Friday, August 31, 2007

shadow 101

Been thinking of late about the unconscious. About psychology in general I suppose.

Archetypally you have the Freudians and the Reichians. Freud--especially through Neo-Freudianism championed by his daughter Anna--thought the unconscious should be made conscious and then controlled. "Integration" often was a mask for Freud's (admitted) bourgeoise conservative European values. [Btw, Anna Freud was a lesbian who because of such values hated her own sexuality and was essentially frigid her whole life]. Cognitive therapies, script therapies, voice dialogue(?) are in this general vein.

Reich, originally a disciple of Freud, then later a breakaway heretic, argued that the unconscious should be expressed, its native wildness not tamed by Freudianism. Much of the Human Potential Movement stems from Reich.

[The terms of the debate I think are a little wonky given that both Freud and Reich shared the same over-emphasis on the uber-nature of libido/sexuality. Both save civilization (either for good or bad) too much as simply a store of repressed/sublimated sexuality.]

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A third axis, I suppose, is the Jungian one: that the unconscious is symbolic images/stories of the collective unconscious. The mytho-poetic, the hero journey, all these flow from the Jungian premise.

And perhaps a fourth--body, bioenergy, therapies. The concept of the bodyego is one I've been playing with. That the body (bioenergy/prana/lifeforce) has its own as it were center of gravity (body consciousness, not literal physical center, although they may be related). If so, then the bodyego would have a body-unconscious. And this to me seems to be (correctly) the working assumption of body therapies. Somewhat similar to Reichians, but still I think different enough to merit a separate category.

Which just then puts the Freud-Reich question back another layer: is the body-unconscious to be more "integrated"/controlled or expressed? Clear both have a role. Too much Freudianism becomes Anna Freud. Becomes mental control and therapies built around patching people up so they can be sent back to the workforce and be good worker bees. Too much Reichianism--the danger is regression not repression. Many of the expressed elements of the unconscious are immature, self-centered, destructive forces that should be (a la Freud) held in check. Others aren't. And even some of the immature, self-centered stuff should be expressed but in safer environments (my Freudian streaks now showing, so say the Reichians).

Of these (admittedly too general) four major camps, I'm more drawn to the body realm at this point of my life. I still read Jung and find him fascinating, but I'm not in any way looking to heal my archetypes. I bring this up in my continued thread around self-esteem, becoming more process-attentive and creative. I've worked hard in my life on the mental and the spiritual aspects, but not as much in the emotional. I feel like the Freudian/Reichian split is still too cognitive---again express or not express the unconscious but the unconscious depicted in a more cognitive-ish light. Even when describing say libido, still very cognitive. Not wrong, but not really seeming to get at what I'm after at this point (meaning perhaps what those schools do point to in some fashion or another I've touched).

The difficulty, for one, is language/mapping. The body/bioprana stuff recalls a Great Chain (matter, body, mind, soul, spirit). Whereas, in post-metaphysical writings, body/matter is not the lower two rungs (as such) but the exterior correlates (the "without") of all interiors (the "within").

So there is a matter-matter and a body-matter and a mental-matter, soul-matter, and spirit-matter, as it were.

So there would be a hierarchy of body therapies depending on the differing levels of the body/matter. And how all of that relates to the emotional line, which seems to be really somehow intimately linked. Huge room for growth in this area.


At 1:50 AM, Blogger Tusar N Mohapatra said...

You are conversant with the Integral Yoga enunciated by The Mother and Sri Aurobindo. Your "matter-matter and a body-matter and a mental-matter, soul-matter, and spirit-matter" are already delineated by them, to which you may refer.

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Joseph said...

Chris D. This is Joseph Carver from Ciszek Hall. CAn you email me at when time allows. I am not sure how else to reach you??


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