Exiles, Managers and Firefighters
I propose this as a working hypothesis: the laws which govern cultural conflict — either conflict between cultures themselves or conflicts between the parts of one over-arching cultural system — are not physical laws or even economic laws but psychodynamic laws. At this point in history such wars are no longer about resources such as food or even wealth, but about egos and identities, that sense of warfare that goes on inside the human psyche over the survival of what we have come to call “the self.”
Researchers/practitioners such as Richard C. Schwartz (Internal Family Systems Therapy, NY The Guilford Press, 1995) are beginning to unravel those laws, and the intervention strategies that foster the growth of the innate seat of human consciousness, which has qualities such as “compassion, perspective, curiosity, acceptance and confidence.” It is when this seat of consciousness is underdeveloped that the parts of the psyche are locked in a fragile, rigid, explosive system of blind functionaries such as exiles, managers and firefighters.
The general approach to intervention in such volatile systems is to find the self, give language to the self, support the self. In cases where defensive and violent parts are in almost complete control of the system, the very first step may be the hardest one. However, it is still the key. Once the self is identified, then the conversation with it is the crucial intervention in the rigid, polarized system.