Tag Archives: child

Chuck’s Place: I Want

In the beginning was the child…
-Photo by Jan Ketchel

Yes, there really is a part of the self that simply is all about me. Born in childhood, this spark of me-ness is our earliest ego state that simply needs, wants, and expects to be given to. And at that stage of life this narcissism is healthy and necessary; it’s all about survival.

Fairly quickly the needs and expectations of powerful others require us to suppress our needs, delay gratification, and give as well as take—all technologies to form a mature adult ego. This socialization of the child ego state greatly curtails its self-centeredness, which slips into the shadows of the unconscious, hidden but hardly dormant. Polite as we might appear to be outwardly, inwardly or covertly the child still wants and gets, in some form.

In our time, new apps appear daily to rapidly cater to all our wants. In America our new president has become the poster child for entitlement. The child ego state has been freed from the shadows, its narcissism given full legitimacy as a national policy.

The wanting child has truly come of age. We are all being asked to grapple with our own wanting child ego state. However, in approaching this inner child ego state, we must be careful to distinguish between it and the many parts of the self that appear in the form of the child and are in fact not the child ego state, what I refer to instead as the child image. The child ego state itself is a universal non-personal inherited psychic structure much like a limb or any other part of the body which serves a necessary function in life. The function of the child ego state in young childhood is simply to procure, as it is too immature to give or care for itself. In contrast, the child image reflects the personal history of the personality’s unfolding in this life.

Often, an inner child image, not the child ego state, may represent a split off part of the self that was abused or neglected in childhood and had to be packaged up and stored away, often somewhere in the body, forgotten to the conscious mind. This part of the personality holds a memory that  may be triggered into awareness by a current event, seeking some kind of recognition and reconciliation with the rest of the personality. This is not the wanting child, this is the traumatized child’s experience seeking peace through integration.

A symbolic child image is also frequently encountered in dreams of  pregnancy, or simply having a child, which might represent the development of a new potential in the personality. Hence, one might decide to start a new career, enterprise, or relationship, all starting in an embryonic state, needing the conscious care of a parent/adult ego state to support and bring to fruition.

A dream variation on this theme might be finding oneself back in grammar school, high school, or college, having to learn something. Here, information or skills we missed in our formative years might need attention, asking our current adult ego state to humbly attend to an underdeveloped part of the self.

Having considered these other permutations of the child image self, we need to consider how best to deal with our structural child ego state. First, we should acknowledge that the child is the true home of innocence in the personality. This innocence has been extolled as the only state worthy of entering heaven.

Innocence approaches the world with curiosity and awe, unencumbered by preconceptions and rules. Of course, this innocence will be wounded by Buddha’s greatest discovery: life is suffering. No-one can escape the ultimate reality of old age, sickness and death. Nonetheless, under the tutelage of the adult ego state, “mature” innocence, that can remain open despite the vulnerabilities and inevitabilities of these truths, may find full expression in adult life.

As to the wants of the child ego state, these may be largely under the compulsive dominance of instincts, be it for food, power, stimulation, or attention. The challenge for the adult ego is to help its child ego state become free from the instinctive dominance of its basic needs so that they may be incorporated into adult life in a fulfilling way. Keep in mind that free will can only exist within the limits of consciousness, which is a function of the adult ego state. Beyond those limits there is the mere compulsion of the child ego state. For instance, a sexual impulse, delayed, might ultimately become the foundation of a real loving relationship versus a narcissistic release with a casual hookup. The adult ego state can reconcile and integrate the energy and power of human animal instinct with true relatedness and spiritual love.

The essential challenge with the demanding “I want” child self is to transform it to coexist with the legitimate needs of others. The child ego state dominating in adulthood is largely anachronistic, non-adaptive to a reality beyond “me.” To achieve fulfillment of wants, those wants must be channeled and transformed through the adult ego state that can navigate the world as it really is and find a home for all its deepest needs, within the greater self as well as in the world. That is recognition and reconciliation in maturity!

I want maturity,


Chuck’s Place: The Child—Demon Or Divine?

Demon or Divine? It's all in the eyes of the beholder... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Demon or Divine? It’s all in the eyes of the beholder…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Just who is that Inner Child we hear so much about? To one onlooker, a child being sternly reprimanded by a parent at the supermarket is a brat receiving just punishment. In contrast, another witness may declare atrocious abuse on the part of the parent as the innocence of the Golden Child is severely shattered by the reprimand. These are diametrically opposing reactions. One person experiences the child as an entitled big baby, the other sees a divine innocent child.

What makes one bystander see a Demon and the other a Divine Child has everything to do with the inner child projection of each observer. One person may harbor a powerful infantile shadow self that was either overly indulged or overly neglected in childhood. Given that this rejected child self remains rejected within the personality, this person might tend to agree with the parent’s stern treatment of this unacceptable Demon Child as a reinforcement of their own conscious attitude toward their own inner child. Of course, it’s also entirely possible that this rejected child projection might go the way of sympathy for the reprimanded child.

Another person may be at a stage of life or in a life circumstance that has become stale, wooden or frozen, lacking connection to the deepest waters of life. On the surface they may be bored and depressed. They may need the renewal of the spontaneity, freedom and innocence of the inner child in their own life to break through the quagmire of their current discontent. For them, the disciplining of the misbehaving child might be experienced as an affront to the Golden Divine Child, a symbol of the Self, their key to renewal.

This duality of possibility frequently shows up in the appearance of a child in a dream. Often we might dream that we have a child we didn’t know about. On the one hand, this child might represent an underdeveloped aspect of ourselves, that we may or may not be aware of, that is ready to emerge into our everyday life, an opportunity to “grow this part up” at this stage of life. In this case, the challenge would be for the ego to acknowledge vs. deny this underdeveloped part and take up the challenge of supporting needed growth.

On the other hand, it might be pointing to an infantile attitude that is overshadowing our lives and behaviors. Once again the challenge for the ego, in this scenario, is to overcome its blindness and take responsibility for becoming a responsible person, not asking others to cater to or compensate for its big baby attitude.

Still another possibility is that the dream child is the Divine Child, a symbol of the Self, that is opening the door to a new stage of our deepest unfolding by reflecting the need to return to pure innocence, dropping our plastic persona and diving naked into an ocean of renewal. The child is completely unencumbered by education and socialization, hence, serves as the best symbol of being closest to nature without the interference of mind. Sometimes, baring ourselves to this level is the only way to find our way back to true meaning in life.

There is golden potential in everyone... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
There is golden potential in everyone…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

The truth is that our Inner Child, as it appears in dreams, or as it projects itself onto the mirror of children in the world, can be either Demon or Divine. It is the work of consciousness—that is, of the ego—to study the appearance of the child and reflect honestly and deeply to discern who it symbolizes at this time in life, why it has appeared, and then act accordingly.

Mistaken identity can result in disastrous parenting where a child needing firm discipline may be inadvertently groomed as a little prince. Alternatively, an unusual or gifted child might be severed from its golden potential through insistence upon strict conformity and obedience, squelching its creative spirit in the process.

Inwardly, we might make the mistake of allowing the little prince within to rule the personality. Alternatively, the inner child that reflects our deepest flowing nature might hold the key to our spiritual renewal if we let it take the dive.

You make the call: Who is your inner child in its present manifestation? Demon or Divine?





Chuck’s Place: Beyond Archetypal Bondage

We are all part of this vast collective we call home... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We are all part of this vast collective we call home…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Carl Jung broadened the scope of who we are as human beings by introducing us to the Collective Unconscious, a vast region within ourselves that we share in common with all human beings, in fact with the entire planetary being, planet Earth.

Earth is a living being whose survival is ensured by a powerful governing body that Jung defined as the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious. All human beings are equally impacted by these governing forces that emanate from the deep unconscious of the planetary being Earth, of whom we are all a part while in human physical form.

Archetypes are rules and definitions existing independently of human beings. Preceding our personal selves, they shape our perceptions, interpretations, emotions, and actions in each moment of our lives, inhibiting our ability to be present in the purity, in the actual truth of each moment.

In a dream, Jan and I go to visit my long-deceased mother in her apartment on a holiday. She has been ill, physically incapacitated and limited in movement. I suggest immediately that we go out to eat. This is a visit to Mother who must be honored as special, treated royally on this day of celebration.

Jan says, “No. Ask her if she really wants to go out.” As suggested, I ask Mother. She says no. She’s relieved at not having to rise to the occasion. Relief for all.

The dream illustrates how the archetype Mother precedes the reality and the true physical disposition of the human being who resides in the apartment. The archetype demands reverence, honoring, special action, excitement, and celebration. The human person needs only rest.

Archetypes generate fear, anger, love, anxiety and awe. Archetypes define life and judge our ability to do the right thing. This dream clearly illustrates how the archetypes of Mother and Child take over the feelings and expectations of an encounter, so removed from the actual needs of the moment.

We too are earth-bound beings first... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
We too are earth-bound beings first…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Archetypes correspond with chakras. The first two chakras, the root and the sex chakra, are concerned with individual survival and survival of the species via copulation. The planetary being, Earth, has control of the chakras around these issues to ensure its own survival. Two archetypes at this level are the Child and the Soul Mate.

The child archetype evokes very powerful emotions of protection in adults, as they see in the child ultimate vulnerability and innocence. The helplessness and fragility in the newborn and young child evokes the necessary responses from caretakers, spurring them to make great sacrifices in their own lives and attend to the survival needs of these deeply dependent beings. Failure to thrive by a young innocent life can evoke the most powerful sadness in adults, as they find themselves powerless to assist the failing child.

The healthy child archetype serves to spur the core survival needs of new life on Earth. However, too often the child archetype continues to govern beyond necessity and when this happens the opportunity to become an independent autonomous being is delayed or totally denied. In such cases, the child archetype rules well past its usefulness, resulting in a being who is ever-dependent on others for their survival.

Inwardly, the child archetype can distort one’s relationship with one’s own inner child. When the archetypal child takes over it can evoke an overwhelming sadness that induces utter despondency in a bottomless pit of helplessness. Sometimes we may be tricked into thinking we must release our sadness in a great catharsis of tears, expecting relief and healing, only to discover that the wound never heals. This is not human activity, this is the child archetype ever-extracting our energy, keeping us in the grip of powerlessness and woundedness.

We must vehemently stand up to this archetype and shoo it away if we are ever to be able to take hold of our will and achieve adult autonomy in life. If we are ever to develop mature relationships with our families we must break away from the rudimentary archetypes that govern family relationships. Our spiritual development requires that we all become independent equal beings, no matter what our roles once were within the family. We must grow up to become mature adult peers facing the same destiny: death and preparation for what comes next.

The soul mate archetype at the second chakra level is ruthlessly interested in having us hook up and make babies. The power of the sexual instinct under the rulership of the archetype controls most individuals for the better part of their lives. If people are completely honest, the drive for sex and children dominates life from puberty through midlife.

Drawn by powerful archetypes... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Drawn by powerful archetypes…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Most relationships shine with promise in the beginning, sprinkled with the fairy dust of the soul mate archetype. Post-coitus, and particularly post-children, the archetype deserts a couple as its job is done. There’s nothing in the archetypal program beyond coitus. If you want a mature relationship you’re on your own. Many relationships break up at this point, partners split, often to be drawn once again, by the reactivated archetype, to feel the entitlement of promised magic and wholeness projected onto yet another.

I recently recalled a haunting song that I always felt stirred the soul mate archetype, Wicked Game by Chris Isaaks, a brooding song of archetypal projected love. I found a video that he made for the song on Youtube, one I’d never seen. I include it here —Wicked Game— as it is a wonderful exposition of the powerful draw of the archetype, a man possessed, a woman responding but clearly merely playing a part. There is no personal relationship here. The archetype is a witch’s brew—Watch out!

I recall in my twenties how overwhelmed I was by the soul mate archetype, by the flood of women in their summer attire as I moved about Manhattan. One day, I realized I was exhausted by the time I got to work at 9 a.m. from the unending stream of stimulation! I decided to fight back, to break the slavery I was caught in by an archetype bent on taking over my life.

From that day on I blurred my vision whenever I detected a woman approaching from afar. After about six months I’d completely broken the spell! I allowed my eyes to go in focus once again and realized: I just don’t have to look! The archetype never again exerted its power over me as it once did. I was able to see woman as person, period!

Ready to take your place in a different light? - Photo by Chuck Ketchel
Ready to take your place in a different light?
– Photo by Chuck Ketchel

The archetypes at the first two chakras are nature at its fundamental best. However, as we ascend to the heart chakra we discover that these same archetypes exist at a spirit level, beyond the domain of the planetary being Earth. Soul mate at the heart level is a genuine outpouring of compassion and love for another, a deeper appreciation for who the other is as a person and a partner. At the highest level the soul mate archetype guides to merge with our own soul in enlightenment. Similarly, the child archetype at the highest level brings us to the truth and innocent essence of who we are as we shed our egos in preparation for merger with our divine selves.

To rise to the spiritual heights, we must pass through and engage the archetypes at the level of the first two chakras, but we must refuse their dominance if we are ever to reach our spiritual completion and move beyond our cycles of bondage to reincarnated Earth lives and move on to new adventures in infinity.

Focused on moving on up,

Chuck’s Place: The Tripartite Self

All begin as the Child... - Detail from artwork by Jan Ketchel
All begin as the Child…
– Detail from artwork by Jan Ketchel

If we examine the inner workings of our everyday mind, we will likely discover three distinct characters: the Child, the Adult, and the Wise One.

The Child may be observed as the one who immediately reacts with fear as the day begins or when the day ends. The Morning Child may fear what bad things await in the day, whereas the Evening Child may fear what may pop out and surprise it in the darkness of the night.

The Child might constantly feel it has done something wrong; it’s in trouble; it’s not as good as everyone else; it’s simply inadequate and flawed. Perhaps the Child holds a secret belief that it truly is unlovable, that it must hide and cover up for fear of being exposed as simply a fraud—deep shame indeed.

The Child might lodge itself in the throat or the jaw or the heart, its tension shutting down the deeply opening and releasing breath of abdominal breathing. Or the Child might pressure for constant physical activity—running, spinning, climbing—racing in some form to release its fear in constant activity. Or, in contrast, the Child might remain sluggish and hidden, seeking never to attract the attention of interaction that threatens exposure, failure, and disappointment.

The Adult is the ego self. In one form or another the Adult is formed to manage the needs, feelings, and beliefs of the Child self. Donald Winnicott, pediatrician and psychoanalyst, proposed the term “false self” to capture the compensatory nature of the adult ego that tries to cover up the felt deficiencies of the now subterranean child self. This falseness is a kind of inflation where the Adult wears a mask that suggests talent or competency, when the truth is that it’s really covering areas of deep doubt within. For example: a man who is terrified of woman might don the mask of Don Juan and become a conqueror of women, or a woman might play the role of seductress to secure a babysitter for her frightened child self, afraid to be alone in the night.

Beyond its falseness, the Adult ego is the legitimate heir or chief navigator of this life in the body. The ego ate the apple in the Garden, it is the center of consciousness and decision making. It is a powerhouse in its own right and for better or worse must steer the ship of our choices.

Our Adult self seeks balance of masculine and feminine... - Photo of art by Jan Ketchel
Our Adult self seeks balance of masculine and feminine…
– Photo of art by Jan Ketchel

Appropriately, the Adult must turn its attention toward securing its place in the world. A living must be made, basic needs must be met. The Adult must become the hero that charts the course to survival and perhaps thrives in the daily adventures of life. Depending on a host of factors, such as DNA, family of origin, finances, and relationships, the Adult ego might find itself confident and solidly grounded, adventurous and daring, or it might be barely holding on in the most basic of life’s challenges.

Regardless, however, of the degree of ego success, the truth is that all egos are equally confronted with the truth that life in this world will end, and that a far more comprehensive world awaits in death, where particles are waves—where everything is energy—and there is nothing solid to hold onto.

Fortunately, in the background of the self is the Wise One, the quiet voice in the depths of ourselves that reconnects us with the fruits of the Garden. The Wise One tells us the truth when we ask it what to do. Often there’s a moment of calm, of clarity, when we’re told, see, or know the truth—what is right action. Should we continue in this relationship? Should we eat this food, take this drink? Should we take this job? Should we speak the truth?

The Wise One generally does not press us. It realizes the futility of teacher approaching student. And so, often the Wise One sits back and let’s life with all its consequences be the elementary school teacher. When we’ve accrued enough knowledge through willful failures we become ready to ask and acquiesce to the guidance of the Wise One within and begin to choose right action as our life’s modus operandi.

Our Wise One is always in  balance... - Detail of cover painting from KRSNA: The Supreme Personality of Godhead
Our Wise One is always in balance…
– Detail of cover painting from KRSNA: The Supreme Personality of Godhead

Much of life is spirit developing a homogenous whole between the heterogenous entities of these tripartite selves of Child, Adult, and Wise One. The Child is the channel to our deepest needs and innocence. The Adult is our greatest hope for reconciliation and karmic advance in the sea of oppositions we must confront within and without in this life. The Wise One is our truest guide who holds the wisdom of countless generations and past lives, as well as access to life beyond space and time. But the Wise One will only come to us in a meaningful way if we assume full responsibility for life in this world and preparation for life beyond this world as well, or at the very least are humbly ready to listen. Such is the mystery and magic of the tripartite, holy trinity of self.


Note: Although no reference is given to the illustrator of the work pictured above that we have chosen to represent the Wise One within us all, the painting is from the cover of KRSNA: The Supreme Personality of Godhead by His Divine Grace A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, Founder of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness. With thanks and gratitude!