LIFE AS MYTH

Index

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JOURNAL

Index

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JOURNAL 2009

v

A feminine myth

Creating a new myth

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SPRING 2009

Mythology of other

Index 2009

A network of mutuality

Ambivalence and attraction

The marriage code

The scapegoat

The second scapegoat

Witch hunts

Leaving the rim of the glass

The gift of now

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LIFEWORKS

About

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ARCHIVES

Index

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SPRING 2009
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WITCH HUNTS

The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1652 inspired Arthur Miller to write his Pulitzer-prize winning play, The Crucible. During one of the play's pivotal moments, a group of girls accuse another girl of witchcraft in order to coerce her testimony. Written during the 1950's, Miller's play is a thinly veiled indictment of McCarthyism.

In 1950 Senator Joseph McCarthy produced a list of 205 State Department employees who he claimed were Communists. Though McCarthy had little proof, a national witch hunt followed. McCarthyism was possible due to the pervasive public anxiety surrounding the onset of the Red Scare and the Cold War. McCarthy fell out of public favor for his televised bullying of witnesses and in 1954 he was censured by the Senate.

The scapegoat phenomenon is a defense mechanism that insulates the group from its own destructive feelings. Candidates for scapegoating are often vulnerable or isolated and represent ideas that threaten group identity and assumptions. If the group successfully drives a scapegoat from its midst, anxiety lowers and solidarity is forged. However, since the group has not addressed the real underlying issues, the cycle will begin again. Scapegoating is a normal milestone in the beginning formation of groups, but it is not a component of mature group function. The scapegoat is, always and only, a symptom of an underlying group pathology.

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In her early teens, Joan of Arc claimed to have had visions from God which instructed her to recover her country (France) from English control. A few years later when she was in her mid-teens, King Charles VII sent her to the siege of Orléans. Just nine days after she arrived, the siege was lifted. It was her first major military victory. By the time she was seventeen, Joan was a national heroine. However, she became embroiled in the political intrigue of court and was subsequently arrested, imprisoned and sentenced as a witch and a heretic. She was burned at the stake at nineteen.

(above) Joan of Arc burning at the stake, artist and date unknown.  Joan of Arc, illumination. 1485.