Eight years ago today, the citizens of Ukraine expressed their anger and outrage that the presidential election results had been falsified. Over a million people assembled in the central square of Kyiv to protest the falsification and remained there for weeks until the government agreed to hold another election. This was a breakthrough for post-Soviet Ukraine. A society which was used to corruption at all levels of governance has been pushed to the limits and was energized to revolt against a system which it could no longer tolerate.

A key figure in this movement was Viktor Yuschenko who had been poisoned with dioxin by agents who were alledgedly tied to Vladimir Putin. Press coverage of the attempted assasination further fueled popular contempt for his opponent Viktor Yanukovich who today is president of Ukraine.

I continue to research the phenomenon of the Orange Revolution through a psychological lens and have come to a number of insights.

If we apply Jung’s theory of archetypes, Yuschenko embodied the archetype of the wounded healer. During the Orange Revolution itself, I would have proposed that he was more akin to being described as carrying the archetype of a wounded soldier, specifically a wounded freedom fighter. This distinction is an important one when contextualized in the social upheaval of the election of 2004. Today, however, I feel that Yuschenko was the hook onto which an entire society could project their own deeply buried unconscious needs, and that his personal woundedness was the image which carried the woundedness of the Ukrainian people.

In the world of agenda driven and ego-bound discourse, Yuschenko’s personal inability to become the cornerstone of large scale political reform is sadly the poison which he ended up ingesting, and killed his political career. In a world dominated by the idol of endless progress and reform, such an analysis is deemed correct and posited as the one and only truth.

An analytical point of view opens up a different perspective. Yuschenko’s woundedness reflects the wounds of an entire people who suffered through the holodomor famine of 1932-1933,and who were persecuted, exiled, and executed not only during the Soviet era, but from the time of Peter the Great. These realities remain hidden and repressed in our unconscious and find expression in mechanisms of denial, splitting, addictions, and other forms of destructive behavior. As a result, society sits in the position of the victim, codependantly waiting for a “leader” who will magically save the day. But, victims almost always reject the great “leader” whom they await because it does not serve the purpose of their neurosis. Let us not forget that the Ukrainian parliament under Yuschenko did not want to engage in reform. They preferred to keep Yuschenko and the people of Ukraine in the victim position. That is how the collective blame-game began.

The Orange Revolution was a breakthrough. A wise analyst would praise his analysand/client for this blessed moment. Of course, analytic wisdom and practice will clue the therapist into being prepared for regression and movement backwards into old patterns of behavior, maladaptiveness, and the need to once again embrace the familiar neurotic position of the victim. This is what has happened. Yuschenko’s perceived failures are most certainly the failure of an entire society.

Alas, I must tend to the needs of the day and will step away from this blog and from my computer. When I return to my desk, I promise to continue to build on these thoughts and share more of my insights into the psychological complexities of my tribe–the Ukrainian people


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