Houston Gun show at the George R.
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The issue of gun control and ownership continues to be a hot topic. One may even wonder if there is a national obsession, a sort of an addiction to guns and violence. There are many conflicting opinions on whether the availability of guns, contribute to the increasing rate of violence in our country.  Just like the debate on violent media video games and aggression in children, different research, funded by interest groups on both sides, show statistically significant results to prove their point.

As much as I love healthy controversy, I’d like to avoid taking a position in that debate, and rather look at the issue of guns and violence through the lens of depth psychology. Eric Fromm, an internationally known social psychologist and psychoanalyst, contributed violence to a death-loving orientation and destructiveness that is the dominant passion in an individual, such as Hitler. Fromm suggests that most of us possess a tendency for love and creation, as well as death and destruction. Which one becomes more prominent is determined by social conditions, according to Fromm, in which we are the means for the ends of another and not valued for ourselves. “There must be freedom to create and construct, to wonder and to venture”, he suggests, and our industrial civilization cultivates a mechanistic life condition, which does not allow much development of humanity.

Social conditions create a lack within us which leads to aggression that’s projected onto the “other” when suppressed in our own psyche. Perhaps in our race towards achieving the American Dream, the attainment of material success of the few without respect for the social barriers of the majority at any cost, that individualistic and self-serving mentality neglects the “other” within ourselves; that aggressive, violent part of us that blurs the line between right and wrong and can easily commit brutality on distant groups. Maybe if we light up the dark corners of our psyche, we may find that there is not much difference between us, and those who are the scapegoats of the moment and labeled as “criminals”.

In my opinion we need to develop the capacity to sit with pain and emptiness, rather than constant forward movement. Only then can we develop the ability to mourn past losses and failures and accept the disowned aspects of our personal and collective psyche, as opposed to a quick fix by ridding ourselves of the problem by a pull of a trigger. Though it needs to be stated there are many factors contributing to violence, such as family upbringing, mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse, individual predisposition and perhaps availability of guns, the real culprit maybe our unwillingness to look at that propensity within ourselves. Until I’m willing to accept the judgmental, aggressive, fearful and insane parts of myself and still feel as a complete human being, I cannot see the humanity in my enemy’s eyes.

What is your opinion? What do you think contributes to our cultural violence?

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4 Responses to “Guns and Violence”

  1. Roni says:

    I am 100% in agreement with you, Rashin. What else can be said? I don't think you have left much of anything unsaid, here, on this matter. Like your blog sets out to do, bring depth psychology to everyday life. I think depth psychology may really be able to provide a new(?) resource to peace, healing, well-being. . . . . . . and this latest post of yours poignantly articulates what I think is one thing at the center of depth psychology: there's more than what meets the eye, and don't forget to look inward when you are looking outward. Thanks for sharing your thoughts out here.

    • Rashin says:

      Hi Roni, Thank you for reading and commenting. You are absolutely correct, in that depth psychology asks us to look at what is beyond the visible.

  2. pcjoylov says:

    I was just thinking along a different line of thought. . . . .

    You ask, what do you think contributes to our cultural violence? I think violence is a value-laden term–that is, what one person views as violence may not be viewed as violence by others(s). So, violence (say, cultural violence) is a matter of perception or, stated another way, one person's view (or, perhaps, response) to a situation or thing. As such, we can control violence by controlling that within us that is violent–like you come across to me as saying. Forget about trying to control what's outside of us, get to the genesis within and think differently, see differently, to feel differently and behave differently. THAT could squelch a lot of violence? So, then, what may contribute to our cultural violence is a lack of *insight* toward a particular culture by any number of people? I know this begs, then, the definition and explanation of the notion of insight but in effort to circumvent the need for that I offer the idea that one demonstrates being with insight as not being in *opposition*, where opposition is a term I use to explain what I think is the sense of violence.

  3. Rashin says:

    You are right in that we can only control what is within ourselves, not what's "out there". As much as I do agree that violence is a matter of perception, I feel we do need some common ground in a society in order to not fall into chaos. There is only so much inward looking we can do. At some point, it's important to realize that consciousness needs to shift from the subjective "me" to the greater "we". Thanks for reading and commenting.

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