Gun Violence in America: Jungian and Depth Psychology Perspectives and Resources

29 May 2014 4:40 PM | Bonnie Bright (Administrator)

In light of the recent shootings at Isla Vista/UCSB [Update June 5: Now adding Seattle Pacific University} as well as the hundreds of other gun violence incidents across the country and the world, I wanted to share/re-share some depth psychological resources and discussion around the topic. But first, some statistics courtesy of NBC News

  • Every year in the U.S., an average of more than 100,000 people are shot, according to The Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence.

  • Every day in the U.S., an average of 289 people are shot. Eighty-six of them die: 30 are murdered, 53 kill themselves, two die accidentally, and one is shot in a police intervention, the Brady Campaign reports.

  • Between 2000 and 2010, a total of 335,609 people died from guns -- more than the population of St. Louis, Mo. (318,069), Pittsburgh (307,484), Cincinnati, Ohio (296,223), Newark, N.J. (277,540), and Orlando, Fla. (243,195) (sources:  CDFU.S. CensusCDC)

  • One person is killed by a firearm every 17 minutes, 87 people are killed during an average day, and 609 are killed every week. (source: CDC)

Meanwhile, as many psychologists and commentators alike are saying, the problem goes well beyond gun laws. Our cultural container and systems for treating mental health are simply not adequate to treat people with the deep-seated issues that often precede such violent acts.

Depth Psychologist/Educator Glen Slater, PhD touches into the depth psychological perspective, saying, 

"Gun violence keeps the national psyche in a holding pattern, preventing it from a more conscious encounter with more soul-wrenching issues. The obsessive need for guns, the paranoid fear of having guns taken away, the lack of will to effectively legislate or litigate, and even the violence itself are bonded in a conspiracy of collective defense and denial against a deeper darkness and pathology. Cracking open the neurotic dynamics means going in search of mythic and archetypal roots." (In Spring Journal, Vol 81).

As you'll note in many of the following resources, the general agreement is that focus needs to be on the underlying depth psychological issues that apply to the profile of mass shooters, who are often young men.


First, depth psychologist Craig Chalquist's latest post "No Man Is an Island: Recognizing Gun Violence as a Cultural Symptom," is an insightful depth psychological take on the problem, even employing a terrapsychological view based on the psychology of place where the shooting occurred.

Many Depth Psychology Alliance members joined Jungian analyst, Dr. Michael Conforti, and me for a two-part teleseminar"Beyond Horror and Hope: The Archetypal Intersection of Innocence and Evilwhich were exploratory conversations in response to the Sandy Hook Connecticut school shooting. We offered these in 2012 after the shooting in

 NewTown, CT, but I think they are still so relevant today if you want to listen to the archived recordings

In January 2013, I interviewed depth psychology professor, Dr. Glen Slater, for Depth Insights radio podcast, The Roots of Mass Shootings: A Depth Psychological Look at Gun Violence, a conversation that touched on his 2009 article in Spring Journal, "The Mythology of Bullets."  You can find a link to the full article, courtesy of Spring Journal, on that podcast page.

Finally, I mentioned some of my thoughts at that time in a short blog post on here on Depth List, "The Shadow of Society and its Role in Mass Shootings."

Please feel free to comment on any of these resources here, or share some you have come cross that you have found insightful or worthwhile.

###


Bonnie Bright is the founder of Depth Psychology Alliance, the world's most comprehensive online community for depth psychology. She has hosted interviews with authors and thinkers in depth psychology on the free podcast, Depth Insights, as well as editing thesemi-annual scholarly e-zine of the same name. She founded www.DepthPsychologyList.com, a free-to-search online database for depth psychology oriented therapists and practitioners. She holds Masters degrees in Psychology and Depth Psychology, and is a Ph.D. candidate at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, CA. Follow her on Twitter @bonniebright5 or on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/BonnieBright.DepthPsych

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