Tag Archives: defenses

Chuck’s Place: The Technology of Love

Embracing it all…
-Illustration © 2023 Jan Ketchel

Technology is planned habit. Love is nature’s instinct for union. By combining a planned habit with an instinct for union we create a technology of love.

To arrive at key efficiency, love must be employed at its highest impersonal truth: Action in alignment with what is right. What is right is the truth of the Spirit, that quiet whisper that issues from the heart of the Soul.

Love is the ultimate solution for our planetary woes. As one, united human race—the synthesis of all races—we will overcome. Union, however, has its stages of oneness and separation. Witness the evolution of the women’s process in the movie, Women Talking; sometimes love requires separation. Separation invites introspection and a study of one’s projections.

The psychological function of projection is not a function of conscious choice. Projections happen to us through the action of the instinctive unconscious psyche casting its shadow upon our view of the world.

Though we may become aware of this automatic projection and choose to change our behavior toward the actual person we’ve involuntarily projected upon, this has little effect upon the beliefs and emotions of the unconscious. Intentional consciousness must be applied to demystify unplanned projection, the necessary building block for truly responsible action.

A subset of this overarching tendency of the unconscious to make itself known via projection is the psychological use of projection as a defense mechanism. This defense seeks to unburden us of the tensions in the repressed part of our psyche that Jung called the shadow. The shadow houses all the unacceptable beliefs and emotions we repress in order to make ourselves socially acceptable people. This defense creates instability between conscious and unconscious regions of the self.

When our shadow is projected outwardly onto another person, people or situation, we resolve the inner conflict of opposing thoughts and emotions by assigning blame and badness outside of ourselves. We are then freed to outwardly hate our neighbor, who is truly seen and experienced as our enemy. By maintaining separation from, or by destruction of, the object of our projection, we achieve an inner, albeit tenuous, resolution of opposites: we are good, they are bad.

This projective solution is the dominant defense of nationalist forces currently seeking to maintain their security on the world stage. This same defense dominates both the individual psyche and the collective psyche of the human race. As individual cells of that one, collective human race, we are uniquely positioned to introduce the technology of love as a conscious pathway toward world stability.

We all project. Love thy projection. Love thy neighbor as thy self is actually easy, if we accept the psychological reality that what we defensively project onto our neighbor is our own disowned self. To love thy neighbor as thy self is actually learning to love thy self. This requires taking back ownership for the disowned self and loving it. Indeed, this may be painful and emotionally disruptive and require a lot of courage, but it is doable.

To own the fullness of self we must suspend judgment. We all harbor thoughts and feelings that uphold our survival and self-importance. We are all composed of positive and negative, good and evil. Can I objectively acknowledge the depth of my darkest thoughts and feelings? Can I love myself in this fullness?

The ability to bring the light of acceptance to the darkest of thoughts and feelings allows these dark and light opposites to find an inner reconciliation, which shifts outer projection to outer perception as the previously veiled prejudices begin to drop away. This is how we will end the mass shootings we see enacted daily, which are fueled by the veiled projections of the gunman’s own shadow.

This planned action of loving all—all for one human race, one human race for all—has the added benefit of allowing oneness and separateness  to coexist. In order to love my enemy, my enemy must first be acknowledged to exist as a separate being beyond myself. This acknowledgment is a step beyond narcissism, with its narrow fixation upon its own reflection.

Beyond separateness is the greater oneness of the human race, with separate parts respecting each other’s value, much the way the liver might view the heart as a different organ working synergistically to maintain the balance of the whole physical being.

The absolute union of self does not obliterate the operationally different parts of the self. For instance, knowing the different parts of the masculine and feminine self allows more fullness of being, in spite of these differing elements. Oneness and separateness are a reconcilable set of opposites.

The technology of love is the Aquarian Age’s greatest artillery. The army of love is the human race, at war with its projected reflections. Basic training begins at home, with each individual learning to love the self and the other, within and without, without exception.

In the fullness of loving acceptance,

Chuck’s Place: Just A Boy And A Little Girl*

That inner partner might pop up at any time…
-Illustration © 2022 Jan Ketchel

Just like the roots of our computer programs, that boil down to zeroes and ones, human beings are all, at their core, a combination of male and female, (+) and (-) energy. Psychologically, this means that our wholeness includes the existence of an inner contrasexual partner.

Jung called the inner feminine character in a male personality the anima and the inner male character in a woman the animus. These characters are living entities that interact with our ego, and various other characters within our psyche, where they impact our attitudes, beliefs and moods. Often these characters project themselves onto actual people in the world, which greatly impacts how we judge and feel toward the recipient of their projection.

We are, psychologically, hermaphroditic beings, conjoined together for life. Our individuation challenge, regardless of our sexual orientation, is to achieve union with our inner contrasexual partner. This requires getting to know our opposite side, respecting and accepting its existence, and achieving inner harmony with what is often experienced as a highly conflicted self.

Failure to achieve union with one’s inner other-half often results in suppression of one’s inner partner’s perspectives and feelings, a total denial of its existence, and countless conflicts with one’s outer intimate partner, who may be confused with one’s inner unknown partner.

How often do we feel judged and offended by what we assume another person thinks and feels? Little do we know that our ‘intimate knowledge’ of our outer partner is actually a reflection of our own unknown, or rejected, inner self.

Qualities of masculine energy include the mental function of thinking, most dominantly within the constraints of logic. Masculine energy tends to be active and solitary.

The dominant feature of feminine energy is relatedness, which seeks emotional connection. Feminine energy tends to be receptive, seeking to receive and compliment the energy of another. All of human experience involves some combination of masculine and feminine qualities and energies.

Writing this blog has required my feminine energy to become pregnant with masculine ideas needing containment and maturation to bear fruit. My patience with this congealing process is reflected in the words and thoughts pouring forth as I write.

Sometimes my anima insists upon a colorful word because she likes an idea dressed in her style. Sometimes my masculine ego is too abstract, refusing to give a down-to-Earth example that would facilitate ease of understanding.

In dialogue with my anima, I concede my abstract bias and agree to use this example of my personal process to help readers connect to my idea. My anima agrees to let go of her attachment to attractive but unnecessary words.

Often one’s contrasexual partner defends the ego by using its ability to reason to argue a point, regardless of the absurdity of its argument. Sometimes the defense comes in the form of powerful moods, where one’s inner other tells it how undeserving it is of the treatment it has received.

Through genuine interaction with our inner other, we achieve a collaborative relationship that facilitates progress in our individuation and also clears the way outwardly for positive relationships with others.

If we find ourselves in conflict outwardly, we do well to first check in with our inner contrasexual partner, who we might be avoiding and meeting instead in projected form in our current impasse. Most relational problems originate in one’s lack of relatedness within. As is often said: as within, so without.

Go within; work it out. Become that boy and a little girl, actually changing that whole wide world.

Working it out,

*Words from John Lennon’s Isolation.

Psyche & Soma

Psyche, in Greek, means soul or spirit, especially that part of the soul which manifests in the mind, in the conscious and unconscious parts of our wholeness. Soma refers to the body, especially to the nerve cells of the body. Psychosomatic is a combination of these two root words, meaning that which the spirit manifests in the body.

In my books, comprising the series called The Recapitulation Diaries, I write often about the incessant pain in my body. As real as the pain was, excruciating and debilitating at times, I discovered that it was really messages from my spirit, my psyche, directing me to what needed attention as I progressed on my journey. I discovered that during recapitulation what is manifesting in the body must be explored.

At first, I had almost every pain checked out by one doctor or another. I was doing this long before I even knew about recapitulation or began my journey of change and transformation. I’d go to a doctor and describe my pain, but there was never any diagnosis that those doctors could come up with to pinpoint what was causing the pain.

When I was in my early forties, I developed a skin cancer, a small red spot that turned out to be two types of cancer, basal cell and squamous cell. It’s unusual to have two types of cancer manifesting in the same area, the doctor who did the biopsy told me, but as soon as I had developed the red spot, and as soon as I was informed that it was cancer, I knew immediately that it had nothing to do with my exposure to the sun as a child, as was repeatedly questioned. I knew it had to do with what was festering inside me, that there was something much worse, that that little red dot was just the beginning of something far greater.

I knew, instinctively, that I had some dark thing inside me that I had been trying to forget my entire life. By the time I was forty, I had been pretty successful at forgetting, though I suffered in numerous physical, mental, and spiritual ways. That small red spot was just another indication that I might have to remember.

It was then that I acknowledged that my psyche was hiding something from me. It had protected me up until that point, but if I was to not get more skin cancer, or any other disease, I knew the time had come to face what it really meant. It took another five or six years before I finally took the leap, the leap into my own darkness and what lay there waiting for me to discover.

Pain is an indicator that the body has something to tell us. It might indeed be that we have a serious illness, or it might be that it is trying to protect us from that which we do not want to know. Pain can be a defense against that which is too painful to know.

As I recapitulated, I began to look at the pain in my body as a message from my spirit. I would ask it to show me what it knew, to guide me where to go next. I developed nerves of steel so I could face what my body had to tell me, what it knew and what it meant.

As I faced the pain and asked my body to be my guide, I also discovered that I always had the strength to face what it had to show me. I knew that it would not be asking me to face it if I was not ready. Whenever the pain showed up, and it showed up incessantly, relentlessly right to the very end of my recapitulation, I used it to heal.

That’s a strange idea, to imagine that our pain is actually our healing balm, but it’s true. Without my pain showing me what I needed to face I might not have freed my spirit and my body from the torment of years of abuse that had been so well-hidden inside me.

I often thanked my body and my unconscious for showing me what it knew, for revealing to me the truths not only of my own past but the truths of what the spirit and body are truly capable, how they inform and guide, how they really only want us to heal and discover the magical beings that we all are.

Even today, I still use my psyche and soma to guide me. I constantly question any pain I might have. Often, I realize, it is what I call “stuck energy,” a thought, idea, or attachment, a conjuring of the mind that I’ve latched onto that does not belong to me, stuck energy that needs to be moved along and out of my body, tension that when allowed to naturally release brings instantaneous relief.

Or it might be something that my psyche, my spirit wants me to be alert to, something that needs recapitulation. Perhaps one of the biggest lessons of recapitulation is that we are always being asked to grow and evolve, to confront our deepest issues and resolve them so we can move on into even greater freedom.

Our minds and our bodies, our psyche and soma, are amazing partners as we take our journeys through life, as we seek to know ourselves at the deepest of levels and as we seek to find the meaning in our lives.

I highly recommend any of the books by Dr. John Sarno, especially The Mind Body Prescription, as guides to understanding how psyche and soma work together to bring us to consciousness, to help us heal.

Our defenses are incredibly strong but our spirit is stronger. That is what we discover as we recapitulate.

I wish you all well on your journeys, and I send you love,

J. E. Ketchel, Author of The Recapitulation Diaries

Chuck’s Place: The Nature Of Defense

Nature's defenses in control, oppressing life... - From the Thoth Tarot deck
Nature’s defenses in control, oppressing life…
– From the Thoth Tarot deck

The core intent of defense is to protect. Defenses are the actions of the survival instinct; they are nature at work. Both Freud and Jung agreed that psychological defenses originated beneath consciousness, a product of the instinctual or archetypal psyche.

We do not choose our defenses; they are the automatic compulsive actions the deep psyche employs to protect the self against real or imagined threats. Two of the most powerful and deeply-rooted-in-nature defenses are projection and dissociation.

If we feel uncomfortable within ourselves about something we’ve said, done, thought, or felt, our protective psyche might assess this as a threat to our self-esteem or ego integrity. Its response might be to employ the defense of projection whereby it literally projects blame outside of the self, rearranging our conscious perception of reality to keep the culprit at a safe distance, securely planted in someone else. On a grand scale this is how America keeps itself safe from facing its own deviousness: the bad guy is always the devil somewhere else, who we have to eliminate, thus our moral superiority is preserved.

Dissociation is perhaps nature’s most powerful defense. When we are confronted with a danger inwardly or outwardly—that our unconscious deems potentially lethal—dissociation will save us by splitting us into pieces, preserving our most precious and vital self by submerging it deeply within the safekeeping womb of the unconscious. Outwardly, parts of our ego self remain at the surface as an adaptive or survival self, functionally charged with navigating life disconnected from its wholeness. The English psychoanalyst Winnicott called this self the false self because it always senses that it is just functioning or pretending to be engaged in life, secretly knowing that its most vital parts no longer participate in outer life.

Projection and dissociation are archetypal defenses of the instinctive psyche. These are the default settings of our self-preservation. Unfortunately, when life is governed by these defenses it may be safe but totally unsatisfying, as life’s deepest needs go unmet. If the adult self attempts to raise its vulnerable parts and bring them into life, the instinctive psyche frequently opposes this action and sabotages the effort using negative thoughts, guilt, or shame. The instinctive psyche is invested in survival; wholeness threatens survival, as we are challenged to own fully our projected and dissociated parts, which may be laden with traumatic experience that could threaten ego integrity.

The solution to this dilemma lies in recapitulation. In recapitulation the adult self takes 100% responsibility for healing, releasing the instinctive psyche of its automatic protection. As the adult ego bears the full tension of encountering and integrating its parts, the instinctive psyche simultaneously tests the adult self, confronting it with all that has been projected and dissociated from and all of its accompanying terrors of disintegration. This testing process of the adult ego’s ability to manage the fullness of the self is a necessary interaction between archetypal defense and conscious ego. This may result in a one-step forward two-steps back kind of process for a while, but ultimately, once the instinctive psyche sees the ego’s ability to manage its own healing, the higher self is freed to support the ego in the recapitulation process through increasing synchronicities, dreams, and visions that lead to retrieval of its lost wholeness.

The ego unfettered and assuming full responsibility, in alignment with the grail, the true self... - from the Thoth Tarot deck
The ego unfettered and assuming full responsibility, in alignment with the grail, the true self…
– from the Thoth Tarot deck

Evolution is really about assuming full conscious responsibility for our lives so that we may be available for all else that is. If we allow our unconscious nature to merely keep us safe, it will, but only through its compulsive defenses and at the expense of our wholeness, our fulfillment, and our evolutionary potential. Is that really satisfying? Or are we ready to do the work to free ourselves from the divisiveness of our instinctual defenses and claim our true wholeness?

Recapitulation is work that is evolutionary for the individual—know thy self—and the world-at-large too. In moving beyond our personal projections and dissociations we open ourselves to more fully experiencing and participating in life in ways that we are unavailable for while under the control of nature’s defenses.

There exists another aspect to nature as well, the interconnected oneness of everything, and that’s really the nature our evolutionary self is striving to discover and cultivate. In fact, the collective charge of our time seems to be pushing us all to go beyond the self. That is really our greatest evolutionary endeavor.

Going beyond, with love and gratitude,

Note: We pulled these two cards this morning, certainly in alignment with the publishing of this blog and our pursuit of truth and spirit.

Chuck’s Place: The Practice of Awe

We are not all that we think we are. There is much to us that we don’t know about or that we find so unacceptable that we really don’t want to know about or deal with. It can be pretty scary to face the fact that there are parts of me that I simply don’t know exist. We utilize some amazing maneuvers to keep ourselves safe from disruptive intrusions from unknown parts of the self. Anna Freud, in her classic book, Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, outlines the variety of defenses we utilize to block, distort, or rid ourselves of unknown parts of ourselves. The important thing to know about our defenses is that they don’t really operate at a conscious level.

What are we reflecting?

We don’t say to ourselves, “I’m going to PROJECT a part of me that I’m afraid of onto my neighbor, and build a fence to keep him at bay so I can avoid that part of myself!”

We don’t say to ourselves, “I’m going to RATIONALIZE how I interpret this situation at work so I don’t have to see some part of myself that I’m unaware of that has just acted out and caused a problem.”

These defenses operate outside of full conscious awareness. They have to. If we were fully aware of our use of defenses they simply wouldn’t work, since we’d be directly confronted with the hidden truths of the parts of ourselves we seek to avoid! And so, it’s important to suspend judgment of our defensive egos. We’ll never get to know who we really are if we hate ourselves for using defenses to avoid scary things! On the other hand, we must take full responsibility for all that we are, even if we don’t know who that is!

If we can successfully suspend judgment—the shame of not knowing, the shame of feeling bad and unacceptable—and instead become archeologists and anthropologists of the soul, fascinated by and curious as we excavate, discover and trace the origins of the self, we arrive at a place of fuller knowing, accepting, and integrating all that we are. The shamans would call this a Practice of Awe: Awe for the Awesomeness of what is.

A comfy stack of meditation pillows and our breath...

A pragmatic process to support a practice of awe is meditation. In meditation we learn to be in stillness and calm as we are confronted with the cogitations of mind, emotions, sensations, and truths that come to greet us as we place our awareness on our breath. In meditation we return again and again to simply observing our breath entering and leaving our nostrils. We notice our awareness being taken to thoughts, reflections, feelings and sensations—hundreds, thousands of times. And each time, we simply acknowledge what has come to greet us, without judgment, without further attention or attachment, and gently return our awareness to our breathing, over and over—hundreds, thousands of times—without judgment, in gentle calm.

There is no failure; there is no success in a practice of meditation. There is simply being with and accepting all that is. As we practice we notice more of what we are. We withstand the knowing; we are not wiped out or thrown for a loop by what comes; we let emotions flow through us; we shift back to our breathing.

An old favorite...

Judgments are released as we shift constantly to our breathing, as we become observers of ourselves, in command of our awareness, in full acceptance, in awe of the awesome. We become curious travelers into the deeper self, no longer needing to defend an illusory self, because we have discovered instead, all that we are—perhaps for infinity!

In calmness, in awe,

A special note on a special day: Today we honor Jeanne on the 10th anniversary of her departure from this world into the awe of infinity. Sending her love, as she continues her most amazing journey.