Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) August 25, 2013: Recently the media reported how Antoinette Tuff, the bookkeeper at Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Center in an Atlanta suburb, talked a young man carrying an AK-47 with 500 rounds of ammunition into surrendering to the police instead of committing suicide by cop and in the process wounding or possibly killing her and others.
To be sure, like many school personnel around the country, she had received crisis training. Even so, her composure under pressure was extraordinary. Because she had called 911, her lengthy conversation with Michael Hill was recorded through the 911 system.
After he had told her that he didn't care if he died, she told him that she understood how he felt because she had felt like that after her husband had left her. Her story of her non-death loss impressed Michael Hill enough that he agreed to follow her advice and surrender to the police.
Her empathy for his situation moved him. For this reason, it strikes me as a fair guess that he himself is also experiencing non-death loss in his life.
In any event, failed mourning of non-death losses is the root condition that gives rise to what Erich Fromm refers to as the authoritarian character.
ERICH FROMM'S CONTRIBUTION
Erich Fromm worried about what he styled as the authoritarian character. As the antidote and preferred alternative to the authoritarian character, he advanced the person who has been liberated as the result of the optimal experience of psychoanalysis. Fromm's terms "authoritarian character" and "authoritarianism" are not widely used today. For this reason, I will not use them extensively in this essay.
In ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM (1941), Fromm explains that people who have the authoritarian character are "the kind of persons whose whole life is in a subtle way related to some power outside themselves" (page 172).
In David Riesman's terminology, such people are not inner-directed character types, but are fundamentally outer-directed character types as a result of their whole lives being "in a subtle way related to some power outside themselves," as Fromm puts it. But both Riesman and Fromm were inner-directed character types.
But I want to examine further Fromm's explanation of the psychodynamics of the authoritarian character and connect his explanation with the work of the Jungian theorist Robert L. Moore of Chicago Theological Seminary.
ROBERT MOORE'S CONTRIBUTION
So how would
In ESCAPE FROM FREEDOM (pages 172-176), Fromm describes what he refers to as magical helpers -- that is, helpers in our lives who seem to have a kind of magical touch in our lives. He allows that such magical helpers can include "a teacher, a husband, or a psychoanalyst" (page 176).
In other words, when we project the King archetype onto somebody, we thereby enlist that person as a magical helper in our lives. Because
As long as magical helpers are respectful of us and responsible and ethical in their relationships with us, they may play constructive roles in our lives until we are ready to stop projecting the King archetype and/or Queen archetype and instead access the power of the King archetype and the Queen archetype in our lives.