"Cultural Complexes and the Soul of America" Transcript

Guest: Dr. Thomas Singer
(Listen to the audio on the episode page.)

Betty [00:00:06] Welcome to Mind of State, a podcast for political junkies and armchair shrinks.


Betty [00:00:11] I’m psychoanalyst and trauma therapist Betty Teng.


Jonathan [00:00:14] And I’m communications strategist and political hack Jonathan Kopp. Join us as we welcome experts and politics and psychology to consider this the state of our nation through the state of our minds and the mind of our state. Hi, Betty.


Betty [00:00:30] Hi, Jonathan. And welcome.


Jonathan [00:00:32] Thanks. It is so great to be here with you.


Betty [00:00:34] Let me introduce you to our listeners. Jonathan is joining me as co-host this season to help unpack the state part of Mind of state. Jonathan is a veteran of both the Obama, Biden and 08 campaigns, national media team and the Clinton ’92 campaign’s war room team. He’s a communications strategist who is currently managing director at the Glover Park Group, a DC based public affairs firm, and perhaps, most importantly for us, he’s one of the co-founders of Mind of State. I’m so excited to dive into season two with you, Jonathan, what interesting times.


Jonathan [00:01:09] Interesting times, indeed. Seems a blessing and a curse. We are relaunching this conversation in a turbulent time. We’ve got the covid-19 pandemic, an economic crisis rivaling the Great Depression and racial tensions as intense as those during the civil rights movement of the 60s. If only, Betty, there were some sort of psychological frame that would help us make sense of all of all the chaos.


Betty [00:01:35] Funny you should say so, Jonathan, because this brings us to what we’ll be talking about with our co-founder, Tom Singer, who, as a psychoanalyst and an expert on psychology and politics, introduced us to the idea of a cultural complex, which may just be the frame we’re looking for. A complex or we might say a preoccupation or an obsession, is something a person or even a society has with a particular issue, identity or ideal over time. That society, which is what we’re concerned about, struggles with these phenomenon or these cultural complexes, can define its character and reflect what it prioritizes and values. So considering what cultural complex has gripped the U.S., will give us a guide to talking about our current political state and perhaps help frame our thoughts and feelings about them. So there you go.


Jonathan [00:02:25] Well, cultural complexes sounds like exactly the frame I was looking for. So let’s give our listeners a little bit more information about Tom Singer. Dr. Thomas Singer is a psychiatrist and a Jungian psychoanalyst. He is the expert on the relationships between myth, politics and psyche. Tom is the president of the Board of National ARAS, which stands for the Archives for Research into Archetypal Symbolism. And he is the editor of a series of books exploring cultural complexes, including the recently released Cultural Complexes and the Soul of America.


Jonathan [00:03:00] Welcome to Mind of State, Tom. It’s great to have you here.


Tom [00:03:03] Thank you. It’s good to be here.


Jonathan [00:03:05] I gotta say, I feel like I need to lead off with an observation, which is, I think secretly in your mind, if it had been up to you, Mind of State might have been called Psyche and Polis. And so I want to start off by asking you to help us understand what is ‘mind’ versus ‘psyche’ and what is ‘polis’ versus ‘state’. Are they the same, are they different? Are they just Latin words for English words? Talk to us about psyche and polis.


Tom [00:03:39] Yeah, well, I do prefer ‘psyche’ and ‘polis’ to Mind of State, although I love the name Mind of State for our show. I think it’s the perfect name for the show. But I prefer psyche and polis, which are old Greek words. Actually, psyche is the root of psychology, of course. Psyche is also the Greek word for soul. So, and polis is the Greek word for state or city state. But it’s not just sort of being a helenophile and wanting to go back to some old elitist-sounding nice names. I actually find the words psychology or ‘mind’ and ‘state’ rather concrete and heavy. There’s not a lot of life when you say ‘mind’. I don’t think of something that’s living and breathing. I don’t think of something that’s alive and moving and shifting all the time, winding its way through individuals and groups of people. ‘Mind’ is a little bit more mechanical, and we think of neurons firing off, if we think of mind at all, and and ‘state’ is the same way, it tends to be, we tend to think in terms of bureaucracies and rather lifeless or sterile organizations that aren’t breathing and don’t have movement in them, so for me, ‘psyche’ is filled with movement and vitality, and ‘polis’ is the same thing. If the Greek city states were anything, they were alive. And I think sometimes we drain the life out of things when we talk about ‘psychology’ or ‘mind’ or ‘state’. So that’s why I prefer using those words.


Jonathan [00:05:30] Yeah, I think a lot of the American public and maybe the public beyond America would probably agree with you about about conversations of ‘state’ boring them or, you know, lifelessness when you when you come to politics, I find it, you know, to be the arena of ideas, but sometimes it just gets down to either partisan bickering or a bunch of bureaucratic bean counters. And that’s not what we’re here to talk about, is it?


Tom [00:05:56] No, we’re we’re here to talk about the very unpredictable and fluid movement of how when individuals gather together in groups, this ‘mind’, our psyche, is very alive and shifting. And today it’s almost shifting on a daily basis according to whatever the news may be. So that’s that’s why I prefer ‘psyche’.


Betty [00:06:20] And from what you’re saying, Tom, when I’m picking up on on your comments on psyche and polis as analogies to the more fixed or concrete mind in state is that there’s flow to those words and that there’s an energy to the psyche and polis so that that they as representations of what’s going on in our souls, in our heads, and versus what’s going on in our squares, in our interactions with each other about government, is a very dynamic thing, and it’s a flow rather than these fixed and rigid concepts. And so I think that’s something really important, because right now, as Jonathan says, everything is rather volatile dynamism with so much going on with the pandemic, with the economic crisis, with the election coming up. With race relations being what they are. And so this flow and energy and dynamism is very electric right now in almost a shocking way, sometimes hurtful, but very very unpredictable and unknown. And so I wonder if  that’s accurate to you or that reflects some of what you’re expressing.


Tom [00:07:50] Yeah, another piece of psyche and polis versus mind and state is that we tend to experience these things in a subjective and inner way, and psyche really refers to how it gets experienced inside or between us. We really don’t talk about experiencing ‘mind’. It’s a more objective statement about the structure of the brain, if you will, or the structure of the government. That’s not how we take in our government or the ‘polis’. That’s not how we live it, that’s not how we relate to it. And it’s the same with psyche. So that’s that’s why I really prefer that. You know, the funny thing is right now, it seems remarkably fluid, and from day to day, as psyche moves and winds its way through, it seems everything is unpredictable. And yet, paradoxically, there are some ongoing themes in psyche and polis that are not exactly static, but they’ve been with us for 300 or more years as long as we’ve been around as a nation. So on the one hand, there’s this tremendous sense of dynamism and fluidity and then the other hand, there’s a tremendous sense of repetition and even static sameness. If you’re a black person in Black Lives Matter, today probably in some ways maybe feels a little different than it did in the 1960s, but the issue of racism or the issues around gender or the issues around the economy, over time, they tend to be more static rather than fluid, although they feel very fluid in the moment.


Jonathan [00:09:34] So these are sort of … what I’m hearing is that there are these megatrend kind of sociological themes that flow through our collective consciousness, that help drive our society, they shape or influence some of our identity and the ways that we relate to each other and that we might manifest them in different ways. There are different moments that bring them to light, there are different terms of art that we might use to describe them. But what you’re saying, I think, is that there are thematic throughlines that link the same things that we’re experiencing now to the same things that that we might have experienced 100, 200, 300 or more years ago because they’re part of the human psyche. Is that right?


Tom [00:10:27] Yeah, that’s very well said. There are thematic throughlines, I might say, rather than a sociology, I think of it as an inner sociology. And what I mean by that is that these thematic ongoing issues that the country has been facing for a long time, they actually exist inside of us.   They exist inside of us as individuals, and they exist inside of us as members of groups, or as members of competing groups. And so it’s not exactly sociology, psyche isn’t sociology, it’s inner sociology,.


Jonathan [00:11:06] Inner sociology, but collective, right?


Tom [00:11:08] But collective. But collective.


Jonathan [00:11:10] So somehow it’s within me, it’s within you, and yet it’s also flowing through all of us. How does that work?


Betty [00:11:20] I mean, I think something that you’re saying Tom and Jonathan, what you’re getting at with the sociology and or sociology and a collective consciousness or unconsciousness as being a psychoanalyst, where we like to think about, is something humanistic. You know, the ways in which we’re human. And that jumps us outside of sociology, per se and the nature and what it is to be human, and that goes into our inquiry in our clinical work as psychotherapists. Like, how do we work? And what you’re saying, Tom, about the cyclical nature of things is really interesting, because we’re trained as psychotherapists, shrinks, to look at patterns of behavior in people and they come to us to consider these patterns because they don’t want to keep doing the same things over and over again. A lot of times they say, you know, why do I keep doing this? And I want to understand what it is that I’m doing so that I can have more agency over this, rather than to have these things keep happening over and over again. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again and expecting different outcomes. And so we’re kind of having the historical experience of this. If you talk about slavery and the repetitions of these patterns of behavior that root themselves in slavery or the economy or gender or, you know, movements in politics, and I think this is what we want to look at. Like what makes us keep doing the same things, even though they might be pitched in a different way according to the context. And I think that gets to the what a cultural complex is, you know, from your book, most recently in what we hinged on and latched on to as the way to decode and a way which we want to look at this entire season, and what’s going on today. So can you tell us what a cultural complex is, Tom?


Tom [00:13:32] Yeah. Let me space you out for a minute, in terms of how to think about this. So think if you were an amphibian living 400 million years ago and you were crawling out of the sea for the first time and you had to survive on land. Well, you might think you need lungs to do that, but actually, Homer Smith, who wrote a wonderful book called “From Fish to Philosopher”, wrote about the kidney, and that the kidney is the key to the survival on land because you need to filter what’s going inside and outside in a way that a fish living in the sea doesn’t. So think about the kidney as a filter that maintains an internal environment. Now, think about the psyche. Think about us as human beings who need filters that help us differentiate inside and outside, and what we take in and what we don’t. I think of cultural complexes as the kidneys of the collective psyche. Now, that’s a mouthful. But we have filtering systems that allow us to process thoughts, images, emotions, memories, all sorts of things that are part of our everyday living. These are actually very complex, it’s a very complex process by which all of these things are being put together and they’re being filtered, and they’re being filtered by the individual psyche and the collective psyche. We have a filtration system. So I think of cultural complexes as being collective psychological filtering systems for both individuals and groups. And what they do is they allow us to maintain a relatively stable internal environment in relationship to a very complex outer world. And so they filter things on the basis of memory, on the basis of feelings, I said, on the basis of thought, on the basis of image. And what happens historically is that different groups of people, different and living in different places, develop different cultural complexes that determine as groups how they think and feel and behave and remember. And so I’ve been studying this for about 20 years, literally all over the world and most recently in the United States. We have six or seven cultural complexes that have determined our history and our politics, I would argue. This a bit grandiose, and it’s just one way of looking at things, but they determine how we think and feel and behave about a variety of ongoing, I think through themes, as you referred to it, Jonathan, and I call these cultural complexes because they operate more unconsciously than consciously.


Jonathan [00:16:33] Tom, can you give us an example? Because this all, I mean, look, you’ve been studying this for  years and you’ve been studying it all over the world. But to me, it’s still sounding very abstract, and I would love for you to just ground it a little bit more like, give us an example of a cultural complex?


Tom [00:16:49] Well, the one that we’re living in right now most passionately would be the cultural complex of racism. And racism has been part of our history for as long as we’ve been a nation for 300 years or so, and racism has all sorts of fixed simplistic ideas and thoughts, repetitive memories and behaviors and attitudes, and these are deeply ingrained in white people and black people, people of color, everybody has racial complexes. It’s not that complexes or cultural complexes are abnormal, they’re actually normal. That’s how we filter the world. In our country, the complex, the cultural complex of race has determined a great deal of our history, and most of it has been unconscious and activates ferocious emotion. Unbelievably raw, primitive emotion, very simplistic ideas that tend to be literally black and white and divide things into opposing positions, like we get on the Confederate flag or whatever the issue of the day may be, or statues. Once you trigger – and cultural complexes are highly reactive – once you trigger them, the emotion that’s released is unbelievable. We’ve just seen that with the George Floyd murder. That activated the oldest, most virulent, potent and destructive cultural complex in American history.


Jonathan [00:18:28] So you’re getting at something that I think gets right to the core of Mind of State, right, because what you just did, you were talking about cultural complexes and psyche, and consciously or not, sorry to use a psychological term, consciously or not, you lapsed into polis. You lapsed into politics. You started talking about about George Floyd and what I think about as the political process and the political ideas and the issues that are that are welling up and boiling over all across this country. I don’t think people are out marching in the street about a cultural complex. Right? And they’re not marching in the street about psyche or polis, they are marching in the street about inequality and injustice, but it’s the emotion that they’re bringing to it, the anger and the frustration that I guess is tapping into this this primal human notion about about race. And so it’s that relationship between mind and state, between psyche and polis, that you’ve landed us at.


Betty [00:19:33] And I think, Jonathan, to to key off of what you just said, there’s something in the culture, and seeing it as a cultural complex or seeing it as a movement or a linkage of how our minds are driving our state or how our minds are reacting to situations that are happening in our state, which is really kind of not just political, but socio and cultural as well. So it’s a blend. And I think that that’s a piece of this then we can understand this and maybe break that or at least look at the mechanisms of the cycle, you know, that why are we not seeing these cycles repeating themselves? Is it because the emotions are so high they blind us? Is it because there’s some resistance that the cultural complex brings forth? How, Tom, can we use this filtration system or this awareness that there’s a filter, which I see from what you just said, as a way a people self-regulates. So, like, if you’re talking about a kidney, that’s a regulation device or a regulation organ. And so we talk a lot about self-regulation in trauma because it’s about sort of, extremes being modulated or out of modulation. So there’s something dysregulated. And so how does this cultural complex, because right now it’s not regulated or our system is highly dysregulated with regard to say race, but it is highly dysregulated with regard to a lot of things. And so I wonder what you can say about how a cultural complex, if it is a filter, how does it speak to dysregulation or regulation?


Tom [00:21:25] Yeah, that’s a really interesting and good and difficult question, because at any given moment, a cultural complex, particularly when it’s been activated and all of that raw emotion gets discharged, there’s not much regulation going on at all. And they tend to, these cultural complexes as I define them, tend to be highly repetitive. That is, they recur over and over in time and they’re also autonomous. They seem to have a life of their own in the psyche. And like the George Floyd episode. Suddenly it triggers this whole thing and all of that, all of the stuff that’s been waiting to come out around that, which it does periodically, surfaces again, so it feels like you’re back in the 1960s in some way. It discharges itself, and in those moments to talk about homeostasis or self-regulation is probably.


Betty [00:22:25] Not possible.


Tom [00:22:27] It’s rather meaningless, because they’re not self-regulating and they’re not homeostatic. On the other hand, if you take a longer term view, I do think the psyche tends to kind of compensate for its excesses and does have a homeostatic function. And I think we’re beginning to see that in our country right now with the movement against Trump. And it really starts, it’s feeling as though whatever energy he was able to mobilize, he’s losing somewhat, there’s a homeostatic mechanism at work. But the highly repetitious, highly autonomous and tremendously emotional, reactive nature of cultural complexes makes them almost impenetrable when they’ve been activated, almost impenetrable when they’ve been activated.


Jonathan [00:23:16] Tom, you got you got me excited when you started talking about Trump losing. And I have no doubt that we’re going to talk a lot more about race through this whole season. But let me stop you a second, because we’re just getting started and these are still new terms. Cultural complex. You gave us one example, racism, or race. Are there others?


Tom [00:23:41] Actually, all of this began with a paper I wrote on the eve of the 2008 election, and I was asked to reflect, I was asked to meditate on politics and the soul. And at the time…


Jonathan [00:23:57] That was a soulful election, that’s for sure.


Tom [00:23:59] And I thought I was an idiot to take on the task of trying to reflect on the relationship between politics and soul. But as I get began to work on it, I defined seven different areas where I think cultural complexes have been determinative or formative of American history. And I further go on to argue that it’s in what we do with these cultural complexes, that our soul of a nation gets formed. So I’m really relating two separate concepts, cultural complexes and soul. And the tension in these cultural complexes, when we engage them, soul can get made or soul can get undone. Let me very briefly run through the seven cultural complexes that I think are determinative of our political processes and our historical processes. And of course, this is just one model and we can add to it, subtract to it or throw it out the window. But I do think soul gets made in this process. And I’ll just I’ll just give you this list. It’s the relationship to money, commerce and consumer goods. That’s definitely a cultural complex. The relationship to the natural environment is clearly perhaps the most pressing cultural complex on which the survival of the human species is now dependent. The relationship to the human community, including family life, social life and the life cycle from conception to death. That’s a great big thing. But how we relate to or don’t relate to our community as a cultural complex is one of the most divisive forces in our society these days.


Jonathan [00:25:45] Particularly relevant in this era of pandemic and social isolation, right?


Tom [00:25:49] Absolutely. I mean, if we don’t think we’re responsible members of the community and the virus isn’t real, we don’t put on a mask. It’s about as concrete as you can get. How we relate to the community.


Jonathan [00:26:02] All right, so that’s three…


Tom [00:26:03] A relationship to the spiritual realm. And that’s always been an important part of American history and how we define ourselves, and I would argue that it’s still incredibly important in terms of what we do with the spiritual values and aspirations and meaning or meaninglessness in our life. That’s a cultural complex.


Betty [00:26:25] Tom, does religious freedom come into that?


Tom [00:26:28] Absolutely. Absolutely, religious freedom is sort of the foundation, really that’s the foundation of our American history was based on the fight for religious freedom. Freedom. The relationship to race, ethnicity and gender. All of the so-called ‘others’. What we do about gender, race, ethnicity, now putting them all together is probably a stupid thing to do. But it’s about the ‘other’. And it’s what we do with people who aren’t like us or are different from us. Then, here’s a really important one, I think, and particularly unique to American history in terms of a cultural complex, our relationship to speed, height, youth, progress and celebrity.


Jonathan [00:27:16] That’s a big bucket.


Tom [00:27:19] There are a lot of big buckets, but they overlap. And actually, these cultural complexes overlap with one another, they’re not as pure forms as I’m articulating them. But we’re all, so far, we’re about speed, high youth progress and celebrities. I mean, that’s the deal. We’re not about age. You know, let those old people die in the old folks home of the pandemic because they really don’t count, they’re just numbers. I’m not saying that’s how I feel, but that’s a relationship to age in our culture, to older people. And finally, the seventh would be the relationship to the world beyond our borders. How we feel about the United States in relation to other countries. And we’re in the midst of a huge fight about that, a huge cultural complex that generates all kinds of emotion and stupid, simplistic ideas. I mean, if you want to if you want to look at stupid, simplistic ideas as a function of cultural complexes, look at our policy towards other countries at this state, in our national…


Betty [00:28:24] The shortenings of visas, the challenges to visas on all levels, just absurd, you know?


Jonathan [00:28:30] Well, our place in the world is in chaos right now, right between putting up walls…


Betty [00:28:36] And travel bans.


Jonathan [00:28:36] Banning travel and pulling out of the WHO. This is incredibly fraught. And what’s interesting to me, Tom, is when I hear you list these seven cultural complexes, my mind immediately goes to cabinet agencies or committees of Congress or landmark legislation, because that’s what I’m hearing in every single one of them, whether it’s the Civil Rights Act or the Equal Rights Amendment or the Department of Commerce or the Foreign Affairs Committee. You say cultural complex. I think political and government. You say cultural complex. Betty’s thinking psychological phenomena. Right? And that’s exactly why I think you are the human embodiment of Mind of State. right here.


Betty [00:29:27] You know, there’s one thing that I wanted to say about the the cultural complex on race, you know, or the ‘others’, race, gender and ethnicity, Tom, like you were saying, you know, I know you’re stating the parameters of the complex, but when we’re saying different from ‘us’, can we  frame it as different from the centrist idea of what ‘us’ is? Because, you know, there is this idea that the other is women, the other is immigrants, the other is people of different races other than white. But there is a presupposition or an assumption to what ‘us’ is versus the ‘them’. And it’s something to just kind of clarify. But no less useful to see that this this complex stirs us, no doubt. And because I fashion myself a good student of your teaching, Tom, I had thought about this as we’ve been talking about this for months, really, that, may I add to cultural complexes as the relationship to speech? We are a country singular in the world about our pride in freedom of speech. But right now, we really challenge speech on both sides of the aisle. We challenge calling Trump a liar, we don’t want to say that because we want to be impartial in the press as some people critique, and yet we also are talking about, you know, cancel culture and that language of what is right and what is wrong, which spins the polarization of, you know, what emerged from what used to be called political correctness and so…


Jonathan [00:31:23] Right. Liberal liberalism became illiberalism pretty quickly.


Betty [00:31:26] Right. And now but there is an importance of speech and how we say things and what we say and where we say it, from now MSNBC vs. Fox News, and what is really tilting towards extremism perhaps on both sides. And that relationship to speech, which we claim to be so  open and protected here in the United States, really is also sometimes dogmatic. And the other cultural complex that I would add to the mix is the cultural complex relationship to loss and trauma. And, you know, I don’t know if because I’m a trauma therapist, I see everything through this lens, but I would say that we are a nation built on loss. But it may be unacknowledged loss, which is, you know, troublesome or troubles us, because when we don’t acknowledge the loss, we can’t heal it. And there’s a lot of talk about that with regard to what has emerged from the loss of George Floyd in a very brutal fashion, but also the loss of country, the loss of a way of being, if you want to talk about ‘Make America Great Again’. So are we returning to something like, what about the losses that are clear or unclear that we keep replaying? So I wonder what you think about those two ads.


Tom [00:32:58] Well, I think they’re excellent, essential ads. And what I like to do when I try and use this notion of cultural complex with some some precision and clarity, is I like to look at the defining characteristics and see if those characteristics are like, if we’re going to say loss, how we handle loss in America as a cultural complex, I would ask that the following characteristics be met, and this is very important, at least in my thinking about this, that is: That our feelings about loss as individuals and groups of people in the country, they’re autonomous, they have a life of their own. Two, that they’re repetitious, that they go on inside of us, kind of without our awareness and they’re recurring over and over again, so they’re repetitious, they’re autonomous, they collect experiences and memories that validate their own point of view. So Trump, for instance, doesn’t like to deal with loss, so the word becomes ‘move on’ or whatever the word is, but it’s a trigger word to deny loss. We’re actually in a culture right now where we’re trying to deny the loss of one hundred and thirty thousand people. So it’s, the complex collects experience that validates its own point of view. The thoughts of the complex are simplistic and black and white, and there’s tremendous emotion. If those criteria are met, then I think you can speak of a cultural complex. And I think that’s true, both of loss and…


Betty [00:34:44] Speech.


Tom [00:34:45] Speech, yeah. I would add to speech, thinking. I think that the quality of thought, in our country now, we don’t think. Everything are simplistic sort of soundbites. And not only is the quality of speech, I think, really far more inhibited than we think, but the quality of thought has, in my opinion, has deteriorated to simplistic black and white assertions for which there is no real response.


Jonathan [00:35:17] Well, our politics has become reductionist, right? It’s down to it’s down to bumper stickers and memes. And if you can’t say it in a Tiktok video, then it’s no longer relevant, no one’s reading the long form. And that has a way of of pushing people to the extremes and crowding out nuance. Doesn’t it?


Betty [00:35:38] And I think these things are pitched on time and technology, possibly, because technology speeds everything up. You know that we are not reflecting, but we’re surfing, we’re clicking,  we’re going from one thing to the next, to the next to the next. And so one thing I wanted to ask you about, Tom, was when something is autonomous, what do you mean by that?


Tom [00:36:04] Autonomous means that it has a life of its own without conscious control. If you think of the vegetative nervous system, which controls heartbeat and respiration and digestion, we don’t think about having to do any of those activities. They’re autonomous. That’s the autonomic nervous system. They go on whether we’re thinking about….


Betty [00:36:31] So they’re like assumptions.


Tom [00:36:34] They’re assumptions, they’re ongoing psychic processes akin to vegetative biological processes that go on and have a life of their own, whether we think about them or not. And what I’d like to add to this conversation, because we’ve really sort of done a a kind of rapid run through, is that in our thinking about this show, and Mind of State over the next many episodes, we’ve kind of used this model of cultural complex as a bit of a framework, and so many of the issues that I’ve touched on very briefly are going to be the topics of much more in-depth conversations as we go along.


Jonathan [00:37:11] No, this is a great framework and it makes me think, you know, how much better would our political process be if the actors in it, if our politicians, our government officials were more psychologically aware? Right, I mean, they’re living out, they’re experiencing, they’re expressing cultural complexes and they don’t even know it.


Tom [00:37:31] Well, I haven’t thought about that that I want to add in, because it used to be my assumption that because politicians are very good at reading the mind or the psyche of the population, that’s what they’re trained to do, one would think there would be a natural conversation between those of us thinking about cultural complexes and politicians who are tuning into them and responding and resonating to them every day, and that it would be a very natural conversation to have. And unfortunately, what I’ve discovered is that the language and the thinking and the way in which we are approaching, it’s really oil and water. They don’t go naturally or easily together, although one would assume that they would.


Betty [00:38:14] And I think one thing that you did say, Tom, about thinking I mean, I think this is what this show is about, too, is to encourage all of us to think about our politics, to think about our state and state has its limits, but it’s also about a state of being, like a place where we’re at, and if we can do that, then maybe we can shift some assumptions or shift some autonomous actions in our minds and in our culture, in our politics.


Tom [00:38:46] Well, you know, if we encourage people to think I would encourage people to think about the cultural complexes that they can identify, that they can recognize in themselves, because they tend to be unconscious and they’re naturally occurring phenomena and we’re all moved by them, and right now in our society, we’re drowning in them.


Betty [00:39:07] If our objective is to make the unconscious conscious as psychoanalysts, so that people can do something about them, than behave out of default actions because they’re just operating within us without awareness, then this is useful, we hope, and an offering that we can deliver to those who want to think about the mind of our states and the states of our minds.


Tom [00:39:33] A really interesting exercise is to look at the daily newspaper and identify each of the headlines by the cultural complex that they’re speaking about. You’d be amazed, they’re the same ones over and over again every day.


Jonathan [00:39:47] You know, it will publish the list of cultural complexes on the Web site, and we’ll put it on social media so that people can have that as a guide and use that as a filter for reading their news.


Jonathan [00:39:58] Listen, I think, you know, this show we’re gonna be doing every couple of weeks and in between, all day, every day, we are bombarded by the moment, the crisis, the outrage. What we’re doing here at Mind of State is giving people an opportunity to step up, to pull up, to think about more long-term trends and cultural complexes that have been with us and will continue to be with us throughout human existence. And so if we can pull us back from the edge to be a little bit more reflective and introspective, we’ll have done something…


Betty [00:40:38] I think we really do want to stop the spin. We want to give people an opportunity to step out of the 24 hour, seven days a week news cycle and think about things that are happening rather than just get bombarded, as you say, Jonathan.


Jonathan [00:40:54] All right, so Tom, our partner, our co-founder, thank you so much for joining us on the show and framing up what is going to be a very exciting season two.


Tom [00:41:02] Well, it’s a great pleasure to join the two of you in this really stimulating discussion. I get very excited and it’s fun.


Jonathan [00:41:17] Thanks for joining us on this episode of Mind of State. And thanks again to our guest, Tom Singer, whose latest book, “Cultural Complexes and the Soul of America” can be found anywhere you get your books.


Betty [00:41:28] If you liked this episode, please subscribe and review us on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. You can find out what we’re up to by following Mind of State on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at mindofstatepod. Our Web site is mindofstate.com.


Jonathan [00:41:46] Mind of State is produced by Alletta Cooper and Jenny Woodward. Our theme song is composed by Joel Goodman, courtesy of Oovra.


Jonathan [00:41:54] I’m Jonathan Kopp.


Betty [00:41:56] And I’m Betty Teng. Join us next time on Mind of State.