Does life force and drive force have a common denominator? What does Zen and Buddhism have in common with psychoanalysis? And finally the question of new age thought and theory does it have a place in the arts and sciences or is it a pop culture phenomena?
To begin with, I am not sure that the question matters very much and it may come down to comparing apples and oranges. Psychoanalysis and New Age thought are not commonly found on the same book shelf in your favorite book store. New Age material tends to clump itself loosely with religion and spirituality and psychoanalysis tends to be erroneously clumped under psychology. When it comes to filing I would prefer to see analysis more closely related to spirituality and philosophy that to psychology.
The Art of Psychoanalysis has attempted to fight its way into science since its inception. At the time that Freud himself was writing the science of late 19th century Europe was reluctant to admit his work to the halls of academia. He was about as welcomed to the science of his day as Emerson was the spirituality of his day. There is an inherent turf war problem that surfaces as soon as one deviates from the norm. Five standard deviations off center is enough to ruin the best of relationships.
Emerson fell into sharp criticism with Harvard Divinity school, and Freud was not welcomed with his concepts and theories of Dreams to the medical establishment of his day. Both were called shaman. Step too far from center and even a black person will be called a nigger.
The question for me arises post my analytic training. While spending some 18 years within and around psychoanalytic theory, I would have nothing to do with New Age material. I was a snob and a I cultivated a position that it was out of mainstream and I formed a strong negative position of pre-justice. Based almost entirely on my respect for my teachers and mentors I was unwilling to even look at what the material offered. This reminds me of my boyhood. Raised as a Catholic, I forbid myself to even enter a Protestant church. My opinions were based on the concepts that my community accepted as truth and it was not until the bumper stickers that read, “QUESTION AUTHORITY” were in vogue did I even consider that there might be other equally respected religions in the world.
When we believe that our very salvation, or success will be based on not deviating from the norm it takes quite a storm to correct that narrow position. The very nature of praejudicium is built into the human psyche as a survival mechanism. If the object or animal is foreign to me there is a greater chance that it will kill me than if the specie has a semblance.
The old devil we know and the devil we don’t, spearheads the factor of fear and once we have been attacked by our own anxiety it is difficult to shake.
New Age Literature spans an ever wider area of the bookshelves while psychoanalysis appears to have been relegated to specialty shops. Despite the fact that neuroscience seems to be catching up with many of Freud’s theories, psychoanalysis remain a minority endeavor at the butt-end of much pre-justice.
O.K. now for a change in direction. It seems that the notion of consciousness and specifically the notions of the sub-conscious and the unconscious may well have been adopted by new age thought and simultaneously stripped of its origin.
For Freud and followers of drive theory the idea that desire can be customized to individual wishes is not new. The fusion of the drives have long been associated with what a psychoanalytic cure would look like. In New Age thought the idea of want being at the center of success is crucial. The language used reflects a kind of mystery physics. For example in the writings of Jerry and Ester Hicks, the notion of vibration is talked about as a signal that the human organism sends out into the universe and the universe responds from a non-physical location. It is hard to say if they are comparing this non-physical location with more ancient mystical theology like the idea of heaven.
However, regardless of the source for new age thought, the outcomes appear to be very similar. Praying, or advancing my thought to a better feeling thought and fusion of libidinal and aggressive drive have the same aim and outcome. Use of the unconscious, the psychic location for the human drive is likely the same source as the idea of divinity found within. Pulling from ourselves the strength we need to overcome a fear and praying for the help we need to accomplish something, or advancing my thought to a better feeling thought to position myself to receive something that I want, all have in common that we are tapping into a source that feels to be external from the self.
“The idea of the “subconscious” as a powerful or potent agency has allowed the term to become prominent in the New Age and self-help literature, in which investigating or controlling its supposed knowledge or power is seen as advantageous. In the New Age community, techniques such as autosuggestion and affirmations are believed to harness the power of the subconscious to influence a person’s life and real-world outcomes, even curing sickness.” (Wikipedia)
One last observation that I want to make has to to with the scientific notion of falsifiability. Science has long made the same criticism of psychoanalysis as it has of new age thought. Scientific proof as the be- all and end-all of human consciousness, has problems of its own. Humanism, spirituality, psychoanalysis, shamanism, religious beliefs have all ended up in the junk bin of science.
I don’t think that anyone has a problem with the fact that psychoanalysis is not the same kind of science as, say, physics or chemistry; but the adherence to scientific methods and the research methods of single case study with the rigor of observation and control supervision add to the dimension that analysis aims to arrive at its foundations and new conclusions based on something more that anecdotal stories.
As we evolutionarily move forward and we begin to bridge new means of communications, we can not help but to consider phenomena that is curious to our consciousness. The earth is not flat, but it is also not permanent. We may be able to calculate the distance away from our sun, but that does not mean it is not a living organism susceptible to the same kind of death that all sentient life experiences. Life as we know it is changing. Man has become taller, subjective awareness now leads to clues about the macro condition of the universe. Dogs have a keen sense of smell that man might at one time possessed. What remains in the unconscious and the pre-conscious from ancestors is not completely explored.
Just one hundred years ago the condition of psychological hysteria was a medical problem, and fainting couches were in vogue. Today the condition does not exist in developed countries…The very fact of uncovering the mental component to fainting hysterically has through out the past century eradicated the condition.
Likewise, in Zen philosophy and Zen psychology, we speak of the seeds that are buried in the deeper soul of man. Which seed we water gives each person his and her own personal characteristics. But what is in common is the fact that knowledge is stored within and a subjective search of some kind needs to take place to discover the nature of these stored, repressed or suppressed conditions.
Post psychoanalytic research is bringing me to the conclusion that more than science operates in the making fashionable or unfashionable particular theories of the mind. The convergence of theory may well have a philosophical rather than a scientific core.
Man’s search for truth takes us in a variety of routes to get us there. And maybe there are exceptions that God has made through the years. I am now convinced that were I to believe in God, it, he or she would have allowed a handful of non-Catholic into heaven by now.
Pre-justice conditions more than research methods may have played a role in eliminated certain theories from acceptance in the halls of academia.
I do not find it difficult to accept that if I concentrate and place mental “energy” on to a subject or an object that I want to attract there is greater likelihood of my attaining it than if I am unaware of the desire. I think we get what we want from life, health, happiness and success by applying conscious thought to our desires. Whether this means it is mystical, scientific or humanistic makes little difference to the out-come. And, non of this means that if I concentrate real hard on winning the power ball, that that concentration alone will guarantee success. It might help slightly is I purchase a ticket and my odds will still remain in the multi-millions.