2nd Apr, 2010

Truth or Consequences

Facing the truth can be exceptionally bracing, like a splash of cold water on your face after a too-deep sleep. Ultimately, it is the only path to constructively and successfully deal with reality. But many often try to avoid the truth, letting a difficult situation fester while determinedly looking elsewhere for both distraction and blame. Ultimately, avoidance may deflect some short-term pain, but in the long run, it is likely to cause greater distress.

The most problematic form of avoidance is when a person makes up a narrative that fits his or her preconceived fears or deepest desires, irrespective of the facts. An array of emotions will unfold as a natural outgrowth of this dishonest story, and this will lead inevitably to serious, often unwanted consequences. “Energy follows thought” is a common refrain in the psychotherapy office. How one thinks about a particular situation will mold the subsequent emotional response. Political strategists use this concept in creating a “narrative” or “spin” about any given situation in order to mold the public mood.

One of the most common distortions of the truth is the habitual expectation of victimization. When life is seen through this lens, it can poison personal relationships or, on a larger scale, be used to manipulate a political movement into a mob mentality. To fully understand the victim role, one must see it in the larger context of the Victim/Persecutor/Rescuer triangle, also known as the Drama Triangle which was first described by Stephen Karpman.

When life is captive to the Drama Triangle, these three roles – victim, persecutor, and rescuer – tend to morph into one another in an endless cycle of dysfunction. In the most common scenario, the essentially powerless victim longs unrequitedly for a magical rescue. But nothing is ever enough to quench the simmering fires of fury and blame lurking just under the surface. The victim soon becomes the hyper-critical and overwhelmingly angry persecutor. If a rescuer has appeared, he will soon become the victim of the persecutor’s wrath. From this perspective, the seething anger of every bully can be understood as the erupting outrage of an infuriated victim. In the many permutations to this drama, there is one constant: any rational, fact-based discussion of the situation will be drowned out by the dark emotions flooding the participants.

The only way off of the Drama Triangle and back into sanity and successful functioning comes with the introduction of healthy boundaries. The victim/persecutor needs to take responsibility for his or her situation and emotions, neither expecting rescue nor blaming others. This will empower him or her to make rational, effective decisions based on the facts. Likewise, the rescuer needs to let go of his or her guilt and stop feeling responsible for the feelings or situation of the victim and, instead, encourage the victim to take control of his or her own life. The persecutor needs to take responsibility for his or her actions and learn that there are other forms of empowerment than destructively acting out his or her rage. Underlying any shift to healthy functioning is the necessity of a clear, courageous assessment of reality trumping any over-dramatized story in which a powerless victim projects all blame and responsibility onto some evil “other”.

In today’s world, we are witnessing an epic struggle between a truthful rendering of the facts and an ongoing, hyperbolic, inflammatory and manipulative narrative with potentially devastating repercussions. The way a story is framed will determine the emotions that it evokes and, ultimately, the actions taken as a consequence. As we saw with the Iraq War and as we might see one day with climate change, motivated by the wrong set of facts or avoiding a reality we don’t want to face can lead to a very destructive and problematic outcome.

Moreover, we are increasingly seeing the theme of victimization with its attendant powerlessness, rage, and paranoia, as the thread that runs through a myriad of stories emanating from the right-wing fringe. An endless deluge of lies feeds this meme of victimization: the government is going to take my money, my freedom, my guns; the government wants to control my life and kill my grandma; the minorities are taking away my country; the government is communist, socialist, fascist, like Hitler; and on and on. Stirred up by right-wing talk radio and Fox News, the anger and powerlessness engendered by these lies is leading to an increasingly unstable and potentially violent core group of citizens. With armed militias on the rise and Tea Party meetings becoming increasingly agitated, political leaders and media personalities need to find some shred of integrity and take some responsibility for the uproar. If they cannot assertively rein in their followers with a bracing potion of truth, the consequences will be dire.


As we have often witnessed throughout the years, flowing into the mighty river of American history is a virulent stream of paranoia and rage. At times, this stream swells dangerously and with enough force to alter the saga of a nation, at least for a while. This kind of intense emotion is found in an astrology chart through the workings of Pluto, which can bring both a feeling of overwhelming fear and a need for total control to assuage it. Pluto describes deeply felt power struggles that ultimately lead to transformation.

In the US chart, Pluto (27Capricorn33) opposes Mercury (24Cancer12) and semisquares the Ascendant (12Sagittairus59). This means that a suspicious, verging-on-paranoid tendency can erupt from time to time among some element of the population when Pluto’s energy is strong in the chart due to the action of a transit or a progression. Beginning within a few days of the Inauguration of Barack Obama, transiting Pluto moved into an opposition with the US Venus (3Cancer06), and will have crossed this point five times between late January 2009 and late October 2010. Among other things, this aspect has profoundly heightened the power struggle in American politics and added the feeling that each side struggles for its very survival (Pluto). With it, the emotional temperature of the nation has been turned up several notches. It will be exceptionally strong from July through late October 2010, just as the election season heats up.

Of more immediate concern and potentially adding to the rather agitated state of the American population during this larger Pluto/Venus framework is the progressed US Moon moving into a square with natal Mars (21Gemini23), waxing within one degree from April 26 through May 27, 2010. This aspect suggests a time of ramped up anger and irritability among the population (the Moon). It can also relate to an intensified military campaign that has the public aroused and energized. The Jupiter transit square to US Mars from April 14 to April 19 comes only a few days before the progressed Moon reaches a one-degree orb in its square to US Mars and may well be strong enough to activate that progression, perhaps bringing events that launch the coming restive mood. In fact, this planetary lineup suggests a very high level of energy for the planned militia gatherings in and just outside of Washington, DC, on April 19. Sunday, April 18 will also be a day to watch, with the anti-government participants gathering near the nation’s capital and the Moon moving to conjunct US Mars that afternoon and moving towards a square to transiting Uranus and Saturn by late that night. In reality, Sunday seems more likely to produce random and dangerous incidents than Monday, but the high energy of both of the April 19 demonstrations may well lead to disruptions and concerns during the following five weeks.

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