Crimes Against Humanity
A Jungian Analyst’s Understanding of the Archetype of War
Presented by Michael Conforti, Ph.D.
Jungian Analyst, Founder and Director of The Assisi Institute: International Center for the Study of Archetypal Patterns
About this Lecture:
As part of The Assisi Foundation’s Public Program Series, we develop seminars that focus on programmatic themes such as Crimes Against Humanity. In a time where the personal and collective psyche seems to be yearning for a radical shift in perspective and approach, it is our hope that these programs may support our global community to face, understand and respond to unsettling and turbulent times in more soulful, transformative and healing ways.
The purpose of our Public Program Series is to:
- Reach a broad global audience about the very real and globally collective issues we are facing in the world today;
- Raise awareness and funding to advance the global reach of the Assisi Foundation’s work on archetypes and the objective psyche; and
- Offer an understanding of the meaning, significance, and purpose of the archetypal patterns that lie beneath the headlines.
“Who would allow such crimes to be committed? How could the world remain silent?… And now the boy is turning to me: “Tell me,” he asks. “What have you done with my future?”…
And I tell him that I have tried… to keep memory alive,
that I have tried to fight those who would forget.
Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices.”
From Elie Wiesel’s Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech
From the Crusades, the First and Second World Wars, and the ongoing violence worldwide, we have to admit that war is an archetypal reality within the Psyche. However, with modern weaponry that can decimate the world with the push of a button, we can no longer afford to see war as the only solution to conflict.
From the sages and dreamers of antiquity, to the 1931-1932 correspondence between Einstein and Freud titled Why War? humanity has sought to understand the nature of war and how to stop its ongoing proliferation, its justification of unimaginable crimes against humanity, and the loss of millions of lives worldwide.
To these earlier contributions we can now add the voice of Jung and Jungian Psychology, along with Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel’s personal experiences of the Holocaust and his lifetime pursuit of humanitarian concerns to address the issue of war and crimes against humanity.
Central to these investigations is Jung’s article titled After the Catastrophe where, upon reflecting on the horrors of the Holocaust, he writes: “I must confess that no article has ever given me so much trouble, from a moral as well as a human point of view. I had not realized how much I…was affected.” He then adds; “Was not Plato aware that the sight of ugliness produces something ugly in the soul… the more charged with hate the more fiercely burns the fire of evil that has been lit in our souls.”
Erich Neumann’s work, Depth Psychology and the New Ethic, teaches us that war is often driven by the projection of our own evil onto others. He then adds that the paranoia resulting from such experiences speaks to the soul’s awareness that these projections will inevitably return to live once again within our own soul reminding us that we can never escape the haunting reality of our own shadow and evil. Dr Yoram Kaufmann, a Jungian Analyst from Israel, echoes this point when stating that “the greatest act of evil is the projection of our own evil onto others”.
These profound insights speak to the very nature of war and all that follows in its wake. The world stage can no longer be the screen upon which governmental leaders project their exiled contents onto, and now more than ever, we need to find some way to halt the rampant escalation of projections.
As Jung taught us to learn about the contents of the collective Psyche and the inner workings of humanity’s darkest unconscious dynamics, Jungian Analysts are in a position to make a unique contribution to understanding something of the inherent and archetypal nature of war, and a way to work with personal and collective evil.
So too it is the analysts’ understanding of humanity’s attempts to negate the reality of evil as expressed in our mechanisms of denial and projection, coupled with the immense power of unconscious guilt, that results in the migration of these forgotten contents, and their re-appearance in the occurrence of violence and war.
Our prayers are that no parent, no lover, no friend, should have to see anyone go off to war, and someday hear that their loved one will never return home.
The intention of this presentation is to bring insight into the workings of Psyche and archetypal dynamics and patterns so as to provide a modicum of hope, and a framework with which to understand and navigate current world events. It is also our hope that the insights offered can ultimately have an impact to lessen the occurrence of ongoing acts of crimes against humanity.
If you feel called to support the work of the Foundation to make more programs like these possible, we invite you to make a charitable contribution of your choosing.