Nathenson, R: Finding your Inner Gun: A Jungian Perspective on Mass Shootings and American Gun Culture


Randi Nathenson


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My paper centers around mass shootings in America from a historical, socio-political, and Jungian perspective. My purpose is to develop a deeper and more nuanced awareness of what seems to be an overwhelmingly American phenomenon. While much of the discussion around mass shootings centers around finger pointing and debate, my interest lies in deeper reflection, both in myself and the collective. A Jungian lens sheds light on this problem, increases our consciousness of what is occurring in psyche, and provides a broader picture. I wonder what is getting expressed in psyche, and what the phenomenon of mass shootings points to. Is there something amiss in American culture that needs to be addressed?

My paper posits that mass shootings point to an archetypal possession, the constellation of both a cultural and personal gun complex, where shadow aspects of ourselves, including power, rage, and aggression, become enacted with destructive and fatal consequences. I will investigate the trend of mass shootings from a mythopoetic standpoint, using the myth Ares to further explore this phenomenon, identifying the mass shooter in all of us. My paper explores gun symbolism in America, examing what the gun means specific to American culture. I will explore the history of the role that the gun has played in the founding of America, and the role the gun plays in American politics which impacts American cultural attitudes towards the gun. I explore how American gun culture and history are linked to systemic racism, sexism, and power. I will examine the necessity of owning our shadow side, namely our power, rage, and aggression, both personally and collectively. I also discuss the implications of my work within the consulting room, how aggression, rage, and power become constellated and how this emerges in the transference/counter transference relationship. Finally, I will investigate the importance of connecting with the positive creative potential of the inner gun.

Presenter Bio:

Randi Nathenson, MSW, is a Jungian Analyst and has over 20 years of experience in the mental health field. She holds a Master’s degree from Case Western Reserve University’s school of social work. Randi trained in Pittsburgh to complete her diploma in Jungian Psychology. Randi has a private practice in Cleveland, Ohio. She is a member of IRSJA, IAAP, PSJA, and is the President of the board of Jung Cleveland. Her analytic thesis was titled “Finding your Inner Gun a Jungian Perspective on Mass Shootings and American Gun Culture.” She holds an interest in dreams and other symbolic material, aggression and rage, Kabbalah, and feminism.

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

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