Structures of consciousness

Briefly expanding on Ken Wilber’s structures of consciousness

From the perspective of the evolution of science and technology, for more than three centuries we have been absorbed by a steady climb towards more efficiency and more profit, and we forgot to wonder about the consequences of these rapid changes and how they affect our way of being, our lifestyle and our health. We think it would be wise not to take today’s orthodox thinking for granted, and remember that the prospects by which we interpret the world were and are constantly changing. To better highlight this, we will present is a classification of these perspectives in order to remind us that we are still in a process of development and to create a map by which we can study the progress towards our highest potential:

1. Archaic

Our transition from primates to humans – the legacy of instincts in animals: basic needs such as food, shelter and physiological needs

2. Magic

The first step toward today’s complexity, which begins 50,000 years ago – the magical structure, namely the emergence of the first major human societies – hunters and collectors, driven by impulsivity and held together by the ability to express more complex emotions, sensations and feelings, such as art, fantasy, and symbolic expression. People at this level understand the world through their 1st person perspective.

3. Magic / Mythic

The emergence of horticulture and, according to certain theories, matrifocal societies define a 3rd stage that begins 10,000 years ago, a structure with self-imputation, power expression and self-promotion capabilities, search for opportunity, awareness of boundaries, intentionality and basic conceptual thinking. People are able to understand a 2nd person perspective, that of their family or clan.

4. Mythic
(Traditional)

This structure is behind all the great empires that have crossed the world since 5,000 years ago and is still a very common level today, comprising 60% of the population. It is defined by the ability to take the role of another (the perspective of a 2nd person), can understand and follow rules, fall into a group/clan and feel affiliation. It is characterized by nationalism and literary interpretation of scriptures and legends (hence “mythic”). People at this level are still at a 2nd person perspective, yet expand it to their nation, to their ‘kind’.

5. Rational
(Modern)

An important step is towards the rational structure that begins 300 years ago with the Renaissance and the Age of Enlightenment in the West. This structure can take the perspective of a third person, move from ethnocentric to world-centric and adopt objective thinking. The ability of introspection and hypothetical deductive reasoning appears. The problems of this structure are hyper-objectification, removal of emotion and irresponsible use of technology. (approximately 20-30% of the world population). People at this level are able to take a 3rd person perspective, and thus the fields of objective sciences and international relations emerged.

6. Pluralist
(Post-Modern)

In response to this abuse of technology, indifference to human suffering and interest just for gain, the pluralist structure expressed through postmodernism and relativistic thinking (feminism, environmental protection and civil rights) starts to emerge in the 60s and 70s. It may reflect on the third person’s thinking, creating the perspective of a 4th person who can observe the different ways of being, understanding the relativity of each opinion, and can relate context to context, respecting cultural relativity. The problem is the rejection of hierarchies and hypersensitivity, which leads to a stagnation of progress. (approximately 10% of the world population).

7. Integral

The next step is called a “monumental leap” because the whole paradigm by which we define ourselves changes from an ego-based approach to a universal one. Having managed to discover the evolution of society in one’s own person, the integral structure understands that it was necessary to go through all the other stages to reach the complexity it is. For the first time the self is defined by accepting all other ways of being, and sees the value and purpose of all levels. The integral structure wants to transcend lower levels, and to include them – not to repress them or to exclude them. (about 1% of the world population)

– it is important to note that each structure transcends, but also includes previous structures, but usually the aspects of the other structures are fully and consciously included starting with the integral level. Until the  Integral level, evolving to a higher structure is usually done by repressing the so-called ‘shadow material’ (unsolved issues typical to lower structures), and tapping into the perspective of the integral structure, one can start a conscious process of reintegrating that shadow.

Characteristics of the most important structures (in terms of influence in society) and potential pathologies characteristic to each structure:

Traditional
Structure (Mythic)

– identifies with the clan/nation/religion in which one is born and adopts the orthodox perspective in one’s community

– patriotic pride, which in a globalizing world can lead to xenophobia, racism, discrimination and stagnation if it is to underpin cognitive prejudices

– conservative attitude, reluctance to change

– literary interpretation of scriptures, legends, etc. without questioning a deeper meaning

– submission to a “superior” force, such as a God, a king, a political system

– keeping the tradition out of obligation, often forgetting the purpose or symbolism behind it (“we do this because that’s how it’s done”)

Modern Structure (Rational)

– the consequence of the separation of science from religion during the scientific and industrial revolution ~300 years ago, as a response to hyper-dogmatic religion based on fearing God which was imposed upon reason

– because of the trauma caused by this imposition, people have come to define as absurd or irrational everything that is not materially or objectively verifiable by the scientific method established at the time, hence the suppression of emotions in favor of progress and efficiency (war, colonization, atomic bombs) -> birth of the materialist-reductionist fallacy

– in spite of these events, the quality of material life and the amount of information accessible to the population grew noticeable – but due to the speed at which we progressed externally (objectively) we did not have time to analyze and adapt our inner (subjective) worlds, and people have come to idealize automation, industrialization and efficiency at the cost of exploiting the people, animals and the environment

Postmodern Structure (Pluralist)

– in response to hyper-objectivism and insensitivity expressed by modernity, postmodernism (pluralism) emerges through movements defined by the responsible use of the values of the modern era, such as feminism as a response to gender inequality, human rights and environmental protection in response to the abuses of industrialization and exploitation of lesser developed countries/regions or less privileged people.

– realizes the importance of the subjective experience and the relativity of each perspective, hence the sensitivity to cultural diversity and strive for inclusiveness and acceptance of every perspective

– trying to protect relativism given by contextuality, develops an allergy against authority and hierarchy, claiming that everyone is right in its own context, and no view is better than another -> risk for stagnation and chaos in societies which until now have functioned under hierarchical structures

The Integral Structure

– realizing that the hypersensitive and anti-hierarchical approach of postmodernism creates an endless field filled with isolated views in glass globes, the integral structure no longer wants to create a museum of reality, but to promote a desire for progress in each structure

– if the modernism judged traditionalism for the prohibition of a free individual arbitrary will independent of the imposed dogma, and postmodernism judged modernism for insensibility, the integral structure realizes that each step was and is necessary for evolution, and that this structure itself is a step towards a
more complex structure

– understands that evolution and change have always been happening, and defines its values accordingly, hence being prone for change and progress in an intended, controlled manner (as opposed to letting odds decide when a need for change appears in one’s life), thus fighting back against the tendency to preserve cultures just how they are in an ever-changing, globalizing world

– realizes that the structures coexist, and that in order to facilitate a conscious evolution the hierarchies must be reintroduced but also redefined: from the hierarchies defined by the imposed dominance to the holon-like hierarchies, which based on the principle “an atom is in a molecule, but a molecule is not in an atom ” – the hierarchs formed by experience and the desire to lead towards progress (basically we do not forget where we left from, promoting equality of opportunity and not equality of outcome, tending to each structures needs for progress)

Every man starts from the most basic structure, and not age determines the structure, but the degree of openness to change, the active working on oneself, the eagerness to take new opportunities, the wisdom gathered. Progress is not made suddenly from one structure to the other, and not one person is situated entirely in one structure. Rather, gradually, each person has different parts in different structures. We should rejoice that we have the opportunity to transcend our shortcomings and engage ourselves to actively develop ourselves towards our highest potential. If we are born in this world where we learn how to live and everything changes, why not embrace the nature of our world, instead of fighting against it?

References: Article based on the extensive work of Ken Wilber, which basically intends to unify into an integral theory of development all the work done in fields such as psychology, contemplative traditions, philosophy and exact sciences, trying to unite the sciences and the humanities. So credit should be given to all researchers, both Western and Eastern, which contributed to the still ongoing development of this view, and also to all those willing to contribute by becoming part of this movement based on understanding ourselves.

This article presented one of the several dimensions used to map this world that we live in – the structures of consciousness. Following articles will present the other dimensions, namely the states of consciousness, the vantage points, the multiple lines of intelligence, the 4-Quandrant model.

In the image above, the essence of the work of many researchers and pioneers in the study of consciousness is summarized, work used by Wilber in the development of more inclusive integral meta-theories. As he himself states, his work should not be viewed as an end product, but should be used for further research and ongoing development.

Read our article on the development of integral theory and transpersonal psychology here: https://atomic-temporary-151455404.wpcomstaging.com/2019/03/31/expanding-on-ken-wilber-and-jorge-ferrer/

 

Sources:

Wilber, K. (2017). The religion of tomorrow. Boston: Shambhala.

Expanding on Ken Wilber and Jorge Ferrer

This article aims to introduce our perspective on neo-wilberian, participatory, 21st century practices in leading an integrative, harmonious and responsible life, grounded in a view upon spirituality which is influenced by the great traditions, yet also by today’s globalized opportunities. We are researching an integral (integrative) practice that goes beyond considering one spiritual tradition or framework superior to any other. Rather, such a practice is undertaken by exploring the diverse experiences of what it feels like to be human through all our multiple dimensions and cultural/spiritual expressions. What does it mean to be human in the era/geo-political location/family/social class/gender identity/sexual orientation/religious views/spiritual orientations that you live in or identify with? How do you interact or feel towards other people with different combinations of these criteria?

This article assumes a certain degree of familiarity with integral theory and practice (specifically, Ken Wilber’s and Jorge Ferrer’s work), due to the complexity of the issue, the diversity of developmental stages in today’s world and the limitations of a short article such as this one. This issue will be a research subject for the following years, since it touches the leading edge of integral development and practice and prepares the ground for a next step in this field.

Having said this, I start by presenting a perspective which aims to unify the apparently incompatible sides in transpersonal theory – namely, perennialism and the participatory perspective. In short, perennialism is the view that there are many different paths, but all of them are on the same mountain, leading to the same peak (view explored by Wilber). The participatory perspective holds that in fact, there are multiple mountains, with multiple paths, leading to multiple peaks (view explored by Ferrer).

Although many academic scholars have transformed the practice of avoiding to start an argument from a certain premise (since all premises can fall into the uncertain metaphysical ground of axioms), I propose that there is a common core on what it means to be human, a premise that is based on the observable commonality which unites us all as living and breathing beings having evolved from fetuses and having been born as mortal beings, at least physically. The cultural background that we possess influences our perception of reality. People embark on a journey where they fluctuate from being at peace with one’s root culture to seeking knowledge and belongingness elsewhere, in another culture or tradition. However, if observed from an archetypal perspective, one would be able to spot similarities amongst the different cultures and traditions, and amongst our human struggles and joys. Arguably, these similarities could be extrapolated to the essence of being human – a living and breathing being. However, in order to grasp this idea, one must go beyond the intellect, as such an understanding is experiential, embodied, and immanent. Perhaps that by walking the participatory path and exploring one’s unique dimensions and heritage (Ferrer), we actually experience the One Taste (Wilber)?

To expand this idea, let us think about what it means to be human before thinking about class, gender, nationality, and other such categories. As presented in integral theory, there are several dimensions of being human described as the multiple lines of intelligence (also called lines of development): verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, naturalist, visual/spatial, existentialist/spiritual, interpersonal, intrapersonal, bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, sexual, cognitive, and moral. From the participatory perspective, they are formulated more concisely – body, vital, heart, mind, and consciousness – and this is the first bridge I draw between Wilber and Ferrer. Wilber’s lines can be understood and experienced through Ferrer’s elements, and vice-versa.

The participatory perspective aims to be a next step in transpersonalism, and, chronologically, I agree that it is. However, I wouldn’t view it as a next holon in the development of this field (i.e., transcending and including the previous models while fixing their problems), but rather as a much needed complementary perspective to Wilber’s integral model.

I hold that a reconciliation of these two sides is possible, since I believe that, in fact, they do not contradict each other, but, on the contrary, I argue that they complement each other while being grounded in this common core of human experience.

I believe that the most important apparent difference lies in their different approach to hierarchy and universality. Wilber follows a hierarchical model of development, and Ferrer pursues sensible approach to the importance of each step in development without imposing a hierarchy between the different steps. However, I propose that this difference lies on an illusory ground.

An important key lies in how we understand perennialism and its approach to the common ‘source’. It is easy to fall into the trap of our own limited language: if we try to *name* that which goes beyond language, there will certainly be misconceptions and contradictions. I believe that this misunderstanding comes from the nature of our linguistic way of thinking and interacting with one another based on logical mental structures and categories. The development of our prefrontal cortex, the development of our language, culture, and science has created a strong yet difficult to spot bias towards mental tools of knowing. This is known as cognicentrism. This has lead us to primarily grasp concepts as chronological structures and  hierarchical categories, rather than deeper, emotional and embodied experiences. Thus, although Ferrer rightfully argues against the Western bias towards cognicentrism, he might actually perpetuating  the same problem he is trying mend.

Through this, I do not wish to criticise Ferrer’s work. On the contrary, I believe it is an important addition to and clarification of several aspects from integral theory. Nevertheless, where there is language and where there are different sides, there are blind sports and conflicts in the process of understand the ever unfolding reality.

Perennialists agree that in the below schematic, the common ground (intersection of all lines) is referred to as Brahma, Sunyata, Dao, God, Allah or Non-Duality by the different traditions. While they may appear as different from an exoteric point of view, they point, in fact, to the same common ground reality. However, I believe that most critics of this theory have been mislead by the limitations of language and linear, chronological thinking mentioned above, and remained blind to the important fact that the common point in the diagram points towards something which is impossible to point at.

The participatory perspective, being a next step (Epoch Three) in Transpersonal Theory, has defined itself, amongst others, by trying to build upon the problems that occurred during Epoch Two of transpersonalism – namely the neo-perennialism predominated by Wilber’s work. As eloquently presented by Ferrer (2017) in his work “Participation and the Mystery”, it stresses the importance of the collaborative participation of all human attributes – body, vital energy, heart, mind, and consciousness.

Trying to avoid the hierarchization of the different spiritual traditions and cultures, the participatory turn stresses the inherent value of all cultures and traditions and their role in the cocreation and unfolding of the “generative power” or “mystery”.

As far as I have observed from my reading and practice, and as the chronological unfolding of the turns in transpersonal theory point out, the participatory turn has been formed, amongst others, as a reply to the possible problems of neo-perennialist epoch before – for example cognicentrism, which can lead to the biased selection of spiritual practices and traditions done by the limited ego. The ego is in the modern West famously correlated to the mind and intellect, usually neglecting the other dimensions of the human being.

Building on this, I propose a next step in the transpersonal narrative, namely the reconciliation of two epochs.

Before criticizing Wilber’s work as as cognicentric and hierarchical, let us first contemplate on the time in history when he developed this work, and acknowledge the still very young age of transpersonalism (which, according to Lahood (2008) started with the pre-transpersonal movement during the psychedelic revolution of the 60s and 70s). The pioneers of this field may have been, at least with a part of their being, at the highest developmental level that they have been describing in their model. However, if we look at the mean in our society, most people are at a mythic structure, while education is undertaken at a rational level, with the highest forms of education embracing pluralistic values. It takes time to understand and reach one’s highest potential as an individual, and it takes even longer as a society. Thus, I firmly believe that the critics of Ken Wilber have forgotten to take into account the curse following most pioneer researchers – namely being very much ahead of their time. Perhaps it is because we engaged our mental spheres and cognition that our society developed the technology and resources able sustain our embodied experience and healing.

Wilber proposed an integral development model – the AQAL model and the structure-state model.

He describes the structural development model as being ‘holon-like’, meaning that each structure transcends and includes the previous one. This implies a hierarchical relationship amongst the different structures, since just as an atom is contained in a molecule, a molecule is not contained in an atom.

While evolving from structure to structure, since our society is still segmented and we do not agree upon a holistic educational system yet, we remain with what is the so-called ‘shadow’ – the parts left behind during our development process, which remained not integrated and which act on the unconscious level until they are embraced and integrated. Most of the time, at least until the shadow is actively approached and re-owned through different techniques, it is not visible to us. For example, someone who hasn’t undergone thorough self-discovery practices and practices for re-owning the shadow and identifies with the values described at the pluralistic structure of development most likely has shadow at the lower structures, with which one disidentifies with. This created inner and collective conflict, which perpetuated separation and suffering.

A good representation of this could be the immigration issue (for example, in Europe) – from a pluralistic perspective, the decision to let immigrants in was the only one viable, and in terms of morality, it has the better argument, even if idealistic. The Mythic structure in this case might have enforced some stricter conditions, which could arguably be regarded as abusive from the pluralistic level, for example, enforcing a commitment to local religion and traditions (which has been done in the past a lot). However, even if the pluralistic approach is the better one, since many people are still at a mythic level of development, there are consequences when two different cultures with different ideals start living together. 

Since our society can’t yet agree even upon pluralistic ideals and is a lot of work to be done regarding the shadow from other levels, and Wilber putting so much emphasis on the Integral structure, and on the development of all lines of intelligence, his work is indeed ahead of its time, since the people aren’t yet at that level of development with enough shadow cleared as to understand without feeling patronized due to their shadow’s defense mechanisms kicking in.

A person who has not put in work to actively progress on all lines of intelligence (intellectual, emotional, somatic, spiritual, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and so on) won’t be able to understand the entire depth of a person who has.

And although I agree that we can find issues in Wilber’s personal attitude towards certain aspects, and that he could have been more sensible, amongst others (look for articles on critiques on Ken Wilber), I propose that his work should be read as a meta-theory, and his personality personal issues shouldn’t be mixed with integral theory, although they sometimes reflect in his work.

Thus, I do not fully agree with Lahood’s categorization of transpersonalist epochs, since I would say that the participatory turn is not necessarily a next ‘turn’, but the very elaboration of pluralism towards integral. Wilber’s work fulfilled the purpose of creating maps, and combining existing maps, preparing the ground for the integral age. Since our society is far from being an integral society (most people are at a mythic structure), his work had no choice but to be theoretical and cognicentric, because in order for us to organize ourselves at a systemic level, we need cognition, theory, and models.

As explained in this article, each structure develops as a reaction to the previous one, displaying a critical attitude to the structures before. Thus, being part of the first pioneers in the integral age, Wilber has developed his structure by ‘fighting’ against the shortcomings of the previous stage – namely, the pluralists. Wilber critiques their lack of hierarchical thinking and hyper-sensibility which affects responsible decision-making, and the pluralists critique Wilber for his hierarchical thinking which some accuse of being patronizing, insensitive, objectifying, masculinist, and commercializing spirituality (Thompson, 1998; Gelfer, 2010 & 2011). 

Thus, through the participatory insights, we can start doing the work of integrating the insights and shadows from all structures, consciously engaging the mind, heart, body, emotions and intuition, while being aware of the theoretical frameworks provided by the integral model.

Although this is an argument worth of much vaster expanding, as stated at the beginning, this article is meant as an introduction. I believe that there is just one more argument to be urgently highlighted regarding this topic, and that is the participatory argument against perennialism. I believe that this argument makes sense if we resume the terms ‘non-duality’, or ‘God’, or ‘Brahma’, or ‘the One’ as being something which can be pointed at. As stated somewhere else is this article, we shouldn’t let the pitfalls of dualistic language contain incomprehensive, infinite aspects. Universality can not be pointed at, or counted. I think a great danger of our times is forgetting the dimension of simplicity, and focusing just on the complexity. The ‘One’ is not here, or there, it is a principle which can be understood by simply recalling that we are on this ‘one’ planet, which is in this ‘one’ solar system, in this ‘one’ galaxy, in this ‘one’ universe and so on.

References:

 

DiPerna, D. (2014). Streams of wisdom. Integral Publishing House

Ferrer, J.N. (2002). Revisioning Transpersonal Theory – A Participatory vision of Human Spirituality.  Albany: State University of New York Press.

Ferrer, J.N. (2017). Participation and the Mystery: Transpersonal Essays in Psychology, Education, and Religion Hardcover – May 1, 2017

Gelfer, J. Chapter 5 (Integral or muscular spirituality?) in Numen, Old Men: Contemporary Masculine Spiritualities and the Problem of Patriarchy, 2009: ISBN 978-1-84553-419-6

Gelfer, J. LOHAS and the Indigo Dollar: Growing the Spiritual Economy Archived 2011-01-04 at the Wayback Machine, New Proposals: Journal of Marxism and Interdisciplinary Inquiry (4.1, 2010: 46–60)

Hartelius, G. (2013). Lecture 6: critiques of Ken Wilber. Retrieved 1st February, 2019 from the World Wide Web: https://player.vimeo.com/video/112436845

Lahood, G. (2008), Paradise Bound: A Perennial Tradition or an Unseen Process of Cosmological Hybridization?  Anthropology of Consciousness, 19: 155–189. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-3537.2008.00008.x

Thompson, Coming into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness pp. 12–13

Wilber, K. (2017). The religion of tomorrow. Boston: Shambhala.

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Dependent independence on the spiritual path

In approaching the issue of spiritual freedom/self-agency in todays world both from a personal and collective perspective, it is imperative to look at our individual and collective history and be most wise in our choices based on that analysis. Ever since the Age of Enlightenment, reason was brought to center-stage in the Western World and together with it a rational point of view. From an economics perspective, capitalism has put deep individualistic roots and tendencies in most of us. When it comes to the path of spiritual development, this self-agency or freedom given by our individualistic mindset can be of help as the Buddha highlighted: “You yourselves must make the exertion. The Buddhas are only teachers.” (as cited in Jiyu-Kennet, 1971, pp. 4) In the end, for you to really get to a satisfactory level of realization and spiritual discernment, you need agency, you need to be able to steer and enact the process (Caplan, 2009). However, with a lot of freedom, there come a lot of dangers one has to guard against, dangers of the neurotic ego that tries to constantly juggle around with different practices, teachers and paths. Commitment issues, fear of actually making progress, fear of change, inertia etc. are all real and affecting any spiritual practitioner, especially the ones that keep full freedom and self-agency (Wilber, 2017). I have seen this in too many of my friends and in the society around me, when things get real from a spiritual point of view or when actual commitment is necessary, most of them quickly turn away and embrace a different path, teacher, philosophy or even worse, when they stop practicing, they start purchasing spiritual paraphernalia in the naïve belief that it would compensate.

What is needed for individuals and for our culture alike is proper intimacy with oneself and full honesty. Yes, we all have Buddha Nature or whatever one prefers to call it, and yes based on the example of quite a few remarkable beings, we all (at least theoretically) have the capacity to develop and reach spiritual mastery (Jivanescu, 2018). The Buddha did it on his own and so can we. But wait a minute, what might be wrong with that? Aren’t we very arrogant in assuming we are all right now at such a potential level? Can we really trust ourselves with so much?  Is someone whom we could respect and learn from so hard to find or are we so good and special that no one lives up to our expectations? I strongly believe that not ceding one’s autonomy to just any Guru or teacher is most wise, indeed one should not cede all autonomy, however I also believe it is rather naïve to think we alone are best suited to be responsible for our entire spiritual maturation process. We do not really need ‘traditional’ Gurus, the times have changed, but we most certainly would benefit from a community of friends, from guides and from a peer-reviewed lineage of more advanced practitioners. Being in control, be that in business or in our sex life is both important and pleasurable, however giving up control can also be an equally alluring thrill if one is able to trust the other.

 

Caplan, M. (2009). Eyes wide open: Cultivating discernment on the spiritual path.

Boulder: Sounds True.

Jivanescu, V. (2018). A sincere call to action, Quantum Civilization manifesto. Retrieved

February 5th, 2019 from the World Wide Web:  https://atomic-temporary-151455404.wpcomstaging.com/about/a_sincere_call_to_action/

Jiyu-Kennet, R. (1971). Zen is Eternal Life. London Routledge

Wilber, K. (2017). The Religion of Tomorrow. Boston: Shambhala Publications

On the Revolutionary Nature of Psychoanalysis

Freud was aware of the need to establish a future for psychoanalysis and of the need to establish its scientific credibility. One of the ways to do this, he reckoned, was to anchor the psychoanalytic discipline in the sciences of the day. He realized that there was a significant challenge in trying to apply scientific methods to subjective experience. Currently, there seems to be a lot of backlash against psychoanalysis, as there are many claims that accuse it of failing to meet the modern standards of evidence-based practice. Beyond this, psychoanalysis faces the internal challenge that is currently undermining many academic fields, that of theoretical pluralism.

The questions that need to be asked are if psychoanalysis is a science and, if it is, whether it can be said to have represented a scientific revolution. To answer these two questions, we will start by looking at how well psychoanalysis integrates with Bacon’s definition for the concept of science by comparing psychoanalysis with medicine from the perspective of a treatment. We will do so in two steps, first we will compare the way a psychoanalyst works with the way a physician work, as physicians are considered to be scientists. Second, we will look through a couple of meta-analysis that compare the efficiency of the psychodynamic method, a modern form of psychoanalysis, against drugs in the treatment of various psychological symptoms, at this point I expect that it will be clear that psychoanalysis manifests the necessary elements to be seen as a science. Though, before engaging into this I will also show that we have strong ground to defend psychoanalysis as a different type of science as well, namely as a hermeneutic science. I will not go to deep into this line of argumentation as I think that the objective scientific facts that I will present will be more than enough to prove that psychoanalysis is a science and that beyond it performs better in treating mental disorders then it’s competitor, pharmacology. Finally, we will determine if psychoanalysis is a scientific revolution.

In the proess I will not concentrate on Freud, because Freud and his writings is not psychoanalysis as it manifests itself in present day. While the giants of the past are important and we must pledge our respect to them, I will start from Freud’s model, as he is the founder of the subject, but we will then proceed to analyze psychoanalysis as it is currently being practiced in this day and age. This makes by far more sense, for as we do not use Copernicus’ mathematical models to explain the movement of the planets within the solar system, the same is true for psychoanalysis. Meaning that we have abandoned in today’s practice the us of Freud’s methodology and processes.

Having said that, lets us start by looking into Freud and then continue looking into psychoanalysis as a subject and practice independent of him and other 20th century theoreticians. Freud was aware that all we have lived and all we have imagined is stored within us and remains so throughout the whole of our lives. He, hence, became aware of the fact that there must be a depth within the human psyche, that the human psyche is split into various degrees of awareness. Beyond that he realized that the self had various interests and, thus, it should have multiple dimensions to it. Throughout his life, he created two models of consciousness. The first was the topographic model and the second was the Structural Model of the Mind.

The topographic model splits the mind into three realms: 1) consciousness, 2) pre-consciousness, and 3) dynamic unconsciousness. The latter two realms form the descriptive unconsciousness, which represents all that is out of awareness at any given moment (pre-consciousness is what is out of awareness but can be accessed by attention or an act of will, and dynamic unconsciousness is what is blocked from access by the censor). In his later life he transformed the initial version of the model into one that took into consideration not only the depth of the mind but also the various dimensions of the self. For that his Structural Model of the Mind proposed the psyche as a two-dimensional realm (two-dimensional, as each realm is defined by the depth within a conscious-unconscious scale and by the position within the self-social line). The tree elements were:

  1. The ID in which impulses strive for discharge and that operates through primary processes. Primary processes are processes that belong to the unconsciousness, they are not bound by rules of logic, contradictory propositions can exist without conflict, and causal sequences are irrelevant, everything has an atemporal order.
  2. The Ego arises at the surface of the ID, at the union of the internal reality with the external reality. According to Freud, the Ego could not exist from the beginning. The ego comes into being from island of experience. It develops into a separate agency of the mental apparatus given his functions of perception, memory, and judgement. The Ego is the weak executive of the self, it has no energy of its own and derives its energy from the ID. Its role is mostly to mediate between the IDs demands for instant gratification and the restrictions of the super ego and the constrains of reality.
  3. The Super Ego or the Ideal-I, reflects the internalization of the cultural rules and on the basis of that creates an ideal picture. The Superego is constructed on the model of the most dominant and influential super-egos from one’s environment, those that culture perceives as most desirable. It aims for perfection and organizes the self, forms foals and criticized and prohibits drives, fantasies, feelings and actions.

Compared to previous thinkers that helped propel the understanding of the subjective world, Freud decided to not just state his position on the structures of the human subjective, but to also transform his realizations of said structure into a treatment method that can alleviate subjective diseases which inhibit a human’s performance even though he physically seems functional. Thus, he gave birth to psychoanalysis a method that should be able to treat behaviors that can’t be explained solely through physiological means.

 

1. Psychology and subjective knowledge

Francis Bacon considered science a discipline in which evidence is provided. The evidence is provided in a sort of public fashion, which presumes that one can show why one believes something and one can show the arguments that form the support for the assertion one is making. Bacon differentiated this approach from religion based on the way knowledge is attained. In religion knowledge is revealed via a figure of authority and, thus, it becomes and remains the truth in perpetuity. While in science the public forum places all “truths” up for debate and allows for evolution.

If we look within the psychoanalytic practice we can with ease see that its views and the evidence that support them are placed within a public forum that allows you to follow how conclusions are drawn from the existing evidence. The existing evidence can come in many forms which we will go through in part 3. However, this seems to be insufficient for many, as they compare psychoanalysis with physics or chemistry (two subject matters known for their adoration of mathematics). What people don’t seem to realize here is that the explanation terms are distinctly different. This difference in language should not ward people into concluding that psychoanalysis in not a science, for the language of any discipline is determined by its subject matter.

The subject of psychoanalysis is the exploration of the experiencing subject, it is a quest into how and why people create meanings out of experiences. All the analysis efforts that go into understanding the patient’s verbal and non-verbal behavior are adjudicated based on the patient’s experience. But, if its solely experienced based, how can we determine the truth value of the interpretation as the interpretation is something that goes beyond the experience (it is placed on top of it)? Do we not reframe the experience, thus manipulate it’s meaning throughout the process? And, if we do so, then what can still be said to be true? All of these are indeed fascinating questions as they stem from what can be said to be a misperception of the balance of power throughout the psychoanalytic process. First, one needs to note, that the psychoanalyst is not god. He can’t force the patient to change his perception of the meaning of a certain experience, or of how he deals with it. All the psychoanalyst does is to throw possible interpretations based on the story that the client is exposing. The more a certain interpretation fits with the initial story, the higher the truth value of the interpretation. And as you may have guessed from the language, psychology does not deal with absolute truths and only with relative truths. Given the ever-changing nature of the individual, psychoanalysis is dependent on constant reaffirmation with what can be said to be the subject matter expert, the client himself (for no one spend more time with the him [the client] than himself [the client]).

As we can see, in psychoanalysis, knowledge is claimed or realized through the interaction with a subjective entity. It is precisely this claim of knowledge that bothers people with regards to the language of psychoanalysis. To understand the problem better, let us go back to the roots of the world ‘science’ which comes from the Latin ‘sciencia’ or if translated it comes from knowledge. The break from its original meaning started to happen due to the philosophical foundations of the modern world view, which were launched by the Eleatic school and reintroduced during the renaissance by Descartes. These foundations are based on the dualistic division of reality into mind and matter, subject and object. Thus, knowledge about objects in homogeneous space became known as natural science. The spectacular achievements of these sciences led to their dominance of the modern age. However, confusion arose as the advancements in astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science led to science becoming synonymous with the above fields and the criteria for all legitimate knowledge became the experimental method that represented the foundation of the before mentioned subjects.

This mindset was given a more articulated form by Comte, the founder of positivism, who very eloquently formalized that the confession of all branches of knowledge need to follow a single scientific method and that this had to be the experimental method as defined within the natural sciences. Due the positivistic movement, even today the only subject matter that is recognized as science is the natural sciences, the objective part of the mind-body duality launched by the Eleactic school. Nowadays, if you hear the question ‘Is this science?’ you need to equate it to “does it use the experimental method of natural sciences?”

The unwarranted assumption that the method of the natural sciences is the only type of science and the standard for all knowledge claims is one of the greatest mistake made by modern thinkers and is part of the fallacy known as ‘scientism’. Rather than deriving the method from its subject matter, scientism assumes the method that judges every discipline according to its conformity to the preconceived idea of the correct method. There are of course other methods of ascertaining knowledge that do not require hypothesis testing. Every instance of a person understanding another, every discovery or interpretation of historical events and every biographical narrative demonstrate that new knowledge is won without an experiment being conducted. The listener, historian interviewer, etc., gain knowledge by understanding the speech acts or documents or one another. Natural sciences are sciences of explanation that search for laws that can be applied deductively in individual instances. When a law is discovered its used to predict the behavior of the natural world. By contrast human sciences have as their object of investigation lived experience which cannot be grasped by laws or by testing the hypothesis derived from them. Unlike natural sciences the human sciences seek to discover meaning and are therefore sciences of understanding. The goal is not to explain but to understand the meaning of psychological and social phenomena.

Psychoanalysis is the in depth study of the experiencing subject. The truth to be gained is such an inquiry is the understanding of the behavior or symptom by rendering it intelligible. The criteria for the validity of any psychoanalytic claim to knowledge of the subject is its ability to render intelligible what has not been previously understood. The illumination of meaning takes place via the discovery of mental phenomena that demonstrate how the symptom coheres with the lived experience of the patient. In going from what is said to what is meant, psychoanalysis is, by definition, a hermeneutic discipline The purpose of analytics inquiry it to find out what behavior means not to deduce it from an explanatory law.

 

 

2. Psychology in treatment

I could go on defending psychoanalysis as a humanistic science process in which I would no doubt be successful. But, I think that further proceeding in that direction is not necessary because as I’ve stated psychoanalysis can manifest itself in a public forum. To showcase this we will look at the method of psychoanalytic treatment and then we will show data that have been gathered for years and that are up for grabs for anyone who is willing to go through them of how well this medicalized method functions in comparison to other methods that are recognized as scientific.

There are 3 core elements to the method of the psychoanalytic treatment: 1) Essentializing people, 2) Medicalizing the case, 3) Individualizing and focusing on the analytic diet and family history. These 3 elements are part of what can be called technical rational. Through the technical rational the psychoanalytic community aims to create an objective knowledge approach in understanding and treating subjective diseases. It aims to create a standardized understanding of the situation (i.e. is the client depressed, is he bipolar, is she suffering from anxiety, etc.) following which they have a clear stated treatment process map that should, when tested across multiple patients, provide the same results. After testing the results are noted and shared throughout the community, which is the public forum.

Essentializing people diagnostically is placed in contrast with respecting and exploring the consequential uniqueness of each person’s experience and potentials. With this, people are seen as a disorder rather than being considered as unique individuals. The person, in front of the therapist, is nothing more, during treatment, than the traits and dynamics of his condition. Through essentialism the patient is reduced, simplified, dehumanized, and potentially degraded to the diagnosed trait. Beyond that the analyst is also rendered inconsequential as he or she is required to apply a standardized way of relating to the patient that constitutes the treatment of choice for these disorders.

Instead of recognizing agency, creativity and moral responsibility, in the process of treating pathologies, the treatment method requires medicalizing the patient. The rationality is that by doing so one gravitates towards recognizing the medical responsibility and the disorder so that the person in front is reduced or eliminated. As a result, it removes the emotional states and the actions associated with them from the arena of moral struggle. How much depression is warranted if a person feels overworked and underpaid? How much anxiety is warranted if a person in angry but knows that expressing his or her anger might get him of her fired? The sooner you can throw people in the existential blackhole of a disorder the sooner you have their feelings and attitudes transformed into diseases, which encourages the patient’s passivity and acceptance of the current state of affairs. At the same time the environment is completely neglected and the patient is transformed into an object in homogeneous space. The analyst, as a whole person capable of creative agency, moral judgment and proactive interests and social critique and change, is rendered irrelevant in this medicalized context.

The patient is taken as an object that is defined by his history and the therapist uses an analytic diet to dive into his past to analyze it. This is done without taking into account the socio-economic environment of the patient. The focus is on the individual abstracted from the context in which he or she lived or lives, pulls towards locating the problem in that individual, while encouraging inaction to or denial of the destructive aspects of the socio-political environment in which the person lives and to which he or she is pressured or forced to adapt to. Extending to this the relational movement in which one identifies with himself, has emphasized the nature of the analytic process and of childhood history in the context of family dynamics, without attending to the political dimension and without reflecting critically on the psychoanalytic enterprise itself as one that may be in collision with certain destructive aspects of our culture.

According to the philosophical readings on psychoanalysis, the work of analysts should often entail joining the patients in their struggle with such conflicts including paying close attention to associated political, moral and existential issues. When we resist as the relational movement at its best requires us to do, the reification of emotional disorders as abnormalities located in us as individuals. We open the door to critical appraisals of the sociopolitical context, in which we are imbedded. We may be complicit in sustaining those contexts however destructive they may be.

In the process as it is practiced clinically, the whole person of the analyst is completely removed. The same happens to the whole person of the client. The first, the analyst is transformed into an objective observer and acting subject that applies processes by the book to an object defined within the bounds of a disorder, the patient. If the treatment does not work the analysts sees if his initial assessment was wrong, if so he goes to the required healing process of the new disorder. If not, he experiments, and presents his results through a public forum in the scientific community.

Now that we have explained the clinical method let us look at some of the results it generates. For this we will not be looking into individual studies, but into meta-analyses, which are studies of studies. A meta-analysis examines multiple individual studies and it tries to integrate and compare the findings present within the various studies.

We will first look at the effectiveness of antidepressant medications, based on a meta-analysis from the “New England Journal of Medicine”[1], that looked at all registered FDA antidepressant studies done between 1987 and 2004. In this, we can see that 48% of studies were Negative studies, meaning that in 48% of studies the placebo beat the active drug. Let us compare this result with the results from a 2011 meta-study[2] done on 63 Studies of Psychodynamic Therapy, that were considered statistically, empirically and scientifically sound and that were published between 1977 and 2010. When the psychodynamic method was compared to a placebo, or inactive comparator 74% of the cases were Positive, while only 26% were Negative.

Next, we need to be able to check the effect size of the therapy. The effect size is the difference between treatment groups, expressed in standard deviation units. We will start with a 2006 review[3] done by the Cochrane Library, a respected and independent organization that does review for a variety of medical treatments to help improve evidence based decision making. The meta-analysis collected 23 randomized controlled trials that accounted for a total of 1,431 patients treated for less than 40 hours through psychodynamic psychotherapy. The effect size, when compared to the wait list, to patients that would receive nothing, not even a placebo, the effect sizes ranged between 0.59 and 1.08 depending on the disease (0.2 is a small effect size, 0.5 is a medium effect size, 0.8 is a large effect size). A Harvard Review Meta-analysis[4] looked at the effect size of long-term psychoanalytic therapy on people suffering from a range of DSM diagnoses. For ease, they broke these diagnoses down into two categories, Mild/Moderate Symptoms and Sever Personality Disorders. The former had an effect size of 0.78 and the latter of 0.94 when compared to the waiting list. The patients that participated in the reviewed studies were all adults and had undergone on average 150 therapy sessions.

All of the results we looked at up till now are end of study results not long-term results. The end of study results does state how a person is feeling after the treatment. The problem is that it doesn’t tell us if the benefits that are measured are lasting (there are other methodological issues with this, though it goes beyond the scope of the current paper). I would consider that longer term measures are more important than short term effects, as when you go to the doctor you hope for a cure not for a short-term solution. If we look at a couple of Meta-analysis that tracks depression relapses with a variety of antidepressant drugs[5][6] we can see up till 30% relapse within 1 – 2 years after the treatment after being considered to be in full remission. If we look at the data we can see that medications regularly work for limited periods of time and then stop working. If we now look at a study done by Journal of the American Medical Association[7] that looked at the effect size 2 years after finishing a long-term treatment, this resulted in an increase in effect size, from 1.03 at the end of the treatment to 1.25 after 2 years. This means, that while the people that were treated with medicine are doing worse as a group the group of people that have been treated with psychodynamic therapy are doing better as a group. Hence, at group level with psychodynamic psychotherapy more people get better as with time, which can let us state that psychodynamic therapy has a psychoactive dimension which integrates within the psyche of the patient even post-treatment. We can see the same for the Cochrane Library meta-analysis, were the effect sizes went to between 0.98 to 2.21, depending of disease, from between 0.59 to 1.08. Before, concluding that based on the evidence presented in this part we can say for sure that psychoanalysis is a science, I want to present one more individual study that is of tremendous importance when we will argue for the revolutionary aspect of psychoanalysis. Fonagy and Bateman[8] developed a psychoanalytical treatment protocol for one of the most difficult to treat diseases, namely for Borderline Personality disorder, one of the most difficult conditions to treat in mental health which for a long time was strongly considered as being untreatable with such thought coming out of the lips of many clinicians even today and being even supported by the DSM, as BPD is a personality disorder and it is not clear if one can change their personality. Their treatment used what is known as a mentalization based therapy that was applied on the patient for 18 months. This study was done with active controls. After the 18 months 57% of patients no longer met the criteria for the disorder, while in the control group only 13% were that lucky. 8 years after the initial treatment the patients were retested, and the results were astonishing: 87% now of the patients that were treated with the psychoanalytic method were now cured, while for the control group the result stood at a firm 13%.

 

3. Conclusion

Now that we have seen with our own eyes that psychoanalysis can be treated clearly as an objective science whose truths can be put out for debate into the public forum, we can move on to the final part of this paper, the question of the revolutionary nature of said science. For this I will shortly introduce Kuhn’s phases of science and then argue whether or not psychoanalysis should fit into the forth phase, that of scientific revolution. I will not aim to integrate it within any of the other three phases as that would go beyond the subject at hand.

According to Kuhn science goes through 4 phases: pre-paradigmatic phase, normal science, crisis, and scientific revolution. The pre-paradigmatic phase defines itself as a phase where there is as of yet no shared, or commonly accepted theories, concepts and methods within the community. It is almost impossible for science to evolve at this point as there is no defined way of telling who is correct and of communicating the results of various experiments so that one may determine who is correct.  Normal science, on the other hand, is defined by the existence of a paradigm (all the theories, concepts and methods that a scientific period takes for granted). In this second stage scientists trust this paradigm, and the main activity can be seen as solving scientific puzzles within the rules of the paradigm. The transition from the first phase to the next takes place as various paradigms fight within the public forum and one starts achieving dominance.  As paradigms are being used anomalies start to pop up. These anomalies are problems within the paradigm that scientists are at present unable to solve. Once the paradigm is confronted by an anomaly that it cannot adapt to, it has to be changed. Thus, an anomaly leads to a crisis when the scientists lose their confidence in the ability that the current model can resolve such a problem in due time. In times of crisis, new paradigms are being suggested that fight for dominance with the existing one and between one another. Once a new paradigm has been accepted by the majority in the scientific community, then we can say that we have a scientific revolution.

As stated in the introduction, psychoanalysis was created in order to treat those diseases that did not seem to have any physiological source but that were still deeply troubling people in their colloquial lives. While it is true that Freud did consider that any psychological issue is actually a neuropsychological issue, this does not change the fact that he developed a therapy that did not require anyone playing around with the neurons of the patients. Even today it is still believed, by many, that if we obtain full control over our neurological structure we can cure all psychological ailments. I’m willing to deny nor to support such statements here, but for now we need to deal with the fact that we have no such understanding nor control and that we can’t evaluate the evolutionary nature of the psychoanalytic process based on some ideas that were not put into practice. On the other hand, I wish to evaluate it in confrontation with the standard medical approach that was and very often even today still is being used in dealing with psychological diseases, drugs and electroshock therapy (while the latter has been used less and less). The method that Freud gave birth to needs and can be compared to at least one of the above, namely to drugs (which, dough I’m not arguing for this with sources but with common sense, I think the medical community has realized is much more effective, given that neurological activity is mainly driven by neurochemical reactions, than electroshock therapy). Based on the date I have provided at the end of chapter 3, we can see clearly that the elements of the medical approach, that Freud set forth to replace at the beginning of the 20th century, have been shown to be underperforming in comparison to psychoanalysis, if not almost completely ineffective in severe cases such as BPD.

What we can clearly say given the above data and taking into account Kuhn’s phases, is that if not for other diseases, at least for the treatment of personality and mood disorders psychoanalysis has proven to be much more effective than the before paradigms. Though, I could not say with just this that psychoanalysis is a scientific revolution. The only way to state such a thing is if we consider that psychoanalysis as the root and all other psychological treatments, but even in this case the only subject that can be said to be revolutionary is the psychotherapy with all the methods that fit within this category, as only this has  both the results and the following needed to be considered so in accordance to Kuhn.

However, on a personal level, I have to say that given the insurmountable difference in efficacy between the psychoanalytic method and the traditional medical method, I support with the deepest of convictions that the psychoanalytic method is a scientific revolution in the curing of personality and mood disorders.

 

 

 

Bibliography:

 

Bachrach, H.M., Galatzer-Levy, R., Skolnikoff, A. (1991). On the efficacy of psychoanalysis. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association

Galatzer-Levy, R. (1997). Psychoanalytic research: An investment in the future. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association

Hartmann, H. (1964). Essays in ego psychology. New York: International Universities Press

Irwin Z. Hoffman. (2001). Ritual and Spontaneity in the Psychoanalytic Process: A Dialectical-Constructivist View. Routledge

James, W. (1983). The principles of psychology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Jones, E. (1961). The life and works of Sigmund Freud (L. Trilling and S. Marcus, Eds. and Abridgers). New York: Basic Books

Pincus, D. (2000). Mind and brain sciences in the 21st century, by Robert L. Solso. Cambridge, 1997. Psychoanalytic Psychology

Schlessinger, N. (2008). Psychoanalysis as an empirical interdisciplinary science, ed. by Patrizia Giampieri-Deutsch. Vienna, 2005. Psychoanalytic Quarterly

John D. Greenwood. (1988). On the Social Psychology of Therapy Evaluation: Control Treatments and the Natural Negotiation Hypothesis, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour

Thomas Kuhn, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/thomas-kuhn/ , 28/06/2018

 

 

[1] Erick. H & all; Selective Publication of Antidepressant Trails and Its Influence on Apparent Efficacy; New England Journal of Medicine; January 2008; 358:252-260 January 17, 2008

[2] Geber AJ & all; A quality-based review of randomized controlled trails of psychodynamic psychotherapy; American Journal of Psychiatry; January 2011; 168(1): 19-28

[3] Abbass AA & all; Short-term psychodynamic psychotherapies for common mental disorders; Cochrane Database System Review; 2006

[4] Maat S & all; The effectiveness of long-term psychoanalytic therapy: a systematic review of empirical studies; Harvard Review of Psychiatry; 2009; 17 (1): 1 – 23

[5] Hanses R & all; Meta-analysis of major depressive disorder relapse and recurrence with second-generation antidepressants; Psychiatry Serv; 2008; 59 (10): 1121 – 1130

[6] Hollon SD & all; Prevention of relaps following cognitive therapy vs. medications in moderate to severe depression; Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 Apr;62(4):417-22

[7] Leichsenring F & Rabung S; Effectiveness of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy: a meta analysis; Journal of the American Medical Association; 2008; 300: 1551-1565

[8] Bateman A, Fonagy P; Randomized controlled trail of outpatient mentalization-based treatment versus structured clinical management for borderline personality disorder; American Journal of Psychology; 20009; 165: 556-559

Workshop despre intimitate

Click here to read in English

Intimitatea este un subiect de importanță tot mai mare în lumea modernă, dar, în ciuda interesului tot mai mare în jurul acestui termen, este încă dificil să îl delimităm printr-o definiție exactă datorită naturii sale foarte subiective.

Cu ocazia de a fi invitați să fim speakeri la un eveniment organizat de MindsHub în cadrul inițiativei HealthEdu, care are ca scop discutarea unor astfel de tematici și dezbaterea lucrurilor nevorbite, am propunem un model menit să ne ajute să incardrăm astfel de subiecte de natură personală într-o manieră mai obiectivă, pentru a putea fi discutate.

Pentru a face acest lucru, recomandăm cititorului să se familiarizeze mai întâi cu modelul celor 4 cadrane al lui Ken Wilber („The 4 Quadrant model”), care vă ajută să înțelegeți mai bine diferitele perspective din care se poate vedea orice aspect al experienței umane.

Wilber (2017) explică faptul că fiecare cadran reprezintă o perspectivă (sau o dimensiune) și că toate fenomenele posedă aceste dimensiuni. Se poate privi orice obiect, eveniment sau ființă atât din interior, cât și din exterior, în forme individuale și colective. Fiecare dintre ele are adevăruri foarte diferite dar la fel de reale, afirmații de valabilitate diferite și abordări sau metode diferite prin care pot fi accesate.

Una din marile problemele care stau la baza felului în care omenirea abodează realitatea este faptul că aceste dimensiuni sunt rareori realizate împreună, în ciuda faptului că ele constituie baza tuturor disciplinelor, convingerilor și experiențelor umane – fapt care garantează practic o înțelegere parțială, fragmentată, limitată , prejudiciată și părtinitoare asupra sinelui și asupra realității.

Pentru a înțelege mai bine acest lucru, haideți să ne gândim cum ar putea fi privit domeniul medicinei din perspectiva celor 4 cadrane. Mai jos, acest concept este ilustrat pe scurt și poate, bineînțeles, să fie extins:

Trecerea diferitelor concepte, subiecte, experiențe, relații și așa mai departe prin perspectiva celor patru cadrane ne permite să înțelegem mai bine subiectul abordat scăzând riscul de a deveni părtinitori, deoarece face mai ușor să recunoaștem influențele pe care le-a imprimat cultura asupra noastră și ne ajută să identificăm punctele oarbe pe care le avem.

Să ne întrebăm acum la ce se referă intimitatea. Deși recunoaștem că este un subiect complex și nu trebuie să se limiteze la o simplă definiție, propunem următoarele explicații pentru claritate:

Intimitatea se referă la capacitatea de a fi sincer atât cu tine însuți, cât și cu ceilalți, în abordarea unor subiecte de natură “dificilă” (adică aspecte personale, experiențe sexuale, traume etc.).

Astfel, am convenit că intimitatea se află la un nivel sănătos atunci când diferența dintre cine crezi că ești și cine te prezinți că ești este mică.

Având în vedere acest lucru, voi prezenta în continuare un model care să poată fi folosit pentru a structura mai ușor multiple aspecte, ținând în evidență perspectiva, cauza sau fundalul la care ne referim.

Modelul Cartesian bidimensional pentru relaționarea perspectivelor de tematici

Am convenit asupra a trei teme principale care vor fi discutate – societatea, moartea și sexul. Fiecare subiect poate fi abordat din trei perspective diferite: 1) modul în care părinții / familia / profesorii noștri văd subiectul și modul în care ne-au învățat sau nu ne-au învățat să îl vedem, 2) modul în care prietenii și cercurile noastre văd și reacționează la subiect și 3) modul în care partenerul / partenerii noștri văd și reacționează la subiect și modalitățile prin care abordarea lor ne afectează (rețineți că modelul poate fi extins – iar temticile pot fi văzute și din alte perspective, cum ar fi din perspectiva diferitelor culturi, comunități , comunități online, grupuri sociale etc.). Modul în care oamenii din jurul nostru se referă la diferite aspecte lasă o amprentă profundă în modul în care ne formăm opiniile și sentimentele în privința lumii și, deși de multe ori este dificil să acceptăm acest lucru la început, noi toți am fost influențați și modelați de mediul nostru înconjurător. Cele mai multe dintre lucrurile pe care le facem și modurile în care acționăm pot fi urmărite înapoi la ceva ce am învățat din altă parte sau când am văzut că cineva face ceva (pentru noi sau pentru o altă ființă sau lucru). Există relativ puțini oameni care au creat sau au inventat ceva “singuri” – și chiar și ei au dobândit acele abilități și inspirație din partea profesorilor, a cărților, a celor dragi, a societății și a naturii.

Este timpul să acordăm mai mult credit influențeatorilor noaștri – atât celor care ne-au afectat în ​​sens pozitiv, cât și în sens negativ – și să ne asumăm consecințele pe care aceste lucruri le-au avut asupra noastră. Este timpul să ne așezăm și să ne gândim la cine suntem și de ce suntem așa cum suntem, și să ne asumăm responsabilitatea pentru asta. Un punct de plecare ar fi să ne întrebăm de ce temele “tabu” sunt rareori discutate în familii și școli și să analizăm consecințele unei astfel de abordări. Este timpul să ne confruntăm cu problemele noastre, să găsim cauzele posibile care stau la baza lor (care pot fi comportamentul unei persoane, o situație, o experiență etc.) și să ne uităm la impactul pe care l-a avut asupra noastră (de la reacții la moduri de gândire, la frici, și la plăceri). În acest fel, vom putea începe un proces de vindecare și vom putea trece peste blocaje, iar astfel îi vom putea ajuta pe cei care se confruntă cu probleme similare să le rezolve și ei, și astfel să reparăm societatea în care trăim și să evităm transmiterea acelorași probleme generațiilor viitoare.

Acum că motivul pentru care constientizarea intimității este necesar a fost prezentat, mă voi întoarce la subiectele alese. După cum se poate observa, ele sunt subiecte destul de largi și destul dificil de abordat specific într-o conversație. Să facem un exercițiu și să le extindem – propun următoarele:

  • Societate –> politică, religie, statut social, identitate, discriminare, stimă de sine
  • Moarte –> boală, îngrijirea la sfarșitul vieții, frică, angoasă, durere, finitudine, reînnoire
  • Sex –> iubire, abuz, rușine, durere, acord, plăcere, deschidere, obiectificare, performanță, stimă de sine, responsabilitate

Acum putem lua fiecare dintre aceste subtematici și le putem analiza din perspective diferite. Din cauza limitărilor unui astfel de articol și a unui astfel de workshop, voi aborda doar cele trei tematici principale dintr-o perspectivă mai generală și, din lipsa spațiului sau a timpului, unele ar putea părea aspre sau stereotipice, dar ele sunt prezentate astfel încât să încurăjeze dezbaterile și interogările.

Să începem cu societatea.

  1. Ce ne-au spus părinții sau profesorii noștri despre societate? Despre politică? Despre religie? Răspunsul ar putea fi destul de vag sau cel puțin părtinitor în direcția etnocentrismului, deoarece gândirea despre societate într-o manieră integrală necesită un anumit nivel de abilități de auto-cercetare și cunoștințe multidisciplinare, iar generația părinților noștri, datorită sistemului politic în care au crescut nu a fost foarte bogat în astfel de abordări. Același lucru s-a întâmplat părinților noștri într-o anumită măsură, deoarece părinții lor nu vorbeau despre societate și despre problemele ei și așa mai departe. S-ar putea, de exemplu, să ne fi spus că nu este bine să discriminăm (și chiar să creadă în acest lucru), dar dacă nu sunt conștienți de faptul că ei discriminează? Poate că ei ar putea spune că nu sunt sexiști și că nu este bine să fii sexist, dar de fapt tatăl dă mâna cu ceilalți bărbați când se întâlnesc cu alte persoane, iar pe femei abia dacă le salută. Sau poate când vorbesc unui bărbat și unei femei, se adresează doar bărbatului, iar pe ea abia dacă o privește din când în când  în ochi, după care continuă conversația cu celălalt bărbat. Într-o societate în care aceste subiecte sunt evitate (poate că sunteți familiarizați cu atitudinea în cercuri sociale “hai să nu discutăm despre politică sau religie, conduce doar la ceartă”, )este mai degrabă imposibil să nu suferim cu toții de prejudecăți și discriminări. Cum pot părinții să-și educe copiii să nu discrimineze, când ei înșiși au fost discriminați și continuă să discrimineze prin comportamentul lor?
  2. Ce spun prietenii / colegii noștri / cercurile sociale despre societate? Cel mai probabil, în special în timp ce cresc, foarte puține. Deoarece părinții și profesorii nu abordează în mod activ aceste subiecte și deoarece singurul contact fără efort cu aceste probleme este prin știri și observații directe (sau câteva ore foarte abstracte de istorie sau educație civică), este destul de rar să dezvoltăm o personalitate activă și civic responsabilă și să devenim interesați de societate. De obicei, cercurile sociale sunt dezvoltate de circumstanță și nu de interes (cum ar fi colegii din liceu care rămân prieteni pentru distracția pe care o trăiesc împreună) și foarte rar astfel de cercuri se implică în activități de dezvoltare personală sau devin oameni responsabili din punct de vedere civic.
  3. Ce gândește partenerul nostru despre societate? Este de dorit ca un cuplu să fi discutat aceste aspecte, deși adesea acesta nu este cazul. De multe ori, oamenii sunt implicați într-o relație condusă doar de dorință și emoție și nu și-au definit în mod activ structura. O astfel de atitudine va conduce cel mai probabil la neînțelegeri, nereușite, certuri și frustrări.

Acum, haideți să mergem și mai adânc în a ne deconstrui ego-urile, să ne gândim la moarte – conceptul atît de îngrozitor pe care nimănui nu-i place să îl discute, dar care este practic singurul lucru de care putem fi siguri că ni se va întâmpla. Ca majoritatea oamenilor din cultura noastră și cultura vestică în general, suntem devastați atunci când moartea lovește și regretă că nu au spus sau nu au făcut ceva mai devreme și, de obicei, își regretă morții. Cu toate acestea, când aceștia erau încă în viață, preferăm să nu se gândim la moartea lor și ne comportăm ca și cum vor fi aici pentru totdeauna.

  1. Ce ne spun părinții / profesorii despre moarte? Cel mai probabil, de vreme ce trăim într-o țară creștină, am fost prezentați obiceiurilor de înmormântare a unei persoane decedate și poate că ni sa spus că, după ce murim, mergem în rai sau iad în funcție de acțiunile noastre. De vreme ce știința încă nu a venit cu un răspuns la ce se întâmplă după moarte, religia este aspectul societății care oferă o explicație. Din păcate, nu mulți oameni care s-au născut într-o familie sau națiune creștină (sau orice altă religie) practică acea religie și înțelege practică spirituală din spatele ei, și astfel religia în multe instanțe a rămas doar ritualurile exoterice menite să mențină tradiția în viață. Iar dacă aspectul esoteric al unui ritual este uitat, acest ritual nu mai aduce multă fericire sau împlinire în viața cuiva – mai ales în ceea ce privește moartea. De ce altfel am evita să vorbim despre moarte?
  2. Între prieteni și cercurile sociale, moartea este un concept mai puțin tabu decât în familie. Tinerii nu iau de obicei moartea în serios până când se întâmplă cu cineva apropiat, deoarece ni se spune că este ceva ce ar trebui să se întâmple când suntem bătrâni și avem tendința de a evita faptul că oamenii pot muri la orice vârstă.
  3. Într-o relație, partenerii de obicei nu vorbesc despre moarte sau nu discută serios despre implicațiile sale. Dar, în caz de deces, cel care rămâne în viață este, de obicei, cel mai devastat dintre persoanele afectate, împreună cu părinții decedatului, dacă este cazul, deoarece cel mai probabil și-au definit viața în jurul partenerului (sau copilului, în cazul din părinți). Acesta este un lucru despre care rareori vorbesc oamenii, dar noi toți ar trebui să fim conștienți întotdeauna de finitudinea noastră și a celor din jur și să găsim surse de simț și împlinire în viața noastră independent de parteneri sau copii.

Problemele legate de sex sunt destul de paradoxale – toți suntem născuți din cauza acestui act, totuși de multe ori  ne este rușine să vorbim despre sex sau probleme legate de acest aspect.

1) Chiar și părinții noștri sunt stânjeniți să discute cu noi despre această temă, în ciuda faptului că sexul este actul de cauzalitate care a condus la propria existență – a noastră și a lor. Și chiar și dacă părinții discută despre sex cu copiii lor, aceștia rămân de obicei în partea tehnică, care explică nașterea și evită dimensiunile atracției, senzualității, plăcerii, consimțământului și abuzului. Copiii nu primesc o educație sexuală completă nici la școală, iar cei mai mulți învață de pe internet, unde, dacă nu știu să cerceteze în mod corespunzător (ceea ce sigur nu este cazul la vărste fragede, și rar este cazul mai târziu), pot lăsa pe cineva cu concepții greșite și prejudecăți. Datorită diferențelor anatomice și psihologice, de obicei femeile suferă cele mai multe consecințe ale acestei abordări, deoarece industria porno-mainstream se concentrează, în mare, asupra plăcerii și fanteziei bărbaților și nu are în vedere nevoile feminine de plăcere și de apropiere. Astfel, multe femei dezvoltă frigiditate sau dificultăți în atingerea orgasmului (ceea ce poate fi și rezultat ale diferitelor tipuri de abuzuri sau asalturi sexuale) și le este greu să se bucure de experiențe și relații sexuale plăcute.

2) Anumite aspecte ale sexului sunt de obicei discutate între prieteni, dar sunt mai degrabă tabu sau “indecente” în cercurile sociale mai largi. Mulți oameni râd sau reacționează într-o manieră relativ neobișnuită când acest subiect este abordat, ceea ce dovedește educația necorespunzătoare pe care au primit-o în ceea ce privește acest aspect. Bias-urile încorporează acest strat al societății – de exemplu, mulți percep ca fiind normal sau chiar de dorit ca un bărbat să aibă mai mulțe partenere sexuale, în timp ce o femeie riscă să fie etichetată dacă acționează în același mod. Problemele cu experiența plăcerii în timpul actului sexual sunt greșit înțelese și dificil de abordat, iar multe femei sunt rușinate să vorbească despre experiențele lor și să-și descopere și să-și exprime dorințele.

3) Relațiile includ, de obicei, sexul, dar există multe cazuri în care experiența sexuală se bazează pe prejudecăți și așteptări nerealiste. Există cazuri, mai ales la femei, care simt că au nevoie de mult mai mult timp pentru a simți plăcere și a atinge orgasmul și ar avea nevoie de preludiu prelungit și mai multă atenție, dar se simt stânkenite să le spună partenerilor. Multe chiar ajung să se prefacă că au orgasm, deoarece nu știu cum să se ocupe de această problemă sau să comunice dorințele lor și nu vor să îș rănească pe partener. Mulți bărbați se simt anxioși din cauza ejaculării premature și nu se angajează în alte practici sexuale, cum ar fi sexul oral, jocul cu degetul și jucării sexuale, iar multe femei rămân nesatisfăcute, ceea ce poate creea și mai multp presiune pe bărbați și se intră astfel într-un cerc vicios al nerezolvării problemelor. Există, de asemenea, multe tipuri diferite de orgasm care pot fi atinse și multe modalități diferite de a realiza acest lucru, dar acesta este un subiect atât de larg și va fi lăsat pentru un alt articol. Până atunci, sunt câteva articole care abordează unele dintre aceste aspecte: https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/neepb8/the-science-of-female-pleasure-still-needs-more-attention

  1. Chiar și părinții noștri sunt stânjeniți să discute cu noi despre această temă, în ciuda faptului că sexul este actul de cauzalitate care a condus la propria existență – a noastră și a lor. Și chiar și dacă părinții discută despre sex cu copiii lor, aceștia rămân de obicei în partea tehnică, care explică nașterea și evită dimensiunile atracției, senzualității, plăcerii, consimțământului și abuzului. Copiii nu primesc o educație sexuală completă nici la școală, iar cei mai mulți învață de pe internet, unde, dacă nu știu să cerceteze în mod corespunzător (ceea ce sigur nu este cazul la vărste fragede, și rar este cazul mai târziu), pot lăsa pe cineva cu concepții greșite și prejudecăți. Datorită diferențelor anatomice și psihologice, de obicei femeile suferă cele mai multe consecințe ale acestei abordări, deoarece industria porno-mainstream se concentrează, în mare, asupra plăcerii și fanteziei bărbaților și nu are în vedere nevoile feminine de plăcere și de apropiere. Astfel, multe femei dezvoltă frigiditate sau dificultăți în atingerea orgasmului (ceea ce poate fi și rezultat ale diferitelor tipuri de abuzuri sau asalturi sexuale) și le este greu să se bucure de experiențe și relații sexuale plăcute.
  2. Anumite aspecte ale sexului sunt de obicei discutate între prieteni, dar sunt mai degrabă tabu sau “indecente” în cercurile sociale mai largi. Mulți oameni râd sau reacționează într-o manieră relativ neobișnuită când acest subiect este abordat, ceea ce dovedește educația precară pe care au primit-o în ceea ce privește acest aspect. Bias-urile încorporează acest strat al societății – de exemplu, mulți percep ca fiind normal sau chiar de dorit ca un bărbat să aibă mai mulțe partenere sexuale, în timp ce o femeie riscă să fie etichetată dacă acționează în același mod. Problemele cu experiența plăcerii în timpul actului sexual sunt greșit înțelese și dificil de abordat, iar multe femei sunt rușinate să vorbească despre experiențele lor și să-și descopere și să-și exprime dorințele.
  3. Relațiile includ, de obicei, sexul, dar există multe cazuri în care experiența sexuală se bazează pe prejudecăți și așteptări nerealiste. Există cazuri, mai ales la femei, care simt că au nevoie de mult mai mult timp pentru a simți plăcere și a atinge orgasmul și ar avea nevoie de preludiu prelungit și mai multă atenție, dar se simt stânkenite să le spună partenerilor. Multe chiar ajung să se prefacă că au orgasm, deoarece nu știu cum să se ocupe de această problemă sau să comunice dorințele lor și nu vor să îș rănească pe partener. Mulți bărbați se simt anxioși din cauza ejaculării premature și nu se angajează în alte practici sexuale, cum ar fi sexul oral, jocul cu degetul și jucării sexuale, iar multe femei rămân nesatisfăcute, ceea ce poate creea și mai multp presiune pe bărbați și se intră astfel într-un cerc vicios al nerezolvării problemelor. Există, de asemenea, multe tipuri diferite de orgasm care pot fi atinse și multe modalități diferite de a realiza acest lucru, dar acesta este un subiect atât de larg și va fi lăsat pentru un alt articol. Până atunci, sunt câteva articole care abordează unele dintre aceste aspecte: https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/neepb8/the-science-of-female-pleasure-still-needs-more-attention

http://theconversation.com/five-problematic-sex-messages-perpetuated-by-advice-manuals-93674?fbclid=IwAR1TeBsKfIDchoio_X2Pm4vslxIcPd0gupWT16arvQ2Vke3KSvW-1-5iqmk

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/196912/intimacy-the-art-relationships

Rămâne responsabilitatea fiecăruia să se documenteze despre problemele sale, să se deschidă despre ele și să se dezvolte.

Aici este o listă de filme astistice care abordează tematici de natură erotică și probleme care pot apărea:

Filme erotice de calitate -1-

Workshop on Intimacy


Click aici pentru a citi în română

Intimacy is a topic of increasing significance in the modern world, but in spite of the growing interest around this term, it is still difficult to pinpoint it to an exact definition due to its very subjective nature.

With the occasion of being invited as speakers at an event organized by MindsHub under the HealthEdu initiative, which aims to discuss such issues and put the unspoken out for debate, we have come up with a model designed to help us better frame experiences of such sensible and personal nature into a more objectively relatable manner.

To do this, we recommend that the reader first gets acquainted with Ken Wilber’s 4 Quadrant model, which helps one to better understand the different perspectives from which one can view any aspect of the human experience.

Wilber (2017) explains that each quadrant represents a perspective (or a dimension), and that all phenomena possess these dimensions. One can look at any object, event or being both from the interior and from the exterior, and in both individual and collective forms. Each has very different, but equally real truths, different validity claims, and different approaches or methods through which they can be accessed.

One of the underlying issues in humanity’s approach to reality is the fact that these dimensions are rarely realized together, in spite of the fact that they constitute the bases of all human disciplines, beliefs and experiences – issue which virtually guarantees a partial, fragmented, limited, prejudiced and biased view upon oneself and reality.

To better understand this, let’s think about how the field of medicine could be viewed from a 4-quadrant perspective. Below, this concept is briefly illustrated, and can, of course, be expanded:

Putting different concepts, topics, experiences, relationships and so on through the 4-quadrant perspective allows us to better understand the approached topic from a less biased perspective, since it makes it easier to acknowledge the influences our culture, background and individual experience has printed upon us and helps us to spot our blind spots.

Let us now ask what intimacy refers to. Although we acknowledge that it is a complex topic and shouldn’t be limited to a mere definition, we propose the following for the sake of clarity:

Intimacy refers to the capacity of being honest with both oneself and with others while discussing topics of a ‘difficult’ nature. (i.e., personal matters, sexual experiences, traumas, etc.)

Thus, we agreed upon intimacy being at a healthy level when the difference between who you think you are and who you present yourself as being is small.

With this in mind, I will further present a model which can be used to structure multi-faceted issues easier while keeping track of which perspective, cause or background we are referring to.

The 2-dimensional Cartesian model for relating perspectives to topics:

We agreed upon three main topics to discuss – society, death, and sex. Each topic can be approached from three different perspectives – 1) how our parents/family/teachers view the topic and the way they have or haven’t taught us to view it, 2) how our friends and social circles view and react to the topic, and 3) how our partner/s view and react to the topic and the ways their approach affects us (keep in mind that the model can be expanded – and topics can be viewed also from other perspectives, such as different cultures, communities, recently even online communities, social groups etc.) The way the people around us relate to different issues leaves a deep footprint on the way we shape our opinions and feelings regarding the world, and although it might be difficult to accept this at first, we have all been influenced and shaped by our environment. Most of the things we do and the ways we act can be traced back to something we learned from somewhere else, or to when we saw someone do something (to us or to another being or thing). There are relatively very few people who actually have created or invented something ‘by themselves’ – and even they acquired those skills and inspiration from teachers, books, loved ones, and society.

It is time to give more credit to our influencers – both in the positive and negative sense – and assume the consequences it has had on us. It is time to sit down and think about who we are and why we are the way we are, and take responsibility for it.  A starting point would be asking why ‘taboo’ topics are rarely discussed in families and schools and analyze the consequences of such an approach. It is time to face our problems and backtrack them, find the possible underlying causes (which can be a person’s behavior, a situation, an experience, etc.) and look at the impact it has had on ourselves. This way, we will be able to start a healing process and move on, and be able to help others who experience similar problems fix them and so repair the society that we live in and avoid passing on the same problems to the future generations.

Now that the reason for doing this has been presented, I will return to the topics chosen. As one might have noticed, they are rather broad topics and difficult to pinpoint in a conversation. Let us do an exercise and expand them – I propose the following:

  • Society -> politics, religion, social status, identity, discrimination, self-esteem
  • Death -> illness, end-of-life care, fear, anguish, pain, finitude
  • Sex -> love, abuse, shame, pain, consent, pleasure, openness, objectification, self-esteem

Now we can take each of these subtopics and analyze them from different perspectives. Due to the limitations of such an article, I will only approach some aspects and for the sake of exemplification, some might seem harsh or stereotypical, but they are presented in this way to encourage debate and questioning.

Let’s start with society.

  1. What have our parents or teachers told us about society? About politics? About religion? The answer might be rather scarce or at least ethnocentrically biased, since to think about society in an integral manner requires a certain level of self-inquiry skills and multi-disciplinary knowledge, and the generation of our parents and the political system they grew up in has not been very rich in such approaches. The same thing might have happened to our parents to a certain extent, since their parents did not talk about society and its problems, and so on. They might have told us that it is not good to discriminate, and they might believe it, but what if they are unaware that they do discriminate? Maybe they might say they aren’t sexist, for example, and that it’s not good to be sexist, but in fact the father respectfully shakes hands with all other men and barely greets the women when they meet with other people, or maybe when talking to a man and a woman, he barely looks her in the eye and continues the conversation with the other man. In a society in which these topics are avoided (maybe you are familiar with the “let’s not discuss politics or religion, it leads to fights” approach to social gatherings), it’s rather impossible not to suffer from biases and prejudices. How can parents raise their children not to discriminate, when they themselves have been discriminated against and continue to discriminate through their behavior?
  2. What do our friends/colleagues/social circles say about society? Most likely, especially while growing up, very little. Since parents and teachers don’t actively approach these subjects, and since the only effortless contact with these issues is through the news and direct observation, it’s rather rare to develop a socially active personality and become interested in society. Usually social circles are developed by circumstance and not by interest (such as high-school colleagues remaining friends for the fun they have together), and so rarely engage into personal development activities or become civically responsible people.
  3. What does our partner think about society? Hopefully, the couple has discussed these issues, although it is often that they haven’t and are engaged into a relationship driven just by desire and emotion, and haven’t actively defined its structure. Such an attitude will most likely lead to misunderstandings, unfulfillment, and fights.

To go even deeper and deconstruct our egos, let us think about death – the so dreaded concept no one likes to talk about, yet virtually the only thing we can be certain about that it’s going to happen to us. People are devastated when it hits, and regret not having said or done something sooner, and usually regret their dead. Yet when they were still alive, they prefer not to think about them dying and act as if they’re going to be here forever.

  1. What do our parents/teachers tell us about death? Most likely, since we live in a Christian country, we have been introduced to the customs of burying a dead person, and maybe we have been told that after we die we go to heaven or hell depending on our actions. Since science hasn’t yet figured out what’s going on after death, religion is the aspect of society which offers an explanation. Sadly, not many people who are born in a Christian family or nation (or any religion for that matter)  are actually practicing and understanding their spiritual practice, and so religion has gotten to be just exoteric rituals intended to keep tradition alive. And if the esoteric aspect of a ritual is forgotten, it does not bring much happiness or fulfillment in one’s life – especially regarding death. Why else would people avoid talking about death?
  2. With friends and social circles, death is a less taboo concept than with family. Young people don’t usually take death seriously until it happens to someone close, since we are told that it’s something that should happen when we’re old and we tend to avoid the fact that people can die at any age.
  3. In a relationship, partners usually don’t talk about death or don’t discuss its implications seriously. But in case of death, the one who remains alive is usually the most devastated of the affected people, together with the parents of the deceased if that’s the case, since they most likely have defined their lives surrounding their partner (or child, in case of parents). This is something which people rarely talk about, but we all should always be aware of our finitude, and find sources of sense and fulfillment in our life also independent of our relationship and children.

Now the issues regarding sex are rather paradoxical – we are all born due to this act, yet it’s common that we are ashamed to talk about it.

  1. Many parents are awkward to discuss it with us, in spite of the fact that sex the underlying causal act which led to our own existence. And even if parents do discuss sex with their children, they usually stick to the ‘technical’ part of it, which explains childbirth, and often avoid the dimensions of attraction, sensuality, pleasure, consent and abuse. Children don’t receive complete sexual education in school either, and most get their understanding from the internet, which, if not researched properly, can leave one with misconceptions, prejudices and biases. Due to anatomical and psychological differences, it is usually women who have to suffer most as a consequence of this approach, since the mainstream porn industry has been focused on male pleasure and fantasy, and does not attend to feminine needs for pleasure and closeness. This way, many women develop frigidness or difficulty to orgasm or to enjoy sexual experiences and relationships.
  2. Certain aspects of sex are usually discussed between friends, but are rather taboo or ‘indecent’ in wider social circles. Many people giggle or react in a relatively unusual manner when this topic is approached, fact which proves the improper education they received regarding sex. Biases embed this layer of society – for example, many perceive as normal or even desirable for a man to have multiple different sexual partners, while a woman risks of being frowned upon or labeled if she acts in the same way. Problems with experiencing pleasure during intercourse are misunderstood and difficult to tackle, and many women are ashamed to talk about their experiences and express their desires, but men also face similar issues.
  3. Relationships usually include sex, but there are many cases in which the sexual experience is based upon prejudices and unrealistic expectations. There are cases, mostly women, which feel that they need much more time to orgasm and would need longer foreplay, but feel awkward to tell their partners. Some end up faking orgasms because they don’t know how to handle the issue or communicate their desires. Many men feel anxious due to premature ejaculation, and don’t engage into other sexual practices such as oral sex, finger play and sex toy play. There are also many different types of orgasm that can be achieved, and many different ways to achieve it, but that is such a broad topic and will be left for another article. Until then, here are several articles which tackles some of these issues: https://tonic.vice.com/en_us/article/neepb8/the-science-of-female-pleasure-still-needs-more-attention

http://theconversation.com/five-problematic-sex-messages-perpetuated-by-advice-manuals-93674?fbclid=IwAR1TeBsKfIDchoio_X2Pm4vslxIcPd0gupWT16arvQ2Vke3KSvW-1-5iqmk

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/196912/intimacy-the-art-relationships

References:

Ken Wilber (2017) – The Religion of Tomorrow: A vision for the Future of the Great Traditions, Shambala Publications, Boulder, Colorado

In an integral age, scientists should themselves be mystics whilst mystics should know science

The debate around cognitive neuroscience and mysticism was bound to become ever more interesting by the day as more and more scientists and mystics alike become aware of the opportunities each side presents. Not until relatively recently did these two seemingly opposite modes of being meet, however nowadays even parts of the general public are aware of the regular official discussions between scientists and Buddhists (mainly promoted by the Dalai Lama) as outlined by Evan Thompson and initiated by Francesco Varela.

This discussion can off course due to the depths of the fields involved run for very long, what I wish to focus on for this forum is the need for an integral non-dual approach for the mystics and scientists of the present and future. It is not that mysticism should be viewed as a partner to neuroscience or the other way around, it is more that each mode of being, that of the mystic and that of the scientist, are in and of themselves important structures and features of the development of consciousness in human form and should be each practiced and cherished to their own accord. Off course, what “to their own accord” means is a complex issue, as a reference Ken Wilber provides a detailed model of the potential of each approach in his book “The Religion of Tomorrow”.

Mystics should learn more about the intersubjective and interobjective gross realm (the world of matter, laws of physics, technology and so on) in order to reach more of the world out there with their illuminating insights and literally become one with more or even everything. Inspired by Wilber, D.P. Brown and others, I am of the belief that it is not enough nowadays to just have inner knowledge without intersubjectively and interobjectively engaging and understanding the “world out there”.

Likewise, neuroscientists should themselves be, to a given extent, mystics and practice inner transformation for otherwise they would not know themselves subjectively, something crucial in my mind and from the point of view of the world’s great contemplative traditions. If you separate ontology from epistemology, if the neuroscientist separates his research and understanding of himself, the only thing that can come out in the end is a fractured product, with something essential missing. What is needed is, in Jorge Ferrer’s words, a “participatory vision”.

Let us not forget that the injunctive ritual and approach that makes up the mystic’s lifestyle and existence is not something we should do in order to become more relaxed, better at whatever else we are doing etc.; it is in essence a soteriological pursuit, a quest for liberation and discovery, in and of itself more than worthy of standing alone.

In conclusion, it is my belief that we can have an even richer world if the two meet, but not in the sense of cherry picking what fits our own understanding of each but actually for us to understand each side and embody its core principles.  This would off course ultimately also re-invigorate a ‘science of the sacred’ as the scientists would be once again in direct experiential contact with the sacred and the sacred will embrace the structure of science.

 

Wilber Ken, The Religion of Tomorrow: A Vision for the Future of the Great Traditions, 2017 Shambala Publications

Wilber Ken, Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists, 2001, Shambala

Daniel P Brown, “Sacred Sundays Talk”, 2018, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0swudgvmBbk&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR27Ke8y4uOM29jXaaXvYqZQ6GJPAF-3skzpUevLb-h7NekbTHoiLuWe3LU

Evan Thompson, Waking, Dreaming, Being, Columbia University Press, 2014

Jorge Ferrer, Jacob Sherman, The participatory turn: spirituality, mysticism, religious studies, State University of New York Press, 2008

Being Human in the Age of Technology

As we are entering full swing into the new industrial revolution, into industry 4.0, we need to ask ourselves where humans fit into this whole equation. To do so, we need once again to reestablish what is it that makes us humans, from where does our essence come from and how can we express it within the current world. As this will be a short article I will not aim to offer a comprehensive approach to this question, but only to point out some of my current thoughts on this subject.

First of all, what is it within us that is essentially human? Some say that it is our comprehension and logic, some say that it is our ability to interact and form deep bonds and connection between ourselves and with the natural and technical world, others think that it is our ability to create, some that it is our selfishness, others say that we were made in the image of god, some see us as coarising together with the rest of reality, etc. Each of these views offer their relative truth, from their limited perspectives (some wider, some narrower). What I think needs to be stressed is that the human sine qua non is not stable. I see human uniqueness as evolving together with the world, as a constantly changing and unfolding spark.

This constant transformation of the human sine qua non comes from the fact that we are not independent, isolated, self-enclosed, discrete, enduring, and immutable things. We are part of a living, ever changing world and we are defined by it and through it, while at the same time it is defined by us and through us. As we take our place within this reality, with each and every conscious instance, that which we are is constantly being redefined. This can at first sound absurd, but it is not.

Our incapacity to perceive something cannot be used as proof of the non-existence of said manifestation, of course it also cannot be used as proof for its existence, but we can use deduction in order to affirm the above claim of perpetual change. While it is not simple to see this, please imagine each and every element within the world as a nod within a network. Any action that takes place at any point within the network sends out a certain information. All the nods that are directly connected to that one that engaged in said action receive the information that results and react to it. These reactions, in turn, get sent to the nods that were in direct contact with those that reacted to the initial responders, and they react as well. Now this goes on in perpetuity. Hence, with each and every instance that passes, a new structure, a new world is formed and thus a new us.

In our daily life we use heuristics to ignore minor changes as we would otherwise be in a constant state of rediscovering the world, which while exhilarating on the one hand can be nerve wracking and anxiety creating on the other.

How does technology come into play in all of this? While at first, we accept the impossibility of defining ourselves without the natural and technical world and our deep seeded interdependence, we at the same time accept that some differentiation can be drawn between these three elements. In this case I will focus on the difference between humans and technology.

As the latter evolved, what were at one point considered uniquely human and even highly praised actions are now transformed into technological ones that no human would practice outside of a sacred ritual. Let us take the copying of texts as an illustration of this. In ancient times, scholars had been employed to copy texts. Now we do not see any scholars doing this, we see printers, or Scanners handling the process of copying (that in those cases where the text is not by default written in a digital format). In the case of some very rare and ancient texts you may have scholars that are taking part in the copying process to ensure that the original is safely and carefully handled, but the copying itself is still being done by a machine. On the other hand, the interpretation of these ancient texts and even of modern ones are not being given to machines but still remain a purely human endeavor. But, within the process of interpretation, machines do have their role as assistants. Instead of going through libraries of physical books we can now use natural language processing to help us find mentions of the book we are interpreting within the whole wealth of human knowledge that has been digitized, and this in a matter of minutes. This, too was once part of human action. We would go search through multiple books in the look out for references. Being limited by our processing capacity, we had to apply heuristics in order to select the books through which to search. Now, that age has passed for those that have synchronized themselves with technology.

Those that still apply the old way of working, will for sure be delivering subpar results. For, machines can reach a standard in search and recovery out of the library of humanities wealth of knowledge that none of us could hope to equal. They can go through more information in a couple of minutes than we could hope to go through in our life time, making competing with them in this a rather futile endeavor. Beyond the futility of this endeavor and the subprime results that it would generate, we need to think: is this something that humans should do? Is the action we are currently considering engaging that part of us which can be considered the sine qua non of humanity? And, how can we evaluate that?

First, we need to define as precisely as possible the action that needs to be done. This needs to be a critical definition that looks at the impact of said action within the desired outcome. Second, after having clearly defined the action and its implication within the process that leads to the desired outcome, we need to find out if it can be done by a machine, be it mechanical or digital. If yes, then humans should not continue to do this action, again, except if this action would be part of a sacred ritual. Outside of the exception, performing such actions only serve in moving us away from our human essence and can be said to be dehumanizing for by performing them we become more similar to the machines that have been made to realize said actions.

Now, I did say that there is an exception, that of the sacred ritual. A sacred ritual is done in and for itself with no other objective in mind. Through its realization we are connected to another dimension of reality that is not material in nature and that allows us to connect with the divine. We go back in history and rediscover ourselves by reuniting with the wave of co-emergence that has characterized reality since its inception. We are lead back to a time when a certain action, that we now consider a given, that we now see as profane, was something to be revered or when it was an essential element of human existence. Thus, we travel to a more ancient version of ourselves and come to peace with the elements that we have left behind.

These having been said, I consider that it is our duty to ensure that humans, in a teleological environment, in an environment where one does not do certain actions just for themselves but with a goal in mind, will never not have to perform actions that machines can perform. Performing such actions outside of a sacred ritual does nothing but move us away from our human essence and thus leads to our dehumanization.

The word of the article:

“Dehumanization or an act thereof can describe a behavior or process that undermines individuality of and in others. A practical definition refers to it as the view and treatment of another person as if they lack mental capacities that we enjoy as human beings.” (source Wikipedia, 1.30.2019)

Teoria transpersonală – prezentare generală


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Pe măsură ce fenomenul globalizării își întărește rădăcinile în mintea a tot mai multor cercetători, ajungem la un moment unic în istoria noastră, unde există acces la scrieri științifice, academice, filosofice și mistice pe teme nesfârșite, care au fost adaptate și interpretate din perspective moderne, postmoderne și integrale într-un stil transdisciplinar. Până acum, majoritatea populației nu a avut acces la o cantitate atât de mare de informație și înțelepciune, prezentată pe atâtea căi relative – problema majoră rămasă este cum să încurăjăm populația să devină interesată de auto-descoperire și de auto-dezvoltare și cum să ne angajăm pe o cale a responsabilității personale, civice și spirituale. Noi credem ca primul pas spre o soluție este ca noi, cei care suntem preocupați de astfel de teme, să continuam să ne devoltăm pe noi înșine pentru a fi mai în putere pentru a-i putea ghida și ajuta pe ceilalți, sperând să inspirăm prin exemplu.

Unul dintre scopurile noastre este de a prezenta și împărtăși hărțile deja dezvoltate de pionierii acestor domenii prin care să învățăm să navigăm vastitatea conștienței umane și crea un limbaj comun pentru a putea vorbi acurat despre teorii noi, experiențe interioare și structuri ale dezvoltării. Aceste domenii se ocupă de studiul și dezvoltarea naturii umane în sine, având scopul de a crea un model nou, inclusiv și holistic care vorbește spiritului erei noastre.

Numai în ultima jumătate de secol a început o schimbare paradigmatică în filosofia științei ca și cunoaștere – trecerea de la studiul obiectului cunoașterii noastre către studierea ființelor capabile de cunoaștere – sinele (noi înșine) – într-o manieră subiectivă, noetică, participativă, co-creativă și verificabilă.

Este adevărat că științele occidentale ale minții și ale sufletului au existat de mai de mult decât atât – termenul “psihiatrie” a fost inventat în 1808 de Johann Christian Reil; psihologia ca domeniu de studiu experimental a început în 1879, când Wilhelm Wundt a deschis primul laborator experimental de psihologie de la Universitatea din Leipzig, Germania; filosofia se ocupă de conceptul de sine semnificativ din timpul ilumnismului prin Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Hume și mulți alții. Chiar și la scară globală, din câte știm, au fost găsite înregistrări ale tulburărilor de gândire și ale depresiei care datează din 1550 î.Hr. în papirusul Ebers (Okasha, Ahmed, 2005), iar grecii antici au abordat concepte despre psihicul uman încă din antichitate.

Și, deși tradițiile de înțelepciune orientală se ocupă de studierea și cunoașterea sinelui de mai bine de trei milenii, și au fost dezvoltate școli de gândire și practici psihosomatice contemplative pentru a transmite învățăturile și a le aplica la generație după generație, abia odată cu secolul al 20-lea Orientul și Occidentul au început să colaboreze și să co-creeze un adevărat sentiment global al sinelui. Este pentru prima dată în istoria cunoscută când dispunem de o tehnologie care să ne permită să călătorim și să cunoaștem alte culturi într-un spirit de co-existență, bazat pe un interes de cunoaștere reciprocă, spre deosebire de atitudinea anterioară de cucerire și colonizare.

Acum se formează și apar primele generații, care au resursele și condițiile care să le permită a se dezvolta într-un mod cu adevărat holistic – rațional, artistic, somatic, vital, estetic, emoțional, interpersonal, intrapersonal etc. Cercetătorii prezentați în acest articol, pe lângă mulți alții pe care îi vom cita de-a lungul timpului, au creat modele esențiale pentru cartografierea dezvoltării holistice a unei ființe umane.

Așa cum a prezentat Jorge Ferrer (2017) în cartea sa “Participation and the Mystery”, această mișcare devine mai proeminentă odată cu nașterea psihologiei transpersonale la sfârșitul anilor 1960, și, conform antropologului transpersonal Lahood (2007), putem diferenția două evoluții sau iterații în curentul transpersonal:

Prima iterație, menționată mai sus, poate fi definită ca “
încercarea de a integra psihologiile Est și Vest; o încercare de a cartografia cele mai îndepărtate țărmuri ale conștiinței și fuzionarea științei pragmatice și a spiritului. Lahood a caracterizat această iterație cu un angajament față de o religie universalistă (perenialism) și include lucrările lui Maslow, Grof și Wilber ca fiind reprezentative.

A doua iterație este cea participativă, care reprezintă
plecarea de la loialitatea psihologiei transpersonale asupra perenialismului, subliniind dimensiunile întrupate, relaționale și pluraliste ale evenimentelor transpersonale. În această privință, perspectiva participativă se află în interiorul
unui al doilea val al unui transpersonalism mai larg, care subliniază întruparea,
aspecte diverse și transformative ale psihologiei transpersonale, mai degrabă decât
caracteristicile structural-ierarhice caracteristice transpersonalismului de prim val.

Într-un eseu ulterior, Lahood (2008) a extins acest cont în trei epoci paradigmatice ale transpersonalizării:

  1. Prima epocă este mișcarea pre-transpersonală sau “revoluția psihedelică” din anii 1960 și 1970, conducând la hibridizarea spiritualităților estice și a statelor entheogenice și culminând cu formalizarea lui Maslow și Grof a mișcării.
  2. A doua epocă este epoca neo-perenialistă și merge din 1977 până la mijlocul anilor 1990; este în principal dominată de lucrarea lui Wilber, care încearcă să integreze filosofia occidentală, cea orientală, psihologia și religia într-un cadru evolutiv structurat conform unui presupus proces teleologic universal (referitor la sau implicând explicarea fenomenelor în termenii scopului pe care îl servesc mai degrabă decât al cauzei prin care acestea apar) al cărui scop final este o realizare integrală non-duală.
  3. A treia epocă este iterația participativă, care începe la începutul anilor 1990 cu analiza lui R. Tarnas (1991) asupra cercetării făcute de Grof privind conștiința și este formalizată în scrierile lui Heron (1992, 1998, 2006) și Ferrer (2002), pa care Lahood le-a numit ca fiind articulații alternative convingătoare față de neoperenialismul transpersonal.

În următoarele articole vom trece prin teoriile majore în studiile de conștiință și psihologia transpersonală și le vom prezenta în raport cu condițiile, scopurile, limitările și aplicabilitatea lor în viața noastră. Deoarece acestea sunt subiecte și concepte înalte, mă voi îndrepta asupra teoriei lui Maslow asupra ierarhiei nevoilor și stresului asupra faptului că, similar cu modul în care oamenii care suferă de foame și frig nu se îngrijorează prea mult de stima de sine sau de psihologie – pentru a simți curiozitatea față de concepte mai complexe, trebuie să fi ajuns și să începem procesul de actualizare a sinelui și să stăm pe o bază bine construită. Nevoile mai înalte devin relevante numai atunci când nevoile mai de bază sunt satisfăcute.

 

Versiunea actualizată a lui Maslow a Piramidei Nevoilor

Este mai puțin cunoscut faptul că Maslow și-a modificat modelul spre sfârșitul vieții sale. El a susținut că există un nivel de dezvoltare mai ridicat, ceea ce el numește transcendență de sine, un nivel atins prin practicarea lucrurilor dincolo de sine, cum ar fi altruismul, trezirea spirituală, eliberarea de egocentricitate și unitatea ființei. În The Farthest Reaches of Human Nature, el explică:

“Transcendența se referă la nivelele cele mai înalte și cele mai inclusive sau holistice ale conștiinței umane, care se comportă și se leagă, ca scopuri mai degrabă decât mijloace, pentru sine, pentru partenerii de viață, pentru ființe umane în general, pentru alte specii, pentru natură și cosmos. 

Mark Kiltko Rivera (2006) a rezumat diferențele dintre aceste stări în Rediscovering the Later Version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Self-Transcendence and Opportunities for Theory, Research and Unification:

“La nivelul actualizării de sine, individul lucrează la actualizarea propriului potențial, în timp ce la nivelul transcendenței, nevoile individului sunt puse deoparte într-o mare măsură în favoarea slujirii altora …”

În Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl (2006) a scris:
“… scopul real al existenței umane nu poate fi găsit în ceea ce se numește actualizarea sinelui. Existența omului este, în esență, transcendentă de sine, mai degrabă decât auto-actualizatoare. Actualizarea de sine este un scop imposibil pentru un simplu motiv: cu cât o persoană se va strădui mai mult să caute, cu atât mai multe i-ar lipsi. Numai în măsura în care oamenii se angajează să-și îndeplinească semnificația vieții, în această măsură se actualizează și pe ei înșiși. Cu alte cuvinte, actualizarea de sine nu poate fi atinsă dacă este făcută ca un scop în sine, ci apare doar ca efect secundar al transcendenței sinelui”.

Prin intermediul acestor serii de postări sperăm să creăm hărți și referințe care să îi ajute pe cei interesați să navigheze mai ușor aceste câmpuri complexe și să creăm o introducere și un material accesibil în psihologia transpersonală și a practicilor holistice și integrale de auto-dezvoltare.

 

 

 

Referințe

 

Jorge N. Ferrer – Participation and the Mystery: Transpersonal Essays in Psychology, Education, and Religion., Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 2017.

Koltko-Rivera, Mark. (2006). Rediscovering the later version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Self-transcendence and opportunities for theory, research, and unification. Review of General Psychology. 10. 302-317. 10.1037/1089-2680.10.4.302.

Lahood, Gregg. (2007). The Participatory Turn and the Transpersonal Movement: A Brief Introduction. Revision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation. 29. 2-6. 10.3200/REVN.29.3.2-6.

LAHOOD, GREGG. (2008). Paradise Bound: A Perennial Tradition or an Unseen Process of Cosmological Hybridization?. Anthropology of Consciousness. 19. 155 – 189. 10.1111/j.1556-3537.2008.00008.x.

Maslow, A. H. (1971). The farther reaches of human nature. New York, NY, US: Arkana/Penguin Books.

Okasha, Ahmed (2005). “Mental Health in Egypt”. The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences. 

 

 

 



Transpersonal Theory – An Overview


Click aici pentru a citi în română

As the globalization phenomenon strengthens its roots in the minds of increasingly more researchers, we arrive at a unique time in our history where there is access to scientific, academic, philosophical, and mystical writings on endless topics, which have been adapted to and interpreted from modern, postmodern and integral perspectives in a transdisciplinary, developmental fashion. Never before did the majority of the population have access to such vast amounts of information and wisdom presented in so many relative ways – the major problem remaining is how to get the population interested in self-discovery and self-development and how to engage ourselves on a path of personal, civic and spiritual responsibility. We believe that the first step towards a solution is that we – those preoccupied by such matters – continue developing ourselves in order to be able to guide and help the others, hoping in the mean time to inspire and lead by example.

It is one of our aims to present and share the maps developed by the pioneers of these fields through which we can learn to navigate the vastness of the human consciousness and create a common language through which we can talk about theories, inner experiences and structures of development in an accurate and intelligible manner. These maps deal with the study and development of the human nature itself, forming in a new, inclusive and holistic model of spirituality that aims to speak to the spirit of our age.

It is only in the past half of a century that a paradigmatic change in the philosophy of science as knowledge has started to take place – shifting from studying the objects of our knowledge to studying the beings who are capable of knowledge – the self (ourselves) – in a subjective, noetic, participatory, cocreative and verifiable manner. 

It is true that in the West sciences of the mind and soul have existed longer than that – the term psychiatry has been coined in 1808 by Johann Christian Reil, psychology as a self-conscious field of experimental study began in 1879, when Wilhelm Wundt opened the first experimental psychology laboratory at the University of Leipzig in Germany, and that philosophy has been dealing with the concept of the self significantly since the Age of Enlightenment through Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Hume and many others. Even on a global scale, as far as we know, records of thought disorders and depression have been found dating back to 1550 BCE in the Ebers Papyrus (Okasha, Ahmed, 2005), and the ancient Greeks have dealt with concepts of the human psyche since antiquity.

And although Eastern wisdom traditions, too, have been dealing with studying and knowing the self for more than three millennia, and schools of thought and contemplative psychosomatic practices have been developed to transmit the teachings and apply them to generation after generation, it is only since the 20th century that the East and the West have started to merge and co-create a truly global sense of self. It is the first time in known history that we possess a technology which enables us to travel and know other cultures from a purely co-habitual and knowledge-driven interest, as opposed to the previous attitude of conquering and colonization.

It is now that the first generations are forming and appearing, which have the resources and the conditions needed to develop themselves in a truly holistic manner – rationally, artistically, somatically, vitally, aesthetically, emotionally, interpersonally, intrapersonally, etc. The works of the researchers presented in this article, besides many others which we will cite throughout time, are essential models for mapping the holistic development of a human being.

As presented by Jorge Ferrer (2017) in his book Participation and the Mystery, “this movement has become more prominent with the birth of transpersonal psychology in the late 1960s”, and, according to transpersonal anthropologist Lahood (2007), we can differentiate two turns in transpersonal scholarship:

“The first turn (aforementioned) can be defined as an attempt to integrate psychologies East and West; an attempt to map the farthest shores of consciousness and the merging of pragmatic science and spiritual concerns.” Lahood characterized this turn with a “commitment to religious universalism (perennialism), including the work of Maslow, Grof and Wilber as representative.”

The second turn has been called a participatory one, representing “a departure from transpersonal psychology’s allegiance to perennialism” and emphasizing “the embodied, relational and pluralistic dimensions of transpersonal events”. In this respective, the participatory perspective has been placed within a “wider second-wave transpersonalism that stresses the embodied, embedded, diverse and transformative aspects of transpersonal psychology”, rather than the structural-hierarchical ones characteristic to the first-wave transpersonalism.

In a subsequent essay, Lahood (2008) extended this account into three paradigmatic epochs of transpersonalism:

  1. Epoch One –  the pre-transpersonal movement or “psychedelic revolution” of the 1960s and 1970s, which lead to the hybridization of Eastern spirituality with entheogenic states and culminating with Maslow’s and Grof’s formalization of the movement.
  2. Epoch Two – the neo-perennial era,  which went from 1977 to the mid 1990s and is dominated by Wilber’s work, who seeks to “integrate Western and Eastern philosophy, psychology and religion into an evolutionary framework structured according to a supposedly universal teleological process (relating to or involving the explanation of phenomena in terms of the purpose they serve rather than of the cause by which they arise) whose ultimate aim is an integral non-dual realization”.
  3. Epoch Three the participatory turn, which begins in the early 1990s with R. Tarnas’ (1991) analysis of Grof’s consciousness research and is formalized in the writings of Heron (1992, 1998, 2006) and Ferrer (2002), both of whom Lahood named as “articulating cogent alternatives to transpersonal neo-perennialism”.

In following articles, we will go through the major theories in consciousness studies and transpersonal psychology and present them in rapport to their arising conditions, purpose, limitations and applicability into our lives. Since these are high-end topics and concepts, I will draw upon Maslow’s theory on the hierarchy of needs and stress upon the fact that, similar to how people who are hungry and cold don’t worry too much about self-esteem or psychology – in order to feel curiosity towards higher concepts, one must have reached and started the process of self-actualization and lay upon a well-defined basis. The higher needs become relevant only when the lower needs are satisfied.

Maslow’s updated version of the Pyramid of Needs

It is less known that Maslow amended his model near the end of his life. He argued that there is a higher level of development, what he called self-transcendence, a level achieved by practicing things that go beyond the self, such as altruism, spiritual awakening, liberation from egocentricity, and the unity of being. In The Farthest reaches of Human Nature, he explains:

“Transcendence refers to the very highest and most inclusive or holistic levels of human consciousness, behaving and relating, as ends rather than means, to oneself, to significant others, to human beings in general, to other species, to nature, and to the cosmos. “

Mark Kiltko Rivera (2006) summarized the differeneces between these states in Rediscovering the Later Version of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: Self-Transcendence and Opportunities for Theory, Research, and Unification:

“At the level of self-actualization, the individual works to actualize the individual’s own potential, whereas at the level of transcendence, the individual’s own needs are put aside, to a great extent, in favor of service to others …”

In Man’s Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl (2006) wrote:

“… the real aim of human existence cannot be found in what is called self-actualization. Human existence is essentially self-transcendence rather than self-actualization. Self-actualization is not a possible aim at all; for the simple reason that the more a [person] would strive for it, the more [they] would miss it. For only to the extent to which people commit themselves to the fulfillment of their life’s meaning, to this extent they also actualize themselves. In other words, self-actualization cannot be attained if it is made an end in itself, but only as a side-effect of self-transcendence.”

Through these series of posts we hope to create maps and references which will help those interested in navigating this complex fields easier, and to create an approachable introduction and materials in transpersonal psychology and holistic, integral practices for self-development.

 

 

References 

Jorge N. Ferrer – Participation and the Mystery: Transpersonal Essays in Psychology, Education, and Religion., Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. 2017.

Koltko-Rivera, Mark. (2006). Rediscovering the later version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Self-transcendence and opportunities for theory, research, and unification. Review of General Psychology. 10. 302-317. 10.1037/1089-2680.10.4.302.

Lahood, Gregg. (2007). The Participatory Turn and the Transpersonal Movement: A Brief Introduction. Revision: A Journal of Consciousness and Transformation. 29. 2-6. 10.3200/REVN.29.3.2-6.

LAHOOD, GREGG. (2008). Paradise Bound: A Perennial Tradition or an Unseen Process of Cosmological Hybridization?. Anthropology of Consciousness. 19. 155 – 189. 10.1111/j.1556-3537.2008.00008.x.

Maslow, A. H. (1971). The farther reaches of human nature. New York, NY, US: Arkana/Penguin Books.

Okasha, Ahmed (2005). “Mental Health in Egypt”. The Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences.