Paradigm Shift Seeking a way back to the True Self….

It is my understanding that much of our collective suffering results from the damaging impact of conditioning practices of parenting and education which have evolved out of a centuries old patriarchal paradigm.  The wounding affects and taboos of this paradigm are currently being revealed in all kinds of ways, most notably through the widespread occurrence of all forms of addiction and mental and emotional disorders, including the high incidence of depression.

Alice Miller writes:

The general public is still far from realizing that our earliest experiences unfailingly affect society as a whole, that psychoses, drug addiction and criminality are encoded expressions of these experiences. This fact is usually either disputed or accepting only on a strictly intellectual level. Since the intellect fails to influence the area of the emotions, the practical world (of politics, law, or psychiatry) continues to be dominated by medieval concepts, characterized by the outward projection of evil. (For Your Own Good..,p. xvi)

It is my belief that we are collectively in the process of breaking down and understanding the damaging effects of this paradigm on our consciousness and development.   Jungian therapist Edward Whitmont has written an extremely enlightening book Return of the Goddess about the emergence of this paradigm and its restrictions and taboos.

His book is an exploration of the development of consciousness as it has evolved through stages and ages of human development.  He traces the evolution of consciousness from its emergence in matriarchal times to the fall of matriarchy and the rise of patriarchal age.

He explores in depth the stage of consciousness that we currently inhabit and which has risen to dominance over past four thousand years, reaching a crescendo around the middle Ages.  To this stage or paradigm he has given the name mental epoch.

Whitmont explains how this paradigm was a result of the rise of patriarchy and the falling away of matriarchy.  It is this paradigm which are currently in the process of deconstructing and breaking out of.

This patriarchal era and the mental epoch has seen the ascendancy and dominance of masculine forces of mind, heroic will, ego control, rationality and logic over the instinctive feminine realms of intuitive knowing, receptivity and feeling as they operate through “felt sense” and the body.

The emergence of this paradigm has been a necessary evolutionary step, since the ego and mind developed as a result of it.  However the fact that the ascendancy of the masculine during this age caused such violence towards and fear of the “irrational” feminine realms has left us with a painful split between mind and body.  An abyss, if you will, which gives rise to the most acute anguish and despair in order that the imbalance can be corrected.

The achievement of an ego or clearer differentiation between mind and body or conscious and unconscious may have been a necessary evolutionary outcome of this transition, but it has come at an enormous price.

The development of the intellect and ideas, the pursuit of knowledge and understanding is all very well and good but to pose the question of the Grail which is a very pertinent myth for the incoming Age of Aquarius, Whom does the ego, mind or intellect serve?

To all intents and purposes and from my own experience it does not serve us very well if it does not help us to connect back to our deepest needs and impulses, to the body of ourselves, of our buried needs and desires as well as to the organic rhythms of the natural world around us.

As Alice Miller writes, “problems cannot be solved with words, but only through experience, not merely corrective experience as an adult but…through a reliving of early fear (sadness, anger)…Mere words however skilled…..will leave the split from which (we) suffer, unchanged or even deepened.” (Drama of Being a Child pp. 211 – 213)

We cause great damage if we split off from the instinctual needs of the body and True Self. When we do we move away from a passionate fully embodied existence. Full expression of or spirit through the matter of our body becomes blocked and we end up with symptoms. Where we are subject to control and repression of our deepest needs and impulses, we remain in a prison and our existence can become split off and manic.

The Jungian analyst, James Hillman has written about what he calls our culture’s manic defence against depression, a split that results when we fail to honour our deeper feelings of sadness, longing and anger.

A good analogy of the connection with our primal instinctual energy would be that of a horse with a rider.  Where the horse is out of control, the horse takes the rider on a wild and potentially dangerous journey.  If the instinctual energy is reigned in too severely the horse cannot be free. It is only when the rider is tuned into and able to harness the wild powerful instinctual energy of that horse and lovingly guide forward does harmony and flow result.

This split between instincts and intellect is one we all suffer with and have to do battle with to certain degrees, especially those of us who temperamentally live closer to the feminine realms of consciousness, that is those of us who are strongly intuitive, sensitive and emotional. It especially affects those of us who have had to repress our true feelings, instincts and needs as a result of environmental conditioning and/or a lack of empathy and mirroring in childhood.

If we can imagine that we all partake of a portion of the collective consciousness, as our own individual or personal consciousness arises out of unconsciousness we personally undergo a journey which our ancestors had to.

Human life originally emerged from the ocean.  It is a radical belief but I feel we carry the memory of this origin in our deepest being.  Our bodies are in fact 70 percent water and water is associated with the entire realm of feeling as well as with principles of flow and fluidity.

It saddens me to see how we have lost this fluidity becoming increasingly rigid as we identify almost exclusively with the mind, loosing at the same time an appreciation of our origin and depths as well as a deeper sense of connection with the greater world around us.

I see the sea as our primal mother and “home” which is right and fitting as it is what we emerged out of millions of years ago. With each conception are nurtured and we grow in that same watery space which is our mother’s womb, bathing in its energies and being affected by them.

Even following birth before the baby’s sense of a separate ego has developed, the very tiny being of that new born baby is immersed in a fluid sea of energies which is the mother’s energy and the energy of the home environment.  In this watery fluid matrix we bathe receiving our very earliest impressions of life which remain imprinted in our cells although not conscious.

It is interesting that the development of a foetus to a baby to a young child to a fully grown human is echoed in the development of the earliest humans.  In other words the development and unfolding of human consciousness is mirrored in the development and unfolding of the infants consciousness.

The earliest human beings lived with less division between the inner and outer words.  Originally just like our baby selves they were immersed in the “mother” or nature with no separate mind or “ego“ self split off “making sense“ of experience at an exclusively mental level.

According to ego psychologists as we grow our major task is to develop a healthy or centre of consciousness which can relate to and integrate the depths out of which it initially arose. These depths are the ground of our very being and they contain all kinds of vital human impulses. We need to be  connected to these depths in order to attain a sense of spontaneous aliveness, richness and vitality.

The earliest humans were connected to these depths but they had not yet conceptualised them and began to relate to them as ideas, concepts or categories.  It was only during the advent of the mental epoch that this process of ordering and rationalising experience developed along certain lines.

Prior to the development of ego consciousness in human beings we were collectively immersed in a matriarchal or more feminine realm of consciousness.  These have been described by Whitmont as the magical and mythological realms.

Certain cultures such as the aboriginals of Australia and Native American Indians live closer to these realms, they values dreams and intuition and are adept at reading nature and the unconscious for signs, or guidance which helps inform them of the best direction to follow.   Indeed these cultures live much closer to nature.  Spirit and soul are very real things to them since the split between spirit and matter, mind and matter and mind and body has not reached such neurotic proportions as it has in our heroic ego driven culture.

As Whitmont explains the magical and mythological ages were age when humans lived closer to the “feminine” realms and instinctual responses and needs.   These epochs were characterised not by division and separation (as is the case with the egoic mental paradigm) but by a state of unity or immersion in and receptivity to the environment within and without.

In fact one of the characteristics particularly of the magical stage of consciousness is that there is not such a clear sense of demarcation between that which is within us and that which is without.  This echoes the stage of symbosis of mother and child in the womb and immediately after birth in the first months when the consciousnesses of both mother and child are merged with each other and the ego of the baby has not yet separated out.

The foetus or baby at this stage is in an oceanic state of receptivity to the currents around it.  Only slowly will the baby’s separate ego emerge from this immersion.  In certain cases the emergence of the ego from this realm is not total and certain individuals with a certain psychic “bias” will retain a strong connection to it and to the mother both at a personal and a more symbolic level.

It is important to mention here that one of the consequences of the ego mental paradigm has been that as we have come to rely more strongly on logic and rationality it has become increasingly difficult for us to understand that what happens prior to development of ego consciousness and the mind is still imprinted upon us at a very deep level and remembered by the body.

As the mind develops these “body memories” fall into unconsciousness although they may re-present themselves later as bodily aches and pains to which the term body memory has been given.

Thus our earliest experiences, including those in the womb mark us and affect us deeply.  It has only been recently that this has been understood, as until quite recently it was believed that a baby or child could not remember what was done to it.  Well no it doesn‘t consciously remember but a sensate feeling being feels, senses and knows at a deeper level than mind and these knowing are retained and are their dismissal or invalidation is likely to send a sensitive person “crazy“s we shall see our true feelings and our deepest experiences are often difficult to access through the intellect.

In order to reach them we have to rely less on the mind and more strongly on impulses, signals, symptoms and intuitions coming to us through the body.

The work of the collective ego growing out of, cutting away from and leaving behind this oceanic matrix took many thousands of years and was a massive evolutionary step.

The development of ego and a functioning mind which could order and categorise experiences led us away from the feminine, from wholeness, from the inner world of feeling, sense, intuition and imagination.  It also led us away from the body.

It was a forward evolutionary step but it had serious repercussions, for as the collective ego developed and as patriarchy began to emerge it also began to identify more rigidly with masculine values and to turn fearful of and repressive towards the “irrational” realm of the feminine, the body and sexuality.  Certain impulses began to be demonised and seen as dangerous.

This gave rise to practices of child rearing and education which aimed to repress and control the expression of spontaneous feelings, needs, impulses and instincts in the child.  These impulses were demonised or seen as “evil” from the point of view of this paradigm which operated on ideals of perfection, obedience and conformity to concepts of control, rationality and logic.

The aim of such a paradigm and such practices was to split off or repress the so called “irrational” elements of human nature.  Under this paradigm, which arose over the past four thousand years and became crystallised or reached a crescendo during the industrial area and particularly at the time of Victorianism, elements of human nature or wholeness associated with the feminine and the inner world of deep feelings, longings, desires and needs, particularly those of the body were split off.  They were also feared and demonised as they were seen as a threat to the ideals of progress, conquest and control.

As a result there was the formation of a paradigm to which  Alice Miller has given the name  “poisonous pedagogy”.  In this paradigm any kind of brutality and insensitivity to the child is justified .  Under this paradigm the child was viewed as a being without rights, as someone whose “soul” had to be corrected in order for him or her to learn discipline and obey his or her parents and ultimately an arbitrary and purely external “authority“.

In fact the soul is the deepest part of us and as John Bradshaw has pointed out, on the most beautiful attributes of the child is its “soulful” quality that is instinctive, spontaneous, joyful, vulnerable, open to feeling and suffering and “alive”.

To see this soul as something that must be “disciplined” rather than lovingly nurtured, received, attended to and guided to find its way through the tangled maze of early life and development is, at least to my mind, a terrible distortion.

Discipline or control of feelings and impulses does not have to mean repression and it can actually be learned in other ways than by beating a child or teaching him to repress or reject her deeper impulses without a deeper attempt on the part of the parent to understand them and in this way help the child to come to terms with them.

Where little empathy or respect is shown towards him the child‘s  true and inherent beingness, will and individuality is so often thwarted  In such a climate the need of the child to let out intense feelings of upset, rage, frustration, and longing as well as his inherent need to find protection, comfort, empathy and understanding from its parents in order to more fully integrate its impulses and needs, and to know they are important and have meaning is thwarted by parental objectives.

In this way the child’s soul and indeed his very inherent beingness becomes distorted.  A child will make every attempt to adapt to the treatment it receives from a parent in order to gain their love (a true impossibility when the parent does not really know anything of what real love for the child is having never known it in their earlier relationship with their own parents), whilst protecting itself against the knowledge that the parent’s behaviour is damaging and abusive.

In other words the child will always make the parent right and himself wrong unless someone can be there for the child who has acted as a “witness” to the pain she has suffered at the parent’s hands.

This tendency of the child to make the parent right and itself wrong is achieved by a form of escape into what psychologist Robert Firestone has called the “Fantasy Bond“.  The Fantasy Bond is an illusory protective belief that protects the child from knowledge of his true injuries and the role her parent has played in inflicting them  In this fantasy bond the rejecting, demeaning or punishing behaviour of the parent towards the child’s deepest needs, instincts and feelings is learned and internalised as an inner voice or belief system which is either internalised and turned against the deeper or True Self and inner child or projected.

In the first case one learns to treat ones own inner “child“ self or True Self’s needs, instincts and feelings as the original parents did diminishing and negating them whilst splitting or walling them off behind protective defences.   These defences serve to prevent the repeat of earlier injuries which came about when we as children were open and vulnerable in our deepest soul seeking desperately to express and integrate its longings and impulses and finding in the parent either acceptance, support, empathy and understanding or alternatively rejection, abuse, diminishment or punishment.

As John Bradshaw has pointed out when this inner criticism and rejection of ourselves for our own “badness” is deeply internalised it results in suicidal impulses and often leads to accidents, illness and injury

.In the second case this rejection of certain qualities of the “inner child” or our authentic soul is projected onto those with whom we form later significant relationships, most particularly our partner and/or children resulting in a “fantasy bonded“ relationship which becomes like a dance and is characterised by a struggle to get our real needs recognised and met and to recognise and meet the true needs of others, particularly those of longing for intimacy.  A real stunting of the child’s ability to feel its feelings and express its needs in the world results, as well as deep, deep confusion over the true roots of its suffering which become hidden deep in the unconscious and now can only be acted out in unconscious or deeply symbolic ways.

A terrible hunger it set up as the soul or True Self of the child goes deep into hiding an imprisonment from which it longs to escape and attempts to do through addictions and compulsions, which are symbolic “cover ups“ encoded messages that contain hidden with them a deeper need, longing or impulse arising from a much earlier time.

The more deeply our true hungers and needs as well as our anger, pain, and sorrow over the frustration of these needs is buried the more deeply they will seek some channel of expression through the psyche.  Failing to find a channel through the consciousness and through the mind, (it is to be noted here that these true hidden feelings and needs must be “felt” not intellectualised about, feeling emerges spontaneously and cathartically at first and must be later integrated into the mind and consciousness and “understood“) the true needs of the soul finally express themselves through the body in all kinds of symptoms.

In the case of the overwhelming torture of so called “mental” illnesses, which are in fact not mental but deeply emotional, these occur when we are told to dismiss and invalidate our true needs or are lied to by our parents about the manner of their frustration. In this way we are confused deeply, the way back to our True Self is denied or barred access and we suffer. Faced with a lack of empathy, we loose empathy for our selves. In addition the true roots of the plight we suffer from is hidden from us and as a result we become vulnerable to the control and confusion of those who would use and abuse us, lacking the necessary defences and psychic boundaries to protect and care for ourselves.

Once feelings have been eliminated, the submissive person functions presently and reliably even if he know no one is going to check up on him. This perfect adaptation to society’s norms – in other words, to what is called “healthy normality” – carries with it the danger that such a person can be used for practically any purpose. It is not a loss of autonomy that occurs here because that autonomy never existed, but a switching of values, which in themselves are of no importance anyway for the person in question as long as his whole value system is dominated by the principle of obedience. He has never gone beyond the stage of idealizing his parent with their demands for unquestioning obedience; this idealisation can easily be transferred to a Fuhrer or to an ideology. Since authoritarian parents are always right, there is no need for the children to rack their brains in each case to determine whether what is demanded of them is right or not. (Alice Miller)

Once we have learned to deny our own true needs and desires, we also become vulnerable to abusive relationships. And the banked up longing for what we needed and didn’t get, still exists in the shadows somewhere, fuelling our search for subsititutes, thus the genesis of addictions and compulsions which, at least for a short time give us a feeling of greater aliveness.

People who as children successfully repressed their intense feelings often try to regain – at least for a short time – their lost intensity of experience with the help of drugs and alcohol. (Alice Miller)

The way out of this tangled labyrinth? We need to find a way, through whatever means possible to find a way back to those early experiences in order to feel, grieve and heal the, so they no are no longer acted out in compulsive and unconscious ways.

Published by: emergingfromthedarknight

"The religious naturalist is provisioned with tales of natural emergence that are, to my mind, far more magical than traditional miracles. Emergence is inherent in everything that is alive, allowing our yearning for supernatural miracles to be subsumed by our joy in the countless miracles that surround us." Ursula Goodenough How to describe oneself? People are a mystery and there is so much more to us than just our particular experiences or occupations. I could write down a list of attributes and they still might not paint a complete picture pf Deborah Louise and in any case it would not be the full truth of me. I would say that my purpose here on Wordpress is to express some of my random experiences, thoughts and feelings, to share about my particular journey and explore some subjects dear to my heart, such as emotional recovery, healing and astrology while posting up some of the prose/poems which are an outgrowth of my labours with life, love and relationships. If anything I write touches you I would be so pleased to hear for the purpose of reaching out and expressung ourselves is hopefully to connect with each other and find where our souls meet.

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