Monthly Archives: April 2012

Why Obama and Romney Both Misunderstand “The American Dream”

As Romney begins his pivot, he and President Obama are highlighting their competing visions for growing prosperity and riches: One, building from the bottom up; the other, trickling from the top down. The data show that Obama’s argument is more correct, but don’t look for any bipartisan compromise towards creating a sane fiscal policy. Nor, for that matter, towards progress on any other major issues. From a political psychology perspective, one can interpret the policies adovcated by the Republicans’ as increasingly extreme and reactionary.  They are likely to create suffering for large segments of society. At the same time, the party is resuscitating social issues from decades ago.

These have dangerous consequences, and you can’t help wondering what’s driving their positions with such zeal. There are many sources, but a major one is psychological.  It has three strands which culminate in policies that pervert what politicians like to call “The American Dream” – the possibility for all members of society to build a successful and fulfilling life. But that dream is increasingly pointed towards the few who can become rich, at the expense of the many. Let’s look at the three psychological strands that underlie that twist, and how they impact people’s work and lives.

Little Boys Play-Acting As Grown-Ups

The younger Republicans often sound like little boys making demands and arguments that they imagine big, grown-up men do and say when they have power, like “I will have my way, and you must obey me.” Interestingly, most of them are baby boomers now in their midlife years. Perhaps this reflects a psychological and cultural theme of this generation worth exploring. But their posturing does appear to reflect a twisted sense of what it means to be a psychologically mature adult man, who — in reality — must be able to engage with collaboratively to achieve anything. Continue reading


Awakening Your True Self Within Your False Self

Some readers have asked me to elaborate more on what I wrote in my previous post, regarding the “self within the self.” Here, I explain that a bit more, emphasizing the growing links between Western science and Eastern perspectives about consciousness and the physical universe.

In the previous post I mentioned that George Eliot wrote in Middlemarch:  “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”  Of course, it can be hard to realize what that is, exactly, especially when “what you might have been”—your true self—has become smothered by the life events and experiences that formed your external, “false self.” Nevertheless, most people have glimmers of awareness, moments in which you experienced the real “you.” Many occur at key turning points in your life when you chose, or were persuaded, to go this direction vs. that.

You can’t reverse time’s arrow, but you can revisit turning points and learn something about yourself that you might reclaim and incorporate into who you can become. Within this perspective, an inherent, true self exists within your external self. And, this underlying self is part of a vast, interconnected whole that our minds, bodies and spirits always “know” at some level.

This perspective reflects a confluence of several streams of new knowledge and thinking. It includes research about personality and behavior change; the distinction between consciousness, the mind, the brain, and their relation to consciousness; and knowledge of the structure of the universe, of which our organisms are fragments, “intelligent stardust,” animated by a life force that seeks expression itself through our evolution.

Interestingly, this new research and emerging viewpoints are joining Western science with ancient Eastern teachings. They indicate Continue reading


Study Finds That Liberals Remember Dreams More Than Conservatives

Here’s some interesting research:  A study has found that  self-described liberals remember their dreams more than self-described conservatives.  In addition, they have more frequent lucid dreams.  It occurs to me that those whose world view and ideology are more traditionally liberal are more tuned into their inner life – their sense of interconnection, and empathy for others; able to see other’s needs and points of view.  It’s not that conservatives lack an inner life; but it might have become more repressed or smothered by their embrace of values and ideology that promote and reinforce self-interest.  Here’s the link to the research, as reported in the Wall Street Journal: