trump. Just so Trump would treat him like a ‘winner’ and a ‘king.’ And he might also identify with Trump having grown up with just such a father, too.**

And all of this would be unconscious. Beneath awareness. Happening in the darkness within these people.

The same or similar processes of transference could be occurring within you … as you step day by day toward the election. This is as vital a time as ever to find out if you’re in transference with the candidates. With these specific candidates. With authority in general, applied to these specific candidates. With authority in general, applied to the government. With authority in general, applied to the President.

After all, the first President was known as “The Father of Our Country.” There’s the transference right there! And will the first woman President be known as “The Mother of Our Country”? Can you see? The transference in an election as usual is already there. The transference in this election is multiplied manifold … since not only do we have the father transference before our very eyes, but now we have the obvious mother transference right there in front of us, too!

Transference is a remarkable phenomenon for healing! For healing to the root! Transference is a way you bring something from your past, of which you are not conscious, into the light of day – awareness – so you can understand it and then heal it, not only in your mind, but also on the feeling and cellular levels.

Transference is the result of wounding from long, long ago.
After the election …
we will still not be responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
After the election …
we will still be just as responsible for healing those wounds,
including the transference,
as we are now.

We need this healing every day, before and after the election.
We need this healing in our individual lives, in our family lives, in our national lives, and in our global lives.
And …
We so need this healing in our election process right now.

Are you going to vote from the child within you …
transferring onto one of the candidates, not seeing and feeling who the candidate actually is and what the candidate will actually do for and with our country?
Or are you going to vote from the true adult within you …
at least having identified your transference and having committed to do your inner healing work – as part of you and each of us doing our inner healing work in our country and our world?

© Judith Barr, 2016

* All examples are either fictitious or offered with the permission of the person it was based on and crafted so that it is anonymous.

** To learn more, read It’s a Very Dark Election Because … Part 2 at http://judithbarr.com/2016/10/27/dark-election-part-2/.

IT’S A VERY DARK ELECTION BECAUSE . . . PART 2

This article, also, written in response to the US Election cycle,
is not only about the US. It is about all of us … all over the world.

We are not responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
We are, however, responsible for healing those wounds,
and we are responsible, and accountable, for the damage we do.

In the last post I wrote about our unconscious selves – individually and communally – being the source of the dark election and the destructiveness we are seeing in the election and in our country. I said I would talk with you about how that destructiveness within us came to be.

Our destructiveness, conscious and unconscious, comes from our wounding and trauma long ago in our life journeys. We are all somehow wounded, whether out in the open, or subtly and silently. Whether intentionally or accidentally. Whether actively or passively. Whether physically, verbally, emotionally, energetically, or spiritually. Whether in our homes or out in the world. Whether by those whom we need to be able to trust or those we’re engaged with as we grow –  like playmates. Just as we are wounded, so also, of course, our leaders are wounded.

I have been following the election cycle for months and months. I have watched instance after instance where I felt increasingly … somebody needs to make sure everyone understands what’s really happening here. Somebody needs to make sure everyone sees what’s occurring beneath the surface that’s causing what we’re witnessing … and what we’re part of. Someone needs to help people comprehend and pay attention to what’s happening beneath the consciousness of our candidates, our media, our government, our businesses, our families, and our individual selves.

This is what I have been working to do for many years and many elections.

I’ve been trying to find ways to clearly explain the wounding of leaders. Lately, the leaders running for President, in particular, as a way to help us really understand them better, as a way to help us see them through the eyes of Love and Truth – with compassion and still holding them accountable where they need to be held accountable. And as a way to look in the mirror ourselves, so we can see ourselves through the eyes of Love and Truth.

I have watched a number of documentaries that have revealed the clues to our candidates’ lives that could help me explain how the election process has been a live demonstration of the consequences of each candidate’s wounding in childhood.*

What do I mean?  Follow me carefully:
When we’re wounded as children, we involuntarily protect ourselves against the experience. We need to because little children can’t bear those experiences. So we reflexively bury our feelings, bury our memories, forget both, build walls so we can’t access them, create defenses to help us hold those experiences at bay … we hope forever. As a result, we start becoming a different person than we originally were. We develop thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and patterns of living that defend us against the original wound.

Then, as we grow, those original experiences of wounding keep tugging at us from our unconscious to find a way to get us to heal them. If we can’t or won’t find a way to heal, unconsciously we create repeats of the original wound – repeats called re-enactments – to bring the underlying experiences out into the open. In the open they can be seen, heard, felt, known, and therefore healed. Buried, they can be denied, justified, rationalized, idealized, normalized, and left to create repeats again and again and again. Not only ongoing repeats, but escalated repeats.

In this election we’ve seen many rounds of re-enactment from the very start of the process. And the debates have been live, visible, audible, undeniable demonstrations of the candidates’ reliving and responding to their young wounds.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had childhood wounds. One or both of them may deny it, or idealize their wounds, but it is obvious to someone who understands and senses wounding and its consequences.

Let’s start with some of Hillary’s childhood wounds as revealed in the documentaries.

What they reveal is that her father verbally abused her mother. Hillary would run into her room and put her hands over her ears when they fought. She couldn’t bear to hear the fighting. Also, if she came home with straight A’s on her report card, her father would tell her that the school must be too easy.

So from early on … her experience was to be demeaned, certainly not given credit for her strengths. Hillary was frightened of her parents’ fighting, and yet her mother made her deal with bullies on her own. At 4 years old, Hillary was already experiencing bullying in the neighbor-hood. By her own words, in her first experience with bullying, she was terrified. She went running into the house and her mother said to her, “There’s no room for cowards in this house. You go back outside and figure out how you’re gonna deal with what these kids are doing.”  No wonder Hillary built a wall inside as a defense against her pain and terror. To take down the wall would be too vulnerable, too painful for a little girl.

As a depth psychotherapist, I know the layers of terror a child can feel in an experience like this.  Not just the layer of terror in the face of the bullies, but also the layer of terror in response to a mother saying “There’s no room for cowards in this house.” Children take things literally. And a such a statement from a mother likely – conscious or not – feels like a threat of abandonment, a threat that she won’t be able to live in this house unless she does what mommy says – figures this out on her own. How frightening! What a painful way to be motivated to figure things out! A little girl of 4 already having to figure things out on her own, scary enough by itself. But then torn between the threat of the bullies and the threat made by her mother.

So here we are in the election and Hillary is being demeaned and bullied – just as her mother was and as she was in childhood. She’s being threatened repeatedly and criticized for her wall. How’s she going to live through it? She’ll keep doing what her mother told her at 4 – go out and figure out how to deal with the bully on her own.

Even if Hillary is not conscious of the repeats, even if she idealizes or justifies how her father and mother treated her … unless she has done her own inner healing, for her as a child, and for the child still alive within her, this is not an adult election. Rather this is a series of primal, unconscious and driven responses to wounding and the threats of wounding, not unlike what she experienced at a very young age.

Now let’s turn to Donald Trump. Again the documentaries reveal major clues that can help us understand his wounding and its consequences.

Donald’s father was a very competitive man. His way of life translated essentially into: Life is a competition. Win or lose. If you win, you’re a killer and a king. If you lose, you’re a nothing and don’t matter. He taught his boys to win at all costs.

Donald’s brother Fred was not a “killer.” And he suffered from it, first at the hands of his father. Donald was a “killer.” And Fred’s death, it seems, reinforced it. Winning infused Donald’s interactions, his responses, his way of life.

We can see that in everything we’ve seen in the election process. He even turns losses into wins, if only in his own mind. And does everything he can to do so. He denies, lies, distracts, and more so he can feel he has won. And when he can’t do that, he turns someone else into the loser, some way, somehow.

Of course Donald Trump would see this as admirable. In the first place, to him that is winning.  And in the second place, it’s how a little boy obeys his father. It’s how he makes sure he matters to his father. Yes, even if his father is no longer alive. That’s because like every other human being, the child Donald once was is still alive within him, even though he is likely unaware of that truth. That child Donald is alive within him and driving him, just as sure as it drove him when he was actually a child. Clearly, Donald from a young age worked really hard to be the winner, the killer, his father said he should be. To a little child, it feels like life and death, to follow his father’s instructions on how to be important, on how to be someone, on how to matter. And that’s how the child survives.

A media commentator said recently that Donald will be humbled after election day. “No, he won’t,” I thought. “He will somehow turn it into a win … fighting for survival.”

And Megyn Kelly in an interview with Donald, said to him, “You are so powerful now.” In response Trump said “I don’t view myself as that. I mean, I view myself as a person that — like everybody else — is fighting for survival.”**

Although he doesn’t realize what he is saying on a primal level from his unconscious self …
Although he doesn’t realize what he is saying on a primal level from the child still alive within him …
He is describing the little Donald, the child, fighting to survive by being a winner.

Everyone has a child still alive within with wounds to heal, and acting out again and again what hasn’t been healed. Just because people are in adult bodies, doesn’t mean they are really adults, or even fully adults. There is that child within that is driving the person in an adult body.

Donald Trump is not only one of many, he’s also a very obvious example. Even his wife recently said in an interview with Anderson Cooper, that she jokes that her husband at times behaves like an overgrown boy. And that sometimes she says “I have two boys at home – I have my young son and I have my husband.” ***

Just as for Hillary, for Donald as a child, and for the child still alive within him, this is not an adult election. Rather this is a series of primal, unconscious and driven responses to wounding similar to that he experienced at a young age… even if he wouldn’t call how his father treated him wounding. Even if he would idealize how his father raised him. Nevertheless, Donald is a man, driven by a boy inside, fighting for survival by winning, always winning.

This is true for each of us. No matter how much the adult within us is present to the election, the child still within us is also very much alive, and is driving us through this election process on a primal, unconscious level in reaction to our own wounding and trauma. And that child within us, now once again repeating the consequences of our wounds, will, in fact, be the one making the decisions at the polls on Election Day. And unless we become aware of that child within each of us, he or she will be electing the next President of the Unites States of America, and co-creating with the child within the other voters, the country and the world we will be living in not just for the next four years, but for many years – even generations – to come.

We are not responsible for the wounds we suffered as children.
We are, however, responsible for healing those wounds,
whether or not we are conscious of them.
And we are responsible, and accountable, for the damage we do…
by not being conscious of our wounds and by not healing them.
If we don’t accept this responsibility,
our fights for survival as children long ago
could and will likely become
our fights for survival in the here and now
and in the future.

© Judith Barr, 2016.

* Frontline:The Choice
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7uScWHcTzk

CNN All Business: The Essential Donald Trump
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I6yV9N4EC-Y

CNN All Business: The Essential Hillary Clinton
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAB4-AFYm_0

Hillary
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=271&v=sUV4Ha_Tf_4

** http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/may/16/inside-the-beltway-trump-fighting-for-survival-lik/

*** http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/17/politics/melania-trump-interview/

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As you see and hear more about the candidates for President, make the commitment to use what you learn about them not only to better understand them, not only to have some compassion for them, not only to hold them accountable from a wiser and more grounded place … but also … to better understand, explore and heal your own inner wounding.

After all, just like the candidates’ inner wounding doesn’t only affect them, your inner wounding doesn’t affect only you. It doesn’t affect just you on any ordinary day. And it certainly doesn’t affect just you on election day.

Ask yourself: When you watch or listen to the candidates speak — “your” candidate or the “opposing” candidate – what do you feel? Can you see and feel the wounding behind the words and actions of the candidates in this election … the children alive inside them acting out their unconscious defenses? And what in your unconscious is triggered in you as you witness the election unfold?  How will your own wounds from childhood, triggered in the election, impact your vote on election day? And your reactions the day after?

As you explore … you can also help make this knowing “go viral” and expand the healing in our world by sharing this newsletter via email and social media.

As we approach election day and as the election race heats up in its final lap, there is a lot we can learn about ourselves and heal within ourselves from what we’ve learned about the candidates … if we commit to utilize what we know and see this election time whole heartedly for healing.

A Call to Healing in the Wake of Violence

A few days ago, there was violence at political rallies for Donald Trump. It was disturbing and heartbreaking to watch.

As we become aware of violent events – in the political arena and in any area of our world – we need to also become aware of an important truth: Violence begins within each of us.

There is a current of violence within each of us that we have the potential to act out on. That current can be provoked, triggered, fed, by anyone and anything. Sure as it’s sunny in the day and dark in the night, we are all vulnerable to that current being triggered. It may be triggered by our dreams at night, by our memories during the day. It may be evoked by something we’re aware of – like an interaction with someone close to us – or by something we’re not aware of at all. It may be evoked by our transferring onto a person or situation in today’s world deep experiences we had long ago when we were children. It may be triggered by someone who has no intention whatsoever for us to be triggered. And it may be triggered by someone who definitely has an intention to trigger us and get us stirred up … and then use us for his/her own agenda.

If we are to help heal the violence in the world, we need to heal the violence and potential for violence within us. We each need to find that current of anger, rage, violence, and work with it and through it. Each person who does this makes him/herself less vulnerable to his/her inner current of violence being triggered. And certainly less vulnerable to acting out on that inner current of violence. Every one of us who acknowledges, claims, owns the current of violence within, does not act out on that current, and, in fact, works through that part of us … helps heal the well of violence in the human community.

A clue: When we are stressed in our current day, we regress to the child within us still alive and needing healing. Different here-and-now stresses will cause us to regress to different times, ages, experiences, and moments of suffering in our childhoods. If we don’t know this, we believe we’re simply in the here-and-now suffering today. If we don’t know about our regression, we are very likely to act out with our big bodies today the little child’s feelings from long ago. We may, for example, have temper tantrums, hurting ourselves and other people

If those around us don’t know about the regressions in themselves, us, and others … they are likely to normalize the violence being acted out. They are likely to claim it is just about today because of something occurring today. They are likely to abdicate their self-responsibility in the situation. They are likely deny their part in the violence erupting. They are likely to refuse to own up to how they provoked it, triggered it, used it … even though it’s clear as day to others.

If we are to help heal the violence in the world, we need to heal the violence and potential for violence within us.

I have written about healing violence many times in my blog in the hopes that my posts will inspire us all to commit to heal violence from the inside out. You can find many of my past posts about the true roots of violence and how we can all help to heal it here: https://polipsych101.wordpress.com/tag/violence/.

“Why aren’t our efforts to end the violence working?

“Very simply, our efforts to end the violence aren’t working because we are doing things that don’t work, can’t work, and often include violence within them. For example, punishment for violence doesn’t work. Laws outlawing violence and then punishing it don’t work. Have they ever really worked? Look at our world today before you even attempt to answer that question.

“Gun control – although it may prevent guns from being used for violence in some cases – won’t work to end the violence. Someone who is defending against their pain with striking out will just find another way to strike out. And praying for violence to end – although it may be a useful, even necessary help toward ending the violence – will not work all by itself to end violence in our world. And though it may help on some deep level, some people who pray don’t commit violence (even though they may have it within them as an escape hatch), and some people who pray also commit violence. That may seem like a contradiction, but we human beings are filled with contradictions, aren’t we?”*

We say and maybe even believe that we don’t want violence … that we don’t contribute to violence … that we don’t co-create violence. We say and maybe we’re even sure –  in our own minds – that others have a violent current but we don’t. And we rip off permission to not honestly acknowledge the violence within us and its roots in the child within. And yet here is the violence right in the midst of us. This is a perfect example of the poison-is-the-medicine dynamic I wrote about in November. **

“We can attempt to end violence from the outside in …
And fail.
Or we can commit to heal violence from the inside out, to the root,
and over time succeed.” ***

Right now, we are failing.

It is my hope that my work will help you in your own healing journey, and that together we can help heal the violence so prevalent in our world today.

Blessings,
Judith

© Judith Barr, 2015.

* From my home study course Violence: Finding And Healing The Roots from the Inside Out, © Judith Barr, 2013, page 13.

** http://judithbarr.com/2015/11/19/grief-shock-another-tragedy-and-the-poison-is-the-medicine/

*** Adapted from the opening quote in my home study course Healing Bullying to The Root: A Unique Approach to A Painful Epidemic, © Judith Barr, 2013, page 2.

An Open Letter to Morning Joe Scarborough and Your Team: The Fish Hook Dynamic!

Dear Morning Joe and your team,

You have recently been asking an important question with increasing frequency and intensity: “Why? What has been causing Donald Trump’s soaring in the polls, caucuses, and primaries?

As a depth psychotherapist, a woman, and a citizen of the United States and of our world, I cannot hear your repeated question without offering an understanding on a different and deeper level than those that have been offered from media, government, politics, historians, and the public itself.

When we connect with someone we connect with them on many levels both conscious and way beneath our conscious awareness: whether up-close-and-personal – a romantic partner, a friend, a boss, – or from afar – a spiritual leader like the Pope, a celebrity like any movie star up for an Oscar, a political figure, like the now-political-candidate Donald Trump.

The level most frequently missed by individuals and culturally is that of the wounds we experienced as children, still alive within us today. Still alive within us whether we are 20, 33, 55, 68, 89, or 106. Since we are unaware that wounded child is still alive within us, we are also unaware that wounded child is driving us in ways we can’t even imagine.

We believe we’re thinking, feeling, and acting in an adult way, while it is the young child within that is acting out in a big body. We believe we’re trying to resolve a conflict in the present moment, when unbeknownst to us, we’re trying to resolve something from long ago that is triggered in the present moment. The more we make it about today, the more we fail in finding a solution. Failing triggers us more because we cannot solve yesterday’s issues under the guise of today’s actions and interactions. Then, in the pain of the past, triggered and enmeshed with the pain of not being able to solve the present, we will likely resort to the defenses our parents used and those we, ourselves, developed, thus frantically escalating the current situation beyond all recognition because we are still driven by our unconscious reactions to painful, even traumatic experiences from long, long ago.

So, when we connect with someone else, we connect on the levels of our wounds and on the level of the child within us unconsciously and often desperately trying to resolve something today that occurred in our past. I call this the “fish hook dynamic.” One person’s wounds hook together with another’s wounds like two fish hooks hooking together. Then as the two pull to get away from the intense tug of war – within themselves and with the other in this dynamic – they are only strengthening the dynamic of the two fish hooks hooked together, pulling against each other. As the hooking intensifies and escalates, so does the trapped feeling from long ago and the thoughts and feelings from the past are more and more intensely acted out today.

Let’s look at an example of how the fish hook dynamic can work in the life of a relationship. A woman who was abandoned by her father in childhood and a man who was suffocated emotionally by his mother in childhood meet and fall in love. She, afraid of being abandoned, clings to him. He, afraid of being suffocated, distances a little more each time she clings. She feels abandoned and clings more; he feels suffocated and withdraws more. Things escalate and escalate until he leaves. They have recreated their childhood wounds unconsciously, and in the end, he has proven to himself that all women suffocate, and she has proven to herself that all men abandon … and so the vicious cycle goes, until they each do the inner healing work to truly resolve the painful wounds at their root in childhood.

This fish hook dynamic doesn’t just occur in individual lives or the life of romantic relationships. It is occurring in many ways all over the world. It is very obviously occurring in the election cycle right now. The Republican Debate this past Thursday night was such a blatant picture of what I’m describing.* Little boys in big bodies all dressed up in suits, yelling at each other, bullying each other, attacking each other as if they were in the school yard, perhaps fighting for the position of leader of the gang … all under the guise of a debate for the office of president.

I’m quite sure if we knew the histories of those little-boys-acting-as-if-they-were-grown-ups, we would know more about how they were unconsciously acting out their wounds and their young defenses against their wounds.

I’m just as sure that each supporter of the candidates has wounds that unconsciously hook together with his or her candidate’s wounds … and that have drawn them to their candidate. I would need to know more about each supporter to be specific about how that person hooks together with Donald Trump or any other candidate, for that matter. But here are some beginning hunches:

Since your question, Morning Joe, was about Donald Trump in particular, we’ll delve a bit into what we know about him in order to give some examples.

It is a known fact that Donald Trump decided he would never be made a fool.** Perhaps some of his supporters were shamed and humiliated as children and didn’t want to become fools themselves. They might project themselves onto Trump and try to help him not be made into a fool. Or they might see him as a role model, or idealized parent who’s showing them how to not become a fool, especially if nobody helped them as a child, or if the person who humiliated them was a parent. They might applaud his every move to dodge being turned into a fool. They might, most of all, applaud his making a fool of the other candidates. They might align with him to keep him – in their imagination – from turning on them and making a fool of them. They might even take permission – I call it “ripping off permission” – to act out in their own lives the way Donald is acting out in his: to act out in a big body a child’s defense against being made a fool. And then we don’t just have a candidate believing he’s being adult while acting out like a child, we have a whole “support team” doing the same.

These are just some of the possibilities. They are limitless … as limitless as the ways in which a child can be wounded. As limitless as the depths to which a child can bury his or her memories of pains and traumas and the feelings with them. As limitless as the ways in which we normalize behaviors that are defenses against the childhood trauma. As limitless as the lack of awareness of our own unconscious selves driving our lives and acting out on the stage of our lives – individually and communally.

Something mysterious is happening deep beneath the surface for Donald Trump to be surging as he is and has been for months. I’ve seen the unconscious wounds hooking together in couples, in families, in groups … and in countries, as with Hitler’s Germany.

We have no contingency plan in our political, legal, media, cultural systems for protecting our society from a presidential candidate triggering the early wounding in the citizenry. Most people don’t even realize what’s happening or that it’s happening beneath the surface. And too much of our mental health treatment has discarded teaching people about the unconscious roots of their suffering and helping them heal to those roots.

We all need to help people understand. We all need to take this seriously. It affects us every day in our personal lives. It affects us for lifetimes in our personal lives. It also affects us every day and for lifetimes in our societal lives. And this “fish hook dynamic” in the race for president, and in Donald Trump’s candidacy most obviously, will affect us for years, decades, generations to come.***

With hope …
Judith Barr

© Judith Barr 2016

* Perhaps this happens in most, if not every political debate, whether Democratic or Republican. Sometimes more subtly than others. Sometimes right out in the open.

**“I realized then and there, that if you let people treat you how they want, you’ll be made a fool. I realized then and there something I would never forget: I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/01/opinion/putting-donald-trump-on-the-couch.html?_r=0

*** If you want to understand more, Joe, the following links will take you to a trilogy I wrote in my blog, PoliPsych, to help people more deeply comprehend what’s happening in our world today and how each of us can help.

http://judithbarr.com/2015/11/19/grief-shock-another-tragedy-and-the-poison-is-the-medicine/

http://judithbarr.com/2015/12/05/when-are-we-going-to-heal-the-repetitive-vicious-cycle-from-the-inside-out/

http://judithbarr.com/2015/12/28/safety-from-the-inside-out/

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP KEEP OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As we continue on towards the election, commit to becoming very aware of your reactions to the candidates – the one you support and the ones you don’t – whenever you come across them … when you watch them debate, when they show up in the campaign ads, when you read about them in the news.

Be aware that all of us have unresolved wounds and feelings from childhood, and those feelings can color any aspect of your life – including your voting choices. What feelings do each of the candidates trigger in you? Can you trace back those feelings to your early life? Can you identify the fish hook dynamic in your own reactions?

I’m asked sometimes “Where is the hope for healing our world?” If we become aware of and understand the fish hook dynamic, we can choose to commit to explore it for ourselves and find a way to do our own individual healing. In doing so, we can all help to create lasting change for our world. That is the hope!

If You’re Going to Be a Candidate for President – Little Children in Big Bodies, Acting Out Their Wounds on The World Stage


For Starters …

Sometimes people don’t want to look at their part in something that’s gone awry in their lives or the life of our world, because they don’t want to have aspects of themselves considered pathological that they and many others normalize or even idealize. They don’t want to think of themselves, or have anyone else think of them, as “mentally ill.” What if we didn’t label people as “mentally ill”? What if we didn’t label people as “pathological”? What if we simply understand that we all have wounds from our childhood and probably beyond? I don’t think of our wounding as being our pathology. It is wounding. We all have wounding. It is part of our being here on earth. It has an impact on us, on those close to us, on those in our everyday lives, and on our world. It has an impact whether we act out on it or not. It is safer if we don’t act out on it. But even if we don’t act out on it … its aliveness within us still has an impact. Not only on us but also on generation after generation after generation in our own families and the family of beings in our world. It has an impact when it remains unconscious in the shadows within. It also has an impact when it is conscious but we don’t tend to it, work with it, and transform it. That’s not pathology. That’s the truth of us as human beings … and the calling we have to help heal and transform ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world.

 

Introduction

Out of our wounding … we want to think of ourselves as civilized, even when we’re not. We want to see ourselves as grown up, even when we’re not. We want to feel like we are “together,” even when we’re not. What we do to hold onto those cherished but false beliefs about who we are – in the name of something good, and in order to defend ourselves against our wounding – is unimaginable. And, in the end, horribly destructive – blatantly or ever-so-subtly.

We live in denial. Normalizing it somehow … any way we can find. Not wanting to know the truth. The truth about our experiences once upon a time in our youth. The truth about pain we experienced. The truth about abuse we suffered. The truth about trauma we may have suffered or inflicted. We cut off our feelings and wall off our hearts. Under the guise of something supposedly righteous. Not wanting to feel our feelings … sometimes our feelings of pain and fear, sometimes our feelings of pleasure, hope, and even love. Certainly our feelings from long, long ago when we were children. And as a result, also our feelings today.

But in doing so, we cannot see the real truth in front of us today. In doing so, we cannot feel the feelings of either real danger or real safety when we meet them today.

And paradoxically enough … our denial and shutting down emotionally, which were once long ago intended to protect us, create danger in our lives and in our world today. This is what happens with defenses, they end up creating the very thing they were meant to defend us against.

If we are unwilling to see this in our personal lives … how will we be able to see it on the stage of our national politics? We won’t! If we are unwilling to take responsibility for this up close and personal in our individual and our family lives … how will we be able to hold candidates running for leadership offices accountable for these things in their lives? We won’t! If we are unwilling to get the help to heal this in our own minds-bodies-hearts-and-souls … how will we be able to insist that our leaders all over the world get the help to heal their wounds so they can actually be civilized, adult, wise, compassionate, and heartful leaders? We won’t. That leaves us in a terrible dilemma … doing the same things over and over, like hitting our heads against a brick wall, but refusing to do the one thing that can help us truly resolve the situation.

And then we turn the whole thing upside down: If our leaders don’t come out of denial … if our leaders don’t melt their numbness … if our leaders don’t stop pretending that there are no little children inside them acting out their wounds on the stage of our world … what kind of leadership are they providing? Defective leadership. What kind of modeling are they providing? Distorted modeling. How can they hold us accountable to do our own healing work? They can’t.

They’re like the wounded parents in a dysfunctional family who are in denial, attempting to parent from the wounded child within themselves, and wounding their children in the same ways they were, themselves, wounded as children.


If You Are Running for President …

If you are running for president, you need to do your own therapy beforehand. Otherwise, you will simply act out your little boy or little girl wounds on the stage of the campaign. And if you should win, on the stage of the Presidency, the country, and the world.

Whatever wounds you had as a child will drive you in your life – personal and political – from deep down in your unconscious self … no matter how aware or unaware you are! No matter how much you want to deny it! No matter how good things look on the surface! And no matter how fiercely you claim you are not acting them out.

I don’t usually speculate about people’s wounds, especially people I’m not working with. Especially people I don’t know personally. Especially people I have just bits of information about. But I am going to offer some possible hunches about some of our presidents and some of our candidates … as a way to show you how our childhood wounds can drive us from within, even when we have grown into big bodies and may look like we are grown-ups. As a way to show you how these leaders and would-be leaders’ childhood wounds could have affected their leadership. It is my hope that seeing these hunches as examples, will help you and millions all over our country and our world to see more clearly, for starters … what’s happening on the election stage, what’s happening in our leaders … and what’s happening within us.

I have read or heard a couple of things about Bill Clinton’s childhood. I don’t know if they are true, but if they are, here are the hunches … One: that he was sexually abused. As a psychotherapist who works with people who were sexually abused, I know clearly that one of the symptoms of sexual abuse is promiscuity. It’s a way people unconsciously act out that there’s a problem needing to be resolved. If Bill Clinton was sexually abused as a child, it is no wonder that he had multiple sexual entanglements with women – Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, and how many others! His having been sexually abused doesn’t excuse him. It doesn’t give him a “get out of jail free card.” It doesn’t make him not accountable. It simply speaks to the root of where he went awry in his life and his leadership. It speaks to the source of his acting out – in him and in his history. It speaks to what he needed to heal.

Be very clear here: Our wounding doesn’t give us license to do whatever we want, to act out however we’d like. We weren’t responsible for our wounding as children. But we are responsible to do the work to heal from that wounding.

I have also read that Bill was caught in between his mother and his grandmother. Whether he was sexually abused or not, that experience of being caught between two women in his young life would set up a dynamic for him to repeat that in his adult life. Again … caught between Hillary and Gennifer; and Hillary and Paula; and Hillary and Monica. The caught-between dynamic could even be set up to repeat itself not between two women, but between two entities. Perhaps caught between his oath of office as President and his own wounded drivenness to act out his childhood.

Another example, Barack Obama. My understanding is that his mother and father got divorced. And lived far apart from each other – at times, continents apart. My hunch from many years as a therapist: even if he wasn’t conscious of it, I imagine little Barack had a desire and maybe even a fantasy of bringing his parents back together. No matter how impossible that might have been, somewhere within him, albeit it unconsciously, he may well have continued to want to bring mommy and daddy back together.   How might that play out in the world of the Presidency? Somehow little Barack’s desire to bring his parents together could impact Barack the President’s ability to bring together two conflicting sides in any issue.   And look at what a painfully horrible time he’s had with Congress. People tend to blame that on all sorts of things socially and politically. But I’ve never heard anyone talk about the underlying dynamic from his childhood. And what if that same dynamic affects his negotiations with leaders of other countries, as well?

This is not a political article. It is not showing political bias. It is an article to teach … to inform … to intrigue … to inspire. So my talking about Bill Clinton earlier and Hillary Clinton next is not my picking on the Clintons. It is simply an offering of profound examples, based on hunches, of childhood wounding driving people, leaders in their adult lives.

I don’t really know much about Hillary’s history. Except that her mother was abandoned. But if I put aside all the superficial criticisms of Hillary in the media. If I put aside all the political and social judgments … I find myself as a depth psychotherapist wondering why this smart, passionate, hard-working, capable, woman has had trouble in her runs for high leadership offices – particularly the presidency. I’m not wondering “what is her fatal flaw?” as some might wonder. I’m wondering – what is it in Hillary’s childhood that would cause her to start out ahead with a wonderful chance of succeeding, only to sabotage herself on the way. I wish I had the opportunity to help her discover the young, feeling level answer to that question.

Finally, Donald Trump. I recently read an article in which I found the following statement by Trump:

“I realized then and there, that if you let people treat you how they want, you’ll be made a fool. I realized then and there something I would never forget: I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.” *

In the understanding of the depths of our psyches, this was an early decision made by Donald Trump, “I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.” He was 18 at the time. That may have been the first time he decided that consciously, in words, or in those words. And it may seem not such an “early” early decision. But I have found in my many years as a therapist that usually a decision like that made consciously as a teen was also made either unconsciously, or in different words in different situations as a younger child, and perhaps even beneath words in the heart and cells of the child earlier than that.

Someplace inside him, that early decision is driving Trump in his life and his candidacy for the presidency. Some people may believe that will help him in the campaign and as a leader. But making decisions in order not to be made a sucker, does not mean the decisions are going to be healthy, wise, compassionate, effective, successful decisions. It simply means they will be made in the service of not being made a sucker. So who really benefits from that wound, that decision, those actions… perhaps for a while the little boy who decided not to be made a sucker. And only perhaps. Because that driving decision will also undermine Trump and probably leave him open to being a sucker, or as he also said, a fool.

Our leaders and would-be leaders are just like us. They are human beings with childhoods and childhood wounds and traumas. They have defended themselves against the pain of those wounds, created ways of being and acting that would hide the wounds from others and themselves, while acting out the wounds beneath the blinders. They have denied the wounds existed and that the acting out has existed, too.

Yet, they are acting out their own wounds as they campaign to lead or as they actually lead. If we vote for them without knowing this … we shirk our responsibility to be the kind of citizens needed in the world today. If we vote for them without realizing that our wounds, defenses, and denial might be colluding with or somehow hooked into theirs … we shirk our responsibility to be the kind of citizens deeply needed in the world today. If we don’t hold them accountable for doing their own deep inner therapeutic healing before becoming President, we shirk our responsibility for taking a stand for the one major thing that hasn’t been done in working to resolve the misuse and abuse of power in leadership … and the one thing that could truly work. And if we don’t hold them accountable for doing their own deep inner therapeutic healing, we shirk our responsibility for holding ourselves accountable to do our own healing.

It’s not just them. They are not the only ones acting out their wounds. They’re just running for leadership. They’re just executing the leadership they showed us they would execute as they were campaigning. It’s also us. We are the ones electing them. We are the ones acting out our wounds as we respond to them, as we are drawn to them, as we support them, as we oppose them, as we vote for them.

© Judith Barr, 2015.

*http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/01/opinion/putting-donald-trump-on-the-couch.html?_r=0 


WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP MAKE OUR WORLD SAFE
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

Indeed, we are the ones who vote for our leaders … and if we can become aware of our candidates’ and leaders’ wounding, we can also be the ones who utilize that awareness for our own healing.

As we continue on in the race to the presidency, are you aware of the wounding each of the candidates have deep inside? Ask yourself as you follow the race to the election: Are there things – words, actions, decisions – that each candidate has said or done (including “your” candidate) that help to bring to light his or her own wounding?

Now, let’s take it one step further: is there something in the candidates’ behaviors and words and perhaps decisions that can help you find the wounding in yourself? When a particular candidate speaks or acts in a destructive or self-destructive way, do you find yourself agreeing so intensely with him or her, that it feels as though s/he is speaking or acting in the way you’ve always wanted but couldn’t? Can you see shades of your own wounding in each candidate?

Election-time or otherwise, it is crucial that we make the commitment to not only become aware of our wounds but also explore and heal them. This is what I, and other committed, integritous, compassionate therapists and counselors help people do.

Won’t you join me in this individual healing … healing that can not only help your own life, but the life of the world as well?