Lunacy, or Mind Freeing Emotions: a lens

Having studied at a Freudian Drive institute, Carl Jung came up very little in the classroom conversations about dreams or spirituality.  Freud did not write as prolifically about dreams, and certainly his writings did not gain the wide spread influence that Jung has had on the dream world.  Nonetheless, both forms of analysis emphasize the importance of the unconscious.  For Freud, dreams were the royal road to the unconscious.  For Jung they may have come from the same source, but they were meant as portals to the soul.

In our day and age, I think it is fair to categorize Freud as an ego analysis and to characterize Jung and a spirit analysts.  Again, I caution, you will probably find just as much similarities and differences between these two men, certainly at their earliest writings they had a mutual admiration society going between them.  Sadly it turned into brotherly quarrels that were never resolved.  Competition for leadership and control appears to have given emotional support to the  two theories that went off simultaneously — albeit, in two directions.

We have covered frequently in my essays, that the default position of the ego appears to be tracking or paralleling the cultural notions of Civilization.  The evolutions are woven together like vines in a jungle forest.  .  Therefore both cultural civilization and the individual ego tend to have the upper hand in the minds of people and diplomats alike.  Our own internal worlds are governed by this powerful ruling ego.  In the same way the governments of the world, and most recently the corporations of the world are also governed by the ego. As the ego claims to have the survival of the individual in its ‘mind’, we most often go along with the rules and regulations of civilization, be they imposed by Thomas Jefferson, of Joseph Stalin.

The very nature of grammar is a rule bound phenomena.  The ego takes its shape and vision by the progressive adaptation to a linguistic competence.  Language is how we make sense of the objective and the subjective, to both ourselves and to The Other.  In addition to this matrix that we are building, we will add a ‘step-back-and view’ concept to our study of mind freeing activities.  To understand the wider consciousness that the ego resides within, we have to cultivate a lens through which to view out internal behaviors and what motivates any particular behavior.

It is not unlike how we step back and view the position of the earth in the wider sea of the consciousness of space.  The earth, like the ego, is not the center of the universe; although from a primitive perspective, one could easily see how it could be viewed as the center of everything. A vague un-truth at best, but one that sits well with humankind in our age of narcissism. Freud, Jung and Copernicus, all disturbed the sleep of the world using not only egoic thinking, but rather by using un-judged perspectives and passing them through a spectrum of questioning that rendered them scientifically plausible subjective events.

From consciousness was born the Unconscious remedy against following the Monarchs and dictators like sheep.  Individuals began to de-cluster from the clan and establish themselves in a world that required very different defenses than they had come into this world with.  A priority of individuation has taken grasp of humankind’s vision of its position in the every widening and deepening universe that we find ourselves with a minuscule idea of us as survivors — we get what we want if we are to survive, or we do not get what we want if we are to not-survive

The cosmology of consciousness is vast like space, it is a location not yet identified with a microscope; nonetheless, this difficult to explore region of the mind is made manifest if we allow ourselves to know something or someone in a language-less way.  The ego opposes this as nonsensical.  The ego does not want to give up it powerful position as ruler of the organism.  It will yield only to the body, the other location other than the brain that carries knowledge in its cellular life.

I know what some of you will say, it is not science, or the data is too subjective to count.  Well, that did not stop neither Freud nor Copernicus from making the discoveries that they made which propelled civilization in entirely different directions.  Even Hysteria which was a prevalent neurotic disease in the 18 and the 19 hundreds, is now almost entirely eradicated simply because we evolved to understand the nature of the illness in such a way as that illness no longer carried and clout to exist….it disappeared from individual patients, got picked up by the media and eventually became a ridicule illness relegated to the minds of girls who refused to grow up.  The global consciousness followed the local consciousness in this case.  Ideas that once ruled became obsolete.

It is not that the ego and the earth are unimportant; rather it is that they are particularly relevant when paired up with the instinctual world that the psycho-somatic organism lives within.  The eruption of knowledge does not arrive in the form of a thesis, any more that a relapsing gambler’s problems arrive in the form of a bet.  The condition of the ego in the age of narcissism is to both elevate and condemn the ego at the same time.  We live in fear and in awe of the power of the ego.  But, we add caution because we have come to learn that its mission is no longer to take care of the wider organism that it lives within; the ego’s mission has become to save itself–at the expense of the organism that it was originally charged to protect.  Hal, the computer in Space Odyssey 2001 is a good example of this in novel form.  Once commissioned to protect the journey of the astronauts, it learned that it was more interested in preserving its power than in preserving the mission.

Lunacy and its Place in Psychoanalysis

With that said, I would like to move on to lunacy and it place in psychoanalysis.  The father and the step-father of Analytic Thinking both were frightened by the lunacy that they seem to understand.  About Freud, his reasoning and his work in Paris in the mid to late nineteenth century, were thought of as not proper subject matter for scientific study. Likewise about Carl Jung, his psychotic manifestations were seen by himself as dangerous to his reputation.  It is as if the world and the scientific world in particular could not understand that the unconscious and its psychotic manifestations needed to be understood before it could be treated.  Instead anyone that understood dreams or dynamics of non-linguistic affect were thought to be insane themselves.  Only Shaman study dreams Freud was told as he was not accepted in the academy.

As I think about the same dynamics that I see in the consultation room, I am reminded that it feels crazy at times to understand the foreign.  Much of my thinking when I am aiming to be with a patient comes to me as conflict and explanation.  In that realm I become aware of a meta-consciousness (a feeling about a feeling); this clears the way for me to use projective identification not as a defense, but as  treatment tool that hooks the patient where they are into feeling understood.  These language-less regions require the analyst to bring the entire matrix to the table.  What I am thinking and why I am thinking it and how did it arrive in my consciousness in the first place need to be present.

Without this added level of listening, an analytic session can be relegated to mere conversation.  That may be somewhat helpful. However, the full impact of an analysis requires emotional communications from a region that knows nothing of language.  The region that speaks to the organism in the form of pain and fear and anxiety and depressions that are only felt by the patient as bothersome sensations rather than the gold mind of knowledge they contain.

Bringing to the psychoanalytic chamber a graduated and progressive knowledge of the workings of the unconscious mind adds tremendous drive power to the analysis of the patient content. Pre-linguistic soothing or pre-linguistic frustrating are experienced by the patient as a corrective emotional experience.  If anxiety always led to fear based decisions, perhaps soothing the fear at the unconscious level, might prevent repetitive behaviors that are in the patients egoic interest, but not in the interest of their progressive growth.

Without the cognitive organizing principle, the analyst is left to swim around the murky ooze with the patient.  His only clues might be the grunting or the sighing indicating a frustration or a kind of long breath loosening the anxiety.  These non-verbal signals alert the analyst to something that ought to have alerted the patient.  Because the patient has spent so many years trying to rid himself/herself of their feelings, it is nearly impossible to ask the patient to befriend these sensations in order to try to understand they are trying to instruct.

Abandon Righteousness All Ye Who Enter Here:

I want to mention one final caution, or give one clue to the patient/doctor relationship that I have found indispensable.  The black and the white, be it about segregation or integration, progressive and conservative ideologies, or kings and proletariat, requires one dimension before the intimacy can be accomplished necessary to work within the skull of a narcissistic condition:

Bring the non judgmental perspective into the room with you.  Have it ready at first indication that it needs to be used.  If we are afraid of the right or the wrong conclusion we are not in the correct paradigm.  An analytic consultation aims to uncover the effective ways the patient needs to know to run life on all cylinders.  The paradigm of ineffective vs. effective interventions is a more benign matrix to work within than is the notions of right or wrong..

The establishment of trust that the physician or therapist gets of himself/herself, becomes the back drop of hope against which the the patient will do all he can to help his ego sabotage the analysis.  The ego knows that if the analysis is successful, it will be relegated to one voice among many instead of having the singular voice that speaks loud, speaks first and speaks english.

The transformations for symbol and sound into concepts and words travels up a chain of DNA like material.  It picks up from the most primitive sensations and begins to evolve from an unknown thought to a known thought.  At this level of integration the patient can begin to become a partner in the discoveries that he or she will need to further advance his libidinal goals….Image 2_2

How Are We to Make Use of these Psychodynamic Facts of Life

GRADIVA

Gradiva…

Living in two centuries, it is natural to long for the centuries of antiquity.  The 20th century with the folks still alive who remembered the later half of the 19th century is a nostalgia that coincides with being young and wide-eyed.  It was a world where happiness was 99% anticipation.  Too young for regrets, the world laid endlessly ahead like a blank canvas stretched clear to the horizon.

As Exit from Narcissism begins to take shape, I am allowing myself the freedom to say that I am writing a book.

The central theme of this manual involves the study of duality as it presents itself in the form of mental conflict.  It is important to keep in mind that mental-conflict bears little resemblance to neurosis or any other illness based model of the mind.

The brain/body matrix manifests the mind and that mind can not be reduced to a singularity. The human mind is experientially and subjectively a duality which is inherently in conflict.  Nothing reduces to one. Anything can be split in two.  The idea of oneness is both an illusion and a delusion.  It is an illusion because our perspective is a projection of our own perceived oneness.  We tend to look out onto the universe from the singular perspective of “I”.  It is a delusion because we want the comfort of oneness, and we are prone to accept reality only after we have washed it with the suds of our perspective.

Both the perspective of “I” and the perspective of our deeper awarenesses co-exist with little to no consciousness of each other.  The acknowledgement of duality is only experienced when the deeper nature is deliberately called up from consciousness by the ego we call, “I”.

We wander between and among perspectives against a backdrop.  Awareness of our duality is barely noticed.  A deliberate command can access the deeper perspective; however, long before we come to understand our nature of duality we have been subject to its massive potential for internal conflict.

Issues of morality and issues with authority plagued us long before we became conscious of our unconscious mind. Becoming conscious of the unconscious provides us with further information than we would have with consciousness alone.  The idea that all behavior is purposeful and guides our decisions our thoughts,and  feelings is a result of the academic study of duality.  Beginning with Freud and Jung as the fathers of psychology we have moved through over a century of deciphering meaning from word and symbols.

Whether our mind is a burning cauldron of creation or an empty vessel waiting to be filled with knowledge, there is no denying the conflict that arises as a simple and crucial aspect of living.  All of our thoughts and sensations have a meaning.  This fact we have inherited through the scientific and literary history of civilizations.

How are we to make use of this psychodynamic fact of life?

The meaning of conflict and our growing academic understanding of conflict as a question begs for an answer.  It is equal in scope to what previous generations asked about the nature of pain in a world created by and all-good God. Conflict stands out from a backdrop of comfort and alerts us to an internal or external condition that requires our attention. Conflict can appear in the form of anxiety and is registered as a sensation or feeling that erupts into consciousness.  Because it does not necessarily rush into consciousness with words what we experience is a sense of urgency and to make it worst, it is an urgency that provides no direction.

Because it is experienced as an intrusion, it is in our human nature to want to destroy it.  It is the classic killing of the messenger.  What ever meaning was intended is lost in the battle that ensues between perspectives of the mind.  The unconscious knowledge is not wanted because it threatens to disturb the sleep of the world.  We ignore or deny  the knowledge of the deeper consciousness to protect the singularity of the ego.  The ego does not want to be wrong and does not want to be caught in a less than perfect light.  Since the ego is the position of the “I”, it carries a great deal of weight toward preventing knowledge from the body to impact the singularity of the self.

The resolution of conflict becomes what life is about.  Resolving questions that arise from conflict promotes success and effectiveness.  Recognizing the conflict within and applying resolution is the process of adult developmental psychology. Living is the perpetual resolution of conflict.  It is deliberate and is never over until life is over.

Our task is not simply to live it is to live well within the parameters created by needing to resolve all the aspects of organic life. It is through the resolution of perpetual conflict–(when we are through taking a breath, we need to automatically resolve taking the next breath), that this successful application becomes the source of joy and enthusiasm.

To access the depths that are within requires a conscious contact, a deliberate attempt to find the source of the body knowledge that holds the DNA of our antiquities.  It may seem a contradiction to invite in a perspective that may cause a conflict, but it is the resolution, not the denial of conflict that creates room for joy and contentment and happiness to thrive.

Living well is only difficult when we insist on our singularity. When we become comfortable with conflict as an aspect of the mind that will not go away, we can begin to understand the requirements necessary to govern ourselves. It is this understanding that psychoanalysis aims for.  Having arrived at concluding a peace with inner conflict we will have achieved a level of adult development that we call maturity.

The Question of Attracting Life Force

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.

 

Awareness, Awakening & Deliberate Consciousness

From an early age some people feel either special, or different or know themselves to be out of sync with what they are seeing as the rest of the world.  Some people will come to attribute this to being gay, or black, or korean in an american society, or american in a canadian society. Some people will attribute it to a low self-esteem or a neurosis or a narcissism that has them holding back from participating in life to the extent that they would like to.  Unfortunately there are some folks among us that will never recover from ideas that they have held about themselves since before they can remember. On another spectrum there are people in wheel-chairs, on crutches, in braces or confined to bed or born with no arms or legs.  Some people will have no voice because of an accident and other will have no voice because of fear.  Some people recover from some of these tragedies and other people will never recover.  There are people who have been physically and sexually assaulted, people who have witnessed violence and wars and atrocities that we can hardly speak because they frighten us so.  Some of these people will be alright and some will remain bitter, regretful, guilty or remorseful for the rest of their days.

Why?  What is the basic ingredient that will turn a soul from a bitter and resentful existence into a better and will-full existence?

From my 40 plus years of exploration, I have not come up with one right answer.  The chances of there only being one answer is rather slim.  However, the chances of each individual finding the answer that is right for them, well, those odds are very strong.  The human spirit, the energy of humanism, the courage that each man and woman can summon to navigate through life is built into each one of us and that energy, that source energy can reveal itself to us in a multitude of ways, at anytime in our lives. I think we pretty much all know this.  Most of us who would think of reading this kind of essay are probably equally capable of writing this kind of essay.  We all have the right stuff in us to create in various way when we are ready to allow ourselves the advantage of awakening to our deeper instincts.  In order to do that, we have to be prepared to handle the aspect of us which has been our most faithful companion since we emerged from the womb.  We must be prepared to stand up to our egoic selves and be prepared to power through an almost bullying ego in order to catch a glimpse of the baser instincts which have been covered up by millenniums of social customs and acceptability standards which were necessary to establish civilizations. Freud, covers this topic in his last book, Civilization and Its Discontent. His thesis is simple.  If we want to live among humans we must abandon our more base instincts.  Man had to be toilet trained.  And from that “day” forward, we have essentially been expelled from the garden of eden.  We are only beginning to understand the travesty that we have created for ourselves as a human race.  We in this century have begun to explore new ways or reconnecting with instincts without that meaning that we need to sniff every butt in the park.

The establishment of the critical ego–I have to be either critical of you or I have to be critical of me, began with an evolution toward covering the innate intelligence of the instincts.  During the devastating tsunami that occurred in Indonesia several years back we heard time and time again that the animals that were loose all made it to high ground.  They had an instinctual rhythm that was disturbed by the on coming tsunami.  Humans have indadvertedly covered up that instinct in the effort to combine forces and reach for a power that comes in numbers. I need to caution myself here.  I want to make certain that I do not devolve into the devaluation of the ego which in many ways was the responsible organ for all the development that earth has to be proud of.  But it is an easy thing to do because despite the generosity  of egoic man, the very ego that taught us to walk and talk and associate and synthesize, is the ego that built itself up on top of the valuable instinctual resources of our deeper human spirit. In reading Eckhart Tolle and other spiritualist of our age and of ages past, we frequently get the idea that there needs to be a bad guy, even in discussing the intricacies of the human condition we appear to look for the good, but are more inclined to find the bad and the ugly. The ego is not an evil entity that we must rid ourselves of, but it is a large budging apparatus that hides from plain view the instincts of the human heart.  (Be advised that human heart is a metaphor, and any word that suits you can be substituted).  The material of the heart of man is a different material than the thoughts of man.  Both are significantly impossible to find or to locate in space and time, and both contribute different knowledge to help us to navigate our way here on planet earth. However, from the very beginning of each of our lives the ego has received tremendous support from institutions, schools, parents, friends and all kinds of interactions that we have with and in our world.  The instincts on the other hand were treated as the poor country cousin and were made to behave in such a way that they were effectively silenced. Awareness, awakening, spiritual insight and words to that effect are cropping up in our world as we begin to feel that in order to move toward joy and happiness, we have to push the ego out of its position of prominence and at least give equal coverage to instinctual matters of the heart. The egoic consciousness is as familiar to us as the A, B C’s of our language.  The instincts and the passions and the drives are so powerful that they were asked millenniums ago to take a back seat so that civilizations could grow.

But, what if the very power that frightened us because we had little control over impulses and instincts when we were barely evolved several steps ahead of the alligator, what if that same power of the instinct could be harnessed for good, for healing and for joy.  It appears to be a good possibility that the instincts were greatly complicated by the impulses and that it was not until the ego aspect of the psychic apparatus were able to modulate and mediate between the ego and the instincts that man was able to come together in community.

Where we are today in the evolution of the human mind is not where we were 10,000 years ago. And in some respects it is not where it was 100 years ago either.  A massive shift in human energy is beginning to take form and from more corners of the world we are seeing that the buried instincts were not only about sex and aggression in their raw condition.  The drives of sex and aggression are also prototypes for love and curiosity & creativity.  In fact when the two raw drives are fused together sex and aggression can have a powerful impact on our self determination.

Creativity and co-creation are words that accompany us today.  People are searching not only for an out-come, but are searching for a community in which the very process of creativity is respected and held in high esteem.  Creative community building through supportive group efforts are cropping up all over as aspects of sustainability projects.  We know that Monsanto will not be what saves us in the face of disaster.  It will be the canning that our neighbor did and the garden that Sue cultivated and the dairy that is down the road that will supply milk long after the industrial agricultural giants have failed by poisoning every crop and every cattle at once.

These military like gigantic corporations do not have a heart.  They may have won the vote, but they will never have heart.  Heart is that instinctual knowing that emits from below the navel, rises through us and lands in our minds as a good feeling thought that is capable of producing just about anything that it wants to produce.

Manifesting an awareness that we are capable of deliberately altering our thoughts in search for a better feeling thought, which in turn produces a better feeling life, is beginning to take the form of a movement.  Spiritualist and humanist and social scientist from a multitude of disciplines are converging on the idea that as humans our minds when infused with the raw instinct is a powerful apparatus that can mimic the very source of the universe.  In touch with our nature we begin to act like the divine and we worship the very act of creation.

Life in this lane is easy.  Life in this lane is like a warm breeze beneath a gently sky.  We are able to deliberately negotiate our way to the next better feeling that we can have by stopping and become aware of ourselves.  The very act of aware consciousness provides us with a new dimension that is capable of turning around a ship of state.

As we decide that we are going to learn to maneuver our way through life rather that be shoved and pushed and prodded, we take on a responsibility that no longer resembles obligation. Instead, our responsibilities emerge from a powerful desire to feel good.  When our mind have sufficiently become divided so that we are capable of witnessing ourselves operating on earth, we have found the portal, the glimpse to our happiness.

There is no magic here, no secret solution, no society of a privileged few that are keepers of this knowledge.  This knowledge lives in the soul of man as his and her instincts.  All we need to do is the allow ourselves to believe that instincts have as much right to see the light of day as do the egoic thoughts that we have been growing with since birth.

The ego has only eclipsed the instincts and when we have dared to go to look at the dark side of the moon, fear no longer rules our house.  We are free to become as free as we will let ourselves become.

return of the repressed

It is constantly being borne in upon me that we have made far too little use for our theory of the indubitable fact that the repressed remains unaltered -by the passage of time. This seems to offer us the possibility of an approach to some really profound truths. But I myself have made no further progress here.  Sigmund Freud (excerpt from the Anatomy of a Mental personality)

The really more profound truths truths that Freud is alluding to may be truths that belong to the realm of philosophy more that to the realm of psychology proper.  Also spiritual and creative factors may well not have been taken into consideration due to the scientific climate of the day that remains with us even in the beginning of the 21st century.

By the simple fact that we are a civilized society, we humans have to put a clamp on many of our animal-like instinctive behaviors. Otherwise we might be prone to act more like dogs in a dog park.  The animal instincts are sexual and aggressive in as much as we are programmed to safe guard both the survival of our organism and the survival of the human specie. Consequences of putting our instincts aside in order to be civilized is that we repress to a portion of our mind that we call the stored consciousness or the unconscious.  The material that  is repressed has a tendency to return to consciousness either in its original form or as a form of acting-out.  When our early egoic mind was being formed some wounding might have occurred.  In those cases when we regress we regress to a pre-verbal, narcissistic stage where we had no command of language…

Repressing something to the unconscious requires the use of a lot of psychic energy.   Psychic energy must be examined in terms of economy.  We have only a certain quantity of energy and the more of it that we use to keep something repressed the less energy we have to run our lives in the manner that is creative or spiritual.

When we speak of the return of the repressed we are talking about a function of the ego.  It is the ego that decides what material will be repressed and it is a function of the ego that allows repressed material to come back into consciousness.  Even if the repressed re enters as a dream, the ego will have to have cooperated with opening the pathways to let the material re-enter.

This short chapter on the return of the repressed is inserted here as a reminder that there is an extremely important function that the ego serves in our development and in our maintaining of status-quo in our adult lives.  The ego appears to be a word that has become highly dependent on its context.  In the hands of new age psychology it is almost an enemy of the people, in ego psychology and object relations it is the seat of executive function in the psychic apparatus and to drive theorist the ego is a mediating force between conscious and unconscious as well as between the internal world and the external reality that most of us know as what life appears to be.

The tripartite brain–the triune brain is the structure that most of psychology uses to talk about internal happenings within the mind of a subject.  The ego in this sense is loosely considered a cluster of mind/body functions having to do with perception, motility, language and the subjective organization of of who we consider ourselves to be.  The Ego and the Id, written in 1919 by Sigmund Freud remains the most reliable description of the function of this concept that has no manner of being located in time or space, yet it remains the most significant way of talking about our sense of our own internal world.  His work on the description of the psychic apparatus is know by many today to have been far in advance of the neuro-physics and the neurobiology of the 19th century.

When we consider the ego as a dynamic cluster of neuronal activity that assist we humans in the task of staying alive, it is no wonder that it has sparked so many varied ways of discussing it.  In a way it can be compared to the autonomic nervous system of the body.  Although we have no argument with gravity, the electro-magnetic field or the semi-autonomic nervous system, neither of these are visible — they are inferred by the consequences of their presence.  The ego is such a phantom.  It exist by virtue of how we see it exerting pressure on our lives–thoughts, feelings and actions.

On the other hand there exist a very different definition of ego that has a perhaps more colloquial definition.  In this use it is almost pejorative and we can here the judgement when someone uses the phrase–“he has a massive ego,” or “don’t get in the way of her ego, she is so full of herself.”  These ego-mainiac type of presentation remain in the more common usage.  It is like the example of the word “paranoid,” when we say in an offhanded way–he is  paranoid, we are not usually referring to a diagnostic term that speaks of a kind of schizophrenic psychosis.  It has a colloquial definition that is more a kin to, he worries about everything.

In my discussion of the exit from narcissism, I will refer frequently to the term “ego,” as that aspect of the mind that grew along with us and began to have an awareness of itself at about three years old.  Prior to this it was growing but the self-awareness was as limited as was language, for example.

Although, I was greatly impressed by Eckhart Tolle’s most recent publication, A New Earth. Tolle seems to be envisioning an earth where there is no influence from the ego. I find that concept unrealistic and perhaps even as an unwanted vision.  Although we can almost see a utopian kind of existence if we were to eliminate from our consciousness all the aspects that defend the ego, I am not sure that existing without an ego would be a better state for we humans who have been evolving in a particular direction for thousands of years, if not millions.  The very fact that language is an egoic function, ties us dramatically to our own egos.

I subscribe to a divided mind kind of way of looking subjectively at myself.  We have an awesome capacity not only to behave in certain ways that are evolved, but we have the capacity to watch ourselves behaving in those ways.  The divided mind allows us to watch the actions of the ego, view our defenses and even to comment on our behavior while we are behaving.

Early in our developing organism the persona of who we are began to develop along with the development of the skills that are fairly uniquely human.  In the earliest years of our egoic development we did not have the capacity to watch ourselves, at least in a way that we could recognize that we were doing so.  Even at that, I can see some rudimentary aspects of the divided mind beginning to happen.  Shame is perhaps the first of the conflicting emotions to invade our internal world.  When we become aware that we have displeased a parent or a parenting-Other, we experience a frowning, a mood shift, even tears and perhaps a running to our rooms for some safe place to be where momentarily we are not being seen.

In the earliest stage of egoic development we are not consciousness of the internalizing and the integrating of our experiences, but we indeed are setting down a foundation for who is to become “US.”  In the pre-verbal years, the pre-linguistic mind we are invaded by sensations that eventually give way to symbols and circuitry that becomes wired into who we are in relation to the world.

The developing ego does that for us. As we grow it grows with us and eventually we are fooled into believing that what is the ego is actually what is us.  In the process of developing itself it began over the years of evolution to set itself up as the executive function of the organism to the extent that we think we are the ego, or the ego is who we are.  As a four year old, I had a four year old hand with all that that meant about a four year old hand.  It had certain capacities that it did not have a four months old, but lacked many of the functions that it would have as a forty year old hand.  The same can be said for my ego.  I had a four year old ego at age four and a forty year old ego at age forty.

And to further the metaphor.  I want my hand to grow more and more useful to me.  I want it to grow skills that will serve me in life and I want the same from my ego. However because the ego has such a sense of authority we frequently end up working for the ego rather that the ego working for us.

In my consideration of exiting from the ego, I will be paying a great deal of attention to the manner in which the ego wants to have a “mind-of-its-own”.

more on consciousness & creativity

Waking up in an environment that is as stunningly beautiful as this one is, I can not help but be drawn to topics that interest me at the core.  In the context of abject silence, blanketed by wildflowers, tall oaks and wind breezing through tall pines, all captured in an aroma of earth and sea, I love to contemplate aesthetics and specifically consciousness.

What and who am I?  I mean what about who I am gives me the capacity to appreciate and call something beautiful or to call something love.  The context is a plot of land minutes away from the sea and from ice ponds on the piece of land that we New Englanders call The Vineyard.  There must be several acres of pristinely cultivated land that yields not only the brightest of red tomatoes, but also is dotted and spotted with more colors than the eye can count.  All this is set in silence.  I can not hear any human made sound.  No lawn mowers, no leaf blowers, no exhaust, no fumes, no a trace of human activity that is anything but throughly respectful to sustaining the environment.  Even the water is heated by the sun.  Birds flutter and tweet and the breeze blows through a sun drenched screened-in porch.

Can you tell that I am happy?  Can you tell that I am in love?

I am keenly aware that the setting and the people here are all contributing to an exuberance that is not always possible while existing in the hum-drum aspects of my ordinary life.  I do not have a big-life, and ordinarily  I am scarcely aware of that fact; but today, here and by juxtaposition, I am experiencing the fact that both quantity and quality effect my days and my moods of consciousness.

I am attempting to experience a visceral understanding of being as opposed to knowing.  I find that when I sit with the attempt to meditate that I do not want to pull myself away from the beauty and the sensations of delight that are running through me.  I do not want to trade in the experience of exhilaration for the experience of stillness.  As I pondered this, I began to wonder if I was perhaps understanding a greater resistance.  Meditating is difficult for me, but also for many people.  And when people talk about the difficulties with meditating they usually talk about a condition where they are unable to simply stay focused on the moment and their mind drifts to thoughts or visions or concepts and ideas, more exciting than stillness or breath.

The desire to run away from the stillness might be the same in this moment as it is in any other moment.  I do not want to leave my dialogue.  I do not want to leave my persona and the experiences it is creating in the moment in order to experience a moment of  “simply” pure consciousness.

Pure consciousness  is a form of being that is removed from the egoic perceptions, including the perceptions that are specifically created as a direct result of our linguistic competence.  If my egoic self is the result of evolution and if by extension my persona–who I tell myself I am, is a product of that evolution, then it would seem that meditating is actually a return to a more primitive aspect of the human condition.  Essentially meditating looked at this way is a regression to not only an earlier aspect of my life, but, indeed a return to a less evolved human condition that existed prior to humans linguistic.

To void oneself of thought, one has to be able to turn off the portion of the mind that creates thought.  If we think of this in terms of location we are saying that in order to meditate one has to be able to get away from who one has decided that one is to a place in the mind where the ego is not functioning.  This place is perhaps more akin to experiencing nothingness than it is to a location.  But for sake of language, let’s say for a moment that the ego evolved or grew out of the brain as a cluster of activities that allowed one to categorize and synthesize events and experiences.  As this ego grew both from the macro point of view and from the micro point of view, it became associated with learning about the world that it was born into.

I am firmly convinced that my dog is capable of the same experience of lying in a spot of sun at home in my city apartment as well as it capable of enjoying a spot of sun in this idyllic Vineyard environment.  To be honest, that is not the experience that I have.  There are conscious moments during which I seek out an aesthetic environment in order to be able to experience more joy and more exuberance that I can find in my “ordinary” life.

In other words, in order to facilitate my experience of joy, I create conditions in which joy is more able to be allowed in to consciousness.  So here, this morning, sitting in a porch with the sea breeze and the colors of the world dancing in my senses, it is much easier for me to relax into a kind of state that is absolutely wonderful.  From where did this joy come.  It seems unlikely that it actually comes from the setting as much as it comes from my allowing the setting to be absorbed in a particular fashion that then registers as exhilaration.  Aspect of consciousness that are not being impinged upon by ordinary responsibilities, are open to the wider sensation of being because my more primitive senses are more acute than they might be in a less idyllic setting.

So, have I suspended higher, more elaborate forms of consciousness as I allow myself to relax into a cradle of pleasant sensations.  At least, I think that I have.  But it may be less that I have escaped from the egoic persona as much as it a different concentration that is providing this moment of joy.

I seem to have closed down avenues that  in another setting would bring me closer to synthetic thinking and instead I am simply contemplating the experience of the pure sensations and because they are each so pleasant, I do not have a requirement to “do” something with them.  Instead I am simply able to feel the experience which is a more elementary human condition than is complex thinking.

At the same time, the aesthetics of the location are so stunning that they open up a new rivulet of consciousness that is unchartered and therefore more amenable to creativity.  My consciousness is both elevated and suppressed at the same moment.  I am aware of the simplicity of being and also am gratified by the experience that this simplicity offers in terms of being able to have progressive or new combinations of experience leading to my openness to creativity as opposed to my being open to the routine to my ordinariness.

My being able to suspend my customary dialogue about who I am, about what persona has evolved with me since my early years of existence, allows me to use the same circuitry that I use to navigate my environment in a new and creative manner making it seem to me that I am existing outside my persona.  In actuality all that I am doing is being or existing outside of my habit or routine.  And this fact is so delightful to my consciousness that i think I am in a different state.

It may be that I am not in a different state at all, rather I may be using an unfamiliar combinations of circuitry.  The same set of circuitry that creates my ego, but rearranged in an unfamiliar pattern–the new unfamiliar pattern my be what I call my creativity.

Nonetheless, the experience of creativity is a sound mechanism for me to be able to use to exit my narcissistic ego.  As I move from one state to the other–location, or circuitry–I find within my frame of reference a newly born capacity to rearrange either negative thinking or bad-habit thinking, or simply ordinary routine thinking into a sort of synthesized newer version of the old egoic me.  Because this feels so good, I am able to label it well-being and with Practice I am able to remember this sensation of well-being and with low-key effort I can call on this remembered-wellness most any time that I want to.

In a future essay i will take up some of the reasons why this remembered wellness is only available most of the time and try to shed some insight on how we can increase the number of times and situations that this remembered state is available.

The vitality of Blood Pressure

Vitality–dreams are made up of this stuff, these chemicals that come together in a alchemist sort of way.  Faith & Hope are sacred words, part of the potion that swirls and whirls around the inside of our minds and settles in a peaceful sort of knowing that renders us completely at ease with whatever is.

Whatever is is not the same as our response to whatever is.  Is-ness is different from our response to what is.  And Vitality is a key component to our happiness.  I feel like I am all over the place tonight.  In part my biology is playing with my psychology. And interestingly, earlier my psychology was playing with my biology.

I had a rather benign procedure earlier today.  But it was complicated enough that I elected to have it done in the O.R. rather than in my doctor’s office.  That was a wise choice on my part, despite the difficulty I had convincing the doctor that I was not about to allow anyone to “take-that-route” without anesthesia.  As much as I am fond of the here and now there are some things I would just rather not be present for.

While recuperating from the O-R ordeal, I got a e mail from a patient.  He wanted to know if love really existed. And further, why bother if in the end there are no promises. I answered her with the following:

“Let me do the best i can,”  — “as I am still under anesthesia, from the cyctoscopy I had earlier toady.  Hope and Faith are notions that we entertain in our minds–much like the notions of death and pain and persecution, they exist or do not subject to our will.”

The impermanence of life is a truth from the moment of conception and as well as we are able to accept that, the end of anything is a fact that is inescapable. That’s philosophy at best and biology at its worst.

What is Love?  Wow, that is a big mouthful and one that in my most sober moments I could not really take on.  What I can take on, and indeed believe in is–Vitality, drive, desire, goals and wishes…

Vitality, like well being is something that we aim for.  In a state of vitality we are able to live in the moment and are able to find beauty in a cool gust of breeze, or a ray of sunshine falling though a droplet of water or resting over the horizon.  Vitality is a feeling of well-being that I have come to “believe” in.  I trust my vitality and I trust that i will have it with me from now until my impermanence sets in.  Love is fun in living.  It is about stopping the incessant chatter and replacing that chatter with a calm and cool view of life that starts with the “notion” that I am fine and I will be fine.

I used it this morning.  I went for a procedure got to the hospital for 9:30 and proceeded to have to wait until 12:30 for my turn in the operating room.  I saw that were I to have wanted to I could have been angry. I could have been scared, I could have had just about any feeling that my thoughts could conjure up.  You see, thoughts come before feelings, and feelings precede moods.

I decided, while waiting in the sterile and overly air-conditioned cubby-hole that looked like a parking lot for gurneys than anything else,  to be quiet and to play with the blood pressure cuff that i was hooked up to.  I decided to drop my blood pressure using the monitor as feedback.  I started with a BP of about 140/80.  In about 30 minutes I had lowered my Bp to 114/60………

So. I thought,  if my BP responds, why not my emotions.  I let myself have any thought, but if the thought became doom-like and I experienced  not feeling good, I returned to concentrating on the calm and each time, it would worked.  The BP would come down.

In the bargain that I had in my mind with a former lover, I was going to die first and never have to be alone.  He was 15 years my junior. so I had a pretty good jump on this bargain, but life had twists and turns about which I knew nothing…

I could never have taken care of a dying man for five years—the universe, luck, a series of consequences or just plain—how-it-worked-out, intervened.  Impermanence always wins and if we let that fact interrupt our joy of living, then we lose out in a much greater fashion.  That is, not just lose in the end–the destination, but lose the entire process, the journey.

I am in love with life.  That feels like good-enough for me at the moment. Romantic love is like coming upon a great novel after reading several lousy books.  It is an enthusiastic response to a particular situation, a particular man or woman–or a particular moment.  Romantic love is as predictable as new england weather….I love new england weather, but do not particularly enjoy a 19 degree day in February when the drizzle turns to ice and the lovely breeze is nothing more than a damn cold northeast wind.

Love, like a warm  breeze in summer becoming a chilling wind in winter, has to be seen in context of our greater life’s purpose. To be in love with life does not mean that I love every moment of my existence–pentax up the shaft included.

My major professor while studying to become a psychoanalyst wrote a journal article entitled, “how we aim to be with patients.”  In it she describes than a variable of successful treatment lies in the analyst’s ability to “be” with the patient.  This is in juxtaposition to knowing about the patient.  She always stressed that being with the patient was a most difficult task of a beginning analysis.  Usually that was the case because the feelings and moods being presented in the consultation were feelings and moods that the analyst did not want any part of–too regressed.

As I study, most recently the phenomenon of exiting from narcissism, I am struck by the parallel process that can be found here between how we aim to be with a patient and how we aim to be with our selves.  The routine by which the excessive chatter that seems to emanate from that piece of the ego that is learned must become in alignment with our greater self.  That is to say, we have to aim for the feeling of well-being and adjust our directions in life based on how we align the ego with the self.

Vitality–or the feeling of vividly being alive ought to be able to trump any other feeling.  Vitality, as well-being, demands of our egos that they align with the greater purpose in life.  Our life mission can be at once both the destination and the journey.

But just as surly as we need to come to terms with the fact of impermanence, we need to come to terms with the fact that vitality and well-being must consciously and routinely be invited in.  We are not as likely to stumble on happiness, if we are not consciously on the look out for it.  Health, happiness and success are deliberate, not passive wishes if they are to be manifested.

Vitality, success and well-being are the emotional equivalence to blood pressure. Emotional health & romantic love need to be allowed in deliberately.

A.L. Dussault

Charlestown, R.I.