regression in service of the ego: a psychosomatic origin

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When we speak about the return of the repressed, we are addressing a condition that is very closely associated with the repetition compulsion.  In other words we are talking about a condition that repeats itself despite the fact that there is no etiological reason for the repetition.  

Take the case of an illness that started in a rather benign fashion.  Let’s use the condition of a kidney stone.  What we know about kidney stones is that they are nearly as painful as child-birth.  Now let us move to a situation where the pain of the kidney stone remains despite the fact that the stone is removed.  Add to this mix a recent traumatic event like the adoption of a foster child too late in life for it to be comfortable for the mother.

Here we have the makings of the return of the repressed.  What is repressed is repressed because it has been relegated to a position in the mind that is not easily assessable.  What make it assessable to ordinary consciousness is a situation that although is not a kidney stone, it has enough of the characteristics of a kidney stone to go searching the unconscious for a past event that created that kind of pain.  The mind is attempting in a psychosomatic condition to explain the presence of a pain that ought not be there.

The return of the repressed is the returning to consciousness, in a disguised manner, some previous pain but now associated with a current event.  We hook material from the vast unconscious by looking for items that exist in that warehouse that can explain a current event.  

In this case we have a recent adoption of a foster child (pain of child birth).  The pain of child birth merges with the pain of the kidney stone until the consciousness mind does not know the difference. While the kidney stone has long been passed, the associated memory of child birth now remains in the unconscious associated with the process of adopting and caring for an older more difficult child.

As the organism begins to understand that it can not tolerate the disruption at age 66 of having a new baby, the organism fights the knowledge, because the fostering papers are signed and the new baby is at home.  it become clear that to care for this child will be impossible.  Every time the patient realizes that she will not have the courage to keep this baby, the return of the repressed comes forward filled with ancient incapacities, overwhelmed with ancient feelings that she could not cope with in the past.

In other words what was a kidney pain, is now a perpetual pain of giving birth…without the baby ever really being born.  Conflict over disappointing spouse and child mount in such a way that indicates that there is not an  easy way out of the situation.  The “birth” canal is blocked, the baby is never born, but the pain of giving birth is incessant.

You would think that the understanding of this psychosomatic condition would bring about some relief, but the knowledge that the repressed exist does not in any way alter the repressed from finding a crack in the pavement through which to attack the mind/body.

The body is being attacked with pain because pain is the body’s instinct to alert the organism that something is very wrong.  If you were to be able to put your hand in the fire and not feel the flames burn, you would disintegrate before your very eyes.  The pain of the burn makes a request of the mind to withdraw the hand from the flame.

But think further for a moment, what if a phantom pain is not being effective in warning the organism that it is burning alive.  The pain would continue and intensify.  Now if you add to this mix that the cause of the pain is not being removed you have a situation where the body is yelling—stop, stop, stop, but no one is listening.

The pain is saying you must make a change now–give birth, pull your hand out of the fire.  Do what it take to stop this insult on the body.  But to stop the insult on the body means to disappoint loved ones, the spouse and the newly adopted child.  So the very thought of making the change that needs to be made in order to eliminate the pain, brings about a conflict that rises the stress level and it is the stress level that then activates the pain.

In short the mechanism of pain to danger has become distorted in a new way…the pain of the original kidney stone is not the cause; but the distraction becomes informed in a new way that a new cause of danger is lurking.  In this case the complete conflict that it causes everyone to have to unmake a decision that everyone had counted on being a permanent decision.

Even though the problem is being addressed and this understanding is beginning to be seen with clarity; nonetheless, the source of the pain is still not eradicated.  The conflict is no longer, “I will have to do this which I can not do for the rest of my life and it may kill me”; the new conflict is, “I will be inflicting pain on people that I love when I have to  tell this child that that he will not be able to live here with us.”

So to recapture, first the kidney stone, then the foster adoption, then the cognition that,”I can not do this.”  This is followed by rummaging through the unc. to look for a similar situation to explain the pain….the child birth canal is blocked and the pain of giving birth continues as long as the child is not born. In this case, as long as the child is still there to remind the unconscious that the only thing that will change the situation is for the resolution to include that the child is delivered back to the center from which he came and a new home needs to be found….(the hand is pulled out of the fire)

From the very beginning the route that the pain took never changed, only different triggers set off the pain.  In its current manifestation as long as the boy has not been told and the situation does not change the “stone” pain will continue.

In the return of the repressed, every thing that ever made up loss and pain and abuse and suffering comes back to the surface to both overwhelm the organism and also to flood it with pain to remind it that unless the condition is not fully addressed the old circuitous route will remain in operation.

Consciousness and insight alone are not sufficient to bring about a cure.  What is needed is a complete belief that I am doing this to myself instead of doing what I need to be doing.  Once the pain route are activated by feelings, overwhelmed, fear, contrition, sorrow, grief, the pain will remain at the mercy of the emotional condition.

In the early 20th century when Hysteria was first confronted, the rate of hysterical conversion was astronomical compared to what it is today.  What cured the planet of hysteria was a common belief that it did not exist as a condition of the body but existed as a creation of the mind.

Such is true for the conversion of psychosomatic pain to a return to homeostasis.  

 

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Are We Looking for God

Are We Looking for God

I want to write in my blog because the last few weeks have been so packed with enjoying life that i have forgotten to write anything. I am not sure what that means yet, but I wanted to get it on paper that from my vantage point, at this moment and with the age that I have arrived at, being content with two to three swims a day in a massively turbulent ocean has been as helpful as running the clothes through an old wringer washing machine. I feel cleansed and squeezed dry of all aspirations and have found myself content with meditation, mindfulness & good food.
Tumbling around in a warm ocean while sitting in a tropical depression is not the kind of depression that I am use to dealing with. The depression associated with climate seems predictable and even fun, while the depression that enters the mind like a starving termite enters a piece of wood is entirely too profound to be considered when sitting in the sun. That’s an essay for another day.

Just to make sure that I drive the point home to my readers, I am trying to make you envious. I am wanting you to feel jealous of this respite in the salted, sun drenched stretch of beach known to the Treasure Coast as Surfer Beach. In addition to every one being 19 or 27 and gorgeous, the beach is nearly deserted for miles. The sand is a soft white sand that warmly pushes up through your toes as you drift down toward the turbulent sea, and the glistening beads of water that give everything an emerald and sapphire coloring, erupt from everywhere.

I took Maddie for a walk and a swim this morning and she went her own way and i did not see her again for 40 minutes or so. Eventually she found her way back to me, smelling like a wet dog, covered in beach sand with her tongue hanging out saying–water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink. We meandered back to the the house and she lapped at the water from the out door shower as I rinsed the encrusted sand from everywhere.

One last point in this short post. I want to emphasize that I deserve this contentment with life. First, I worked for it. But most important I not only worked at this, but I studied and researched this. I mean happiness does not come on a whim and it is not securely given like a plaque or a gold star. It is a success that must be cultivated all the time. This does not mean that the cultivation need to be hard dirty work, some might be, but for the most part, happiness comes from knowing how your mind operates and then putting into practice what needs to be done over and over again in order to achieve the richness and the crispness that gives life its colors. Mindfulness, the creating of an awareness that you are somewhere in there doing the experiencing is crucial to feeling a sense of well-being. I am much more than the sum total of my ego.

Mindfulness and well-being go hand in hand. And, weather you approach this from a psychoanalytic perspective, a Zen perspective or a spiritual perspective, each perspective leads to the same end. Enjoying the journey, remembering that the process is as important as the outcome, and above all recalling yourself time and time again to the knowledge of the sensation that is the moment–this is the way forward.

I re-read parts of zen bible while I was here enjoying life and what struck me most was that it was offering a formula and that it seemed to be saying follow this formula and you will be given the way. It sounds christian. Maybe it is. I mean I think that what ever it is that we find, at some level most of us want to call this God. It is difficult to say you believe in God while at the same time professing to be a scientist. But in the long run the two are not incompatible. The Great Spirit, The Universe, Consciousness, A Higher power, The Light Within–these all have in common that they are a substitute for the word God which had become so over used by religion than many of us had to abandon the word because it was just too confusing to reconcile a bearded man on a thrown with a staff in one hand and a globe in the other with what in the 21st century we have come to know as a source of energy. In a way happiness has more to do with physics than any other academic discipline.

The energy of a positive attitude, Norman Vincent Peale aside–is what we are looking for. We are looking for God. We want to find that place internally or externally that feeds us with a sense of peace and a sense of serenity and a believing and an allowing for the good in the world to flow through us. So, if we are in college, in school or in church or in a monastery; or if we are in a lab or an orphanage or a hospital, we are seeking comfort. God gives us that comfort even if how we understand this is that our internal awareness coaches us toward life giving, life affirming events. I can skip a great deal of angsts and simply say: Thank God, this has been a wonderful vacation.

‘Tis a gift to be simple. As I begin to pack and put myself back together to get myself back to the office and to what i do for a living, I do this mindful that I have been blessed with a very deliberate opportunity. My life’s work is searching. I search for myself and for those who i love. I search and help people to organize themselves in such a way that they they will come to understand exactly how their particular mind works. And in discovering they will begin a practice that will help them to discover the divine within, not just once but over and over agin many times a day. Reflection on the moment is the best defense against an ego hell bent on robbing us of joy. As i become mindful that the experience of now is the breath of life, I can let go of some of the aspirations that are overwhelming, and let myself flow gently down the stream of life, anticipating that my needs will be met if i am in touch with my instincts as well as with my ego.

It amounts to a belief that we can indeed trade in fear for joy and gratitude and that this is a fair trade for everyone involved.

Dr. A. L. Dussault,
http://mindfulnessinpsychoanalysis.wordpress.com/

https://freeassociations.wordpress.com/

http://technorati.com/people/aldussault/

A Morning Practice

Be easy about this. Be playful about it. Don’t work so hard at it. Let your dominant intent  be to feel good, and if you don’t feel good, then let your dominant intent be to feel relief.

Abraham

There is a songbird singing in the distance.  The color of the lake is the same milky white color as the sky.  There is no horizon line yet and the shore across the lake is not visible.  The day almost warrants a fire in the the wood stove; but it feels like too many tasks would  lie between getting the warmth to come out of the stove and now; so i put on a sweater and sweat pants and I feel dressed for the morning.

Coffee is an option, but not yet a necessity.  I can still feel the sleep that encompassed me only a shortwhile ago and part of me is drawn into a semi-meditative trance where my thought flow before me, but none stand out with sufficient pronouncement to get my attention.

I love to sit and write from this state.  My ego is not so awaken to be directing me, and my right brain is not so asleep as to require complete quiet.  The place is somewhere in the middle…I feel somewhat like the milky-white scene before me.  Almost as if I have merged into a stillness and the words that I write are like soft drops of rain.  I can see them through the window and I can see the dark rigid outlines of the leaf-less april trees, but I really have no desire to be anywhere else but right here, gazing out into the world and being entertained by the day that softly dances before me and the soft drop of words that fall into place one after the other like dominoes falling in slow-motion, or the ripples in the lake that seem to forever be moving one after the other toward the shore.

Gratitude is so darn easy from this location.  Everything feels right and when I reach for a thought it is dangling in front of me like low-hanging fruit, ripe and mine for the picking.  I love to watch the words as they stretch themselves into sentences and the sentences as they stretch themselves into paragraphs, and the paragraphs as they become dominant thoughts that are guided by my feeling that all is right and that for the moment I am as much in heaven as I am on earth….

My Peace I give to you.  My Faith, my Hope, I give to you and ask that you treat this fragile human condition with a gentle hand and a gentle mind.  I do not expect it to be easy for you to accept these gifts from the universe that I offer you through the intercession of my own awareness of a larger presence.  I expect that it might even be difficult to read these words in the slow and deliberate way that I am asking you to read them…

I ask you to read them and to read them slowly because there is a cadence, a rhythm that you must follow if you are at all eager to find your own brand of serenity and stillness.  I am not offering you anything that is mine to give, I am simply a channel, a portal through which these moments of solitude are passed on from one human heart to another.

God did not teach this to me.  If he did, he did so by passing it through his creations–the songbird, the milky-white sky that touches down in the horizon to merge with the milky-white lake, and the multitude of friends and strangers who were generous and wise enough to share their essential souls with me.

How much can be said about stillness before you are breaking the meditative silence of truth that resonates like Maria’s cello insisting that I be glad with a love of life.  I pause here–you can too.   Pause…., breath…., pause again…breath again.  Listen &  let your senses direct you to where you store the stillness of the universe inside of you.  Do not feel rushed to end this moment.  Let this moment end itself in a gradual way.  A moment, you know is very different from a second or a minute. Seconds and minutes and hours and life times are measurements of quantities of time.  But a moment is a timeless thing.  It can go on and on, or it can be slashed down to an instrument of time in less than a second.  A moment is a location not a quantity.  As this moment awakens me to a new day, I like to savor the sensation of being here now, of experiencing for one more moment my vitality which lends itself to my psychic energy and blends itself into an emerging day.

At some point soon in time, I will let my egoic self take over–make a list, shower its body, comb its hair and brush its teeth.  At some point, I will be ready to awaken from this wonderfully quiet meditative moment, half past five and a quarter to the hour, still dark from its evening sleep. The day will begin to have a mind of its own.  I will follow it into events, some of which I can anticipate and other which will surprise me with deep feelings of joy, or sadness; or an event will spark a spartan anger that I will let flare into a full pain-body.  I have no idea where life will bring me today.  It may look remarkably like yesterday did, or it may be nothing like I have ever experienced before.

But before I let this awakening moment go, I want to follow it into one more round of stillness.  You can stop reading here, or if you like you can follow me into one other aspect of stillness.  I won’t be long.  I can feel the pulse of life calling me.  My piano is calling for me to browse its keys, my pen is calling me to draw lines and cross-hatches and shades of walnut-brown onto a blank canvas. I am slowly beginning to hear more of the sounds emerging from the world.  Appliances are humming in the background, a scarlet cardinal bird is whistling a conversation to its mate.  (they seem louder, the birds do, in early spring then when it was winter on the pond.)

O.K.  my eyes are closed, my fingers are punching keys and my mind is reciting words that I am processing onto the page. Part of me regrets that it is not my fountain pen that is capturing these words, but it would never handle the speed that the words are rolling out onto the page.  I hear the words coming from a voice inside of me.  I think it is my voice, or at least it is that voice which I have always heard in the background of my mind.  But now I give those words their due diligence.  I pay attention to what is being said and I let those words see the light of day.  They are partially my words, but they come from an accumulation of life times some of which were not mine.  I am not at all concerned with who the words are coming from–they could be all mine or they could belong to a god.  But regardless,these words speak a different tone then they have ever spoken before.  I am allowing them to be gentle, to be soothing.  I am thinking of these words as a morning prayer.  The kind you might imagine a monk or a nun praying before breakfast.   They are words that belong to a devoted soul.  They belong to a soul devoted to discovering the truth of stillness not so much as a means to an end, but more as an end in itself.    I speak them with caution and they ramble from me with no particular goal in mind.  The words are streams of consciousness emerging into a world already brilliant and resplendent with gems. They take their rightful place at the right hand of god.  They are words of salvation because they savor the essence of life by contributing and guiding me, & you if you like, toward whatever it is that we call sacred.

The moment is still but fading and the world that my ego is use to is coming back into form.  The noises are more clashing and clanging then they were just a moment ago.  I am aware not only of my breath but of the limited breaths that we each are given by who ever it is that is doling out these moments in time.  As the stillness gives way to the world we live in, I surrender to giving thanks for one more day in earth’s paradise, and I hope that when I run into some situation that threatens to make my blood boil, I hope I have the presence of mind to recall this one everlasting moment that I had a chance to savor even before the coffee was brewed.

It is as equally important to know where you left your stillness as it is to know where you left your keys.

Language: There is a way out & it will find me…

“…profound to me that the only two things that aren’t divisible are silence and God.

This comment was posted in respond to a recent essay.  I simply love the idea that our ideas, as cooperative ventures, can always be improved upon.  At least I seem to find that to be true of anything that I do with language.  I suspect I would feel very different if some one were to arbitrarily pick up a paint brush and begin to swat at my paintings with colors and line of their choosing.

Have you ever had the experience of sitting with someone over dinner and suddenly you are moved to a feeling of dread as you watch that person, slowly and deliberately, reach across the table with their folk pointed at your place. In horror you watch as the folk descends right for that luscious  hunk of  roasted zucchini in the corner of your plate.  That is what it would feel like to me if someone pointed a paint brush at one of my paintings.

But with language when someone adds something to what i have said it feels like I have been increased, my thought has been expanded and like the ever expanding universe, i believe that my thoughts take on a life of her own, and I love to see them become their own thing in the literary universe….

Language has to be one of the most beautiful and versatile gifts from the universe to the human condition.  Language holds all of our dreams, it speaks to us of love, it renders itself as a message from our own body and it registers itself in our minds. Language is a human competence that is born into us as is our ability.  It is an organ of the human body that works as a system of symbols.  It is the connecting tissue of the human race.  Nearly all that we do for ourselves and for each other is constructed with language, or in the very least is reported in language.

The ego goes through many seasons of reason, and some reasons we do not understand–it is profoundly true that the heart has its reasons that the reason can not know.  But as we clamor for conscious understanding, we do so with the cognitive capacity of language.  In our spiritual understandings we say that, “god has spoken to me,” or “god speaks to man in mysterious ways.”

We speak of our computers having a language, we watch as people talk to each other on a stage, creating word by word a stage production that is essentially a new grouping of words that build the events of a person’s life into sound and fury. Stephanie Brown, just days after having spent six days on the roof of her house in New Orleans during the Great Flood, sings the words, “here’s to life,” an anthem of poetic justice and poetic beauty..

In the beginning there was THE WORD.  The majuscules giving the written word their authority in the realm of truth.  T.S. Eliot, “in the room, women come and go, speaking of  Michaelangelo.”  Robinson Jeffers criers out against, “man’s inhumanity to man.”  A pope gives a dictum and millions of souls are condemned to the fires of hell for eating meat on Friday.  A supreme court justice hands down a majority argument that gives a corporation all of the rights that a person has, turning a democracy of the  people by the people &  for the people into business proposition where he who owns the most toys wins the controlling shares.

Language for good or for bad is the vehicle that we have to bring our specie to a heightened consciousness.  What we do with that consciousness supports life or promotes death.  It is that big a deal that we have linguistic capacity, that born into the organism condition of the egoic mind that not only allows for communication, but in fact demands and promotes it in the very fiber of our D N A.

Language and images seem to dominate my creative life.  I feel blessed by the voices that I hear that provide the chatter for these blogs and I am grateful to pen & inking and watercolors that allow me to concentrate, indeed, meditate on a singular aspect of my world.  As I focus, as I intentionally eliminate much stimuli and demand of myself to be with one small aspect of the world, I can identify with that wonderful Little Prince given to us by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.  He is excited to revisit “his” little rose, because it is not that there are billions of roses in the universe, the importance to him is that one of them he has a special relationship to.

I am grateful to my special relationship with language.  I am honored that the universe has chosen me to give dictation to at this time in my life.  As I ponder the gifts that have come my way, I realize that I have so many wisdom-givers to give thanks to. I am grateful that I have found the value of gratitude & that that too is a sensation that readily transforms itself through language.

Finally, I want to say just one last thing in this essay about language.  Language provides a way out of the maze that chaos often spins us into.  I find there to be a substantial difference between the language that I hear as the perpetual voice that runs in the back of my mind and the language that emerges out of the stillness that is discovered just outside the purview of the ego.

Exactly what that difference is is still a mystery to me.  I am perplexed because in characteristics like sound and cadence and word order, it is clearly the same english speaking language.  The difference lies in the fact that nothing ever spoken to me out of the stillness ever employs a sense of urgency.  Perhaps the answer to the question, “does my mindfulness use the same language as does my ego,”  might lie in the simplicity that emerges when urgency is not present.  But, I am not finished with that question & I see that its cause might be taken up under the larger question about the distinction between the entire mind field and its differences from the egoic mind.

Thanks, again & more to come.  Please feel free to add comments or even a separate thread in the comment section, it often jolts a dialogue…..

drive theory & other muse-ings: an orange and a dump

hesiod & the muse,  gustave hesiod

muse:  anyone of the ten daughters of zeus, a city in burma, the act of chewing something over, or a source of inspiration…

not as appetizing, or as sacred,  or as sexy as my bold mind calls for.  but, in the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, gustave moreau canvas comes closest to the muse that lives in my imagination– gorgeous young things, semi-clad, groping each other in  an eden like garden.

i love my muse-ings.  i am delighted that god made me in such a fashion that my mental muse-ings are a source of entertainment that i can carry with me in an even eaiser manner than i carry my ipod.  but, it does lead me to a question that I have been musing around recently.

am i my own muse, or is my muse external to me?   am i the “i am?”

The source of emotion is primary instincts.  Mankind is devoted to the aims of his drives.  Sex and aggression give rise to the multitude of conditions that man can construct.  The force of aggression is to disintegrate and the force of sex is to integrate.  Who we are, our lives, character and behaviors emanate from the interplay and discharge of our primary urges born out of biology as surely as a jungle is born out of ecology.

In a recent blog, i suggested that the muse had to be external, witnesses by the fact that i felt gratitude to something external to me. But the more I thought about this the more I recognized that it is not so clear cut.

What or who is the source of my creativity?

From an experiential perspective I seem to begin a work of art, or a work of creativity not so much with an idea, but rather with an urge, a propensity toward, or a craving to produce.  I experience the creative process as beginning as an internal drive state.  The urge is a minor discomfort, an itch to move toward having something emerge from me.  In that light the Freudian principle of drive theory sits squarely as a theory of physics and biology that has some explanatory possibilities for the study of creativity as a source of exit from narcissism.

We seem to have returned  to mythology–in this case “eros” and “thanatos.”  in drive theory we see the inborn biological urge as a basic condition of evolution whereby the need to satisfy the emergence of energy is required for the organism to return to homeostasis. Desire and urging are states of the human condition that motivate man toward vitality-life, and life giving urges are the reason why we move toward anything.

The combination of the self-preservation “genes,”  sex and aggression, are seen as responsible for motivation.

The brain/mind is a self organizing system.  Gerald Edelman compares the brain to a  jungle rather than to a computer.  “The chemical and electrical dynamics of the brain resemble the sound and light patterns and the movement and growth patterns of a jungle more than they do of an electrical company” (Edelman, p. 29).  No two patterns ever repeat, each element of consciousness is a new set of interacting sensations and synaptic connections, based on the fusion of drives.  The unconscious, always ready to help us to hide from the ugly sensations in life organizes itself below consciousness.  However the multitude of ways in which we are challenged poses for mankind an opportunity for aggression to release itself from the grips of internal biology.  Frustration/aggression once digested must find an outlet.  Loss and the anticipation of separation arouses biology toward an impulse to discharge.  This experience of sensation gathers a life of its own and becomes a quantity of energy seeking discharge.  The discharge is either one that has a positive impact on the world around it or it has a negative impact on the world around it.  In other words–the energy once made external is aimed at either a creative construction or a death driven destruction.

If the idea of a muse is to be important at all it must come into play at the moment of energy execution.  We have no trouble understanding the the human organism as a rather complicated tube.  If you put something in at one end, and all goes right, something will come out at another end.  There is a kind of physics simplicity to this especially if we use as the metaphor the ingestion and digestion and elimination of food.

Imagine the following:

you are sitting on your stoop.  across the roadway from you is a gigantic, fruit filled orange grove. you are hungry and thirsty.  the hunger and thirst are the biological urges compelling you to action simply by the mild discomfort that these conditions bring about within you.  hunger and thirst are not experience as a positive feeling though they may well impel you toward a positive action.

what happens next is a direct implication from urge toward self-preservation.  you need to desire the fruit if you are going to motivate yourself to get off the stoop, cross the roadway, walk up to an orange tree and rip one of the fruits off the branches with a tug and a yank and an action that is entirely destructive to the orange tree.  the metaphors of sex and aggression are useful to understanding our motivations toward action.

next you push your middle finger down through the navel of the orange, feeling the warm moist sensation as your finger rips and pulls and tears the flesh and the skin off of the fruit.  once the membrane is sufficiently penetrated you once again tear at the pulp of the orange ripping off a section of fruit.  you then place the fleshy membrane of the orange in your mouth and you begin to suckingly masticate and chew at the juices of the orange.  you do this over and over, aggressively ingesting the life of the orange, digesting its very vitality until there in nothing left to the orange but a memory and an citric aroma that satisfyingly lingers in the form of gratification.  hunger relieved, the homeostasis returns, for a while.  the body returns to a state of rest.

several hours later you experience another mild discomfort, this time you are not being urged to take in something, but rather your are being urged to eliminate.  what is left to the orange once your body has used its vitality and nutrients is waste.  the elimination of waste is once again experienced as gratifying as the organism reestablishes itself as comfortable and at ease.

Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud, an author that I have come to respect with more clarity as I grow older in my knowledge base and my own wisdom, wrote about the basic experience of pleasure as the prototype of all desire.  In our experience of pleasure and the avoiding of pain the human organism is suspended in a state of conflict forever needing resolution.  The desire or urge to create comes from within the organism and is the result of resolving internal conflict.  If no internal conflict were present it seems likely that little would motivate the organism toward action.

It is this urge toward action that is capitalized upon in creativity.  The small nagging urge to accomplish, to expel, is modeled after the very fact & process of existence.  The deliberate use of the motivation supplied by the natural urges to create and destroy can be employed to exit the condition of narcissism firmly lodged in a dysfunctional ego.

Muse is desire.  If we examine desire from a physical or biological point of view we can easily adopt that desire and pleasure make sense as a coupled concept.  Except for in perverted examples, pain is hardly ever the source of desire.  Cravings, urges, longings, these all belong to the purview of desire.  Although cravings in eastern philosophy often take on a negative connotation, there appears to be a discrepancy in this idea because the very need to eliminate desire has to be constructed by a desire to eliminate it.  The existence in a state of only pure being is a meditative quality that one can use to diminish the aggravating influence of the constantly ruminating mind.  However, for most of us who do not or can not live in a purely contemplative state …we must find a way to exit the ego at will thereby employing our language and thought processes to work for us rather than we work for it.  I refer to this process as “following the bell into stillness”.

The very idea of a muse is a pleasant ideation.  The muse like a lover  does not diminish the creator.  A muse assist the creative process by establishing itself as the source of desire.  The lover is there to be made use of, to be enjoyed, to bring about pleasure and never diminishes only increases the value of the loved one.  If we conceptualize the muse as existing in the realm just outside the ego, we can imagine that although it is a piece of who we are, the ego will experience it as something outside of us–not because it is outside of us, but because it is outside the purview of the ego.

As I continue to examine the human condition from a psychoanalytic perspective, I am encouraged to see that the theory does not break down as an explanation for the existence of art as the human counterpart to creationism.   Art & sexuality flow from the libido and the muse is an aphrodisiac that produces that wonderful sympathetic magic that gives us the freedom to examine ideas in ever new ways of synthesizing them.

The emergence from narcissism is accomplished when a form of self-actualization occurs.  The ego desires contemplative stillness and allows for an exit into stillness where the mind is active but not under the direction of the egoic concepts of yesterday & tomorrow.  Once established in the present moment, the anxiety of urgency dissipates allowing for the psychic energy to be use in ever new spiritual and creative ways.

Narcissism may be a condition that more describes the period in ones development that one regresses to under stress, it may not so much be a personality type as it is a definition of the quantity regression that one is experiencing. Under the command of a stressed-out ego one experiences life as a condition of urgency & nearly all the psychic energy is employed to combat the experience of stress.

Emergence from the ego, that is, following the bell into silence allows the organism to experience itself without the continual experience of urgency–this creates a desire for this type of pleasure and once the ego has experienced the silence as pleasure it will be more cooperative in not resisting the pursuit of right-brain activities and pleasure.

If you like, you can go to the side bar and double click on the Great Bell Chant.  It is an example of an activity that assists one in moving more freely between the egoic state and the more meditative state of the mind.

You are invited to muse your comments into the comment section below. When people have done so it has brought about a dialogue or discussion that is helpful to filling out this developing theory of emerging from narcissism.

A coal-dark night of the soul

There appeared a thin sheet of ice, overnight, on the lake.  The limbs of the trees are naked, their cold arms reaching, sagging, isolated one from the other.  They no longer face the cold sun, nor touch each other with billowing leaves.   They are dormant, a kind of stagnation exists that suggest they are not breathing, and they are not dead.

They look dead.  They are brittle and hard and cold to the touch.  The sun is too far removed to warm their sap.  They lie in wait for a new spring, without knowing for what they wait.  I am a winter tree perched by a frozen pond, naked and sagging, only a hint of curiosity accompanies my mind this cold december morning.

I did not ‘decide’ to not go to church this morning. Instead,  I slowly waited until it was too late and pushed my catholic guilt aside and brewed a cup of coffee.  Usually Unitarians do not mind.  This morning I do mind.

My ego has taken charge of me. I found it very hard to fall into sleep last night.  I watched the fire glow, orange and blue flames until it was only embers forming a warm bed of dis-inter-grated carbon.  A tree had grown, blossomed, flowered, withered, fell and on the third day descended in hell and I was witnessing the funeral fire; and it warmed my body while chilling my soul.  It was 3:00 a.m. when I came down to my studio and scribbled a pen & ink village nestled in some obscure corner of the world. The canvas took the walnut oil-ink and shapes emerged on their way to a large grey cathedral with a huge burgundy stained glass window centered below the two spires and a towering steeple.

It took me a long time to decide if the steeple ought to support a weather-vane or a cross.  Finally, I decided that I knew very little about protestant, weather-vaned churches, so I carefully drew a catholic cross atop the steeple.  It was a bold cross and the perspective was wrong, well maybe not so much wrong as childish.  The cathedral was set askew and facing a south west angle, but my child like perspective could only draw the cross facing me head on.  So there I was, it was now past 3:00 a.m. and I was facing a boldly fixed crucifix, set askew; and with the wrong perspective, I stood in a european village in the center of my mind unable to emerge from a deeply rooted ego that was determined to have its way with me.

It was child-abuse.   Yes, looking back it was child abuse.  And, it was still child abuse, except now–I was both the perpetrator and the victim.   Funny, because this house of mirrors that I live in, always has me facing myself no matter how honestly I believe that i am facing another, I am always and only facing myself.  I am always and only cursing and hurling stunningly accurate  words of painful wisdom at myself–even if the mirror reflects a disturbingly, damaged child, I aim my wisdom straight for the heart and like an arrow that knows its mark, it pierces, and we both bleed.

The statue points one finger at the Sacred Heart, broken, and  bleeding of Precious Blood.  The Holy Family church crumbles like a basilica in an Italian earth quake.  Then I quake at the power of the universe and at how I can harness that energy to kill or to create.

Yesterday, I killed.  I confess that as simply as if  I were a vampire in an Anne Rice novel.  And like the protagonist in an Anne Rice novel, these are real people, real men and real children bitten in the neck and poisoned forever.  There is no Lazarus coming back from the dead to tell us all…no one to squeeze the universe into a ball. There is no overwhelming question.  “No” that was not what was meant at all.

Today I sit, alone, meditating the pile of crumbled blood stained stones.  The reason I can not let it go is simply this:  I can not let it go because it IS my sin.  The harnessed energy  channeled itself through me and the symbols of a catholic childhood are as awake in me today as they were when I was twelve and when she was ten.  The source of my pain is me and source of her pain is she.  That will never excuse my sin.  An ancient definition of sin, is from a word that means to miss the mark.  But in my mind, once the arrow has left the bow the sin begins at that point to sail through the universe and the mark is not what we aimed for, the mark is what we hit.

I am sorry, reader.  I know it is December and the warmth of the Christ’s birth is suppose to warm the naked branches hardly swaying in the blustering wind.  I know that is how it should be, in one corner of my mind.  But, it is just not how it is this morning.  And, if you read me, then it is me that you get.  And you know that I am no longer a card-board cut-out of an as-if persona, but a flesh and bleeding human being whose spirit can soar as rapidly to the pits of hell as it can soar through the bliss that is heaven on earth..  To the extent of your sorrow, so too, to the extent of your joy.

So, it may not be a happy read, but today it is a catholic read, a universal sentiment established in the deep recesses of the darkest nights of the year.  It is what I mean by a coal-dark night of the soul.  ‘Twas in the winter cold when earth was desolate and wild, that angels welcomed at the birth the everlasting child.  Even birthing a King is labor.  And there is no turning back.

In war and in peace, when the blood flows think upon the battlefield it is hard to distinguish the enemy from the the dead. We often can be each other’s pain, even in joy–though in a perfect world we would like for it to not be that way, what we have is what we have–“a second chance, there never was meant to be but one. We work in the dark, we give what we can, and the rest is the madness of art.” (h. james)

ich-besetzung (ego cathexis)

I got a call from a dear friend this morning.  She was upset, and spoke about a lonely Thanksgiving as her kids were not around to share the holiday with her. I felt her concern and I understood what it is like to feel that desperate sense of lack that accompanies the missing of something that we want so very badly to happen in our lives.

I was fortunate this year to have the full compliment of my family with me for the holiday.  That fact alone, however, does not eliminate the feeling of lack.  As I awoke this morning and the deep grey New England rain was covering everything in a blanket of damp, cold and colorless images, I was aware that I had grown a new dependency in my life.  Like all the other dependencies that I have had to cope with, this one felt warm and seemed to be providing my needs nicely.  But, I was also aware that like all other dependencies in the past, it too had the possibility of de compensating  into a vast sea of emptiness, characterized by fear, worry and a generalized feeling of low-level depression.

I hate that phrase, “low-level depression.”  It makes it seem like a perpetual fever that just will not quit. Like when the fever is not high enough to keep me in bed, but low enough so that I have to work feeling miserable…We have all been there, so I am pretty sure this description will not feel new.   Be that as it may, returning to the new dependency–I have grown throughly dependent on a circle of friends.  I find myself double thinking everything I am wanting and even much of how I am thinking and that doubt seems permanently lodged and the only thing that resolves it is a nod of approval from this circle of friends. two-thirds of the way through my life and suddenly I can’t tie my shoe without wondering if there is a more spiritually fit way to do this.

Having trained as a psychoanalyst has had it disadvantages, the least of which is not that i was educated to feel that i needed to depend on my healthy, well analyzed ego for the right and the next right answer to everything.  Well, that wonderful little formula breaks down at exactly the time in life when one is in crisis.  This wonderfully analyzed ego is worth shit when a situation comes along that requires the self to regress in service of the ego.  “In service of the ego,” what in god’s name is that.  Just when you need it most, the ego decides to return in time to an infantile stage of development. And, suddenly, you can no longer tie your shoe without a consultation that runs roughly one-hundred and fifty bucks an hour. Or, as I have been discovering recently, I need to be reminded by someone who is Not-Me that as recent as yesterday i had figured out a way to live that was very much in concert with nature, the universe, and my dog.

So, why do I need to be reminded?  From what i have been able to tell thus-far, I need to be reminded because when a circumstance happens that momentarily blocks my view of the sun, I can not remember where the light was coming from. If you were to step down, using a long ladder, and you were to descend into a deep well; the further down you went the smaller the circle of light at the top would become, until it was a pin-hole of light followed by utter and total darkness.  The dark light of the soul is despair.  That mood of discouraging conditions that is characterized by having no hope.  The darkness of hopelessness is despair.

Even the smallest pin-hole of light prevents despair, but once you pass that point in the down ward move just beyond where all light fails, you can not see your way out of emotional, mental, nor spiritual darkness.

The reason that I need my spiritually fit friends is because they are not in the pit or the well, with me at the same time.  So, they can still see the light even though, it is failing to reveal itself to me.  I think what I am discovering is that in the process of becoming spiritually fit the most important dimension is to surround ourselves with other people making the same spiritual journey.  They will hold our hands and they will think for us at moments when we have forgotten that we knew the way out.  While my ego is regressing for some reason that it finds very important, my friends who are accompanying me on this journey through inter-being will guide me up the ladder until, I can once again see the light.

My newest dependency is to my dear circle of people willing to guide me when I lose sight, and in exchange, i am willing to guide them when they lose sight.  We are forming a village, a community with a common mission.  Finally, were I to discover in the future that this dependency on my circle was becoming an addiction, well, all that I would really need to do would be to find a new twelve step program, perhaps, Triple AAA, Addiction to Addictions Anonymous.