Saturday, March 26, 2011

From ‘The Road Less Travelled’ by M. Scott Peck

…… Carl Jung, ‘Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate suffering.’

…….. children who are truly loved ……… unconsciously know themselves to be valued. This knowledge is worth more than any gold. For when children know that they are valued, when they truly feel valued in the deepest parts of themselves, then they feel valuable.

The feeling of being valuable – ‘I am a valuable person’ – is essential to mental health and is a cornerstone of self-discipline. It is a direct product of parental love. Such a conviction must be gained in childhood; it is extremely difficult to acquire it during adulthood …… when children have learned through the love of their parents to feel valuable, it is almost impossible for the vicissitudes of adulthood to destroy their spirit.

Most people who come to see a psychiatrist are suffering from what is called either a neurosis or a character disorder ……. they are opposite styles of relating to the world and it's problems. The neurotic assumes too much responsibility; the person with a character disorder not enough. When neurotics are in conflict with the world they automatically assume that they are at fault. When those with character disorders are in conflict with the world they automatically assume that the world is at fault.

….. character-disordered parents almost invariably produce character-disordered or neurotic children. It is the parents themselves who visit their sins upon their children.

.. with experience the child begins to experience itself – namely, as an entity separate from the rest of the world. When it is hungry, mother doesn’t always appear to feed it. When it is playful, mother doesn’t always want to play. The child then has the experience of it's wishes not being it's mothers command. It's will is experienced as something separate from it's mother’s behavior. A sense of the ‘me’ begins to develop. This interaction between the infant and the mother is believed to be the ground out of which the child’s sense of identity begins to grow. It has been observed that when the interaction between the infant and it's mother is grossly disturbed – for example, when there is no mother, no satisfactory mother substitute or when because of her own mental illness the mother is totally uncaring or uninterested – then the infant grows into a child or adult whose sense of identity is grossly defective in the most basic ways.

For instance, the age between two and three is typically a time when the child comes to terms with the limits of it's power. While before this time the child has learned that it's wish is not necessarily it's mothers command, it still clings to the possibility that it's wish might be it's mothers command and the feeling that it's wish should be her command. It is because of this hope and feeling that the two-year-old usually attempts to act like the tyrant and autocrat ……. Parents speak of this age as the ‘terrible twos’

…… most of us feel our loneliness to be painful and yearn to escape from behind the walls of our individual identities to a condition in which we can be more unified with the world outside of ourselves. The experience of falling in love allows us this escape – temporarily. The essence of the phenomenon of falling in love is a sudden collapse of a section of an individual’s ego boundaries, permitting one to merge his or her identity with that of another person. The sudden release of oneself from oneself, the explosive pouring out of oneself into the beloved, and the dramatic surcease of loneliness accompanying this collapse of ego boundaries is experienced by most of us as ecstatic. ……. Sooner or later, in response to the problems of daily living, individual will reasserts itself. He wants to have sex; she doesn’t. She wants to go to the movies; he doesn’t ….. both of them , in the privacy of their hearts, begin to come to the sickening realization that they are not one with the beloved ….. One by one, gradually or suddenly, the ego boundaries snap back into place; gradually or suddenly, they fall out of love ………. At this point they begin either to dissolve the ties of their relationship or to initiate the work of real loving.

The inner feeling of emptiness from which passive dependent people suffer is the direct result of their parents failure to fulfill their needs for affection, attention and care during childhood ……… Children growing up in an atmosphere in which love and care are lacking or given with gross inconsistency enter adulthood with no such sense of inner security. Rather, they have an inner sense of insecurity, a feeling of ‘I don’t have enough’ and a sense that the world is unpredictable and ungiving, as well as a sense of themselves as being questionably lovable and valuable. It is no wonder, then, that they feel the need to scramble for love, care and attention wherever they can find it, and once having found it, cling to it with a desperation that leads them to unloving, manipulative, Machiavellian behavior that destroys the very relationships they seek to preserve.

There are, then, two ways to confront or criticize another human being: with instinctive and spontaneous certainty that one is right, or with a belief that one is probably right arrived at through scrupulous self-doubting and self-examination. The first is the way of arrogance; it is the most common way of parents, spouses, teachers and people generally in their day-to-day affairs; it is usually unsuccessful, producing more resentment than growth and other effects that were not intended. The second is the way of humility; it is not common, requiring as it does a genuine extension of oneself; it is more likely to be successful, and it is never, in my experience, destructive.

It is clear that exercising power with love requires a great deal of work, but what is this about the risk involved? The problem is that the more loving one is, the more humble one is: yet the more humble one is, the more one is awed by the potential for arrogance in exercising power. Who am I to influence the course of human events? By what authority am I entitled to decide what is best for my child, my spouse, my country or the human race? Who gives me the right to dare to believe in my own understanding and then to presume to exert my will upon the world? Who am I to play God? That is the risk. For whenever we exercise power we are attempting to influence the course of the world, of humanity, and we are thereby playing God ……… those who truly love, and therefore work for the wisdom that love requires, know that to act is to play God. Yet they also know that there is no alternative except inaction and impotence. Love compels us to play God with full consciousness of the enormity of the fact that that is just what we are doing. With this consciousness the loving person assumes the responsibility of attempting to be God and not to carelessly play God, to fulfill God’s will without mistake. We arrive, then, at yet another paradox: only out of the humility of love can humans dare to be God.

….. Kahlil Gibran addresses himself in what are perhaps the finest words ever written about child rasing:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you
cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them
like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows
are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and
He bends you with His might that His arrows may go
swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

……. Kahlil Gibran speaks to us concerning marriage:

Love one another, but make not a bond of love;
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of
you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver
with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Live can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s

For the most part, mental illness is caused by an absence of or defect in the love that a particular child required from it's particular parents for successful maturation and spiritual growth. It is obvious, then, that in order to be healed through psychotherapy the patient must receive from the psychotherapist at least a portion of the genuine love of which the patient was deprived. If the psychotherapist cannot genuinely love a patient, genuine healing will not occur.

Self-realization is born and matures in a distinctive kind of awareness, an awareness that has been described in many different ways by many different people. The mystics, for example, have spoken of it as the perception of the divinity and perfection of the world. Richard Bucke referred to it as cosmic consciousness; Buber described it in terms of the I-Thou relationship; and Maslow gave it the label ‘Being-cognition.’ We shall use Ouspensky’s term and call it the perception of the miraculous. ‘Miraculous’ here refers not only to extraordinary phenomena but also to the commonplace, for absolutely anything can evoke this special awareness provided that close enough attention is paid to it. Once perception is disengaged from the domination of preconception and personal interest, it is free to experience the world as it is in itself and to behold it's inherent magnificence….. Perception of the miraculous requires no faith or assumptions. It is simply a matter of paying full and close attention to the givens of life, i.e., to what is so ever-present that it is usually taken for granted. The true wonder of the world is available everywhere, in the minutest parts of our bodies, in the vast expanses of the cosmos, and in the intimate interconnectedness of these and all things….. We are part of a finely balanced ecosystem in which interdependency goes hand-in-hand with individuation. We are all individuals, but we are also parts of a greater whole, united in something vast and beautiful beyond description. Perception of the miraculous is the subjective essence of self-realization, the root from which man’s highest features and experiences grow

- Michael Stark and Michael Washburn, ‘Beyond the Norm: A Speculative Model of Self-Realization’

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