The following was first published in 2004 by "Alternatives, Resouces for Cultural Creativity" and may be viewed in its original context at http://www.alternativesmagazine.com/31/levy.html
The Madness of George W. Bush
A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis
By Paul Levy
George W. Bush is ill.
He has a psycho-spiritual disease of the soul, a sickness that is endemic to our culture and symptomatic of the times we live in.
It’s an illness that has been with us since time immemorial. Because it’s an illness that’s in the soul of all of humanity, it pervades the field and is in all of us, in potential, at any moment, which makes it especially hard to diagnose.
Bush’s malady is quite different from schizophrenia, for example, in which all the different parts of the personality are fragmented and not connected to each other, resulting in a state of internal chaos. As compared to the disorder of the schizophrenic, Bush can sound quite coherent and can appear like such a “regular” guy, which makes the syndrome he suffers from very hard to recognize. This is because the healthy parts of his personality have been co-opted by the pathological aspect, which drafts them into its service. Because of the way the personality self-organizes an outer display of coherence around a pathogenic core, I would like to name Bush’s illness “malignant egophrenic (as compared to schizophrenic) disorder,” or “ME disorder”, for short. If ME disorder goes unrecognized and is not contained, it can be very destructive, particularly if the person is in a position of power.
In much the same way that a child’s psychology cannot be understood without looking at the family system he or she is a part of, George Bush does not exist in isolation. We can view Bush and his entire Administration (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft, Powell, Wolfowitz, et al), as well as the corporate, military industrial complex that they are co-dependently enmeshed with, the media that they control, and the voters that support them, as interconnected parts of a whole system, or a “field.” Instead of relating to parts of this field as isolated entities, it’s important to contemplate the entire interdependent field as the “medium” through which malignant egophrenia manifests and propagates itself. ME disease is a field phenomenon, and needs to be understood as such.
Being a field phenomenon, malignant egophrenia is non-local in nature, which means that it is not bounded by the limitations of time or space. Being non-local, this disease pervades and underlies the entire field and can therefore manifest anywhere, through anyone and at any moment. The disease’s non-local nature makes the question of who has the disease irrelevant, as we all have it, in potential. It is more a question of whether or not we are aware of our susceptibility to fall prey to it. This awareness itself serves as an immunization that protects us from the pernicious effects of this insidious illness, thereby allowing us to be of genuine help to others.
Bush, like all of us, is both a manifestation of this deeper field and simultaneously an agent affecting the field. He’s become so fully taken over by the disease, all the while not suspecting a thing, that he’s become a “carrier”, thus infecting the field around him. He has become a portal through which the field around him “warps” in such a way as to feed and support his pathogenic process. A non-local, reciprocally co-arising and interdependent field of unconscious denial and cover-up gets constellated around Bush to enable and protect his pathology.
Falling victim to one’s own deception, as George Bush has, can have a very mesmerizing and gripping effect on others, because the one so affected is so convinced of what he is saying. To quote C. G. Jung, one of the greatest psychiatrists of the twentieth century, “Nothing has such a convincing effect as a lie one invents and believes oneself.” Bush has the seductive coherence of someone who is fanatically identified, like the typical fundamentalist, with only one side of a polarity. Thomas Merton, commenting on the case of the obviously demented Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, points out “One of the most disturbing facts that came out in the Eichmann trial was that a psychiatrist examined him and pronounced him perfectly sane.” A key feature of malignant egophrenia is that it is very hard to recognize when someone is a carrier, because the person can seem so normal and even endearing. The person afflicted can be very “charming” and have a certain type of charisma that can entrance those who don’t see through the subterfuge.
People who don’t recognize George Bush’s illness and thus support him are colluding with and enabling in the co-creation of the pathological field that is birthing itself through him into the human family. People who vote for Bush are somehow blind to what is very obvious to others. It’s as if they’ve become hypnotized and fallen under the spell that he is casting. People who support Bush become unwitting agents through which this non-local disease feeds and replicates itself. By supporting him they are collaborating with and becoming parts of the greater, interconnected and self-organizing field of the disease.
The situation with Bush is analogous to when seemingly good, normal, loving Germans supported Hitler, believing he was a good leader trying to help them. The German people didn’t realize that the virulent psychological pathogen malignant egophrenia had taken possession of Hitler and was incarnating itself through him. By not seeing this and supporting Hitler, they became unwitting agents of the disease, assisting its ability to self-propagate. This was a collective psychosis, and this is what is taking place in our country right now. Whereas Hitler’s evil was more overt in its cruelty and sadism, Bush’s dark side is much more hidden and disguised, which makes it particularly dangerous.
Just like Hitler struck a chord deep in the German unconscious, George Bush is touching something very deep in the American psyche. Bush is acting out on the world stage an underdeveloped psychological process that deals simplistically with issues such as good and evil. It’s as if he hasn’t grown out of and fully differentiated from the realm of mythic, archetypal fantasy that is typical of early adolescence. This immature aspect of Bush’s process speaks to and resonates with those voters who support him, as it is a reflection of their own under-developed inner process.
At the root of Bush’s pathology is a deep dissociation. Like the terrorists, he has split-off from his own darker half, projecting the shadow “out there,” and then tries to destroy this disowned shadow. By projecting the shadow onto each other, Bush and the terrorists are each seeing their own shadow reflected in the other. They see each other as criminals, as the incarnation of evil. By projecting the shadow in this way, they locate the evil “out there,” which insures that they don’t have to recognize the evil within themselves.
It’s interesting to note that the inner meaning of the word mirror is “shadow holder.” Ironically, by fighting against their own shadow in this way, they become possessed by the very thing they are trying to destroy, thereby perpetuating a never-ending cycle of violence.
Projecting the shadow in this way, to quote Jung, “deprives us of the capacity to deal with evil.” By projecting the shadow, Jung continues “evil has us in its grip……. for only the fool can permanently disregard the conditions of his own nature. In fact, this negligence is the best means of making him an instrument of evil.”
By projecting the shadow, Bush unwittingly becomes a conduit for the deepest, archetypal evil to possess him from beneath his conscious awareness, and to act itself out through him. At the same time, ironically, he identifies with the light and imagines that he is divinely inspired. People afflicted with extreme cases of egophrenia can, like Bush, become so inflated that they believe that any action they desire is justified in the name of God, as they can rationalize it as being God’s will.
Unable to self-reflect, George Bush is convinced of the rightness of his viewpoint, which he considers non-negotiable. He reacts to other people who don’t agree with him and support his narcissism with not just aggression but with sadism. Bush has contempt for and flagrantly violates the rule of law, which he believes himself to be above.
Bush has fallen into a state that is the embodiment of arrogance. Succumbing to the temptation of power, he has become corrupt-—an inevitable consequence when one prefers power over truth. Bush has fallen into a vicious cycle where he is compulsively driven to do everything and anything he can to hold onto the position of power he finds himself in. Addiction to power generates a counter-incentive to self-reflection.
Underlying this resistance to look in the mirror (the “shadow holder”) is an unwillingness and apparent inability to experience his own sense of sin, guilt and shame. It is as if he is afraid of being exposed, of being found out. To quote Jung, a person stricken with a pathology such as Bush “cannot endure his own guilt, just as he could not help incurring it. He will stoop to every kind of self-deception if only he can escape the sight of himself…..which consists essentially in one hand not knowing what the other one is doing, in wanting to jump over one’s own shadow, and in looking for everything dark, inferior and culpable in others.” All of these factors set in motion a self-perpetuating cycle of denial, cover-up and projecting the shadow, all of which are based on a lie. Bush then falls into an endless loop of hiding from his own lie, which is to say, from himself. Thus Bush becomes a conduit for egophrenia to take him over and incarnate its malignant aspect through him.
Malignant egophrenia is crazy-making. It induces a very hard to recognize form of insanity. It’s a world where up is down, as its flawless illogic is convoluted and inverted at its core. People with egophrenia accuse other people of doing what they themselves do, because they don’t recognize the mirror-like nature of reality. For example, Bush is talking about himself when he accuses Saddam Hussein of being “a man who has defied the world,” and “a man who has made the United Nations look foolish.”
One way the disease works is that, when we point at it and call it by its true name—as being a form of insanity called ignorance—people who are stricken with the disease will see us as the crazy ones. Unless we recognize the insidious nature of this disease, there is a crazy-making field around it that will make us a part of itself. Collective psychosis is like that.
One of the signatures of ME disease is that it hooks people through their unconscious blind-spot, so when people are afflicted, they are truly unaware of what is getting acted out through them. Bush doesn’t suspect a thing about his pathology because the field around him unconsciously conspires and colludes with and enables his psychosis. Bush himself is being manipulated, used and victimized, like a marionette on a string, by a deeper matrix of cover-up and deceit that has been perpetrated by him and his regime, and has now taken on an autonomous life of its own.
This disease, if it gets out of control, means self-destruction for both victim and perpetrator. There are no winners. The entire interconnected web that supports Bush can be recognized to be tentacles of this virulent, non-local pathogen that, to the extent that it is not seen, is potentially gaining more and more sovereignty. Like a sci-fi movie, we have dreamed up a higher-dimensional Frankenstein monster that has taken on a life of its own and truly threatens all of us.
Malignant egophrenia is both an expression of and at the root of the extreme polarization and dissociation in both the human psyche and the world process at large. We can even say that it’s the “bug” in the system that has informed and given shape to all of the conflict and disharmony of human relationship. ME disease is as old as the human species. However, we’re now at the point in our evolution where we can finally recognize it, diagnose it and give it a name.
The recognition of the disease is itself the beginning of the cure. By recognizing the nature of this collective psychosis, we snap out of being part of it. Malignant egophrenia, unrecognized and misdiagnosed until now, has wreaked havoc all throughout human history, and is at the very root of our current world crisis. To the extent we are unaware of the nature of this collective psychosis, it has us in its grip and will unconsciously get acted out through us in a destructive manner. The choice is truly ours.
The prescription for this disease is simply for enough of us who see it to connect with each other in lucid awareness so that it can be (alchemically) contained. The pathogen then can’t possess us from beneath our conscious awareness, and act itself out through us. Seeing the nature of the disease, we know its name, which takes away its omnipotence and autonomy. The pathogen is then anchored to consciousness so that it can’t vaporize back into the unconscious. This de-potentiates the disease, beginning the process of metabolizing and re-integrating it back into the profound unity of the psyche. The energy that was bound up in the compulsion to endlessly re-create the disease becomes liberated and available for creative expression. This is an evolutionary impulse from the universe in which we are invited to participate.
Malignant egophrenia forces upon us the responsibility to come to terms with the evil inside our own hearts. If we solidify George Bush as being evil and react with righteous indignation, we are guilty of the very same thing we’re accusing Bush of (i.e, projecting the shadow). We then become a conduit for the very evil we’re reacting to. Who among us has not been guilty of being a channel for ME disease at one time or another? If, when we see this virulent pathogen, we contract against it and react in any way, be it in judgment, hatred, anger or revulsion, we’re helping to perpetuate the diabolical polarization that is the signature of the disease. Our reacting in this way, which is typical of many political activists, is itself an expression that we ourselves have the disease, or to say it more clearly, the disease has us.
Jung says “Everything could be left undisturbed did not the new way demand to be discovered, and did it not visit humanity with all the plagues of Egypt until it finally is discovered.” Malignant egophrenia is a modern day plague of Egypt. If we don’t see what it is symbolically revealing to us, malignant egophrenia will destroy us. It’s a gesture from the universe, beckoning us, demanding us to integrate it and thereby receive its blessing. By prompting, pressuring and challenging us to come to terms with it and receive its gifts, malignant egophrenia has the potential to awaken us, thereby furthering the evolution of the species.
The question is, do we recognize what is being symbolically shown to us by egophrenia, or not? The inner meaning of the word apocalypse is “something hidden being revealed.” Will these apocalyptic end times we are in be an initiation into a more expansive part of our being? Or will it destroy our species? How it will manifest completely depends on us.
Malignant egophrenia has so overtaken President Bush as its living embodiment that this deadly disease could be said to be incarnating itself through him. Because of his position of power, Bush is able to act out and give shape and form to his inner pathology in such a way that his inner process is both literally, as well as symbolically, getting played out as the world process. Bush’s process, as well as the world’s process, is a reflection of our own process. ME disease is unique in that it collapses the boundary between inner and outer. Egophrenia is an inner disease of the soul that expresses itself via the medium of the outside world.
Being a non-local field phenomenon, malignant egophrenia is something all six billion of us are collaboratively creating and dreaming up together. Bush is an embodied, mirrored reflection of a part of ourselves, just like we, reciprocally, are a reflection of a part of him. His disease is our disease. Bush and his regime are a living embodied reflection of our collective shadow. We have all dreamed them up to play out these roles, in full living color, so that we can see and integrate these parts of ourselves. Compassion spontaneously arises when we recognize these fear-ridden parts of ourselves.
The malignant egophrenia epidemic is happening right in front of us, for all who have eyes to see. If we don’t look at what’s happening, if we turn away, ignore it, and contract against it, we are lying to ourselves. Then we’re colluding with and unknowingly feeding the disease. Our looking away is a form of blindness. Our looking away is a form of ignorance. Our looking away, our contraction, IS itself the disease. Our resulting complacency and inaction is, in fact, an expression of our lack of compassion. To quote Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. “One who passively accepts evil [allowing it to happen] is as much involved in it as the one who perpetrates it.”
Compassion is sometimes fierce, though. Sometimes it says “no,” and sets a boundary. Genuine compassion is not always smiley-faced, otherwise known as “idiot compassion,” which just enables and reinforces asleepness. Genuine compassion is not passive. It propels us to act for the benefit of all beings. True compassion demands that we be willing to consciously step into our power, mediated through the heart, and to find the courage to speak our true voice.
The Bush administration is breaking the moral code, the law of the planet, what Thomas Jefferson called “a decent respect for the opinion of mankind.” Like a bully who is in a position of power and privilege, the Bush regime abuses its power simply because it can. What the Bush regime is doing is truly criminal. The malignant egophrenia epidemic has induced a form of criminal insanity in the entire Bush regime that we are all complicit in by allowing it to happen.
Being truly patriotic and compassionate in our current situation involves doing everything and anything we can, however big or small, to remove Bush and his regime from office, for their good, as well as our own. It’s our responsibility to recognize the extreme danger of our situation and to do something about it. This is what Al Gore was trying to tell us in his speech when he ended with the quote by Abraham Lincoln, “We—even we here—hold the power, and bear the responsibility.” Now is the time to act before it is too late. As the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. says “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
A healer, Paul Levy is a spiritual and political activist. He is in private practice, helping other people who are also spiritually awakening to the dream-like nature of reality. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and (503) 234-6480. His website is www.awakeninthedream.com, where a longer, more in-depth version of this article is available. Please feel free to pass this article along to a friend if you feel so inspired.© 2004.