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….

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.

Sanctuary Road: a state of grace

Stuffed Pumpkins & baked  apples, cardigan sweaters & wood fires, long lingering evenings after short cold days these are a few of my favorite things.

I am basically lazy.  In part my not wanting to leave home may have something to do with where I have chosen to live.  I am situated on a dirt road between Burlingame State Park & the Kimball Bird Sanctuary.  The name of the road is Sanctuary Road.  No wonder my house feels like a church to me.  There are no street lights and I look out over what has affectionately become known as Walden Pond 2

Walden 2When Saturday morning arrives, I usually feel ready for just about anything.  I think that arises from the sense of freedom that I have come to give myself on Saturday mornings.  I can write, paint, draw, play my keyboard…or, if I prefer do nothing.  Doing nothing, just ‘putsing’ around,. is a leisure time activity very near meditating for me.

This morning is gray, the leaves are still green, but it is clearly a fall morning.  The wind is a lot stronger than a breeze and everything seems to be moving slightly, although everything is clearly attached and feels very secure.  The day sets itself up for me as a canvas to contemplate.  I am acutely aware of muted colors.  The reds are more of a rust and the browns are actually a light gray & the greens are more dusty than brilliant.  I feel a painting coming on.topaz & corel pen ink2

But, before I begin what ever activity the universe leads me to, I want to spend another moment with this conscious connection with my soul.  I have become aware, again,  that it is gratitude that feeds my spirit.  And although I am not always able to muster up the energy to get myself there whenever I contemplate the list of “things” and “conditions” that nourish me, I FEEL better.  However, I am not always capable of praying in that way.  There are time when worrying, and filling my mind with fear and negative words takes my breath away.

I say, my breath because when I sit in meditation there are always two things that immediately come to my mind.  I am breathing and I am thinking.  When my thinking is so strong I forget to remember that when I concentrate on my breath I can remove my focus from my egoic thinking mind and for a brief time,  I feel calm and spiritually fit.

I am reminded that I am in touch with my soul by the energy  that I have for creative projects when I am in a state of gratitude instead of a state of fear and worry…..below is a recent watercolor that I titled, Island Meadowbridge island meadow

Good Morning, Page: or Good, morning page…..

a pseudo monk pondering from the book of life

10:30 a.m., Sunlessday, 9/27/09

I seem to “lack” confidence in my “practice” of meditating.  “I am not good at it.”

I do “not” do it enough, I do not go “deep” enough.  It takes years to get better.   Or, my favorite lately, “I’ll probably only be a “C” student at this too.”

Fact is,  i can awaken as a miserable, impossible to get along with myself, self-involved, non-believer.  And by the way, from there it only gets worst, not better.

….Eckahart Thich Nhat-Hicks, along with Freud and Jung, Thomas, Aristotle, Abraham, and all the saints; are the new Masters of the Universe.  And, like in Bonfire of the Vanities, I feel I am a burnt-out, out of luck, Zen-less, neophyte once again at a new altar promising piety and peace in a world more filled with greed and envy and violence than any the Sisters of the Presentation of Mary could have envisioned (walls white & red-hot of steel closing in on you from top and bottom and all sides, was one of my favorite).  By the way the caveat was added that in Hell the body was never destroyed therefore the anticipation of the end of pain would never happen.

I think that i actually preferred the sexual interest the roman catholic priest had in my genitals, it was in the very least, less violent.

Today, I awaken with no desire, a non attached ego, a slightly quivering heart and a sense of dread that “2012” might indeed be the only way to approach collective consciousness.  I have awakened this morning to the fullness of my cynicism, I am back to being a student of nihilism.  Of course, i know that I am not the only nut-job to meditate & find the eternal void to be smack in front of me while every one else sits with a moaning – Lisa, half-smile pasted as a semi-look of bliss on their faces.  But, that I may not be alone, is not exactly comforting.

Does anyone else out there ever get so discouraged, that despite all the beautiful possibilities, all the promise of unlimited manifestation, stillthe ego can come in, take over and be in charge for what feels like an eternity.

It is like the walls of the mine/mind have caved in on themselves.  Let’s see if I am able to carve a way back to sanity…I think the canary may still be alive.

Dr. Albert Dussault

http://www.iphotoimpression.com

aldussault@cox.net