In the figure of the pale criminal, we are] no longer concerned with a personal unconscious‚Ä¶[but are] concerned with the evil of mankind‚Ä¶the pale criminal is a form of the collective unconscious.[i]
~C. G. Jung
Malignant egophrenia is a higher-dimensional virus that explicates itself in a variety of ways. George W. Bush is a perfect example of what the brilliant German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche called ‚Äúthe pale criminal.‚ÄĚ The pale criminal is one aspect of malignant egophrenia‚Äôs multi-faceted face. Jung felt that Nietzsche‚Äôs figure of the pale criminal was profoundly relevant for modern times. In the figure of the pale criminal, Jung felt that Nietzsche had eloquently named and articulated a particular type of malevolent personality disorder. It is chilling, as we review Jung‚Äôs commentary on the pale criminal, to discover he could be describing our current President. Jung said the pale criminal “‚Ä¶simply will not and cannot admit that he is what he is; he 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.‚ÄĚ[ii]
Because the pale criminal is invested at all costs to ‚Äúescape the sight of himself,‚ÄĚ he is completely unwilling to experience his shadow, which sets in motion a process in which he projects out his own darkness and becomes alien to himself. The pale criminal then falls into an endless loop of hiding from his own lie, which is to say, from himself. Once this process builds up enough momentum, it develops an autonomy of its own. This state of endless duplicity the pale criminal falls into takes him over so fully, he literally becomes an instrument through which this pathological process gives shape and form to itself. George Bush is the living embodiment of this malady.
The pale criminal is completely split off from and disavows a part of himself. In this ‚Äúpathological condition,‚ÄĚ to quote Jung, ‚Äú‚Ä¶one side of us does things which the other (so-called decent) side prefers to ignore. This side is in a perpetual state of defense against real and supposed accusations. In reality, the chief accuser is not outside, but the judge who dwells in our own hearts.‚ÄĚ[iii] Interestingly, one of the meanings of the word ‚ÄúDevil‚ÄĚ is the accuser.
At the root of Bush’s pathology is a deep dissociation, as he has split off from his own darker half. The pale criminal is a murderer (be it psychically, or physically) who is so disconnected from himself, he unconsciously denies and therefore consciously doesn‚Äôt even realize he is a murderer. Commenting on the extreme dissociation in the Nazi doctors who committed mass genocide, Robert Jay Lifton, author of The Nazi Doctors, says, ‚ÄúThe Nazi doctor knew that he selected [who was going to die], but did not interpret selections as murder,‚ÄĚ thus allowing them to ‚Äú‚Ä¶bring forth a self that could adapt to killing without one‚Äôs feeling oneself a murderer.‚ÄĚ[iv] Lifton points out that it was their deluded sense of meaning‚ĒÄsuch as purifying the race‚ĒÄthat these pale criminals placed on the acts they were committing, which allowed them to justify their murderous actions. Bush similarly justifies his murderous acts, be it through the delusion of spreading democracy throughout the world or trying to find non-existent weapons of mass destruction, depending upon what is politically expedient at the moment.
Talking about the pale criminal‚Äôs extreme self-deception with regards to committing murder, Jung commented, ‚ÄúThat it is a murder only dawns upon them a long time afterwards when they are told. Then they realize it and get pale‚Ä¶. They are quite astonished when they are told that they have committed a crime, because they‚Ä¶never thought that it had such an ugly name.‚ÄĚ[v] Nietzsche referred to this individual as a “pale” criminal because if this person were to self-reflect and look in the mirror, their breath would be taken away at seeing who they had become, and they would become pale at the sight of themselves.
By projecting the shadow, Bush locates the evil “out there,” which insures that he doesn‚Äôt have to recognize the evil within himself. Jung said, ‚ÄúEmpty people, or people who have an excellent opinion of themselves and cherish amazing virtues, have always somebody in their surroundings who carries all their evil. This is literally true.‚ÄĚ[vi] Bush must continually expend energy justifying and proving to himself and others that the evil lies outside of himself. But, as Jung comments, ‚Äú‚Ä¶we have already committed the crime in leaving our evil to other people.‚ÄĚ[vii]
The pale criminal‚Äôs condition results in, Jung continues, ‚Äú‚Ä¶wanting to jump over one’s own shadow, and in looking for everything dark, inferior and culpable in others‚Ä¶but since nobody can jump out of his skin and be rid of himself, they stand in their own way everywhere as their own evil spirit.[viii] Instead of having the ‚ÄúMidas‚ÄĚ touch that turns everything to gold, a pale criminal like Bush has the anti-Midas touch. He ultimately destroys everything he participates in‚ĒÄbe it businesses, nations, global culture, or eco-systems.
By projecting the shadow and then wanting to destroy his own disowned shadow, the pale criminal becomes possessed by the very same darkness he is trying to destroy, perpetuating the never-ending cycle of violence. In describing Hitler as the embodiment of the pale criminal, Jung could have been describing George Bush when he listed a number of ‚Äúpathological features‚ÄĚ such as ‚Äú‚Ä¶complete lack of insight into one‚Äôs own character‚Ä¶terrorization of one‚Äôs fellow men‚Ä¶projection of the shadow, lying, falsification of reality.‚ÄĚ[ix]
Because the pale criminal splits off from and projects out his darker side, he has become fanatically identified with only one side of an inherently two-sided polarity. As Jung points out, this:
produces a condition of God-Almightiness, that is to say all those qualities which are peculiar to fools and madmen and therefore lead to catastrophe‚Ä¶it merely fills him with arrogance and arouses everything evil in him. It produces a diabolical caricature of man, and this inhuman mask is so unendurable, such a torture to wear, that he tortures others.[x]
Jung is pointing at the condition of becoming unconsciously identified with and hence, inflated by, a more powerful archetypal energy, which is a genuine form of insanity.
Jung continued that in this figure ‚Äú‚Ä¶there is amazing ignorance of the shadow, [he] is only aware of his good motives, and when the bad ones can no longer be denied he becomes the unscrupulous Superman who fancies he is ennobled by the magnitude of his aim.‚ÄĚ[xi] Frighteningly, Bush and his regime believe that their ‚Äúnoble‚ÄĚ aim justifies any means, no matter how vile.
Jung concludes his description of this pathology by saying that this figure ‚Äú‚Ä¶disrupts the laws of humanity, and sins against all the rules of the human community‚Ä¶he has to keep his crime secret‚Ä¶he is the most violent breaker of the bond of the human community.‚ÄĚ[xii] Jung provides an exact psychological profile of what George Bush and Co. are unconsciously acting out on a global scale.
It’s important to see through our na√Įve illusions and recognize that what the Bush regime is doing is truly criminal. He is a snake-oil salesman who is truly dangerous because of his position of power, combined with the extent of his delusion and moral bankruptcy. 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.” The entire administration is suffering from a form of criminal insanity that we are all complicit in by allowing it to happen.
The words of the late philosopher Bertrand Russell are as relevant today as they were 35 years ago:
“I believe that every sane human being must do all in his power to prevent these policies from being enacted or continued‚Ä¶I am heartened that there is still present a will to resist and I am convinced that until people fully comprehend the magnitude of what is being done in their name there is small hope for peace in the world. It is not sufficient to point out the evil of others, for that is often a reflection of one‚Äôs own action.[xiii]
The figure of George Bush is an embodiment of what Jung called the “statistical criminal,” a figure residing within all of us in a state of potential, which can manifest under the right conditions. Jung‚Äôs thinking was, ‚ÄúEveryone harbours his ‚Äėstatistical criminal‚Äô in himself‚Ä¶owing to this basic peculiarity in our human make-up, a corresponding suggestibility, or susceptibility to [psychic] infection exists everywhere.‚ÄĚ[xiv] No one is immune from potentially catching egophrenia in its malignant form as the pale criminal. We all have the figure of the pale criminal living inside of us. If this is indeed a dream, then who is the figure of George Bush but an embodied reflection, in full-living color, of the pale criminal within ourselves. We are not separate from George Bush.
A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul Levy is a healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. Paul is also a visionary artist and a spiritually-informed political activist. He is the author of The Madness of George Bush: A Reflection of Our Collective Psychosis,which is available on his website www.awakeninthedream.com. (See the first chapter, The Madness of George W. Bush: A Reflection of our Collective Psychosis). Please feel free to pass this article along to a friend if you feel so inspired. You can contact Paul at firstname.lastname@example.org; he looks forward to your reflections. ¬© Copyright 2010
[i] Jung, Nietzsche‚Äôs Zarathustra, vol. 1, p. 480.
[ii] Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 417.
[iii] Ibid., par. 416.
[iv] Lifton, The Nazi Doctors, pp.422-425.
[v] Jung, Nietzsche‚Äôs Zarathustra, vol. 1, p. 470.
[vi] Jung, Nietzsche‚Äôs Zarathustra, vol. 2, p. 1495.
[vii] Jung, Nietzsche‚Äôs Zarathustra, vol. 1, p. 473.
[viii] Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 417.
[ix] Ibid., par. 418.
[x] Ibid., par. 437- 439.
[xi] Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 424.
[xii] Jung, Nietzsche‚Äôs Zarathustra, vol. 1, p. 489.
[xiii] Quoted from an article by Bertrand Russell called The Doctrine of Extermination.
[xiv] Jung, Civilization in Transition, CW 10, par. 408.