Tag Archives: Freud

Defense Mechanisms

In her book Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, Anna Freud (daughter of Sigmund Freud) detailed multiple defense mechanisms used to avoid facing reality. By using these mechanisms, along with the overwhelming inertia of the State and Federal presence, and the vast ignorance of Hawaiian history, many people in Hawaiʻi are able to conveniently avoid facing the disturbing reality that they live on contested ground.

1. Denial – against all evidence, many will deny self-evident facts. Case in point: while reporting on the first Hawaiian college football star and scholar John Wise, KITV news put the Hawaiian Kingdom in quotes, as if it is debatable that it ever existed.

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 This mechanism is closely related to cognitive dissonance, which Frantz Fanon described:

Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesnʻt fit with the core belief.

2. Projection – One prominent environmentalist said that “Hawaiians are not environmentalists.” While it may be true that some Hawaiians litter, etc., this statement may in fact be projecting non-Hawaiian guilt over trashing the islands, which are actually becoming unrecognizable in terms of native species (there are none) and invasive species.

3. Sublimation – Pushing down feelings of horror is easy to do in Hawaiʻi, which seems to retain its beauty. But as noted above, this beauty is almost a cover for underlying environmental crises and mass extinction.

4. Regression – evading responsibility by adopting an infantile sense of our own power, is often seen in Hawaiʻi with its overwhelming military presence. An infantile argument from power, that the US “will never let it happen,” is substituted for reasoned argument.

5. Rationalization – We often see excuses that cleverly lead to the conclusion desired, such as the argument that Tahitians colonized Hawaiʻi’s original inhabitants.

6. Intellectualization – getting mired in the details of law can actually distract from the main, moral issue. Some sovereignty opponents do this, but not usually in a technical sense. One guilty of this, in my view, is Patrick Dumberry, who wrote an article on the Larsen v. Hawaiian Kingdom case for the Chinese Journal of Internal Law. Dumberry states simply that the Hawaiian Kingdom does not exist, but offers no evidence, despite an extended legal analysis of the case. At the end of the article, he concedes that the Acting Hawaiian Kingdom has helped its cause, leaving some ambiguity in his opinion.

7. Displacement – Hawaiians are easy target for this mechanism, in which a substitution is made for a reality that is too difficult to accept. “Sovereignty” is therefore substituted with “going back into the loʻi,” ” giving up all technology” (as if only the US has technology), and “giving up all military defense” (when in fact saying that is itself the defense (mechanism).

Anna Freud held that most of us use at least five defense mechanisms every day! So the chances Iʻm right are quite high, just due to the prevalence of these mechanisms.

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Jung

The Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung was born in 1875, the son of a poor pastor of the Reformed Swiss Church. Mild early childhood neuroses had led him to become interested in psychology, even though it was not a prestigious occupation at the time. He studied medicine at the University of Basel, and practiced in Zurich.

C.G. Jung

Jung is best known for his ideas of archetypes, introversion and extroversion, and the collective unconscious. His method led to an entire Jungian school of practice, including the C.G. Jung Institute in Zurich, Switzerland. In some quarters, his mystical writings on topics like alchemy and synchronicity have made him a kind of Godfather of the new age movement. In Jung, we see the intersection of standard, accepted scientific practices and occult mysticism. Jung maintained his entire career, however, that he was a scientist, not a mystic.

ARCHETYPES

Archetypes are idealized images of personality that we emulate. the four primary archetypes are the self, the shadow (that which one hides from the world and even from oneself), anima or animus (the idea of the opposite gender), and persona. There are many persona an individual can take on. These are idealized forms that we aspire to:

Jungian archetypes of persona

INTROVERTS AND EXTROVERTS

The archetypes relate to introversion and extroversion. Jung relates the ancient archetype of Apollo to introversion: dreaming, reflecting and visioning. Extroversions is related to the ancient archetype of Dionysius: one who wants to participate in the world – politics, intrigue, family, etc.

COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS

The collective unconscious is a reservoir of unconscious experience that a species can tap into. This is distinguished from an individual’s unconscious – the collection of personal experiences that he or she draws from. As Jung put it in Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (1996, 43):

My thesis then, is as follows: in addition to our immediate consciousness, which is of a thoroughly personal nature and which we believe to be the only empirical psyche (even if we tack on the personal unconscious as an appendix), there exists a second psychic system of a collective, universal, and impersonal nature which is identical in all individuals. This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.

JUNG CONTRA FREUD

Jung was cutting his teeth in Psychotherapy in the shadow of Freud, but as its most promising young star. When the two first met, they famously had a half-day long conversation. But Jung’s openness to seemingly non-scientific matters led to a rift between the two great psychotherapists that never healed. Differences in wealth (Jung married a very wealthy heiress, while Freud struggled) and youthfulness (Jung had to carry  the sick Freud at a conference) led to antipathy  between them.

LATE LIFE AND CAREER

At the age of 40, Jung felt that he had achieved all that a person could ask for, professionally and personally. He even said that “life begins at 40, the rest [the earlier period] is just research.”  Jung began a series of eccentric self-explorations, such as painting the inside of a tower on his property, studying alchemy and writing and illustrating The Red Book, a kind of exposition of his own personal unconscious, including dreams and visions. He claimed that all his late work was derivative of The Red Book. Because of its personal nature, the book was only shown to less than a dozen people and kept in a safety deposit box for a half-century before finally being released in 2009 by his grandson.

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Image from The Red Book (New York Times)

Along with the posts on RousseauPlatoBaconMachiavelliSaid, Marx and Locke, this post, and many to follow, are part of an upcoming project (as you can see it’s not all philosophy!) – stay tuned.

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