In the light of day the solid world appears safely discernible. As darkness approaches the discernible melds into blackness. Anxious anticipation and fear replace confidence and security, as that which awaits in the darkness draws near.
“Go to the light” is the guidance of spiritual traditions. We turn on the lights to dominate the night, to safely traverse night’s feared demons. Home security systems promise protection from real or imagined demonic projections upon the darkness.
But what is the truth of those inner demonic projections, so frequently veiling the truth of the night? Jung appropriately named that disowned portion of the psyche, that which lives in the shadow. For Freud, the personal portion of the shadow was the sequestered human animal, whose sexual and aggressive politically incorrect impulses were relegated to wish fulfillment dreams.
Jung extended the reach of the shadow into all the unknown dimensions of self. Just the venture of letting go of ego control in the journey of sleep is a leap of faith. Who can guarantee that a night’s sleep will deliver them into life in a new day?
Dream is a natural entry point into the subtle spirit realm. As the body sleeps, the spirit naively launches into journeys in infinity. Will it safely return? Will its cord to the physical body remain intact?
What encounters will the spirit face beyond Freud’s wish fulfillments or repressed sins? Beyond the personal lies the collective, replete with entities unsettled and seeking. How will spirit handle these encounters? Will it be drawn into heavens of delight, or into hells of terror? These are the challenges of the journey of the dark night of the soul.
Beyond the collective lies the transpersonal, the light of the high SOUL. But the truth is that high SOUL is the Yin/Yang of white and black. In blackness is latent spirit. In light is spirit manifest. The light of the manifest requires shadow. Without contrast there is nonexistence.
To seek the safety of the light without owning one’s contrasting shadow ill prepares one for one’s true spiritual journey. One must reckon with and explore the fullness of one’s unknown self to avoid the trap of negative projection upon blackness, and the false security of clinging to the one-sidedness of the light.
All beings are black and white. To achieve the lightness of being needed for true ascension we must reconcile with, own, and treasure this wholeness. Without the darkness of the unknown our heaven in infinity would terminate in boredom. Without the light of consciousness to navigate the darkness we’d surely lose our way.
Inextricably united, may black and white journey in oneness into that good night.
My intentions for this blog are: (1) to offer knowledge that might be helpful to those working through PTSD, and (2) to provide a greater context to a core problem of humanity that is of particular relevance to understanding and resolving our current Earth crisis. This crisis has reached a point where none should hold back their piece of the puzzle, as all pieces of that puzzle are needed to solve our current woes and launch us into health.
The TV show Grey’s Anatomy offered a boldly graphic and accurate presentation of Acute Stress Disorder, experienced by a woman immediately after a rape (Season 15, Episode 19). This blog is a contribution toward the complete healing of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the typical clinical progression of such a trauma, due to violence inflicted by another. At a certain point in that healing journey, understanding the objective reasons for the perpetrator’s actions is helpful in clarifying the truth that it really wasn’t my fault.
My Irish biological father was a violent alcoholic who beat my mother throughout her three pregnancies. When mother and I were as one, in symbiotic union in our journey through uterine space, we both absorbed the shocks of my father’s rapes and many physical blows. I was born with PTSD locked in the marrow of my bones, as well as in the subtlest dimensions of my Soul.
It would be my destiny, my karma, to locate the cure for PTSD in this lifetime, a deeply personal affair. PTSD would prove to be my worthy opponent in this lifetime. A worthy opponent, in the shamanic world, is that which most forces one to wakeup. Outwardly, in my chosen career as a psychotherapist, many have trusted me with their own frozen selves, the legacies of their own abuse. Within the shaman’s world I was led to recapitulation, the tool central to the complete healing of PTSD.
But beyond healing, what is the true etiology of man’s violence—in its many forms—toward woman? Today it is discovered that mass murderers hate women. Jeffrey Epstein clearly had an absolute need to completely control teenage girls. What was he so afraid of?
In my personal case, my biological father hailed from deep Irish culture, whose perennial ally has been alcohol to dream beyond the felt tyranny of the Mothership, England. An ally, in the shaman’s world, is a spirit that grants access to other worlds but also exacts a high toll in exchange. That same ally also gives license to the shadow’s rage at its impotence to rise above its child prison. Many a ‘good’ Irish woman hides the true deeds of absorbing the rage unleashed by the drink.
My biological father’s mother suffered from migraines and insisted my father be the one delivered, as priest, from the family to the Church. He opposed her will with the help of his ally, alcohol, and displaced his rage upon my mother, the intimate mother replacement in his life, his wife. His ally eventually tricked him into early death. Such is the fate of the refusal to reconcile the forces within the psyche with consciousness.
My adoptive Russian Jewish father, my one true father in this lifetime, venerated my mother, to a fault. Both Mother Russia, which had been his family’s home until the pogroms, and his Jewish matrilineal heritage sanctified Mother, regardless of their patriarchal dominance in practice.
Freud recognized the overarching power of Mother for son. He little understood woman, but he knew of the primal attachment and attraction between mother and son. Freud also never really valued the world beyond the nuclear family. For a son, the oedipal complex, the wish to fully unite with mother, was the single most important fact of life.
A wife, like civilization itself, was but a sublimated second best for mother. Man can erect towers, but even they limply compare to union with mother. For Freud, the confirmed atheist, Mother truly was god, and her power, he believed, was transferred by man onto all subsequent permutations of her, especially in his relationships with women.
When Freud met Jung, he crowned him his prince successor and desperately begged him to promise to uphold, as dogma, what he was convinced was the eternal truth of the oedipal complex. Jung’s mother had had long psychiatric hospitalizations in his youth. Though she was an object of mystery for Jung, she was primarily an object of fear. Jung’s psychology was transcendent, reaching beyond the foundation of the family nursery. He saw a son’s primal journey to individuation as the hero’s battle for deliverance from dependence upon the mother, and the mother’s world.
For Jung, the psyche deepened beyond the nuclear family, into the depths of the collective unconscious. Ironically, both he and Freud remained chained to tortured relationships with their wives in their lives. Freud indulged in a hidden affair with his wife’s unmarried sister, who lived in their home. Jung indulged in a blatant polygamous life, with two wives (only one actually legitimate), which he publicly displayed and foisted upon his family at Sunday meals. Neither man could bear the tension of their projections upon woman without splitting themselves in two.
Freud’s theories of woman’s psychology dominated clinical practice for decades, forestalling the validation of women’s recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse, relegating them instead to mere childhood sexual fantasy. Jung never publicly explored the impact of having been sexually assaulted in his youth. Nonetheless, their personal journeys into the depths of their own psyches, and the theories they generated, shed invaluable light upon the psychology of man and his core terror of woman.
Freud captured the omnipotent power mother possesses over her infant and growing son. She is the source of life, source of nurturance, source of need gratification, source of love, source of desire, source of pleasure, source of ultimate security, source of soothing, source of entitlement, and yet, source of ultimate frustration via the oedipal complex.
Mother is the most important and most desired person in the world to son. Though his oedipal crush will not be fulfilled, his longing and rage toward her for disappointing him, or toward the power he feels she wields, is often defended against through violence toward all women, who represent subsequent molds of mother, throughout life.
Jung traced the roots of the archetype of mother to matter itself; the primal substance of all things physical in the world. All human life issues from the womb of mother. Mother is the only one who can give life. Mother is nature herself, who both giveth and taketh life. Man can never conceive or deliver life. Mother’s power is primary.
Men, from primitive times, have been fascinated with but terrified by woman’s primal power. Taboos restricting women and protecting men from contact with menstrual blood or menstruating women still survive in modern India. Menstruation, with all its emotional variabilities, threatens man with nature’s destructive, uncontrollable, and unpredictable power.
The true reason for the Inquisition was man’s attempt to control the creative primal power of woman that threatened the controlling patriarchal dogma of the Church. That same terror was the true reason for Hillary Clinton’s surprise 2016 defeat: Man’s terror of being dominated by the primal power of woman.
Man’s relation to his own primal power of sexuality, and its urgency for contact with woman, confronts him with his own nature. Mastering the irrational power and energy of the body’s sexual instinct requires a deep soulful journey; it’s not a simple business transaction.
Gaining control of and building a mature relationship with the sexual instinct is often forfeited, in exchange for demanding and expecting a woman/girl to perform to immature male fantasy. Here, control rules the roost á la Jeffrey Epstein.
Desire for, yet terror of woman—who is experienced as both a goddess who quickly overwhelms his potency, as well as a mother prototype who embodies his oedipal residue—often prompts a man to violence to overcome the supreme power projected onto woman.
Violence castrates a woman’s imagined power, making her touchable, and it titrates oedipal intimacy down to manageable proportions. This is often the reason for preference of teenage girls and children to adult women, who can only be encountered with full-out violence.
Most women have no clue of the supernatural powers ascribed to them. The mystery, for most girls and women, is why they are targeted. The truth lies almost completely in the projected imagination of the perpetrator. Her body is a blank slate for the man to act out his superimposed inner drama. That’s what it means to be an object. You really don’t exist at all. Not because you don’t have value, it’s simply that your person has been typecast in another person’s play, and you have no say.
Our current Earth crisis is man’s absolute patriarchal holdout to control, exploit, and fully dominate Mother Nature. Obvious to many, however, is nature’s growing impatience with such hubris. Young people have begun their own alchemical processes to free gender ship of its archetypal bindings, with the reconfiguration of gender assignments into he, she, and they, and beyond. Oh, what androgynous beings we are and may be!
Individually, all are empowered to reconcile their spirits with their human bodies. All bodies are composed of matter. All genders contain father mind and mother body. Mind over matter simply doesn’t work anymore. Nor does projecting one’s inner confusion onto others. All must grant matter the respect and place it is due, as well as be guided by its leadership.
Mother Nature is shifting the balance of power by forcing us into true respect and valuation of each other as the only course for survival. Begin with the self; love and care for the body. Get to know its true powers, needs, and wisdom and let them co-lead the way. It’s the only way to go.
Rather than imbue woman with the supernatural powers of an ally and subdue her with violence, may man accept woman, like matter itself, as his worthy opponent who offers him his greatest opportunity to wakeup.
Since time immemorial humans have looked to the sky for a greater power to nourish and keep them safe. In earliest times the rising sun was worshipped as the power that protected life through light and warmth. Later, sun worship morphed onto worship of gods and a God in the heavens who could be prayed to and who would personally intervene to offer safety to mortals. Eventually, that mana, or divine energy, came down to earth and rubbed off on kings and queens who provided safety and bounty to their subjects. In our modern world that divine mana is still projected onto our elected leaders, to whom, from a very deep layer of the psyche, we look to for stability and safety.
Currently, the leader of America and the world presents as a case of hysteria common to patients in Freud’s psychotherapy practice in Vienna in the late 19th century. Freud’s remarkable discovery was that hysteria, marked by bizarre moods and impulsivity, was actually an emotional instability generated by a highly repressed instinctual nature at the root of the human being, in what he called “the unconscious.”
The latter stage of the Victorian Era in which Freud lived was so dominated by the ascent of the mind and reason that the instinctual, irrational nature of the human psyche was both devalued and repressed. That repressed nature rebelled by seizing possession of the personality in the form of hysterical symptoms. The cure, Freud was able to discover, required a reconciliation of the rational mind with its irrational nature.
The fact that the highest ranking official in the world today, imbued with the projected divine mana of the masses, displays an hysterical character rocks the boat of world and individual security and also challenges us all to reckon with the bipolar nature of our species. It is our task too to forge a reconciliation between our rational mental plane and our irrational emotional and instinctive nature, which lies at the root of our humanness.
Last week I shared in my blog that I limit my exposure to the news to one minute per day. I do this to regulate the influx of hysterical energy from without into my being, but also to regulate my own intense hysterical reaction to it from within. To find safety we must be able to regulate our own emotional reactivity within. For each individual this limitation may be different. Jan, for instance, finds that she can expose herself to one hour of the news per day.
Outwardly, protest movements have sprung up in an attempt to provide a container or boundaries for the hysterical energy at the center of the government. These are necessary, but I would caution that groups organize from a sober, regulated place, as hysterical reactivity to hysteria only serves to escalate it and works against the goal of stabilization. To rage against the unreasonable only makes one vulnerable to inviting rage into the center of one’s own personality, an obvious defeat of the self.
On an individual level we are all confronted with the fear of disaster, natural or manufactured, erupting at any moment. The individual can no longer look to the leader for solace, certainly not a hysterical leader! One must calm the storm from within.
The simple act of deep breathing can have a calming effect on the stormy areas of the body from which our deepest emotions emanate. First and foremost is the perineum, that area between the genitals and the anus, the very root of the human body. When we don’t feel safe that region clenches. To place the awareness there, at our physical root, and gently breathe into it while releasing its tensions can bring deep calm to the self. The air we breathe comes from the sky, from the heavens; it is mana from the divine. When we bring the breath into our body and join it in deep communion with our root we join spirit and nature in peaceful safety within.
Although we can easily criticize and make fun of our hysterical leader, whose behavior really does threaten world safety, we might also accept that we, in our time, are being challenged to individually make peace with the true needs of nature, both within ourselves and outside in the world, just as it was the challenge in Freud’s time. We too are faced with bringing the forces of reason and the forces of irrational nature back into calm balance.
This is the opus of our time, as is evident from the events that present daily on the world stage, and yes, there is extreme urgency. But the first task is to be able to regulate and commune with the forces of nature within the self, the neglect and repression of which reflect in a president who suffers from hysteria.
Behind the hysteria is nature itself demanding attention and a new relationship. And this is the task that we are all challenged to take up now, to become leaders ourselves by reconciling with the deepest natures within the self. Bringing balance and safety within will bring the same without. Try it within and see how the world follows suit.
This calming breath to the perineum is but one small beginning to safety. Many more will follow. But it’s always good to begin at the root of things!
(This is the third in a series of blogs around the same theme. Beginning with Narcissism on the Way to Love and followed by Hillary as Hermaphrodite, this blog takes a closer and deeper look at the psychology of narcissism. All three blogs are commentaries on the rebalancing of the masculine and feminine partnership, so necessary for the survival of the world and currently being played out in the political arena.)
Recent political events have given rise to the term “locker room talk” as a recognizable and understandable categorization of male sexual fantasy or actual sexual behavior, at least one common expression of it. So recognizable is its occurrence that many intelligent women in a recent New York Times article actually dismissed locker room talk as a legitimate reason to disqualify a potential presidential candidate exposed as engaging in it, in locker room talk.
On some level these women seem to be expressing the truth and acceptance that all men have that side of themselves; however annoying or immature it might be—it simply is. So, what is “it”?
In my recent blog, Narcissism on the Way to Love, I gave a nod to Freud’s stages of libidinal (sexual) development, beginning in primary narcissism. Narcissism is a psychological mindset that literally can’t get its face beyond looking in the mirror. The eyes simply cannot take in a picture of the world separate from the self.
Relationship is not possible at the narcissistic stage because relationship requires two separate people in order to exist. For the narcissist there is only one being, the self. Of course, at the adult stage, a narcissist must function in a world of separate objects, and they do. However, those objects are just that, toys in a toy chest for one’s pleasure and amusement.
Locker room talk depicts a woman, not as a separate being, but rather as an object with body parts available for one’s play and for one’s taking: legs, tits, asses, and pussies. The narcissist cannot solve the puzzle of a world beyond the self, much less the mystery of woman, a being distinctly other than themself. In fact, the terror of confronting the mystery of otherness gives rise to the sanctuary of locker room talk. Here men can brag of tales of conquest as they graphically describe the booty of body parts, the treasures they have stolen or intend to steal. Here men collude in an attempt to avoid real terror at the power of nature as embodied in a woman. The fixation here does indeed go back to mother. For what more powerful being on earth could there be than woman, whose body gives life to all human beings?
Freud localized this problem to an incestuous desire to unite with this powerful woman and therefore remain under her protectorate in an eternal Eden of bliss. Jung expanded this perspective beyond this regressive wish to include the challenge to individuate, to truly become a separate self capable of standing on one’s own two feet and thereby actually able to take on the mystery of relating to a feminine being that exists outside the narcissistic orbit of the first three chakras. For Jung, true relationship could only begin at the level of the heart chakra, where another individual can be seen and experienced objectively as existing outside of the self.
At the heart center, another person is a whole person, both body and psyche. Connection requires meeting the whole person. Body parts may indeed activate instinctual desires, but at the heart center the true desire is to meet and connect with another being, body and soul. Reaching this stage of development requires a heroic effort to both withstand the regressive protectorate of the mother world, frequently projected onto all women “partners,” and a willingness to truly encounter the mystery, power, and integrity of another as they truly are.
Donald Trump serves as a helpful example of both Freud and Jung’s perspectives. Donald expresses his penchant for married woman. Freud, of course, would see the oedipal victory in this: steal another man’s wife, obtain mother! This includes the power dynamic of defeating father because, as Donald states, in his world mother (married woman) willingly chooses/loves his lecherous approaches!
Jung would acknowledge this pyrrhic regressive victory but would insist as well that the hero in this case has really not slain the primordial dragon of dependency on mommy and her power to sustain life. To slay the dragon is to move beyond the family nursery, to stand on one’s own and enter the mystery of life. And, in entering that mystery of life, we must grant others their own autonomous existence.
Beyond the narcissistic orbit others are not simply need-fulfilling objects to play with or break. Others are powerful beings who likely terrify us because of their godly ability to give life, as well as take it if they see fit. Can woman be granted the fullness of who she truly is? This is a Relationship 101 prerequisite.
Like the toys of childhood, locker room talk must be put away if we are to take on the challenge of true adulthood and real relationship. It’s time to stop settling for less, men and women alike.
Freud rightly identified early childhood as the stage of Primary Narcissism. We are born into this life with but the seed of an individual personality planted in the fertile soil of this world, what the Hindus identified as the first chakra, Muladhara, at the location of the perineum at the base of the spine. The spark of awareness at this stage, amidst the vast unknown dark soil of this world, is simply the needs of the body and the relief of those needs from somewhere. The infant can hardly differentiate itself and its needs from the world and from who attends to its needs. All is experienced as one narcissistic Me.
For Freud, this need state evolves into the Pleasure Principle, the prime mover of all stages of life through its myriad of mature civilized permutations, what Freud came to understand as civilization and it discontents, ultimately a variety of sublimations under which lies the libido of narcissism.
Jung introduced the two primary trends in nature, introversion and extroversion. In human nature the introvert looks to the inner self as the final arbiter of truth and rightness. By contrast, the extrovert is open more to the greater external reality and adapting to it as the basis for survival. From this perspective, the introvert, though perhaps more self-reliant, can also be seen as more self-involved or narcissistic. The extrovert, more keenly in tune with the needs of others, can on the one hand be seen as more related to the other yet on the other hand self-negating or codependent. The truth is, however, that both natural introverts and extroverts are likely to be equally driven by narcissism as long as their maturity is limited to the first three chakras: Muladhara, Svadhishthana, and Manipura.
These first chakras, in fact, all exist in the realm of narcissism. Despite outer appearances these three chakras are extremely self-involved, essentially in establishing the ego in the areas of basic security, sexuality, and individual power. These three chakras are bathed in narcissism at their core, simply a fact of development at those stages. These are necessary chakras in the foundation of the ego/body self, which then serve as the ultimate launching pad for the discovery of the spirit self in the fourth chakra, Anahata, located in the region of the heart.
It is only at the level of the flame of consciousness at the heart where an individual is truly freed from the dominance of the pleasure principle, the primary motivator of the animal part of the self, which dominates the first three chakras. It is only at the level of the heart that an individual can grant another autonomy and independent value, separate from their value as a need-fulfilling object, which is the perspective of the world at the first three chakras. At the lower levels, whether introverted or extroverted, the outside world is colored through the lens of what’s in it for Me, whether that be in the form of food, sex, or power and control.
However, once kundalini energy rises to the level of the heart, narcissism undergoes a mighty transformation, as one becomes truly capable of love for another. While narcissism once narrowed the energy of love to the self and how the world could support it, true love at the heart level grants the other and their needs a place in one’s own heart. Thus, at the heart center the way of narcissism becomes the way of love. Of course, the body is included in this new mix, but it must acquiesce to the greater objective need the heart accesses, beyond the narcissistic orbit of Me only.
The journey from the lower chakras to the heart center is many-faceted, involving many explosions and implosions as the world increasingly refuses to gratify the entitled expectations of the narcissistic self. This may result in repeated cycles of failed relationships, but over time, with knowledge accrued, it eventually becomes clear that the main culprit behind the failures is the compulsive drives of the narcissistic self.
With this point of self awareness one learns to contain the leaking of emotional frustration in the form of blame and develop an introspective posture that reveals the prejudices of the narcissistic worldview and begins to mold the objectivity of the heart center that acts from the place of truth vs blind need. And with this accomplishment, narcissism transforms and finds its way to true love.