This is an adapted and augmented version of my brief introductory talk at the Assagioli Appreciation Day 3rd July 2016.
Although we do not usually associate Roberto with the detail of world politics, he was passionately concerned about the evolution of world change. Our gathering was just over a week after the momentous Brexit political convulsion in Britain. Given that this 'event' was still on everyone's lips and minds, it felt timely to ponder on what Roberto might have made of it had he been around. After all, it seemed to have entered the therapy room and teaching spaces like no other event except possibly the death of Princess Diana.
I surmised that Roberto would have looked at the Brexit referendum vote from four psychosynthetic perspectives.
The first would be from the standpoint of the Will. Whatever the flaws in the referendum process (torrential rain preventing people getting home, arguable mis-information and lies, perceived racism and ignorance, whether to have called it at all, etc.) the majority vote in favour of Brexit was saying something about the will of the British people. On this point the Prime Minister of the time, Cameron, was correct in saying this was a 'once in a generation' referendum, and we had to respect the result. The Will is a complex concept, and it works in mysterious ways, with effects and a logic that makes sense often only in hindsight, taking the longer-term perspective.
The second would be from the standpoint of subpersonalities. A large number of Brexiteers reflected parts of the nation that felt left behind or disregarded by the 'mainstream' metropolitan economy. We know from our therapeutic work that if we leave certain subpersonalities behind, or do not address the shadow of so-called 'progress', then these subpersonalities emerge and bite us in the bum, apparently surfacing from the unconscious. Now, whether the object of anger was falsely projected onto the European Union is a matter of debate, but the anger had to go somewhere.
The third perspective that Roberto might have highlighted was the role of specific nations. Although his pre-1974 writings often appear to us today as a bit stereotypical, or possibly even a tad racist, he had views about the role of specific nations within the world 'family'. He might have said that the British nation embodied a spirit of independence, non-conformity, and was thus serving the whole world system by making a stand. Arguably, Britain was probably the first major post-modern , post-industrial country in the world. This was even said when looking at the massive economic and social changes of the 1980s. So, in 2016, we may be serving the whole by shaking up the European Union. The rebel serves!
The fourth perspective is very different, and perhaps harder to describe because its effects have not really been estimated yet: the sense of deep soul-wounding felt by so many Remainers. Many people woke up on that fateful Friday to feel they were no longer in the same country. Some people, including myself, felt they were still dreaming! In my talk I mentioned the writer Jeanette Winterson's moving article in the Guardian where she talked about "crying for her country". And, as I indicated earlier, by far the majority of my clients and supervisees were bringing it into their sessions - even ones who I would not normally say were particularly political. So, what was the nature of this soul-wound? A sense of deeply held values of internationalism and multiculturalism seems to lie at the heart of the matter. This is not to deny that many Brexiteers also hold deep values - freedom, independence and initiative. But the Remainers had been holding an image, or should we say imago of a particular type of Britain, a world of hopefulness we thought was being built, centred on a dream of a safe, integrated - dare we say 'synthesised' - Europe. However realistic this dream ever was is highly debatable, given the big flaws we know exist in trying to integrate such a wide-ranging and diverse continent. Nevertheless, this dream got shattered on that morning. It was a trauma for such a very large group of people. Where will this trauma go? What will be the longer-term effects on the 'soul' of Britain? I do believe Roberto would have been deeply fascinated by such questions.
Keith Silvester is a supervisor and trainer at the Psychosynthesis Trust.
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