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Reply To: The Power of the Personal,” with Mythologist Dennis Slattery, Ph.D.”

Dennis Slattery

    Thank you James for your insightful series of meditations. Your words spark some responses in me, not the least of which I am gaining by reading James Hollis’ new book, Living Between World: Finding Resilience in Changing Times. There, as far as I’ve read, he homes in on anxiety, which he believes is at the root of so many addictive behaviors as well as protective designs we all use to protect ourselves from delving further into the idea that drives the anxiety. He writes that it is not shameful to have an addiction, but to put the mother lode on the ego seems unfair. He encourages us to ask what purpose the addiction serves and from what is it protecting us? (47). I see anxiety and shame as interconnected. Hollis’ guiding phrase up to where I have read is: our purpose is to figure out what it is about when it is not about what it is about. That is step one.

    I think that both shame and anxiety are twin power forces that discourage the deeper plunge into the idea that generates both.

    I agree with all that you say, James, about how shame branches out to devour so much of our cultural life today. A sense of compassion for self and others can break this fever of self-protection and aggression. Violence, Hillman has written, is a failure of imagination because it tries to short circuit understanding. Many thanks to you both for this rich discussion.