“A great change of our psychological attitude is imminent, that is certain…we need more psychology, we need more understanding of human nature because the only real danger that exists is man himself, he is the great danger, and we are pitifully unaware of it, we know nothing of man, far too little. His psyche should be studied because we are the origin of all coming evil.” ~Carl G. Jung
If history has shown us anything, it’s that the human capacity for normalizing unhealthy, pathological behavior is astounding and perilous, even in well-meaning truth-seekers. We all have blind spots. It happens on every level of life more often than you’d think! For a simple, immediate example: observe your body right now. Feel what muscles are unconsciously constricted- your back, jaw, neck, legs, your stomach muscles causing you to take shallow breaths? All of these are physical responses to psychological stress. But are you in any immediate danger now? Probably not (unless you’ve been glued to Facebook for hours, letting your butt slowly pancake to your seat, causing your legs to atrophy. ;-)… In which case, take a walk and come back…) Now, feel your body and sit silently with yourself for a moment. Are you carrying any unresolved stress inside you? Probably. Even sitting in front of the computer for long periods of time causes stress on the body.
Now relax your body, take a few slow, deep breaths from your belly, drop the energy from your head in to your body, and feel the difference as your body realigns itself to be more comfortable. Feel the difference? Chances are that you weren’t even consciously aware of how uncomfortable your body was until you were encouraged to stop, observe, and let it unwind. This same “normalizing principle” applies not just to your body but also your mind. Collectively, we have been both consciously and unconsciously influenced to assimilate to unhealthy ideologies and behaviors since childhood.
The majority of our functioning stems from the unconscious & subconscious mind, be it the regulation of neurological chemicals, automatic breathing, emotional responses, how we hold our bodies, how we respond to others, etc… The list goes on and on. Despite how much control and awareness we think we have, our unconscious & subconscious mind plays a far greater role than the conscious part. Compare the psyche to an iceberg. The conscious mind is the observable “tip of the iceberg”. The unconscious & subconscious mind, however, is much larger and obscured under the surface.
So it goes without saying that “delving under the surface” of our psyche is essential to truly knowing ourselves and, therefor, improving ourselves. This may seem awkward or scary at first. It’s natural to feel afraid about diving where we are not used to going in ourselves. It can seem dark, difficult to breath, and unsafe with waves of emotion tossing us beyond our control. This is why it is essential to have the support of a fundamental education in Psychology, coupled with hands-on therapeutic healing, in order to become more conscious, whole, and contribute toward creating a better world.
But first, before we dive with the help of others, we must first understand a little about the history of psychology. Unfortunately, the study of psychology and practice of therapy remains largely ignored by compulsory education and misrepresented (often mocked) by mainstream media. Due to this cultural ignorance, we must be very discerning when entering psychological work, researching the method of therapy and the therapist. After all, a therapist is a person who we depend on to help us see ourselves clearly, and any of our trusted therapist’s personal, biased perspectives can easily be transferred in a time of vulnerable suggestibility. This is when research and time-tested methods of systematic critical thinking and discernment, such as the Trivium Method, are essential. It is helpful to research and ask questions from a potential therapist.
There is no “one-size-fits-all” method to therapy and healing, and there are many considerations dependent on one’s personal situation (age, medical issues, gender issues, sexual orientation, cross-cultural concerns, etc.) so it’s important to research and be discerning. While the traditional practice of psychology, being a work-in-progress, may have areas of distortion, there are many new concepts and practices that have evolved, combining psychological work with body-mind techniques and integral spiritual dimensions in very effective and practical ways, such as Gestalt Therapy, Jungian Psychology, Trauma Work, Somatic Release Therapy, and various other body-mind techniques.
In Western society, most people have come to associate psychology and therapy with Freud’s psychoanalytic “talk therapy”, and it’s largely still used as a foundation in many academic psychotherapy courses. More modern, progressive developments in Psychology, however, have pulled away from archaic ideologies such as the Freudian dogma which essentially frames every psychological problem as stemming from sexual or psychosexual repression, with little regard for the deeper emotional and spiritual dimensions of the human being. The historical distortion of psychology and the influence of Freud’s rudimentary theories pressed upon the treatment of society are clearly seen in the overall convention of mainstream media: obsession of sexual fixation and fetishism, and lack of true emotional and spiritual depth. Atop all this distortion, now more than ever, with corporations interested in psychological social engineering to maximize profits, the mental health field is rampant with abused prescriptions of “mood stabilizing” pharmaceuticals. Even the foremost pioneer of A.D.H.D. – Dr. Leon Eisenberg – warned of often-over-generalized, falsified, and abused psychological diagnoses, remarking, “ADHD is a prime example of a fabricated disorder. The genetic predisposition to ADHD is completely overrated. […] Instead, child psychiatrists should more thoroughly determine the psychosocial reasons that can lead to behavioral problems.” Most recently, it’s the ridiculously Orwellian diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder.
Is it any wonder why so many kids grow up taking drugs, feeling lost, repressed, and angry at a society that pushes them to conform? Nowadays, adults either shove them full of pharmaceuticals or condemn and dismiss teenage behavior as “just hormones”. But perhaps if we as a society were more emotionally intelligent, compassionate, and knowledgable about what comprises a healthy psyche, we might understand that there is something deeper being shown to us as a child steps in to the world of adulthood. Perhaps it’s not that children become “unreasonable” but rather it’s society that is unreasonable, unhealthy, and is fundamentally opposed to the natural conditions humans are intrinsically disposed to.
The expressive nature of children through emotion and imagination is perfectly healthy and oftentimes astoundingly insightful. In a progressive society, we can see how the role of mature adults is to use the mature intellect in order to nurture that natural expression and creativity in more constructive ways. When society lacks understanding of basic psychology, it lacks a deeper connection, freedom of spirit, and chooses instead to suppress the individual with compounding regulations which reduce the organic being to a robotic automaton. We can clearly see, by the skyrocketing statistics of mental illness and pharmaceutical drug use, that this ignorance of psychology is rapidly destroying humanity, proliferating neurosis, insecurity, anxiety, and hostility.
It’s clear that most of society is both ignorant and uncomfortable with the ego-dissolving vulnerability that comes with sincere psychological work. Take a good look at what the mainstream identifies as acceptable and “cool”: the “tough” mask of straight-faced emotional immunity, the contrived disengagement, the disassociation of reality. And it’s all driven by shame, isn’t it? “Cool” preys on insecurity through unrealistic facades, marginalizing others as “flawed” and “undesirable” in the eyes of society. “Cool” always implicates shame on impressionable people because, when you strip away the mask, “cool” is really just dressed-up insecurity, identified with superficial appearances, terrified of losing control and the approval of others.
I drank that proverbial kool-aid early on as well. I used to think psychology and therapy was “only for those damaged, weird, messed up people who were too weak to cope with life”. I had the image of therapy just being someone sitting on a couch, blathering on with an over-paid therapist scribbling notes and occasionally chiming in, “Well, what do YOU think it means?” on and on and on until the patient was either locked up in a padded room with white bunny slippers, or learned to just cope with the fact that life is tough and they should just buy a helmet… I was blinded by my hubris.
Now I see that I was shadow projecting my own fear of facing MY wounds, MY weakness, MY vulnerability, MY pain. It’s the same defensive mechanism I used to “cope” all through a traumatic childhood: just shove down my feelings, make fun of whatever is uncomfortable or strange to me, and “be a man”. Fast forward to my introduction to REAL psychotherapy: a group Gestalt Therapy session at Esalen– one of the most amazing, loving, freeing, transformative months of my life. Never underestimate the power of presence, empathy, and vulnerability. As I sat in the safety of the group, guided by a trained professional, I found myself feeling truly nurtured, free to say what I truly felt with no filter, feeling decades of armor drop away with my tears, shaking as I released trauma long held inside, coming to find peace and amazing realizations in the unconditional arms of Gestalt Therapy. (Oohhh…. I’m getting teary-eyed and choked up all over again just remembering it.) It was the beginning of my journey towards understanding psychology and therapy. As I went on, I become acutely aware that health is holistic, and I began integrating other healing modalities in tandem to facilitate a holistic process. I explored massage and bodywork and realized the healing power of touch. I understood the deeper meaning of embodiment and presence. I worked with dream journaling and truly listened to what my subconscious was trying to communicate. I utilized plant medicines mindfully with the expertise of experienced shaman to help remove energetic blocks. I practiced breathwork and meditation. I practiced qi gong and yoga to ground and center myself. I expressed myself through “5 Rhythms Dance” sessions to engage my body in expressing its kinetic language. The list goes on. The path to healing can be challenging, but trust me- it is one of the most rewarding and enjoyable paths one can walk.
The point is that our ego is terrified of facing its own shadow. The shadow is an archetype that consists of aspects of oneself that exist, but which one does not acknowledge or with which one does not identify. The shadow exists as part of the unconscious mind and is composed of repressed ideas, weaknesses, desires, instincts, and shortcomings. This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos, and the unknown. These latent dispositions are present in all of us, although people sometimes deny this element of their own psyche and instead project it onto others. The same goes with small social groups and the whole collective of humanity. As a basic example, we often think relatively well of ourselves, considering ourselves to be honest, loving, tolerant, strong, hard working, responsible, and good. On the other hand, we consider those we dislike as dishonest, judgmental, hateful, weak, lazy, irresponsible, and evil. This tendency is exacerbated in times of conflict. But in truth, we all carry all these aspects within us in some capacity. It is only when we integrate these shadow elements within ourselves through conscious psychological self-work that we can begin to see ourselves, others, and life more clearly as it is with compassion, patience, and love.
This integration process, where the ever-righteous ego is forced to let go of the lies it has identified with, may feel like one is “breaking down” but this is really “breaking through”. It is a psychological necessity for conscious human development as illustrated in Dabrovsky’s “Theory of Positive Disintegration” (TPD) which views psychological tension and anxiety as necessary for growth. These “disintegrative” processes are therefore seen as “positive” for bringing about new aspects of conscious awareness, whereas people who fail to go through Positive Disintegration may remain for their entire lives in a state of “primary integration”, or, in other words, less self-actualized.
With all this in mind, it is clear that until we step in to the light of healing through psychological education, we will be defenseless against the momentum of social pressure, conditioning, and fear of rejection that causes most people to conform to pathological institutionalized behaviors. Some people will be able to do this work, but others may not because they are so heavily entrenched in their identifications, afraid to let go of their security blanket. This fear, aggression, and avoidance, passed on through generations, has rapidly developed in to Authoritarian social conditioning which begins at a very young age. Socially speaking, it has allowed the normalization of pathological behaviors: predatory financial institutions, political bribing, war crimes by the Military-Industrial Complex, shadow government agencies (NSA, CIA, MOSSAD, MI5, etc.) trafficking drugs and money to fund covert warfare, committing acts of terrorism and framing innocent civilians with no accountability, power-hungry corporations, over-industrialized environmental desolation, and the list goes on and on. These are the institutions we depend on to oversee and regulate society, but, if “by their fruits shall you know them”, then it’s obvious that we’re being led by Psychopaths in suits and their Authoritarian puppets. And without the discernment of Psychological awareness, quite simply, we’re screwed.
Think of psychological education and critical thinking as “good mental hygiene”. You know how to clean yourself physically, right? You don’t “normalize” dirty socks or body odor that would send people running, do you? (Not unless you’re at Burning Man, I suppose…) Without psychological hygiene, being able to detect the red flags in the psychological landscape around us, we’re walking blind through a minefield. Many of these disorders remain hidden under the surface until you step in to the danger zone and it’s too late.
Let’s take a closer look at this phenomenon. For example, it is well known that Psychopathy is very difficult to detect without prolonged, professional observation. It is also impossible to cure and historically has been one of the most ruthless psychological disorders known to humanity. Yet because psychopaths are adept at blending in with a “mask of sanity”, most people haven’t had the knowledge to detect them, even with all the damage they create. Psychopathy is primarily characterized by superficial charm, egocentricity, addiction to stimulation, sexual promiscuity, enjoyment of violence, impulsivity, irresponsibility, pathological lying, lack of remorse, empathy, or guilt, manipulativeness, emotional shallowness/ fakeness, and endless hunger for power and control over others.
(Side note: Reflect for a moment on these characteristics and then look at their abundant popularity in mainstream society. Think of the corporate and banking oligarchies which operate with these behaviors, destroying the lives of everyone around the world- from environmental pollution, to the dumbing down of society, systematically removing the Trivium from public education, advocating violence and material-fetishism, perpetuating ‘divide & conquer’ war, creating fraudulent economies that inevitably collapse, and essentially owning “democratic” governments around the world through various means. Is it clear enough that this is hitting the root of all the world’s problems? Perhaps those in power who have crafted society as they wanted are genetic psychopaths? Again, “by their fruits shall you know them”.)
Psychopathy can be both genetically inherited (which is interesting to consider, given the interconnecting bloodlines of those in power throughout history) and it can also be conditioned through extreme circumstances – malnutrition in the stages of early brain developmental as a child, physical trauma to the brain, or extreme, continuous psychological abuse. As of yet, studies have shown that experimental psychopharmacological, neurofeedback, and combined psychotherapeutic treatments have at best suppressed the impulsive behavior of psychopaths, but, conversely, improved their ability to strategize, mimicing regret and other emotions governed by the pre-frontal cortex, thereby enabling them to become more methodical and surreptitious over the long run. There is no cure. This disorder is not a rare fluke of fate; it is wildly prevalent in society, with low estimates putting the global population of psychopaths between conservative estimates of 1% (70 million) and more recent estimates placing it at around or above 6% (420 million). Putting this in to a global perspective, we can see that psychological disorders are like a virus in a global body- a relatively small part of the entirely of the world, but detrimental to the integrity of a healthy, functioning system.
“Just as a disease organism seeks its own survival and to propagate, pathologically deviant persons want power over others and they are not inhibited by considerations of conscience or feeling for others. An analogy of this is that the disease pathogen is totally uncaring of the damage it may do to the organ systems it invades. It only wants to survive and propagate. The bacteria or virus has evolved many unique characteristics that enable it to take over a body when that body is weak. Thus, when societies are weakened for any of a number of reasons, deviant personalities are able to utilize their specifically evolved methods and means to achieve that power that normal people with normal morals simply cannot comprehend because it is not part of their reality and all human beings tend to assume that everyone else is like themselves.” –Laura Knight-Jadczyk
It has only been within the last 50 years that the field of Psychology has begun to understand that the inner landscape of people can be extremely different. This one fact and its implications should give all activists in the world pause to consider the saying, “Do not attempt to cure what you do not understand”.
“Understanding the nature of macro-social pathology helps us to find a healthy attitude and thus protects our minds from being controlled or poisoned by the diseased contents and influence of their propaganda. We can only conquer this huge, contagious social cancer if we comprehend its essence and its etiological causes. Such an understanding of the nature of the phenomena leads to the logical conclusion that the measures for healing and reordering the world today should be completely different from the ones heretofore used for solving international conflicts. It is also true that, merely having the knowledge and awareness of the phenomena of the genesis of macro-social Evil can begin healing individual humans and help their minds regain harmony.” ~Andew M. Lobaczewski, “Political Ponerology“
Let’s get back to the main point. The fact is we take on the behaviors of those we look up to for guidance- religion, government, schools, parents, friends, etc. Unfortunately we have been raised in a very sick society. For example:
- Children are encouraged by coaches to “beat” others in competition instead of appreciating the abilities of others to inspire personal growth. And so, we see “success” as a ruthless domination over others, instead of mutual respect and cooperation.
- Instead of objectively informing and empowering the truth, the mainstream media, controlled by corporate interests, advocate fear, materialism, and entitlement in order to normalize neurosis, anxiety, and insecurity.
- Instead of seeing all people on earth as connected and deserving of care, Nationalism creates a social narcissism whereby others are marginalized by notions of regional supremacy.
- It’s acceptable in “polite society” to glorify violence in movies, but unacceptable to glorify making love.
- It’s much easier to buy a gun than it is to have access to mental health care
It’s clear that every facet of our lives and society is saturated in psychologically hostile ideologies that are unhealthy and unnatural to the intrinsic human condition. If psychological education and healing were made to be a predominant pillar of education for all people, we would not only be more integrated, healed, and at ease with ourselves, but we would have far greater understanding of the struggles of others, equipped with the tools of compassion to work through whatever issues may arise socially.
Through my own experience, study, and research, I’ve come to see that the most important step to an accelerated transformation of oneself and society is through psychological education and healing. As powerful as this process is, this will not be a magical quick-fix (but quicker than anything else), for we are not just healing our own wounds- we are healing the world’s wounds too. So, with every clearing of our psychological debris, with every foray into a healthier way of being, with every excavation and release of old trauma, we heal the collective heart and mind. Deep within our genetic material and in the spiritual realm, we are carrying the memories of our familial and karmic ancestors whom had little opportunity to heal their pains. When we heal, their spirits breathe a sigh of relief. We become clearer and more compassionate to each other and all of nature. We are all in this together. We heal in unison.