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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SAINT JOAN OF ARC

Children say that people are sometimes hung for speaking the truth. Joan of Arc (1412-1431)

In her early teens, Joan of Arc claimed to have visions from God instructing her to recover 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 arrested and sentenced as a witch and heretic. She was burned at the stake in 1431. In 1546, her case was retried and she was acquitted.

The church canonized Joan of Arc in 1920. She is patron saint of France and New Orleans as well as prisoners, martyrs, people who oppose church authority, people ridiculed for piety, victims of sexual assault, and women in military or volunteer emergency service. Her feast day is May 30.

(above) Movie poster for 1957 film adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's Saint Joan, directed by Otto Preminger and starring Jean Seberg. 

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