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Corporations & Our Collective Shadow: A Conversation with Dr. Elizabeth Martin - Podcast Transcript

Updated: Aug 9, 2023

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In this blog post, I share the transcript of my recent podcast interview with Dr. Elizabeth Martin to explore the controversial US Supreme Court Decision, Citizens United - through a depth psychology lens.

Introduction by Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

In this episode, we're going to talk about corporations – through a depth psychology lens, of course. You've probably never thought about your relationship to this unnatural entity that through a controversial Supreme Court decision referred to as Citizens United was granted natural and inalienable individual human rights. Rights that once we're not even granted to certain human beings in our country. There are lots of experts out there who have illuminated how this has wreaked havoc in all sorts of ways.

But you know, me, this interview is not about what is consciously known, rather, it is a discussion about what the collective unconscious is trying to make known for its own purpose, which is also unknown. Even if you haven't thought deeply about corporations, you likely have some strong feelings about this man-made entity and quite possibly some specific companies.

Your feelings may reflect a mixture of disdain, appreciation and even hope since corporations exist only because they were created by human beings. They are psychological extensions of human beings. Corporations express, and mirror back, what wants to become conscious, but is not. Corporations can be seen as a collective shadow that absorbs all sorts of projections and their leaders can come to represent those projections or even become swept up in the archetypal energies that are seeking new expression through them and the entities they run.

I never thought about the Citizens United decision as being orchestrated by Hermes the Greek God as Trickster, but after digging into my guest’s research about the landmark Supreme Court opinion, I now see it as a needed wakeup call and warning to a complacent citizenry, which has projected responsibility for maintaining its rights onto what could be considered a father figure.

We often must become separate from a part of ourselves to become more conscious of pieces of ourselves and the historical context. My guest’s research presupposes a kind of unconscious desire to reunite with a part of us, and that this Supreme Court decision is part of that process, prompting a circling back after having gained consciousness of something new.

I think you're going to be even more intrigued about this topic after my interview with Dr. Elizabeth Martin,whose research about this topic has illuminated a possible hidden agenda beneath what for many has felt to be a tragic blow to Democracy.

Elizabeth Martin is a seasoned executive with over two decades experience stewarding organizations and groups toward their strategic operational and financial potential. She is a senior vice president leading strategy and innovation for Optum serve the federal health services business of both Optum and United health group. In this role, Martin works to modernize the American healthcare system, advance quality care, and empower patients to take ownership of their healthcare experience.

Elizabeth is licensed to practice law in both New Mexico and Texas. She is an attorney former CEO of a $430 million managed care company and business consultant specializing in operational management and systems building Elizabeth received her law degree from Boston college, her business degree from Creighton university and a PhD in cultural psychology from Pacifica graduate Institute.

As you can see, Elizabeth has been intimately involved with corporate entities and her research makes her a perfect voice on how to explore, gain insights and integrate the unconscious aspects of our relationship with the corporate structure that are seeking consciousness. Oh, and Elizabeth is another one of my PhD buddies. We were in the same cohort at Pacifica to secure our master's PhD degrees in depth psychology.

So, let's get started. Welcome Elizabeth, how is your summer going or your week or your day or what's going on in your life right now?

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Oh, Deb, it's so great to see you.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

So, the first question is meant to ease people into looking at this topic through a depth lens. As depth psychologists, we are often amused with how psyche orchestrates events meant to lead us towards consciousness. I think your background interesting. Could you share a little bit of your story and how you were called to Pacifica Graduate Institute and what prompted you to research the Citizens United Supreme Court opinion as a psychological image to explore.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

It's a great question. I wouldn't necessarily put amusement and Citizens United in the same sentence, but we'll see where we get at the end of this call.

I think I've always been moved by curiosity in life. Why do people do what they do? Why do I do what I do sometimes? I think to understand that I went into business, which is a microcosm of the greater macrocosm of culture and power imbalance. Business is an interesting petri dish in which you can really learn different aspects of life and how people show up. And from there, I sort of rounded out that circle in studying law, and that turned into curiosity in how people relate, how people argue, how people compromise.

Then all of that got packaged in an interesting place. In the late nineties, I suffered a catastrophic brain aneurysm, which I wouldn't recommend, but what was so critical about that is I think I was book smart in understanding curiosity in how people work, but I hadn't quite figured out a way to feel my way into those experiences. So, it took that event to put my brain on hold for a bit and feel my way into all those spaces in between of how people show up. And because of that, a whole new landscape opened, and it needed a new language. It was something that I didn't have, I hadn't learned in school. And so ultimately it led me to Pacifica. I was seeking a new language to describe what I was feeling and what I was seeing.

And I think the words of Carl Jung and depth psychology in general and Pacifica and where we met, it was the final piece that brought it all together. So, what does it have to do with Citizens United <laugh>? Well, I think there's the opinion of Citizens United is the Supreme court opinion, but the image of it, what it encompasses, what motivates us as citizens, as consumers with our jobs, power differentials, our nation, our environment, all of that is baked into that opinion. It seemed to me an ideal image of where to merge, not only my innate curiosity for how people are in the world and who they are in the world, but also how we come together. And then this blend of depth psychological language, it's all in that opinion.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Oh, I love it! Many of us found Carl Jung at a moment of crisis. He came to me via a mind-blowing synchronicity during a time when what I was unconsciously repressing about my marriage was starting to sneak into awareness. For many, Carl Jung just shows up suddenly, right when you need him and the language of depth psychology to make sense of what the mind can longer make sense.

You point to something that Carl Jung is all about, a balance between the masculine and the feminine. So, and especially as women, we have really learned how to be quite good at the masculine, the intellect, linear thinking, goal orientation and that sort of thing. So, you know, there hasn't been generally access to the language of the feminine. It's not straightforward, it's not direct, rather full of paradox, meaning two things can be true when it doesn’t make sense to the mid. Paradox is felt in the body. And it's mysterious. I love that!

I love how you worked that in and how your experience is a living example of Carl Jung's theory. This reminds me back, in our second quarter, it’s a funny story, but illustrates the notion of what it means to follow the energy. You might remember that during a residential visit, I felt like I came out of the closet during Susan Rowland's class when we were sharing ideas for papers and. I was shy and I was so embarrassed to say that I wanted to write about what I called the Fifty Shades of Gray phenomenon. It was the range of emotional reactions that was intriguing to me, not really the story. I had never even read the book until I listened to people talk about it and after the first film version.

I’m sitting there embarrassed, and Dr. Rowland says, “Well, I suggest you follow the energy,” and sure enough, there were things that wanted to become conscious.It's like psyche tries to seduce us in a way or even trick us into following something. But we don't know why, which of course makes perfect sense because what wants to become conscious is unknown to us. I love how it was the emotional reactions that were what tipped you off. Click here to download a copy of my paper.

First, to ease my listeners into the depth journey that we're going to take, I think it would be good for you to offer a little education about the opinion that we refer to as Citizens United and why it is perceived to be so destructive to Democracy. And what I was really interested is this concept of incongruencies. Then maybe a little historical context related to the corporate structure, because I was also intrigued by so much of what I read in your dissertation, but especially knowing that my intuition has been right that it seems there used to be this sort of sense of community agreement about the purpose and the expectations, and benefits that were to be achieved via this corporate entity.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Sure. As I said, Citizens United in some ways is a cultural gift that keeps on giving and you're absolutely right. The charge, the reaction to the opinion is what tells me there's a lot to unpack there.

So, Citizens United is a 2010 United States Supreme court opinion and what it did is grant inalienable constitutional protections to corporations, meaning it made corporations US citizens for all intents and purposes, except for the right to vote. It also determined that their spending corporate spending was a form of free speech to be protected under the federal constitution as a natural right. One of the first amendment rights. And when I say natural, right, that means human, right. These types of inalienable protections are present in all our founding documents as part of our nation, rights, that are typically endowed by one's creator at birth and relatively free of human interference and manipulation.

So, on the surface sort of when you take that in it's really quite shocking. Like many of the nation's founding principles, the Citizens United opinion is a classic example of: It says one thing – I'm holding up the First Amendment, right, for free speech – but it means something completely different.

The decision upholds our fundamental First Amendment, but it does so by actually diluting that right. The opinion offers the right to free speech to inanimate corporations, protecting their speech. Even though they have no physical voice making them citizens, even though they're not human. The opinion endows an unnatural entity with natural rights, even though the corporate entity was never naturally born. This is what I mean about incongruencies. It's like, well, what is going on? But the opportunity with an incongruence like that – when you say something different than what you mean – is that it opens the possibility of other perspectives to come in.

And this is where I think the history of corporations is really interesting. The end of the opinion pictures that corporations are citizens with the right to free speech. It's actually not too far off than how they started 2000 years ago in Rome, which is where the first corporation was invented. They were created as extensions of human beings. They were imaged and shaped and created to specifically serve human and community need at scale, to deliver food, to deliver water. And because of that, they were limited in number closely regulated. They had to prove that they were in the public interest. Those were fundamental requirements. So, corporations were created by humans in the human image and fashioned as tools or extensions for us to be accountable to our greatest needs. It's an interesting history and what ultimately the opinion ends up imaging at the end of it.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Wow! Uh, yeah, I never knew that. And as you say, it also confirms what you're saying. We have lost touch with that, that we, as people, human beings created this entity to better serve ourselves. And it has been turned on its head where it feels more like we are serving the corporation. I think this is valuable for people to know. This is not something I learned in business school. I went to business school, I studied finance. I never learned about the origin of the corporate structure. Thank you so much already!

One of the four lenses you used to explore this topic was archetypal psychology, which was founded by archetypal psychologist James Hillman. I was never personally a natural when it came to having a mythic sensibility but over time, my capacity to call on a myth to explore the material that emerges from my unconscious is growing.

Could you talk about how the Promethean Myth helps us reorient our current view of corporations, beginning with a high-level overview of the myth and how you worked with it to explore our relationship with corporations. And then, I love how you also touch on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which that for sure is going to be more familiar for people. My listeners are going to get a crash course in how to work with symbols and metaphors and how to integrate it into considering what this opinion really means for us. Because I think many of us are struggling right now with what to do with this situation. We do need a new way to look at things.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Sure. Let me explain it this way. And it's probably because I am a lawyer that it was interesting how Prometheus came into my thinking part, as well as Frankenstein. I mean, if anybody's watched a legal show on television, we know that this concept called precedent matters, that those things that happened before actually inform what's currently going on today. So as a lawyer, I take an oath to be faithful to the letter and spirit of the law in all my affairs. So, if I'm going to look at a Supreme Court opinion, such as Citizens United, it means I also must look at other Supreme Court opinions that came before Citizens United, because past is prologue. How did those cases inform it? That's what we mean by precedent as a depth psychologist, our work is not all that different. It's just that we use precedent that stretches back to the beginning of time, back to millennia, looking at those ideas and images and patterns in human experience, the psyche that proceeds, influences, and shapes our existence.

And this is where the Promethean myth and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein comes in. These are classic stories, but they are also the psychological precedent of Citizens United. Both stories take something Divine – Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans; Frankenstein co-ops from lightning, the gift of life, the spark of the Divine and creates a creature. So, both take something that is considered Divine and bestow it to those unworthy. This is the same genetic composition that's in Citizens United. The corporation takes an inalienable right, a natural right endowed to every human, by virtue of their birth and hands it over to corporations, entities that some of us would perceive as unworthy, but the connections don't stop there.

The fire that Prometheus steals from the gods is considered in myth to be the basis of all human creativity and the myths. Ultimately, whether it's James Hillman or anyone who takes myths seriously, these were stories that reflected externally the internal dynamics going on in our human psychology. These stories, there's something about Prometheus stealing this spark of the Divine and giving it to non-gods, to humans. And that spark of the Divine, we might call that in music, a muse or artwork, all the way to innovation that a corporation creates, right?

Humans might create these things, but the idea comes from some other worldly place. This is the lesson of Prometheus and Frankenstein, which are the lessons of Citizens United. And if we forget that our heritage is where we get this creativity, what we do with it, how we honor it and how we use it is critical. In fact, you could say, this is where a lot of the problems start, when we don't recognize that it's not about us individually and our self-interest, but it is in service to something greater,

which is what these original corporations were created to be, in service to the collective.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Oh my gosh, I love it! So not to be a spoiler, but do these myths also give us some direction in what to do now, where we are after a decade of fallout from this decision. Do the myths suggest how to explore, approach, look at it. Is there a lesson in those myths that can point us in the right direction?

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

That's, that's the good news. You know, the myths in some ways are agnostic. They can point you to what works and then what doesn't work. You and I had a dialogue about Henry Ford. This is a perfect example because I think you had mentioned that Henry Ford was an individual, love him or dislike him, his original idea of corporations is that all profits that a company earns get channeled back into providing housing, clothing, childcare support for its workers, for the community. Well, low and behold, his shareholders had something else to say about that. His shareholders primarily being Dodge, the Dodge brothers, who were shareholders of the Henry Ford corporation. And in 1919, they sued Henry Ford. And they said your responsibility comes to us as shareholders, not your employees.

That was a precedent to Citizens United, but in some ways, Henry Ford got it, I mean, he believed in a manner quite like how Rome crafted these entities, that if they served the broader good, rather than the broader harm, we were all better off because they were created as extensions by with, and for us. But as with everything human, that represents both a blessing and a curse. Great innovations often do get corrupted by our self-interest and power. And they're not corporate interests, they're human interests.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Right. Oh, I didn't know that whole story. I just latched onto this thing that I heard about Henry Ford. I'm like, yes. I went to business school, a Jesuit university. It was 1991 when I graduated, and then I went off to become a financial planner. It was about four years later, and I had hired an intern from my alma mater. And whoa! had business school changed. I literally argued with this college student, explaining that corporations exist to create a product or service that people need, they treat workers well to make that product high quality, and when that goes well, shareholders end up making money.

He argued with me that his professors were insisting that the purpose of corporations is to make profits for shareholders. And I was like, no, you're not right about that. And then I wondered about how this switch in philosophy had occurred at a Christian university.

It blew my mind. And now there is just no apology for prioritizing profit at any cost, even human lives.

Human death because of corporate decisions, and it’s just generally accepted. No one’s up in arms about it. A casualty of capitalism.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

In my dissertation I added a section, and if you don't want to read anything, <laugh> in the dissertation, you might read chapter four because it walks you through the 3000-year-old history of corporations and that vision of corporations serving human need at scale persisted for 2000 years. For 2000 years, this notion of being here to serve the shareholders and profit. It’s only since the late seventeen hundreds, it's a relatively new concept, but we have run with it. To learn more about the history of corporations and request a copy of Dr. Martin's dissertation, send me a note

I think that's what makes the Citizens United opinion an image that is compelling is because dipping below the surface and the charge that it engenders, the image, the is telling us to get closer to corporations, to remember that they are operating according to the genetic orders that we gave them. If they are acting against human interest, it's because we told them to, but the closer we get to this consciousness, this true reality, the better we can temper our self-interest and our consumption and everything that fuels these entities to bring this back into balance. And it's one of the reasons why I write in the research that Citizens United in many ways is the story about us, but with consciousness. We can go the way of Henry Ford, or we can go the way of the Dodge brothers. But ultimately, we choose.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Well, and I love what's coming up for me is Carl Jung’s concept of reconciling the opposites. So there feels to be these perceived opposites, right? There's this overarching giant that for so many people is separate, the opposite of an extension of who we are. And we have lost that knowledge. It's like now our task is to work with this, to reunite with the corporate entity. There has been a separation and now we can explore and see what we haven’t been able to see, and then there's a reuniting, but it's with consciousness, as you say.

This is so good. Nobody else is talking about this. Another thing you talk about is what's going on beneath the surface of even the justices’ writing, and I love your question, “What Other authorship might be attributed to the opinion?” Maybe you could talk a little bit more about that. Now, we're getting deeper. Yes!

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

<laugh> You know, and I think to pick up on what you just said, it's all relevant. If we stay kind of entrenched in the perspective that Citizens United or corporations are bad and corrupt, we missed the lesson, right? Because it's not them, it's us, Prometheus as the archetypal forefather of Citizens United, stole fire and gave that spark of the divine to us, human beings. So, any creativity or innovation that comes out of corporations today is ours. It's not theirs. Apple didn't invent the iPhone. It can't, it has no consciousness. Human beings working for Apple created the iPhone. But the more we disclaim our own creativity, and we say, oh, this corporation did that, they did it, not us, the more we begin to disclaim a lot more.

We say corporations harm the environment, not us. And with that, the greater, the odds that we also disclaim something even more important. We disclaim our right to free speech. That's theirs, it's not ours or a woman's right to choose, that belongs somewhere else. It's not us or our very notion of citizenship. So hope for the future, rests on our ability, I think to reclaim both the good and the bad, as Jung said, to bring consciousness to this reality. And that's what I find really fascinating about this closing image, in the opinion, where we're asked to get closer to corporations, we share citizenship, we share their speech. And here's a classic example. And when we talk about that Other voice, you can look at the Citizens United opinion, literally. So a Supreme court opinion that creates devastating changes in terms of precedent, but it also offers this image that wants to be explored.

That's hearkening back to something from 3000 years ago. If humans become closer to corporations and become conscious about what they're doing and what they're directing the corporations to do, change is possible. And in the research, I bring up a very practical outcome of that. There was a beautiful case in New Zealand, where they took the very laws that have been used to shelter corporations and protect their profits. And they turned those laws on their head and they said, you know, if a corporation is a legal person under our laws, why can't this indigenous river that is sacred to our people be considered a person as well. And that's what I mean about bringing consciousness to it. Change can happen, and you can make that choice for the better of the community or not. So New Zealand now protects its indigenous rivers using the same laws that protects corporate profit. It's quite remarkable. Click here to learn more about how New Zealand granted personhood to the Whanganui River.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Wow! I wasn't aware of that, and it makes perfect sense. That’s the new, the transcendent third that can come out of digging into it, coming closer to it. I’m recognizing my own projections, because I have fallen into the trap of demonizing this structure and its representatives. And in a way it's a cop out.

Now, I'm only a single human being, and it is true that if I don't join a collective, a movement, there's little I can do. But I also think about what's going on with workers unionizing right now. And one of their slogans and their chants is, “Don't quit, organize.”

So just think about that shift, from quitting, giving away power, which is what has allowed corporations to exploit what they see as an unlimited and desperate pool of low-wage workers, to taking back power and forcing change. And that these younger people aren't unionizing with the old unions. They can be corrupt too. They're doing something different, something new.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

This is how depth psychology works, right? Why we find it so magical and powerful at the same time, once you open perspective that you thought was entrenched, anything is possible. I often use this analogy. The reason that I loved, and so many people loved Ruth Bader Ginsburg and all that she did for women's rights over the course of her career was not that she was just a brilliant Jurist. She certainly was that, but Ruth Bader Ginsburg, like very few in the course of human history, had the ability to imagine what was possible. And from there, she reverse-engineered all the steps over the course of decades that would be needed to open and protect women's rights. So, as soon as you open entrenched perspectives, that imagination comes in and anything's possible.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

And like you said, to have a new perspective, you must get closer to it, not further away. There are a couple specific research findings, which offer ways to explore the Citizens United opinion as new awareness that corporations are external expressions of internal and eternal oppositions, which can become illuminated by exploring the image like we would adream. I think talking about the myths does that a little bit, because there's something going on inside of us that's being projected onto this entity and onto this situation. And one of the things that came up for me was how corporations can fill this need to have an overarching father figure. The fact that corporations are considered separate enable citizens to dodge responsibility.

I came to this conclusion, and I've been writing about how being a willing consumer is giving permission to exploit others. So, when I purchase something, and when I participate in the larger systems, there are consequences that impact more than me. We have been able to ignore the details about where things are made, and whether corporations are polluting or abusing workers in other countries. We just project trust or something onto this entity, and it absorbs this dark side of us, our willful ignorance. The corporation is like a collective shadow.

in the same section, you talk about how, according to the opinion, “corporations come by their behavior naturally created in the image of humans and their concrete tendencies towards self-interest.” We kind of touched on this before, but this point that the corporations will maintain a similar course until their “genetic orders are reconfigured toward other more tempered expressions of human behavior.” So maybe talk a little more about that and how you see hope for this reconfiguration imaged in the opinion, through depth psychological treatment.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Thank you. There's a lot in there, so let me see where I can unpack. Your perspective on the paternalistic quality of corporations, sort of masculine dominated approach, more linear thinking, versus the New Zealand case that I mentioned as more of a, not female, but feminine perspective on how we might wind ourselves around it. It's a powerful one. Corporations have made our job easy because they're easy to demonize. It’s hard to see who runs them. You might have a figurehead like a Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, so they're easy targets and they're hard to get our arms around and hard to understand. Corporations are always there, they're part of almost everything that we do.

If you run a hairbrush in your hair in the morning, if you're sleeping on a bed, if you live in a house, if you're driving a car, a corporation touches every single aspect of your life. You can go into Starbucks, and you can buy organic free trade coffee, and you think you're doing something good for the environment, but you're still supporting this corporation in all their corporate work and how they're impacting the environment overall, or how they’re exploiting their workers.

So, we're enabling corporations while we're blaming them at the same time. This is a perfect scenario for scapegoating. We often blame others for what we lack in ourselves. And this is where I say that corporations really represent that perfect fall guy for us by keeping them as Other.

And we enliven them. We used to say, and I write this in the research, corporations were just these entities, but if you look at the headlines any given day in a newspaper, Tesla thinks or believes something. Apple feels,so all this attribution that we give, these human feelings, we project onto corporations. And we think that there are these enlivened entities, but they're not, they're legal constructs, neutral, they're neutral. Who's giving them their orders. We are. And so the image at the end of the opinion, we keep talking about this is so important because it actually reminds us psychologically that they're ours, and they're only doing what we've asked them to do, and they do it really well because they were created in our image.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Oh, that's so powerful. I want to talk next about this notion of neutrality in the opinion. I think this has been blown up recently in case after case. And as I said, I'm sure you never imagined what was coming next after you did this research, but specifically the Supreme Court now very unemotionally overturning rights versus expanding rights, except those having to do it, the Second Amendment. The decisions have an eerie disregard for the human suffering and death toll that was known, was warned about, and that is happening consequence. It was sort of a known thing that was going to happen.

So, the neutrality in the Citizens United opinion, and now subsequent opinions that are being handed down without what you refer to as “meaningful regard,” which I think is a nice way of saying it. Decisions that will cause death and suffering. So not only this sort of overturning precedent and the reversal of the expansion of rights, but an actual disregard for what it does to human beings. So maybe you could talk a little bit about that concept of neutrality.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Great question. I talk about two forms of neutrality that I think are evident in the opinion. The first form of neutrality that I want to talk about is what I call an active form of neutrality, which is a fancy way of saying it's repression. And you've talked about that in your comments, right? Just with cool disregard, claiming to be an objective jurist. They are dispensing with precedent and rights, just almost clinically, it's kind of a cultural expression of dissociation, right? That they are saying one thing and they're pushing down the emotion and the emotional charge that's there. That's just culturally present and they think they're dispensing effectively, but it only comes out in public, in protests or the reactions to these cases. They're just trying to push down as much as possible, and they create a surface neutrality, to create this idea that, we're upholding the right to free speech. We're not diluting it. I always feel like it's a Jedi mind meld.

But there's a different kind of neutrality at work in the opinion also. And this is where I circle back to the Promethean myth. When Prometheus steals fire from the gods, we learn something from that theft. He takes it, he steals the fire and the creativity that it sparks, and then he gives it to humans. So, theft and creativity go hand in hand. The spark of the Divine always comes with a theft that creates. It's a gift, but it also opens a whole field of responsibility, which I call a neutral field, with that gift.

We can either honor the divine that gave it to us, and by honoring it, hold up community, making sure that our actions serve the greater good, not our own self-interest, or we can go the way of the Dodge brothers and prioritize our self-interest absolutely, or both. And it's that balance again. In that field of possibility, which is inherently neutral, choice emerges, and that type of neutrality is critical to understand from the opinion.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Is that what you mean by the bi-directional thievery and repression/eruption? So, the opinion, or the writers of the opinion, have disassociated, and of course they represent the collective or a part of the collective, they've repressed something.

And then it's after the opinion or the reaction to the opinion when the eruption happens.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Correct. Okay, so the justices are portraying themselves as objective arbiters, but the archetypal forces, the psychic forces are coming through the opinion, which has nothing to do with the justices who wrote it. What's the field that's influencing them? That's where the creativity and theft are two sides of the same coin, recognizing that we can bring consciousness to it. New Zealand did that, they recognized that the gifts created by corporate overreach could be used for betterment of the environment and for their indigenous communities.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Would you say that the feeling of surreal and ridiculousness of what's going on is like Hermes, The Greek God as Trickster is involved? What are the deeper forces that are utilizing the justices and speaking through the justices in order to be like, Hello, people like wake up? Now, the Supreme Court is evil. That's what I want to say, that they're corrupt. Oh my gosh, everything is corrupt! But that’s the opposite of going inward and coming back into relationship with what we humans created.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

We must! And I think that's why we have come full circle to where we started, curiosity around human nature. Who we are, those corrupt parts of ourselves, as well as those corrupt parts of others.

You asked a question earlier you made a statement about the difference between sign and symbol. A sign is something that represents something known. When I say stop sign, people immediately have that image in their head. A symbol of course resonates but represents something that cannot be articulated. It's innately known to all of us, notions like the Supreme Court or the Constitution, liberty, freedom, rebirth, transformation. We generally know what they mean yet they also convey something mysterious that you can't necessarily capture.

What I love so much about the Supreme Court opinion, Citizens United, and dare I say any Supreme Court opinion – I have yet to do the Alito opinion, but I think there's still potential there. It's both a sign and a symbol.

This is a constitutional legal opinion that is now part of the law books of our nation. But it also stands for something different and mysterious. There's this whole other thing going on, asking us through its image to stop and engage. Corporations are not over there. Corporations are not other; they're ours. They belong to us. And we need to reconcile that within ourselves.

"If we're giving them free speech, our free speech, we must reclaim that."

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Right. They're mirroring back something for us. So would you say then in this case for my listeners, what is really making it partially a symbol is the emotion around it. Because if it was just a sign, we would be okay with it, it would make sense. But it's this emotional charge that we don't even know how to make sense of like the drama around it. I mean, look, I can't even articulate how I feel right now.

So, a symbol is something that represents something that cannot be fully articulated, which is why we must do the work. And like you said, reclaim instead of more separation. Reclaim. And I really do love the story of New Zealand because it is hopeful and it does represent Jung’s transcendent third, which once found seems so obvious.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Right. And that's where symbols do come in. Because they force us to kind of cock our heads and go, “Wait, that doesn't make sense. What do you mean a corporation is a citizen? What do you mean? They have the right to free speech? That doesn't compute within our understanding.” So, pause there, right? Absolutely. That doesn't make sense. This is where that charge and things that appear incongruent, that don't make sense opens the possibility. Because we live in a world that is polarized, it's this way or that way. I wish things were that binary, but they’re not.

And the Citizens United opinion with all its multiple incongruencies and incongruencies around our founding documents, our Constitution, who we are as a nation, how we employ our workforce, what we do with all this, it's just chock full of potential of all these different perspectives.

But if we get mired in the literal of the opinion itself, and can't float above these stories and contextualize them in some way, then that's where hopelessness seeps in.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Well, and it almost feels like for me, and I've been writing about this, that this climaxing of the division, like the archetypes and psyche want something to be reborn, but it's like we must be into a corner, forced to surrender. I cannot make sense with my mind of what's going on. So how do I make sense of it all? The challenge, this is the role I'm trying to play, is what is the framework for working with the symbolism and the metaphor and the emotional charge when we've been trained to only make sense out of our mind.

And if we can't make sense out of our mind, then we maybe check out, or some get pushed to have a sort of final breakdown. They become enlightened after they've surrendered. “I give up,” they say, but not in a way that they do harm to themselves or others. And then there's a doorway, an opening for the spark, the Divine spark, to come in and say, ah, this is a new way to think about this.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Yeah, I think it you're exactly right. I mean, we live in these just incredibly overwhelming times, where things and opinions like Citizens United, and other pinions, just don't make sense. We can get defeated. We feel like it's happening to us. I think the point of this research and why I used the method of dreams, we all dream, right. It’s an equal opportunity tool that any of us can pick up. And the key is to not fall for the literal. Go deeper. It's not only what this opinion is saying or what the Supreme Court said in this term, but what's being imaged about us and why, and then what can we learn from it. And then vote accordingly. Apathy to me, not corporate corruption, is the real problem.

Being curious and probing deeper, we have a real opportunity to turn things around. You can infuse something into the circumstances and counteract it.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

I'm glad you brought up dreams because just today I uploaded a new Soul Talk 101 lesson to my YouTube channel, about how to work with dreams. The hardest thing for people is to learn how to think more symbolically and metaphorically when it comes to their dreams. So, listeners go check that out. There’s a straightforward introduction to how you can begin to shift your mind and literal lens to a more symbolic sensibility.

I think a great place to end is how the Citizens United opinion offers an image of wholeness. I sort of read what you said as taking back what has been projected onto corporations, which maybe evolves their role or returns their role to its original purpose. We kind of touched on this, reuniting, but with consciousness.

I guess I'm looking to you to help my listeners feel empowered as if they have a choice to make about how to think about this.

I keep telling people that their individual self-reflection is so important. You might think it's only about you and maybe busting out of your own limited thinking, but, you know, if we have millions of people who are self-reflecting, we don't know what's going on and how that's all going to coalesce and eventually contribute to a new idea, innovation about how to live together, how to work, how to save our planet.

So, maybe you have some advice for people about how to think and not necessarily regarding specifically the relationship with corporations, but maybe, maybe even how to just explore.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Sure, and I would echo the advice you gave about going to your YouTube channel. You know, one could ask, “What do dreams have to do with corporations?” Why are we even talking about that? EVERYTHING! If we feel hopeless in the face of opinions that come down from the Supreme Court, why not go to a tool that is in your exclusive control. Nobody can tell you what that dream means. It opens your mind into an imaginal area that you wouldn't have conceived of before. And once you've tackled your own dreams and offered perspective for yourself, then you are ready to explore these iconic cultural images and do the exact same thing.

It could be a Supreme Court opinion. It could be a school shooting, right? It could be anything, but you are training your mind and your heart to feel your way to other perspectives. And while you think that may be insignificant, I assure you, it is wholly significant because unlike the opinion that has been handed to you by these justices, you don't have to receive it and live it in the same spirit of apathy in which it was given,sort of tossing it off in that cool regard.

“Get action,” Teddy Roosevelt used to say this, he would clench his fist and he'd say, “Get action,” by simply standing up and saying, I disagree. It begins to change almost alchemically, collectively. What is out there in the field, which is how progress happens and how change happens. New Zealand didn't come out with that idea fully formed, it started with people thinking and imagining a different reality and then ordering their work accordingly. That's where dreams come in. And so, I think your advice is sound.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

I love it? And you know, working with your own dreams and finding new meaning makes you more alert to noticing things that you didn't notice before, making connections you couldn’t make before. I think people have a sense that when I begin to change internally, it emanates and it manifests in the external, and you are creating space that is impacting even others who maybe aren't able or aren't willing to do that kind of self-reflection. Not everybody has to do it. There's a thing called a tipping point. Only a few people need to be doing this. So, I love that.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add?

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

In preparation for today, I was thinking there's a wonderful quote about how we need to look further into paintings. And we need to learn to look harder and feel our way into these things that we perceive as happening to us. And recognizing that they're happening because of us, and reaction is a powerful force. Imagine what's possible if we marry it with consciousness, because our consciousness can't be replicated anywhere else in the universe. It happens through us and for us, that's what we impart to corporations. So I think, just look further into paintings.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Oh, I really love that. I'm seeing the image and, you know, a lot of my work with my clients has to do with, instead of resisting instead of reacting, to be curious. Why am I feeling this? And to linger, those are my two favorite words – linger and be curious. And I think some of the reaction comes from internalized judgment, from a wound. I mean, we've got a big fat collective patriarchal wound that has manifested in a move away from empathy.

So, we must start with having empathy for ourselves. And as one of my clients said, “You gave me permission to feel what I feel.” And then as you linger there and get curious, it transmutes in many cases to something creative.

Many of my clients are publishing books and they're writing reflection journals and things like that. And believe it or not people do want to read dissertations. Mine is on my website and people read it. So, is there a place people can find yours?

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Thank you, Deb. And thank you for the work and thank you for these podcasts. I mean, they provide such rich content and help for everyone. I'm happy to pass my dissertation on to you. It's not posted anywhere. It will eventually turn into a book. I'm fascinated by these intersections that we've talked about today. What does the Citizens United opinion, a Supreme court opinion have to do with the Frankenstein story and Henry Ford and Prometheus? Well, it turns out a lot.

My next project is taking on Joan of Arc and Amelia Earhart and what they have to say about the Alito opinion. So, you know, there's a lot coming forward. How do we reclaim these lost parts of ourselves as womenand give voice to those things that others would suppress. There's a lot to say.

Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

Oh, you are definitely coming back. Speaking of books, you never know why you hang on to certain books, but one of the books I recently found during my moving around is Mary Wollstonecraft’s, A Vindication of the Rights of Women. I shared that and there was a 71-year-old man who said he had it! I never knew I'd have to pull this thing out and say, “Hey peeps, we can't take for granted what we thought we could take for granted anymore.” I definitely want to have you come back and talk about that whenever you're ready.

Thank you so much, Elizabeth, for being my guest and helping my listeners explore an important and complex topic with a depth psychology lens.

Dr. Elizabeth Martin:

Thank you, Deb. It's wonderful to see you.

Outro by Dr. Deborah Lukovich:

I hope you enjoyed my conversation with Elizabeth about our relationship with corporations. And if you'd like to dig even deeper, send a note to me at I'm hoping being armed you with a little historical context and a new depth perspective, you will feel empowered to explore and develop a nuanced relationship with the topic, one that allows you to hold the tension between what feels to be an opposition for the purpose of unleashing new ideas of your own, that contribute to the collective.

In the description box, you will find a link to my latest Soul talk 101 lesson about how to explore your dreams.

Until next time. . .

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