From Bill Moyers and Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
MOYERS: Why is a myth different than a dream?
CAMPBELL: Oh because a dream is a personal experience of that deep, dark ground that is the support of our conscious lives, and a myth is the society’s dream. The myth is the public dream and the dream is the private myth. If your private myth, your dream, happens to coincide with that of the society, you are in good accord with your group. If it isn’t, you’ve got an adventure in the dark forest ahead of you.
MOYERS: So if my private dreams are in accord with the public mythology, I’m more likely to live healthily in that society. But if my private dreams are out of step with the public –
CAMPBELL: you’ll be in trouble. If you’re forced to live in that system, you’ll be a neurotic.
The question that was not asked then: What if the public myth is neurotic?
Thomas Merton weighed in on this very thing in an article on the trial of Adolph Eichmann, a man diagnosed as sane, originally published in Ramparts (October 1966) and reprinted in the Essential Writings anthology:
"We can no longer assume that because a man is 'sane' he is therefore in his 'right mind.' The whole concept of sanity in a society where spiritual values have lost their meaning is itself meaningless."...God knows, perhaps such people can be perfectly adjusted, even in hell itself."