An Integrated National Psyche

Integration is a word often used by psychologists to describe a psychological state in which we are consciously consolidating the various parts of our inner world into a coherent whole. The thought behind “psychological integration” is that a lack of it is weakening to the self. That if parts of our larger “self” are banished from consciousness; we suffer an essential lack of inner wholeness. When we disown parts of ourselves we undermine our own ability to see and own the full picture, to make intelligent choices that take all of our various sides into account. We make it harder for ourselves to follow through on our own decisions because we aren’t working with and mobilizing all of our parts. Valuable psychic energy that could be used in service of our own forward movement gets held in an unconscious, psychic frozenness. Certainly this same theory can apply to a country.

Last night, through the election of an African-American president, we are, as a country, allowing parts of our national psyche to become integrated into a coherent whole, into a working model of our national self. It is a stunning moment in our history as a country no matter what our political leanings. The idea behind psychic integration is that it makes the individual healthier and more whole, that it allows for previously tied up emotional, psychic and hence physical energy to become mobilized in service of the self, in service of moving forward into more of life. It seems no great stretch to apply these same principles to our national psyche. While parts of our population are disowned, don’t we drain our own potential energy and intelligence as a national being? What ever our political leanings and preferences, we are a society of many races, this is who we are. Following this line of thinking, last night we became more of who we are, we allowed the hidden and banished parts of national psyche to be integrated into a coherent whole in service of a more fully integrated self.

Two very meaningful and historic speeches were given last night. John McCain’s speech was a powerful and moving call for psychic integration. Whatever the campaign was or wasn’t, last night he did not foster or encourage the fracturing of our psychic energies, he did not allow us to boo or hate parts of who we are, rather he called for a kind of acceptance and integration of our national psyche in service of our self as a nation. His words, “we are Americans, we don’t give up” took on a new meaning, especially coming from someone who did not give up under circumstances that most of us can never even allow ourselves to imagine.

Last night Barack Obama’s very presence on stage along with Joe Biden’s family was a speech in itself, it said what words cannot touch and what history has not known how to manage. It allowed us to become whole, to consciously integrate who we already are, to bring split off parts of ourselves under our conscious control and to take responsibility for them so that we can mobilize heretofore tied up psychic energy toward the task of moving forward. Obama’s words “yes we can,” echoed toward a future that we are daring to imagine that we can co-create. Whatever our political leanings, last night we became a more integrated, coherent and whole national psyche.

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