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

Heart-Felt Emotions

freud1

One might ask, Are not all emotions heart felt?  Maybe?  But I have a specific reason to be tapping the emotions in relation to the heart.  We hardly stop to think of emotions and heart as being an integrated aspect of nature.  Our spontaneous capacity for joy or sorrow, laughter or tears; or our wonder at the beauty or the horrors of life — these are the stuff that elevate our consciousness or dismantle our well-being.  I am inclined to believe that the information supplied by the heart and the body is significantly different from the information supplied by the mind and the brain.

Emotions have a great deal in common with feelings.  They both erupt from the body rather than erupt from the mind, and as such they are quicker on the draw.  They avalanche us, they seemingly attack us from the outside.  We hardly know from where they come and there is no organ in the body that operates like the brain does, so we are left with the notion of feeling and emotion happen to us.

We are, as a science, certain that emotions inform us, but unlike our thoughts, our feelings and emotions register as subjective experience rather than as objective data.  If I were to hold up a picture of a table you would not have an passioned response.  But let’s say that I were to hold up a picture of a forest on fire with several children seemingly trapped, you might have a visceral response.  One is a simple objective fact the other is charged with emotion.

We intuitively know the distinction between an objective thought and an impassioned emotion.  The most important function of a feeling is to inform the body of a condition that needs to be paid attention to…hunger, exhaustion, pain, these we recognize as sensations that encourage us to think about and to act in accordance with both the informed feeling and subsequently the informed thought.

Another major difference between a thought and a feeling is that the feeling rises to consciousness with no help from our mind.  Emotions tend to be independent and they rise out of experience as a sensation.  They are not formulated in language. They exist as a system of the body that is void of  language oriented thoughts.

In Western tradition, the heart felt instincts from which emotions and feelings arise are not cultivated as a product of much value.  We are trained to be rational.  We have even excluded the study of the subjective from scientific evaluation.  It is relegated to fringe disciplines most associated with self-help and new-age phenomena.  This is changing as the neuro sciences are breaking new sound barriers in the mind/body matrix.

It makes more sense now than ever to be re-awakening the foundational knowledge that Freud brought to the western hemisphere of civilization.  The neurology of his time over one hundred years ago reads like hieroglyphics.  But Freud’s metaphors of neurology are today’s cutting edge science.

The heart of the matter has never been more important than it is right now. Not only is our entire neural history carried in our hearts and minds, but our ancestral knowledge garnered from our parentage and eons back from that is also carried in our hearts and minds.

The heart of the matter, as I see it, resides in the knowledge that as an organism we possess a divided mind.  It is made up of instinct and ego, conscious and unconscious as well as thoughts and feelings, hormones and dendrites, mucus and sinew, with neuro-circutry connected in such a way that it operates more organically like a jungle than it does like a computer.

If the metaphor carries through, the rational thought runs like a computer, because it is what developed the computer.  The heart of the matter runs more like a jungle where instinct acts to help us survive and grow at the microcosm and the macrocosm of it; but it does not use language to convey its information to us.  It uses subjective sensation as the unit of communication.  A bird call, if you will.  Like in the jungle the bird call can be heard by all species, the proximity of the tiger is alerted by a bird call.

We need to locate within us the capacity to hear the bird call and to interpret it for its intended meaning.  We have no intention of throwing away the lap-top, but if I am walking through a jungle, I would like to think that the call of the wild is as easily readable  as the english characters in this computer screen.

The heart of the matter  has information as crucial to our survival as is the stuff of the manifested mind….

an occasion for joy

http://500px.com/aldussault/stories/81609/an-occasion-for-joy

Every, every thing that we encounter is either an opportunity to externalize or an opportunity to scrutinize. The inward 

looking for answers is nowhere as natural as our human tendency to look out-ward for the source of the conflict. Getting 

to believe that every conflict is a conflict within is not an easy task and it requires vigilance and persistence as well as surrounding 

ourselves with people who want to be on the same spiritual path…. 

The path is one in which we believe ourselves to be the source of all perception, in other words, the maker, the creator of our realities.

We are a herding animal. We do best in groups, loosely formed groups that help us to make corrections in our perceptions. Although 

it may feel initially easier to want to believe that the source of our pain lies in somebody else’s drama, it really always lies in our 

response to the drama that we see in the world…

Every inter-reaction that we encounter comes from a place within that is trying to make sen …

 

Image

 

Woman in Pain:
This pen & ink with a watercolor wash depicts a woman in deep pain looking out into a world that looks as painful as the world she lives within. She is both angry and sad, but her appetite for vitality is seen in her eyes–they are deep and dark and attentive. The original is a 16 x 20 painting on Bristol paper. 
Once painted, the image was imported into Topaz and rendered in simplify, a plug in for i photo.

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.

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.

Gratitude, and the ego as a seed in the soul

Gratitude and greed occupy the same space in the psychic apparatus.  If the container is filled with greed or envy there is no room for gratitude.  If the container is filled with gratitude there is no room for greed or envy…It is that simple.  It is a law of physics.  Two piece of matter can not occupy the same space and by extension it appears that two pieces of information can not occupy the same psychic space.  The Greek word  “Psyche” is our word “Soul”.   Contrary to what many think, Freud dedicated his life to the study of Man’s soul.  In this later part of my life, as I begin to have time to open my self to newer 21st century models of mental conditions, I find that the earlier wisdom acquired in the study & practice of modern psychoanalysis have bearing, if not direct implications on these principles.

Our souls are the most important part of us while we are alive and living in form. The soul of man gives us our humanity at the only place where it touches our divinity.  Through religion we have learned to associate the term soul with that part of us that will transcend life and perhaps attains a life everlasting.  But for my purpose in this essay I will use the more generic aspect of the word.  I mean by the soul of man, the very essence of man.  I mean to refer to the totality of the experience of man. My soul is my experience of me at exactly the psychic location where it touches my connection with the cosmic.

Our experience known as the soul is often not experienced directly.  Rather it points to as a location or a phenomenon that is concerned with as Bruno Bettelheim say, ” not just man’s body — but most of all with the dark world of the unconscious which forms such a large part of living man — or, to put it in classical terms, with the unknown netherworld in which, according to ancient myths the souls of men [and women] dwell.”

As human beings we experience ourselves first and foremost by identifying with the part of the psychic apparatus know as the “ego.”  The ego of the human mind  is not directly connected to the soul.  The ego is detached from the field of consciousness that is our more profound existence or experience of being.  The ego, although not discoverable in time and space as a physical entity is a construct that we use to explain a host of primary  and secondary functions of the brain.  We can not open the brain and locate the ego.  The ego, like the soul does not exist in form.

The ego ought not have a bad wrap.  It is a cluster of functions which contribute to our essential humanness.  For example, language is thought to be the highest function of the ego.  The ego is responsible for our being able to develop language. The ego is also responsible for other functions such as perception and motility.  It is a cluster of brain functions rather than a specific location.  And as such remains an important aspect of our ability to function in civilization and society.  Some say it is actually the aspect of man directly responsible for his ability to build civilization and culture.  But again, it is important that we see it for what it is, not a location in the brain as much as the name given to a cluster of functions.

In my ramblings about psychoanalysis and man’s soul, i seem to find myself always contending with a duality.  As much as I acknowledge the oneness of the mind/body matrix, it seems that in experience I am always struggling with a concept that can only be explained by forming comparisons of by juxtaposing one experience against another.

Even in the concept of greed vs gratitude it seems that the experience of one is felt to be one thing and the experience of the other quite another thing.  However, if I were only concerned about the comparisons of two things it would seem logical, (they are different because they are different).  But, what  I am trying to understand  is if the experience of one comes from a different place than the experience of the other.

I have rambled or, if you wish, free associated, to this notion of duality in our experience of ourselves in many of my writings through the years.  I keep doing so because i have experience in me what I would like to call, an exit from narcissism. In my years of practicing my own brand of dynamic psychoanalysis, I have run up against classical conditions in this science that seem to take over the definition and attempt to make it fit the science rather than pursue what appears to me the more logical approach which is to follow the experience into a phenomena that is no longer science, but is nevertheless a direct outgrowth of the science and may point to a newer model or theory of human existence.  And although not science, nonetheless an important dimension of humanness that can only be arrived at with subjective conclusions. The scientific “objective” can only go so far in helping us to understand our humanity.  Poetry, music, & our relation to nature and to animals, for example,  point to a subjective awareness that provides a profound acquaintance with the subjective that can not be quantified objectively.

As I ponder gratitude, I am aware that the very experience of gratitude fills my consciousness with a sense of expansion, with a feeling that is both grand and humbling at the same time.  Gratitude is connected not only with me experiencing myself but with me experiencing a wider sense of connectedness that includes a feeling of well-being and a feeling of inter being with all of creation.  To put it more simply gratitude is a sensation that consequenses a feeling of totality and oneness and well being all laced with that kind of giddiness that one feels as a joyful child.  By comparison greed feels very intra- psychic. I shrink to greed, not expand to it.  Greed is small minded.  Greed worms it way through me and settles into a corner of my life and i experience it as an undigested piece of toxic lead.  I think about it and i can experience the thought as mental, as a calculation, perhaps even as a manipulation of truth.

But, the profound difference is not in the verbal attributes that i can ascribe to the difference between gratitude and greed, but rather in the felt location from which each experience comes.  I want to give one more example of the experience of the objective vs the experience of the subjective:

Charlotte, my youngest granddaughter,  is falling asleep in my arms… That is an objective statement of a experience I might be having in a given moment.

However, the experience of having my beautiful, angelic, sweet and loving granddaughter in my arms being so comfortable that she is soothing herself to sleep, is a subjective experience that comes from an entirely different location in my experience.  And no amount of objective verbal data or description can convey the experience.  In other words my human experience in that moment can not be objectified.  It is as if my soul, the aspect of me that is closest to the divine is activated and a flood of emotions and sensations converge on me and provide me with a feeling not representable through the ego.

As I write my free associations, I am conscious of my intention.  I am hopeful to find a verbal way of describing the long, slow and at times painful way for an adult to emerge from the condition of narcissism.  Having spent the bulk of my career specializing in the treatment of narcissistic disorders, I am interested in the specific manner in which one can successfully emerge from this human condition.

As I begin to write more seriously about this topic, I keep on returning to Freud’s works and specifically to his treatment of the psyche in his writings.  Of great concern is the notion that Freud meant for the entire backdrop of his science to be understood as an ego growing in a field of consciousness that he understood to be the soul of man.  But when his translations to english took on a more generic term than “soul” Freud did little to challenge this mistranslation.

As a result we have been seeing the ego as a mental construct that was to have some kind of physical, brain-like antecedent. When we attempt to locate the ego in the brain, of course, there is no such organ.  But if instead we were to consider the ego as an outgrowth of the soul, then the entire apparatus of the ego could be worked with as a metaphor for a seed found in a large, wild, field of cosmic consciousness that every human being has access to.  This line of thinking has many possible ramifications including its intersection with eastern philosophy.

The Myth of Sisyphus: regression in service of the ego

_1010421I awoke with my mind already in high gear.  Even before stepping out of bed my thoughts were scrambled and my feelings were in a state of chaos.  Nothing appeared right.  And everything appeared tinged with a sense of fear that I would not be able to do my life correctly. There was no one specific thought that dominated the noise in my head; but rather, a series of thoughts that each had me grimacing with fear & worry.  My energy was entirely out of touch with my being.

Mostly it sounded something like this:  if I am this miserable now, how bad must I have been earlier so that this awful NOW is my Karma.  I have a frown on my face and I am reluctant to allow myself to smile. Often, when the ego is so rapidly moving to a tune of urgency, I am unable to stop the process or slow down the merry-go-round enough to get off.  In those times, I have to deliberately awaken to a separate reality.  I need to regress, if you will, in service of the ego.

I might for example try to listen to some music, or listen for the silence at the end of a Zen chime or gong.  While listening to eight minutes of cello and piano music that I had previously composed and recorded I am bombarded with egoic thoughts  My ego might drift in and out of telling me that I have to rush through this exercise because I am wasting time becoming relaxed.  My ego might threaten me with phrases like:  this music is embarrassing, what would so and so think if he saw you listening to this childish exercise, & you are being ridiculous, do something productive.  I have to battled each one of these phrases with a simple nod and a smile that I am noticing just how eager my ego is to disturb my peaceful state of mind.

In short time, I find that I like the sensation in my body.  It is becoming comfortable and none of the previous thought and feelings of worry are present.  And if one of these thoughts do crop into consciousness, I simply smile at it and say, sorry, I am not going there.  It really feels like a struggle between my being–my consciousness, and my ego.  If I stay comfortably ensconced in the lullaby of being, I discover that if I do not need to engage in a fight with my ego, my ego backs down.

I might compare this to road rage.  When I use to feel that a car was encroaching on my territory I would engage with that car in a battle of who is the strongest, the most persistent.  Through out these bouts of road insanity, I was carried out of my stream of consciousness into a location in my head that demanded I fight and stay the course and above all stay deeply involved with the thought that I was right.

The egoic presence is a warrior ever standing guard and waiting for the moment to engage.  It is forever scanning the world to look for something to judge badly and by so doing think that it has the upper moral hand.  The ego, the part of me that i mostly know by my first name, Al, is confusing what it needs to stay dominant with what my organism needs to stay content and peaceful.  The ego grew with the same pace as my physical development.  It was the perceiving, organizing, protecting, defensive aspect of me that kept me safe, that is, kept my identity safe.  As the chore of keeping my identity safe became confused with the chore of keeping my organism safe, my ego developed its current practice of keeping my identity, my thoughts and emotions and opinions safe from encroachment.  In other words, it became engaged in keeping my ego identity safe and forfeited the job of keeping my organism safe  There is a phrase we use in psychoanalysis called, “regression in service of the ego.”  This phrase was developed in 1952 by a then prominent psychoanalyst, Ernst Kris.  Essentially he talk about a feeling of elation that is used as motivation in the creative process.  He speaks of this sensation as feeling as if it comes from outside, from an as outside agent.  His thought was that this was some kind of psychotic regression to some pre-egoic condition.  I have a different take on it. My feeling is that it feels like it comes from outside the self because it is coming from the wider consciousness that is actually outside the prevue of the ego…Or, I might say it comes from the soul of the self rather than from the rational ego.

There are many folks who feel a need, so desperately, to keep their identity in tact that they lose all contact with the higher principles of peace and contentment and happiness.  The ego in its uncanny fashion differentiates  itself from the wider sense of self and  diminishes the value of contentment in the face of maintaining its own righteousness and place of permanence in the psyche.

Creativity and sensitivity to one’s experience of freedom and joy are activities that are built, or discovered, outside the agency of the ego.  In that way we often hear people talk about channelling another source, or being inspired by a muse.  In fact the source of creativity is the self, but the self that lives outside the ego.  The ego need not be dismantled in order to tap this source.  It is just that one needs to learn to NOT rely on old egoic positions and instead be ready to capture ideas that are free floating and less tied to convention. The source is the divine in us.  It is the great “I AM” of creation and we exist as co-creators.  It is not up to the universe to bring us joy.  It is our task, indeed our purpose in life, to bring joy to the universe.  We live in the paradise that we create by flowing down stream, or we are condemned like Sisyphus  to be rolling the bolder of life  forever uphill.