Tag Archives: ego-inflation

Consciousness in Transition Continued

But, it can also appear in the opposite capacity as “spirit”, for instance when the conscious mind only recognises the material values of this life. The shadow represents the uniqueness and transitoriness of our natures… it is our own state of limitation and subjection to the conditions of time and space. At the same time, however, it forms part of the nuclear structure of our individuality.”  — Erich Neumann.

My last post alluded to Neumann’s ideas of “conscience” vs. the “inner voice”; the “criminal” perception of those who conceived creative change throughout history as a rough sketch of the conflict, and also the exchange, between the individual and society and how solutions first appear via the unconscious. Here, I’ll try to clarify his insights into this process and how they relate to changes today:

The old ethic admits two reactions to the psychic situation created by conscience. Both are perilous but… to different degrees and with different results for the individual. The situation which is more… familiar to the average man is that in which the ego identifies itself with the ethical values. This identification takes place by means of an identification of the ego with the persona. The ego confuses itself with the facade personality (which of course in reality is only that part of the personality that is tailored to fit the collective), and forgets that it possesses aspects that run counter to the persona.

As Neumann stated in the opening quote, this shadow-side contains the core of our individuality and is repressed to the extent that we identify with collective beliefs and ideals. The inner voice concealed in it generally has a confusing and frightening quality that intrudes upon those who are predisposed to a certain openness to the unconscious beyond their will. It’s always contrary to what we’re taught. This is the means by which culture evolves and the value of the individual (despite the opposite presumption):

Owing to its identification with collective values, the ego… has a “good conscience”. It imagines itself to be in complete harmony with those values of its culture which are accepted as positive, and feels itself to be the bearer no longer simply of the conscious light of human understanding but also of the moral light of the world of values… In this process, the ego falls a victim to a very dangerous inflation… a condition in which consciousness is “puffed up” owing to the influence of an unconscious content. The inflation of the good conscience consists in an unjustified identification of a very personal value (that is, the ego) with a transpersonal value, and this causes the individual to forget his shadow (that is, his creaturely limitation and corporeality).”

Psychologically, this describes the history of religion to a tee; yet ego-inflation continues to increase with conscious development. Even as unconscious contents change along with it, this “god-like” condition becomes ever more personalized. Despite the new science (or maybe because of it) of our ‘creaturely limitations’ — our animal heritage and the paradoxical co-existence of a sophisticated cortex that would reach to the stars and a primitive hindbrain that would plunge us into savageries undreamt in Adam’s day — it’s the spirit of Nature that now threatens a modern apocalypse.

Repression of the shadow and identification with the positive values are two sides of the same process. It is the identification with the facade personality which makes the repression possible, and the repression in its turn is the basis of the ego’s identification with the collective values by means of the persona.

It’s little wonder Jung referred to the individual as “the only real carrier of life”; that nature’s creative urge can be expressed through it alone. The contradictions inherent in the unconscious interaction of opposites are too complex to grasp without a subjective relation to the irrational feelings and deep personal motives which are the counter-pole to rational thought.

The forms which may be taken by this ethical facade range from general illusion and an “as if” attitude to sanctimonious hypocrisy and downright lying. These false human responses to ethical demands are not confined to any one historical period; yet it is a fact that this pseudo-attitude has appeared with especial frequency in the history of the West in the past hundred and fifty years. Actually, Western man’s illusory self-identification with positive values, which conceals the real state of affairs, has never been more widespread than in the… epoch which is now coming to an end.

These observations provide a glimpse into the symbolic world of psychic reality. The creative/destructive aspects of nature favor that which lives in accordance with its laws and eventually displace that which does not. These objective values don’t change — only our relation to them. Ego-fixation is both a warning and a symbol. The warning is clear, the symbol is not; both need reflection:

Ego-inflation invariably implies a condition in which the ego is overwhelmed by a content which is greater, stronger and more highly charged with energy than consciousness, and which therefore causes a kind of state of possession in the conscious mind. What makes this state of possession so dangerous — irrespective of the nature of the content which lies behind it — is that it prevents the…  conscious mind  from achieving a genuine orientation to reality.

Click here for an example of how this subjective reality appears at mid-life or visit Amazon.

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Science, Psychology, and the Subjective Mind

More and more studies, while not disproving altogether Woody Allen’s theory that the brain is the second most important organ, continue to amass evidence to the contrary. In a paradoxical twist, new psychological theories suggest that what we think about a disorder may outweigh any ‘real’ effects of the disorder itself. In fact, what we now consider abnormal may soon be the new normal.

Modern diagnostics are so advanced that if there is even the latent possibility of a disorder, or the need or desire for one, it will be detected. This has raised new queries about the viability of science in the evaluation of mental illness; indeed, on its possible invention.

This re-visioning of therapy has prompted concerns over an alleged industry bias against the individual disposition. Critics charge that scientific credulity and impersonal assessment methods, along with the projected “symbol-complexes” of practitioners, make diagnosis “psychologically irresponsible if not negligent.”

Statistics show that a modern explosion in available treatment methods parallels “diagnostic over-reach”, leaving some to wonder if part of the problem might be a too-subjective classification system fitted to an ideal norm which is “ultimately unattainable, even as it depicts an average”. Within such contradictory confines, they argue, “the individual appears as a mere aggregate of eccentricities.”

Though the majority of consumer self-reports showed perceptions of progress after the suggested minimum of twelve sessions, those who underwent further treatment showed actual recovery rates similar to those with none at all. Many conditions deteriorated with extended treatment, prompting some to call for a revaluation of criteria.

Insiders confide that most consumers are presumed cured upon the declaration of bankruptcy and/or the reinstatement of driving privileges; though such later-stage variables as ‘high-school sweetheart syndrome’, ‘second-family delusional disorder’, and ‘transitional self-medication malaise’ were considered ‘pre-fixed norms’ and not included as ‘dispositional factors’.

Follow-up studies by legal firms representing insurance companies and maxed-out family members, however, found that ninety percent returned to therapy within a year. Recidivism rates compared with penitentiary internment, leading some experts to propose a “revolving door of therapy-addiction as a substitute for healthy narcissism.”

Crime rates, likewise, varied little between control groups — with one exception: those who underwent treatment before incarceration, when released, tended to commit more heinous crimes than those without therapy. In the system, even those in such informal programs as “Bibles Behind Bars”, “Inmates Need Mates, Too”, and “No Means No” were less violent than those who’d received formal therapy.

New theories are emerging which question the uncritical piling up of statistical data in support of industry interests. Along with Shamanism, Eye Rotation Therapy, and Dr. Wayne Dribble’s PBS snooze-fest, many are casting off the mantle of rational, scientific investigation for more holistic models of wishful thinking and the power of suggestion. One such intriguing model was conceived by Dr. Abnorm Drowze, the “irrational rationalist” of the Institute for Modern Solipsism:

Psycho-physics begins with the subliminal dynamics of the human dialogue. ‘Psycho’: ‘crazy’  — and ‘physics’: Greek for ‘out there’, combine the science of energy economics with a paradoxical process of ego-inflation designed to free the authentic personality from the false narrative of standardized therapy.

“At the core of Psycho-physics is the concept of projection. Certain feelings and intuitions confirm it to be psychologically meaningful; however, it cannot be scientifically proven to actually exist. Its subjective nature makes it relative to the individual in all cases.

“Since it is recalcitrant to objective appraisal, it’s seldom employed as a tool by method psychologies. These only ensure that its negative effects continue to work unconsciously. The evaluation of one subjective mind by another assumes the nature of a value judgment. The eo ipso assumption that such phenomena apply to the consumer alone, for example, leads to quite arbitrary conclusions and is therefore scientifically untenable, not to say intellectually unethical. The very definition of projection cricumscribes a universal function irrespective of education, social standing, or professional estimation.

“Equability demands its application also to the practitioner’s evaluation of so-called objective test results. For instance: Damitol is prescribed to a depressed consumer to raise flavinoid levels on the assumption that a chemical imbalance is the root cause. This view sees the body as having turned against itself, when in fact it has turned against the mind. Psychologically, this means the mind has turned against itself and speaks by proxy for a neglected body-image which is largely unconscious. The assumption of physical causation is only one side of the mind-body connection and reflects a split consciousness in conflict with its animal behavior. Such instinctive processes betray our dual natures and, when misconstrued, appear ‘crazy’ to practitioner and consumer alike.

“Quite natural self-protective instincts compel the consumer to react adversely to such implied judgments. A ‘knot of projection’ ensues in which consumer and practitioner each unconsciously think the other is ‘crazy’. Which carries the greater value? Both are unhampered presuppositions. The assumption that one outweighs the other is yet another subjective value-judgment.

“The practitioner’s projections will in fact self-replicate in direct proportion to the authority-complex. The principle of negative sums clearly states that the practitioner’s assumptions will not only exceed the consumer’s but cancel them out entirely. The result is that the judgment ‘crazy’ is unilaterally projected onto the consumer, the body’s chemistry, the test results — even onto the treatment. This is not a good thing.

“The therapeutic process often bogs down under the weight of this unspoken dialogue. Progress devolves into a ‘conspiratorial illusion’ which, more often than not, results in a stagnant state of mutual compensation and projection and leaves little hope for resolution.” 

 This is the point where psychology ends and the spiritual journey begins.

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