J Edgar Hoover’s wikipedia entry says:
John Edgar Hoover (January 1, 1895 – May 2, 1972) was the first Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States. Appointed director of the Bureau of Investigation—predecessor to the FBI—in 1924, he was instrumental in founding the FBI in 1935, where he remained director until his death in 1972 aged 77. Hoover is credited with building the FBI into a large and efficient crime-fighting agency, and with instituting a number of modernizations to police technology, such as a centralized fingerprint file and forensic laboratories.
Late in life and after his death Hoover became a controversial figure, as evidence of his secretive actions became known. His critics have accused him of exceeding the jurisdiction of the FBI. He used the FBI to harass political dissenters and activists, to amass secret files on political leaders, and to collect evidence using illegal methods. Hoover consequently amassed a great deal of power. Said one journalist in the 1960s, “Hoover does not have to exert pressure, he is pressure”.
Pluto has the densest mass of all the planets, Saturn is associated with lead, another very dense material. It is a lovely image for someone with Saturn in Scorpio to describe them as pressure. Saturn in Scorpio holds back dense and powerful forces. Anyone who has put a lid on a pressure cooker or held on to someone transported with rage will know what this feels like! Dealing with issues like sexual abuse, abuse of power and fame, racism and sexism is like handling very dangerous nuclear forces – one false step and you are splattered all over the place. I wonder why these issues are so dangerous for us? What is it that makes them nuclear?
Going back to my client situations, one of the things I was doing was running a programme about coaching. As we went round the room doing introductions, one of the women said that she was very interested in women’s issues and wanted to focus her time on supporting female colleagues in being successful in the workplace and dealing with prejudice. As she said this I was just playing in my mind to see how this would sound if it were reversed, if a man were saying I’m very interested in men’s issues and I want to support male colleagues in being successful in the workplace and dealing with prejudice. I could not help laughing at the thought of the reaction it would get. When we were later involved in a coaching session she described the issue she had at work. It was with a male colleague, this colleague she found overbearing and dictatorial, constantly interfering and telling her what to do. What emerged further was that she was determined not to report to this man and that there was a power struggle going on over who had control. I asked her to describe what she really felt about him and she explained that she thought he was an anachronism, someone hopelessly out of touch, arrogant and old school. She felt that he was counter-cultural and did not fit with the E&Y values and that the firm should get rid of him. Her solution was that she should just give him the feedback very bluntly and not worry about him since he was not the way forward for the firm and didn’t fit with the firm’s values. I asked her what the firm’s values were and she told me that they were about diversity, inclusiveness and respect for people. I then asked her to score her respect for this man on a scale of 1-10 and being wonderfully open and honest (she was a pleasure to work with because she was so open) she admitted it was in minus figures. Her conclusion at this point was since she did not respect him, why bother concerning herself with how he felt? I then asked her whether the values applied only in cases where people were worthy of the values or whether they applied in all cases. She thought deeply about this and you could see that her perspective was shifting. As an interesting side point here, her background was as a qualified psychotherapist, which made it surprising for me that she should not see such an obvious projection or shadow. We talked further about shadows and particularly the Karpman Drama Triangle of Victim, Persecutor, Rescuer. She particularly liked this and we had great fun and a source of entertainment for the rest of the course with her pointing out whenever we talked about the triangle that she did not like the word “persecutor” but preferred the word “assertive” for her approach! What was clear in her situation and she was good at seeing was that because she felt like a victim of this man, she felt justified in persecuting him and treating him ruthlessly as if he did not deserve any care or empathy. He was very clear in being a reflection of her own shadow and prejudice.
J Edgar Hoover felt that the forces he was dealing with were evil, that he was the last bastion in defending the good of America against the threat of communism and the forces of evil with which they were identified. Arthur Miller’s Crucible chillingly recreates this rampant pressure of accusation, blame and scapegoating. A crucible seems such a fitting image for Saturn in Scorpio, containing heat and pressure with no release possible. Yet the idea of a crucible is inherent in the process of alchemy. Here the role of the pressure and heat of the crucible is to transform lead (Saturn) into Gold (the Sun – clarity, understanding). So what is really going on and what is being transformed?
What makes us most frightened and angry in this situation is our own impotence, our own identity and our own fear. Taking impotence first, we are outraged and angry that things such as the accusations against Jimmy Saville could take place; it rocks our sense of control and free will; somehow we should have been able to prevent these things happening. Our rage and indignation reflects our feelings of impotence and anger that the world has managed to perpetrate such atrocities right under our noses and we could do nothing to prevent it, indeed we were entirely hoodwinked. It is a cry of unfairness and hurt at the painfulness of the world. Yet, we have to find some legitimisation of this anger and so we look for someone to blame, to pass responsibility to. If only we can find who was to blame, we can prevent this ever happening again by eradicating them and all they represent. And here we come to the issue of identity, who among us wants to be identified as the perpetrator? Who would wish to be seen as the holder of socially unacceptable qualities that might be vilified by the herd (the rest of society)? We must dis-identify from these uncomfortable feelings, we must identify with the good and to do that we must condemn the bad. The harder we condemn the bad, the “gooder” we know we must be! It must not, in any way be something that we could identify with because then, horror of horror we could identify with the monster and we could be subject to the wrath of the mob. And here, lastly we have the fear which causes us to join with the mob in vilifying the perpetrator. Yet as Stephen Karpman was so adept at pointing out with his triangle, the three roles of victim, persecutor and rescuer are interchangeable, once we play one, we play all three. So in coming in to rescue the victims of Jimmy Saville, we must become the persecutors attacking him and anyone else in anyway associated with him; we justify this by also seeing ourselves as victims of those who told us he was a hero. In turn we then make them the victims, blaming the BBC and everyone associated with this time. Thus the cycle shifts through all roles.
So how could we approach Jimmy Saville? I suspect the real issue at the heart of the Saturn in Scorpio trine Neptune-Chiron is how we transform ourselves and our own emotions into a vehicle for deep understanding and compassion. I remember some years back a conversation with my friend Sam where we were considering the concepts of heroes and what really took courage in Life. It was at the time of the ship that sank off the coast of Italy where the captain fled to shore. I have a memory I even wrote a blog at the time about it prompted by an article looking at the fact that our moral outrage was based on the assumption that we would have done the right thing and questioning on how many small occasions we fail to live up to our own standards, or avoid responsibility. In the case of Jimmy Saville, was he a fantastic hero before for all the charitable work he did on behalf of children or the programmes like Jim’ll Fix it? With hindsight we now say no, he was a monster, it was all a sham. Yet, the danger is that our black and white picture previously was just as inaccurate as our black and white picture now. Which of us is completely black or white? All of us contain shades of grey. Which of us has not given into compulsive feelings only to be riddled with guilt and then tried to make atonement only to be overwhelmed by them again. The internet figures for porn would suggest that there are very few men who are not subject to the temptation of strong sexual feelings. Who knows what it was like to be Jimmy Saville? Perhaps we can have compassion for someone who had such strong sexual urges. Our compulsions and obsessions are not easy to deal with and whilst for many of us they do not extend to paedophilia, how would we feel and cope with it if they did? None of us consciously choose such feelings and which of us would like to struggle with them? So we need a response based on empathy for Jimmy Saville. This is not to condone his actions – whatever they turn out to actually have been. In the Crucible, the key to the story is that John Proctor was guilty of giving in to his sexual urges in having an affair with Abby yet this did not make him a bad man in total or worthy of persecution and execution. It made him human. It does not help Saville’s victims to cast him as a monster. When bullied at school and beaten up it did not help me to see the perpetrators as monsters or label or vilify them, putting myself in the role of victim. I wanted to understand what caused them to bully me, to understand them more deeply so that I could make sense of it. Once I understood the feelings that were driving them and could make sense of them, I felt differently about the situation and I no longer felt like a victim. The real emotion sitting behind a trine like Saturn in Scorpio trine Neptune-Chiron is grief; grief that the world could be so painful, grief for those people abused by Saville and grief for the man himself and the tortured life he must actually have led that would have caused him to act as he did. This is not to condone his actions or even understand how we allowed them to take place, but to do this in order to understand and learn to prevent, as far as we are able, such events in the future, not to be stirred into a vengeful wrath that seeks to destroy everyone and everything associated with him.
At the beginning, I linked John Terry and Jimmy Saville together because they both seem to be vehicles at the moment for carrying the collective projections and being scapegoats. John Terry’s case has intrigued me for different reasons in terms of this debate about prejudice. The court case brought against him rested on whether he abused Anton Ferdinand racially. What was interesting about the case is that it was not in dispute as part of the case that Anton Ferdinand had been abusing John Terry and trying to provoke him. Nor was it in dispute that John Terry has black friends and colleagues as part of the Chelsea team who were willing to testify for him. What was isolated as the key point was whether his response contained the word “black”. I was thinking about this from the point of view of resolving issues between children or between adults. Each time, the key has been to listen carefully to the full context. If we took race out of this equation we would probably decide that Anton Ferdinand abusing John Terry and John Terry responding and abusing him back didn’t reflect terribly well on either of them. Yet start to look through the lens of race and divide people on that basis and we see instead Anton Ferdinand as a victim and John Terry as a persecutor. Yet which of us can reflect back on no situations where we have been deliberately and continuously provoked and lashed out saying things we might later regret? And did we feel the recipient was a poor victim after having provoked us so mercilessly?
How we look is the interesting part for me. My second female client had been invited to be part of a process to promote female partners and wanted to know what her approach should be and how I would deal with it. My own personal experience is that I am confused by the identification with culture, race, gender etc. These are all veneers, like the clothes we are wearing. I don’t see them as any more fundamental to human nature than veneers. Once we identify with them then they separate us into different species. Women talk about men as if they are an alien species and men about women in the same way. I was taught that two wrongs do not make a right so I struggle to understand how “positive” discrimination is any different to discrimination full stop. Fortunately my client agreed with me, but then she is very wise! When we separate people out on the basis of their race, sex, culture we re-inforce their identification with it and so re-inforce pre-judice and separation, the very thing we wish to overcome. For me, the only way to deal with prejudice and the separation it brings is to come from a position of “us”, a deeper level where these distinctions are not important, where we are all one.
I am told constantly that the Chinese are different from “us” and do not think like “us”. Were this the case I would be at a loss as to how to coach my many Chinese coachees. Seeing them as fellow human beings, I don’t notice any difference between us, I feel no closer to my friends in Britain than I do to them. Whilst I recognise that these veneers exist I do not think they are terribly deep or profound and I think we share so much in common that I find it hard to remember that we are supposed to be different. I think Jimmy Saville and John Terry are just as much “us” and I don’t liked to be judged without empathy and understanding or to be scapegoated so I don’t think I want to do it to them either.