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From Shadow to Rainbow

April 17, 2012

menFrom Shadow to Rainbow

Post-Pathology Psychological Dysfunction


The Epoch of Umbriarchy

“I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword.

I will tell the truth wherever I please.”

– Mother Jones

To those who choose to believe that there are individuals in the world whose psychopathology is inbred and unchangeable and the cause of the victimization of “the rest of us” (and who still have ears to hear that have not been deliberately shut), consider this:

Every time the US (or any nation) takes tens of thousands of average citizens and turns them into soldiers to wage the politicians’ wars, these typical, average men and women, with just a few months of training, are easily turned into functionaries and leaders who can murder, maim, pillage, destroy, imprison, and torture (and not infrequently rape and maliciously violate) other human beings and the fruits of human labor and love without remorse or apparent inhibitory conscience (with always a few notable exceptions).

These people, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands or millions, exactly fit the definition of psychopath, except perhaps that they are not acting purely for their own benefit but for some larger cause, if at least to protect their comrades. But the goal of most soldiers is to get home alive, and they are put into situations and with expectations and programming that not only allows but requires that they act in psychopathological ways in order to survive.

Then we bring them home (the ones who are still alive and walking) and release them back into civilian (civilized) society, expecting them to completely shift back to psychological normalcy with little or no deprogramming or rites of return and welcome. The result, almost always, is what we now call Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or perhaps more appropriately Post-Pathology Psychological Dysfunction.

The common symptoms that make up this syndrome include: denial, extreme anxiety, misplaced rage, paranoia, alienation from feelings, self-destructive behavior, and inability to love or trust others. This is the normal human response to forced dehumanization, serious unresolved trauma and the sudden dislocation from fields of required pathology to fields of expected normalcy. This is compounded when such returning trauma survivors are not welcomed or are shunned by society.

To a lesser degree, these are the very symptoms that we have recognized and criticized in powerful men (and increasingly women) in industry, finance and politics.  Historically, men have been expected to take on the role of protector and savior, sacrificing their own psychological and physical welfare for the sake of homeland, home, wife, and children.  Particularly in the last century, men have been drafted into the unrecognized and unappreciated status of civilian soldier in a constant and increasingly demanding low-level economic warfare.  Men, from a young age, in school and home and peer group, learn and absorb the memes of “sucking it up”, not showing emotion, never crying, and ruthless competition in sports and classes and then in the workplace

It is no wonder that men exhibit many of the same signs of traumatization as soldiers.  Addiction and domestic violence – both forms of pathological narcissism – are the fallout. And these outcomes are not by any means exclusive to men in our society as “liberated” women take on soldiering roles as well.


We tend now to recognize our personal developmental responses to growing up in dysfunctional families as unfortunate but necessary defenses for ego-survival and viability.  We must also acknowledge outworn and dysfunctional social constructs as unfortunate but necessary stages of our cultural evolution.  In neither case is blaming self or other helpful or healing. Understanding, forgiving, letting go and moving on are.

War veterans deserve to be recognized as heroes for their sacrifice, though they may have engaged in reprehensible behavior while trying to survive in the inferno of war.  And men (and the women who have become like them) must be acknowledged as heroic for their civilian soldiering, though many unforgivable acts might have been perpetrated in the process of ego-survival in the daily hell of a competitive and materialistic society which demanded that they kill themselves for the comfort and security of their spouses and children or for “advancement”, reputation, social status and financial security.

One of the lessons with which the non-violence and feminist movements have blessed us is that language has the power to define and limit our experience of life. Having learned that lesson, let us now refuse to label a culture which is understood in retrospect as oppressive and unfulfilling – a culture in which we all participated and were all in some way enslaved and disempowered to be fully human – in a way which defines one class as villain and another as victim.  Division and dissension are tools of oppression, not of liberation.

If we are to move together into a new millennium of cooperative coexistence on the Earth, we must abandon the divisiveness inherent in our now-dysfunctional paradigm, embrace the commonality that we share, and honor the diversity that makes us whole, individually and collectively.

It is certainly true that the cultural denial of our essential connection to the Earth Mother created an unhealthy distortion of both the feminine principle of nurturance and the masculine principle of manifestation.  Many have called this recent paradigm “patriarchy”. Perhaps a more accurate and less loaded term to describe our recent historical period would be “umbriarchy “– the rule of the shadow.

Now that we are all beginning to leave the cold comfort of the cave of ignorance and isolation, we must not be afraid of wielding our warrior power in a new and conscious way which serves the God/dess in us all.  It is by acknowledging the balance of shadow and light within each of us that we will slay the dragons of defensiveness and denial that have too long obscured with their sulfurous fumes the true beauty and power and potential of humanity and of each human being.

We do not serve the goal of social evolution by pointing accusing fingers, or directing pent up anger, or misplaced fear, at returning veterans of a no-longer-functional cultural paradigm.  Liberation and metamorphosis will not be achieved until we all undertake a rite of passage through our own inner darkness.  This passage, as all transformational journeys, requires that whatever demons we encounter on the way be acknowledged as our own projections and transformed by recognizing them as divine beings calling for attention and offering us the gift of wholeness (health, integrity).

If we wish to be rainbow warriors of the new millennium, we must turn our swords from one another and stand together to face the demons we have co-created.  As soon as we do, those demons will bow down to us in respect and begin to serve us in creating a new world, for they are only our unacknowledged shadows crying out to be loved.



Robert Riversong has been a wilderness guide and experiential educator, a midwife for men and women in ritual initiation and personal/social transformation, and a facilitator of Vision Quest & Boys-2-Men Quest

 by Robert Riversong: may be reproduced with attribution for non-commercial purposes


7 Responses to From Shadow to Rainbow

  1. Harry Crouch on April 21, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    There are all sorts of ways to effect change. For example, it's interesting that the Duluth model for the re education of men (guilty or not of violence) is based on shame blame, and guilt — finger pointing if you prefer. Yet, it is still contaminating the world and has changed western civilization in wicked ways. I think intellectualizing is a poor substitute for being pro active. I will be pro actively pointing fingers for some time to come without trying to find time to study lint balls in my navel or cross my eyes reading Nietzche. We are making good progress toward correcting some of the injustices perpetrated on boys, men, their families, and the women who love them, which is by far most of us. It takes all of us who care about people to get the job done, thinkers and doers. Me, well, there are many at which finger pointing is long overdue. I'm thinking I'll be getting some serious cramps in my overworked fingers… but feel free to call me lazy if it makes you feel better.

  2. Riversong on April 17, 2012 at 9:01 PM

    Warren Farrell's political solution is "neither a women's movement blaming men nor a men's movement blaming women, but a gender transition movement."

    Come on brothers, let's not fall into the same trap of blaming the "other". Some righteous indignation is constructive, but anger only burns our own souls.

    • Harry Crouch on April 21, 2012 at 8:42 AM

      Anger may burn our souls but a little charcoal never hurt anyone. Frankly, I'm not prepared to let some people off the hook that easily; not prepared to go quietly with the "transition". The current war against men is evil and it was created by evil people wit malicious intent. I call'um as I see'um. The only difference between a misandric bureaucrat or politician and a murderer is the latter of the two might be in prison while we pay the former of the two handsome salaries and benefits to shorten as many lives of men as possible. The "transition" needs some passionate resistance. I'm not willing to have my grandson subjected to the horrific disregard for men our country so disgracefully parades around. Somebody has to pay besides fair minded responsible men and women.

      • Riversong on April 21, 2012 at 9:48 AM

        Sorry Harry, but if you insist that there's an "evil" conspiracy against men and that "somebody has to pay", you're stooping to the same level as the ideological feminists who insist that men, patriarchy, and testosterone are the root of all evil and that "affirmative action" is necessary to elevate women over the backs of the men who oppress them.

        Dividing the world into good and evil is a convenient, but intellectually lazy and ultimately self-defeating, response to a world which is nothing but shades of gray – shades cast by the shadows that we all live out in a fundamentally dysfunctional society. Most problems are not, in fact, caused by "malicious" people, but by ignorant and selfish ones who fail to see the big picture and that we're all in this together.

        Blaming the "other" feels good for a while (just as every prejudice is based on a sense of disempowerment and an attempt to re-empower at the expense of another), but the only way real change is made is by assuming responsibility for our own part in the problem and inviting others to do the same.

        That doesn't mean we stop protesting injustices where they are evident, but that we don't turn a righteous struggle into an "us vs. them" crusade that only demeans all sides of the battle and results in a bloodbath like our Civil War.

  3. S DeLuca on April 17, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    When feminists tell me that "testosterone poisoning" is the root of violence I look up the child abuse statistics for them. I also ask if they knew that t in 1983 there were almost double the number of men killed in Detroit by partners. And then I ask, do ya think Detroit had an "estrogen poisoning" outbreak?

    Locally they say "To be clear, men kill, women are killed" As if it's a hundred or a thousand to one. In late 60's and early 70's the difference was small, a little over a 1,000 women and a little under 1,000 men. That's when safe houses first started helping abused and abusive women. A few years later a Psychology magazine said the US was equitable with 75 men killed for every 100 women. Today women's rates are not much different than 40 years ago but male rates are down to around 500 (many hidden as experts know) so, let's ask why out of 330 million people how did 1,000 women killed a year became "a war on women?" When you consider that hundreds of thousands of men are traumatized in war, or at long term stressful jobs that crush men's bodies and often take their lives, and with so many men raped by the courts taking children from them and giving he father's assets to the X , … and with so many hostile, angry, castrating woman around pushing the button of men with PTSD… how is it possible that there are so few women killed. When women neglect and kill children, and most neglect, abuse and deaths are at mother's hands to sons, when 5 children die a day, we talk about the stress of parenting on mom's (I took care of two kids while working part-time and I did most of the cooking and cleaning, while my wife was the primary wage earner and working on her masters full-time. I had two kids to take care of and my "job" was not only satisfying and purposeful, it was easier than some of the dangerous and soul killing men's jobs I worked. It was easier than what she was doing "working like man". I just don't buy that BS from women. Few women end up with 100 percent disabilities from child care … I think it's to men's credit that so many can come home from war, some with multiple tours, and in the end, have their homicide rates in the home be so close to women's homicides that if you had a graph, with 300 million people on it, showing a few hundred dead men and a little over double that for women, you would not see the difference. Few husbands and wives kill each other but billions of dollars to the DV Industry's propaganda machine has led to a "war on men". Men are good. No matter how much "gender profiling" is done, most men are good but all we hear is that men are bad, women are angels.

    • Ivan on April 18, 2012 at 8:52 AM

      Good point !!

  4. JustAGhost on April 17, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    You know that that shadow pic should be parodied with the line "Who knows the evil that lies at the heart of feminism?" Accompany that with a shadow-like picture of a well known feminist maybe, maybe someone from and a logo. Just a thought that struck me and I thought I would pass it on.

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