Sur Le Lac Sainte Jean

 The concept of self-love seems to be under perpetual attack, from the right, the left, and the center.  It seems that self-love, narcissism and selfishness or selflessness are all concepts that manage to disguise the authentic meaning of self love.  For me I find it easier to lump all aspects of self-love under the umbrella of managing ones life.  

    Management is an executive function that has come primarily under the influence of the ego, that aspect of ourselves that we generally think of when we call ourselves by our first name.   Repeat to yourself the following: “My Ego’s name is___(Al)______________.”  That give you a clear sense, and a sense that you can continue to clarify anytime you decide that it is necessary to check in with yourself to make sure that you are on the track for knowing what you want and what you want to do in life.  Without that compass to due north we are, indeed lost in a sea of consciousness.
   The management of self-love will never be satisfying if it emits exclusively from the ego.  Therefore it is of primary importance to we seekers that we know how to subjectively look within for data and information that comes from the other aspects of our organism other than the left-brain ego.  For starters the best way to access our more primal instincts is to simply stop as much thinking in english as we can, calm our bodies by taking simply a few deep breaths, to ensure that we are preparing ourselves for the transition to the search within instead of the objective and perpetual scanning of all that is outside of us. Then calmly ask yourself this question.
                    
               If I could have anything and everything that I wanted what would that be?  If I were able to permit no resistances to
     my most heartfelt desires what would that look like?  
 
  There has to be no moral, no religious, no social or civilized judgements about your most inner and most personal wants.  This simple exercise in Letting-Go of Fear requires abject honesty with yourself and perhaps with your analyst, but with no one else, not your beloved partner, not your priest or minister….this is entirely a personal inventory that will help to guide you toward finding the star that you want to hitch a ride from. Keep in mind we are lost in
a sea of consciousness until we know our true north.
 
   Self-Love is a state of human affairs where by we understand that the primal objective of life is to successfully survive.  Self-love begins with an ability to access our survival instincts.  These instincts however are hidden under the shadow of the ego and getting to these instincts means that we have to be prepared to have a discussion with the aspect of us that is the Ego.  The Ego, as chief executive of the human organism, will not relinquish power readily.  So, you have to be prepared to go into the bosses office and be entirely straight, entirely honest with what you want for yourself and you must be able to fight off
the powerful intimidating and over-whelming feelings that the Ego will erect as a defense against you wanting to consult the wider sea of consciousness.
 
   Once in the presence of our deeper instincts rather than solely in the presence of the Ego, we can look at forgiveness, compassion we can see that Love is an action that we take, not a thing we have.  We can embrace all aspects of what we want because what we want is as good for ourselves as it is good for people and critters around us.  Narrow in on the positive feelings that would erupt if you were living exactly the way you would like to live your life.  And begin
to believe that you can and will have what you want once you know how to handle the pressures and the stresses of your own ego.
 
   All conflict in life is within the ego.  The metaphor that I have been using about ego induced conflict is this:  “You are going to a horse race with only two horses racing.  You decide to bet $1000 on one horse and to hedge your bet you bet $1000 on the other horse.”   That is the consequence of winning a battle within the ego…there can be no winner and no looser.   
 
   Quiet the mind for a moment, let yourself access anything and everything that you want and place no restrictions whatsoever on that desire….open your eyes and go on living as if nothing happened.
   Then simply let your dreams unfold.Image

 

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.