Monday, January 21, 2013

Reflections on Projections - Part 3

In The Art of Loving author Erich Fromm has the following to say about "Love Between Parent and Child":

"The infant, at the moment of birth, would feel the fear of dying, if a gracious fate did not preserve it from an awareness of the anxiety involved in the separation from mother, and from intra-uterine existence.  Even after being born, the infant is hardly different from what it was before birth; it cannot recognize objects, it is not yet aware of itself, and of the world as being outside of itself.  It only feels the positive stimulation of warmth and food, and it does not yet differentiate warmth and food from its source: mother.  Mother is warmth, mother is food, mother is the euphoric state of satisfaction, and security. This state is one of narcissism, to use Freud's term.  The outside reality, persons, and things, have meaning only in terms of their satisfying or frustrating the inner state of the body.  Real is only what is within; what is outside is real only in terms of my needs-never in terms of its own qualities or needs." (P. 38)

From my current point of view, I do not entirely agree with what Fromm has communicated here.  Given that this book was published in the mid 1950's there was still much to be learned through medical science with regards to the  level of awareness or "perception" that an infant might actually have; for instance, that they do actually "perceive" a great deal while still in the womb, and they may feel a great deal of anxiety surrounding the "vital shock" of birth (not to mention circumcision).  In addition, I am more inclined to agree with James Fowler when he writes in Stages of Faith, speaking in the "voice" of Jean Piaget that, "If the psychoanalysts speak of this phase as characterized by feelings of narcissistic omnipotence in the child, we must say it is a narcissism without Narcissus.  As yet there is no 'self' and no 'other'." (P. 53)

That there is some perception in the child of their "needs" is indicated by the fact that when the child is feeling uncomfortable - either hungry, or tired, or overstimulated, or in need of a clean diaper - they will cry, in order to have that discomfort relieved. And, when the appropriate response comes, the child returns to a calmer state.  I see no reason why, fairly early on, the child would not start to develop some sense of its own power, and an understanding of the cause and effect relationship between crying and receiving comfort.  That there is not necessarily a clear recognition of an "other" providing that comfort doesn't really matter.  That "mystery" does not have to be solved just yet.  What matters is that the child's discomfort is alleviated, and, as Fromm states, this may hold some kind of "meaning" for the child.  However, if the appropriate response does not come consistently and in a reasonable amount of time, the child is likely to become even more anxious, or it may, eventually, learn to repress its anxiety, even though the end result is a deepening feeling of insecurity and powerlessness.

In several previous blogs here I have considered the possibility that all of our incarnated life experiences carry with them analogous emotional-biochemical patterns or "signatures", if you will. For instance, our physical bodies experience a certain pattern of emotional-biochemicals when we are in the womb where "all of our needs are being met with no effort of our own".  I have suggested that our ideas of "heaven" are projected/reflections of the latent memory of this particular "in the womb" state.  Once we are born, especially in the first six to eight months of life, we are in a state where we experience a feeling of "omnipotence" as described above.  We feel we have "power over" our experience, without recognizing the individuality or individual needs of our parents or other caregivers.  If, as Fromm suggests, there is "meaning" to be derived from the experience of "suffering/crying/feeling relieved" it may be rooted in biology as much as psychology; i.e. there are biochemical patterns associated with all of these states, and with their patterning in relationship to one another. There may also be reciprocal emotional-biochemical states generated in the parent or caregiver.

In the best case scenario, parents will recognize and respect the fact that their children are not in a position to consciously understand, let alone meet any of the parents' physical or emotional needs. As Bruce Lipton points out in The Biology of Belief, up until seven or eight years old, children are in various degrees of a "hypnogogic" state, so they are not relating to the world with the same kind of "consciousness" as adults. However, many parents are not mature, fully conscious, mentally and emotionally healthy and, consequently, they may have expectations of the infant and child that are not appropriate or realistic. However, my deeper observation/insight, as you will see, is that even under the influence of that "hypnogogic state", the child may have perceptions and expectations of the parents that are unavoidable and equally unrealistic and inappropriate.

However, before I continue I feel I must preface what follows by saying: I love and respect all of you who are reading this.  I know that everyone is doing the very best they can to express love in this world, parents to their children, children to their parents, and adults to each other. I am also doing my very best in this area.

At the same time, I am conscious of the persistent frustration that so many of us experience in all of these relationships; the frustration of True Love rather than Its Satisfaction.  What has proceeded this blog and what follows is my contribution to the ongoing dialogue concerning why we keep "missing the mark".  It is based on my own observation/realization and is not meant to carry with it any weight of "judgment" on my part towards others - towards parents, or towards ourselves as adults who were once children.

In effect, I am trying to (gently) "bring the ball to the surface" - a "ball" that we have otherwise been repressing, both individually and collectively; i.e. I think, deep down inside, most people already know something is just not quite right in the way we are "loving" one another.  In previous blogs I have focused on what I felt was "not right" about the "romantic love" between adult intimate partners, "love" that is the result of "mutual projection" of the man's anima onto a woman and the woman's animus onto a man.  In my most recent blog, I focused on the sometimes painful results of anima and animus "possession"; i.e. what happens when these "Invisible Partners" take over the consciousness of their respective man or woman and, through them, start to quarrel with each other, and "hurt" each other (and by association, their "hosts").  Now, I am going to offer my explanation for what I feel is currently not right with our understanding of love between ourselves and our parents and/or children.  Granted, I feel it is no small task to say to a doting mother or father, "Uh, that feeling you're having in relationship with your child...that's not really 'love'"...but, in effect, that is part of what I am about to do here.

I will state for the record: Although I am not a mother myself, I have been a child and a student of child development for many, many years now. Furthermore, in preparation for this posting, I took the time to discuss what I am describing below with two mothers that I do know, to allow them to confirm or challenge my ideas.  Apart from that, I have other sources that support my basic premise which is as follows: Parents "fall in love with" their children, especially in the early days after birth. In fact, it is only in rare cases, maybe due to some malfunction of oxytocin production, that this does not occur. For the nursing mother especially, it is biologically normal at this stage for her to form a very close bond with her child and I am going to suggest it is partly what keeps her motivated to endure the rather extreme demands of the early postnatal infant.

In Part 2 of this series I explained how, according to M. Scott Peck writing in The Road Less Traveled, "falling in love" is the "spontaneous and effortless collapse of ego boundaries" between two people that promotes a feeling of "oneness", that, on a biological level, encourages mating, and therefore, encourages reproduction and perpetuation of the species. As I have restated above, from the point of view of John Sanford and Carl Jung, "falling in love" is at least in part the result of "mutual projection of anima and animus in their most positive forms".

My question is this:  Is there really any significant difference between the experience of "falling in love" with one's children and "falling in love" with a potential mate, biologically OR psychologically?  In other words, if there is an effect of "mutual projection" at work in the latter case, why would there not be the same effect in the former?  If "falling in love" is "effortless"; i.e. it is a "spontaneous collapse of ego boundaries that promotes pair bonding",  and, therefore, "perpetuation and survival of the species", then how can we really view "Parental Love" as any more Truly Loving than "Romantic Love" given it also involves a relative absence of ego boundaries between the parent and the child and helps to perpetuate the species by increasing the infant's chances for survival (via the "oneness" the mother feels with her offspring)? In other words, is there any more Conscious Choice involved when a parent "falls in love with" their child than when an adult "falls in love with" another adult?

Again, I am not myself a mother, but the two mothers I spoke to did confirm this "falling in love" experience with their children. Given what I do know about "falling in love" as an adult, I can imagine the following: As soon as a child is born, and maybe even prior to birth, parents may be Full of Ideas about how that child is going to be, how their relationship with that child is going to unfold.  They may be full of Great Expectations that are, in effect, a Projection/Reflection of more (or less) conscious aspects of themselves - their hopes, their dreams, and even their own Needs for Love. But what is so important to realize here is that...these ideas have Nothing Whatsoever to do with what may actually be potential in that child as an individual.  They have nothing to do with the parents Actual Knowledge of their child As an Individual (Ordinary) Human Being. Children are born as total strangers to their parents in exactly the same way that romantic lovers are often total strangers to each other prior to that moment of "falling in love".

And, the pattern that so often unfolds between parents and their children is all too often parallel to what unfolds between adults who have "fallen in love": Everything is fine and wonderful until one or the other party FAILS to live up to the other's expectations.

Adults can only carry "projections" from and for each other for so long before, inevitably, the "projections" (positive or negative) are either spontaneously withdrawn, or are "broken through" by the true nature of the individuals themselves. Likewise, some parents can be very "loving" towards their infant children, but then they start to struggle as soon as the child begins to show signs of individuation - as soon as the child starts to try to assert Its Own Will, its own desires and preferences, that may or may not align with the parent's expectations/projections.

I encourage everyone reading this to pause for a moment and really let this sink in...

We may not all be parents, but we have all been children. And I can almost guarantee that Most of us have felt like we have Failed to Live Up to Our Parents Expectations on some level.  That we were never Really Seen for who we were and/or Really Loved for who we were.

But, guess what, It's a Two-Way Street...

Remember what I said earlier here, and in Part 2 of this series: "Falling in Love" involves Mutual Projection.  Furthermore, both sets of projections are exaggerated versions of the unconscious contents that are being projected.  What I am trying to shed light on here is is not only the Parents who are doing the "projecting" - it is The Child as well.

And what does the Child "project":  First of all, as I have suggested above, it is feeling, deep down inside, that it is "Omnipotent" and "All Powerful". So it is logical to assume, and based on the child's decidedly limited experience to the contrary, that it will see its parents or caregivers as being "All Powerful" as well. For instance, the child might think/feel:  "I am being loved by an Infinite Being who is there to take care of all of my needs...on demand."  "My mother/father are an amazing Goddess/God there to shower love and blessings upon me." Furthermore, "This is their sole purpose in life; i.e. to meet my needs, because being a Goddess/God, they have no needs of their own." And, of course, "I, in turn will, through my smile, radiate my infinite love back to them, for I too am infinite and all powerful"...(...except when I am tired, or hungry, or wet and then I really need these other Beings to take care of me)"...!

Consequently, when the child does start to "individuate"; when the child starts to sense itself as "separate" from its environment and separate from its mother and father, not only does it lose a sense of its own "omnipotence",  it also starts to sense the limitations of its parents.  It starts to sense that they are not the "goddess" or "god" that they thought they were, and it is no surprise that The Child Can Become Very Disappointed By Both of these realizations - of its personal limitations and the limitations of its parents.  Not surprisingly, this disappointment will start to show in its emotional "acting out" and "resistant" behavior.

Of course, this change in behavior in the child, from relative calm and compliance to frequent bouts of crying and resistance provokes similar disappointment in the parents. And, I'm sorry to say, if the parents are unconscious of what is actually going on, which, I suspect is pretty common in our experience (and even throughout the history of human culture), then The Positive Projections are Replaced With Negative Ones, by Both Parents AND Their Children.  The parent starts to see the child in a negative (and probably exaggerated) light, and the child also starts to see the parent in a negative (and probably exaggerated) light. 

One of the sad truths about this state of affairs is that, regardless of who has disappointed whom, because of the child's very real dependency on the parents for its survival, the perceived "threat" in these now seemingly "inadequate" parents is going to be taken much more seriously by the child.  It is no wonder they may be inclined towards intense emotional outbursts, extremely resistant or extremely compliant behavior. They are going to do whatever they feel they have to do to survive, and that also means, to a very great degree, figuring out how to regain the control they thought they had to begin with.

Although Fromm suggests that our feelings of "separateness" and "aloneness" are what drive us to seek "union" with others, I do not agree with this point of view. I think what disturbs us most at this point in our lives is not a "feeling of separateness", it is our sense of Losing Control over that which we originally thought we had control.  Again, this is a Mutual Experience: Because of the child's inherently dependent state, the parent ultimately has control over the child (even "god-like" control)...until... the child develops some capacity for self-expression and autonomy.  Where, initially, the child does not make a clear distinction between itself and others and it feels as though it is a power unto itself; i.e. it feels like it is actually the one "in control"...later it begins to perceive otherwise, later it starts to recognize there are "others" over which it has only very, very little, if any, actual control.

My Guru, Adi Da Samraj, focused a great deal of his Teaching on the "Activity of Self-Contraction".  He described this as being the root of our "separative" behavior.  In other words, we are not fundamentally "separate" from anyone or anything else.  But in our reaction to this perceived separateness - and, (I am adding here) a perceived loss of control, we "pull away" from others, we "avoid" relationship with this frightening reality of our existence.  And it is in this "contracted" state of "avoidance", that we feel the most fundamental suffering.  Once this becomes a part of our patterning (and remember, this is not just going to be "psychic" or psychological, but also biochemical patterning) we then begin to seek to relieve or distract ourselves from that suffering in any number of ways available to us as children and as adults.

Again, I do not agree with Fromm's assumption that it is our Actual Separateness that is driving us to seek "union". The suffering comes from something we are doing to ourselves. It is an "activity", and we start doing that activity very early in our lives. Consequently, we will start to look for ways to relieve the "tension" of that "self-contracting activity" very early in our lives as well, and even throughout our lives if we do not come to a better understanding of what is actually going on and who is actually responsible for it.

Adi Da wrote a small booklet entitled "I Call You to Overcome the 'Oedipal' Sufferings of Childhood"; in which he basically says:  As adults, at some point in our lives, we have to get over our reaction to our sense of having not been loved (or loved adequately) by our parents as justification for our own refusal to love others. In other words, at some point in our lives we have to assume conscious responsibility for our own loving, or capacity to love, rather than continuing to merely seek love from others, and then "punishing" them with our lovelessness when they too, almost inevitably, fail to live up to our expectations.  

Furthermore, he considers the classic Freudian stance that, early in childhood development, when we are first becoming aware of ourselves sexually, we (generally) become "fixated" on the opposite sexed parent as a "love object".  Typically, little girls will imagine themselves "marrying Daddy", and little boys will imagine themselves "marrying Mommy". However, for obvious reasons, such a desire cannot be fulfilled, and, furthermore, as the child observes the emotional/sexual love communicated between the parents, they themselves end up feeling "betrayed".  

Taken in the light of understanding "mutual projection", this makes even more sense.  The projections made by the child may be more generalized to both parents at first, because they are not able to distinguish "individuality" much at all in the first six to eight months of life.  However, when they start to become aware of themselves sexually, they also start to become more aware of the differences between "Mommy" and "Daddy".  They start to identify themselves as "male" or "female", and, as discussed earlier in this blog series, once they identify with one sex or the other, the opposite becomes repressed, and once that happens it becomes available for Projection onto one or the other parent.  So little boys will "project" their anima onto their mothers and little girls will "project" their animus onto their fathers.  

One thing that I did not emphasize in my previous posts is that: Once positive "projection" occurs, then the desire for "union with the other" arises (which is actually a desire for re-union with this projected part of ourselves). However, since the process of projection is unconscious we interpret this feeling as a desire for union with the other person who has now become the carrier or container of our anima or animus respectively.

Sanford explains it this way:

"Like all archetypes, the anima and animus have positive and negative aspects.  That is, sometimes they appear to be highly desirable and attractive, and sometimes destructive and infuriating.  In this they resemble the gods and goddesses who could shower mankind with gifts, but could also turn on mankind destructively. If the positive aspect of the anima image is projected by a man onto a woman, she then becomes highly desirable to him. She fascinates him, draws him to her, and seems to him to be the source of happiness and bliss. A woman who carries this projection for a man readily becomes the object of his erotic fantasies and sexual longings, and it seems to the man that if he could only be with her and make love to her he would be fulfilled.  Such a state we call falling or being in love." (Pp. 13-14)

Although the infant son's closer bond with the mother may intensify the "Oedipal" experience for him, essentially the same pattern arises for girls in relationship with their fathers, and for women in relationship with men onto whom they have projected their animus. The fact that mothers are usually able to spend more time with their children than fathers may also prolong or intensify the son's fixation on the mother as a sexual object.

Of course, as long as the unconscious contents remain projected, the only way to accomplish and/or perpetuate "union" with the other person and, thereby, "re-union" with one's projection, is either by having control over the other person or letting them have control over you

And yet, no matter what children may be thinking about their parents in these early stages of development, what is going to be true in (almost) every case is that Their Desires for "union" with Mother or Father are Going to Be Frustrated...or...there is going to be some terrible emotional/psychological  price to pay.  For instance, I feel I have to qualify this statement with the word "almost" to allow for those rare cases when the parent does actually engage in a sexual relationship with the child, and the child is actually quite traumatized by the experience. (Although, in the context of what I am sharing here, I feel it may be possible to better understand why this might happen in spite of all of the cultural taboos surrounding parent/child incest, the discussion deserves much deeper consideration than I can give it at this time, in this particular blog.)

Our perpetual experience and "projection" of the "frustrated love" we have experienced as children can, again, be seen all around us in modern media.  I have not seen very many "horror" movies, but of the few that I have seen, I can easily recall how many times two young people were in the midst of sexual embrace when one or the other or both are murdered by some evil character.  In addition, "Love stories" almost always involve either intense "Happy Ever After" love or intense "Frustrated" love, neither of which speak to the possibility of rather ordinary, day to day, love between two ordinary human beings.

Keep in mind though: children are experiencing everything more intensely partly because they perceive that their very lives are depending on their ability to "unite" with their parents; i.e. with their ability to regain and/or perpetuate (seeming) control over their parents.  And to the degree they fail to do that, i.e. to the degree they fail to control their parents energy and attention (which, given their dependent stature, is likely to happen regularly), the fear, anxiety, disappointment, etc. that they feel is more than likely going to be repressed to a greater or lesser degree.  Anything that gets repressed a) becomes available for "projection", and b) is going to be exaggerated once "projection" takes place.  The movie "Fatal Attraction" comes to mind, where, "death" is the alternative to "not getting union with the object of one's 'love'".  The song, "I Can't Live, If Living Is Without You" also comes to mind, among many, many other examples of how these childhood fears and longings have been "projected" and perpetuated in modern (supposedly) "adult" media culture.

As I pointed out in Part 1 of this series, in these stories we are seeing "projections" of our "projections", exaggerations of exaggerations of our unconscious inner experiences.  And, yes, although they may reflect a great deal about our actual experiences; i.e. they may reflect something back to us of the consequences of our "repressing" and then "projecting" in the first place, they also speak only to the cases in which we persist in relating UN-consciously with ourselves and with each other.

Furthermore, if part of the greatest purpose of "being human" is also to Become Fully Conscious as individuals, to "bring all the balls to the top of the water" -  to be in conscious relationship with our "inner man" or "inner woman", all of our emotions, as well as our thoughts and judgments - then to the degree we fail to do that, it is appropriate that we will not feel completely fulfilled as individuals, and love will be frustrated in our relationships with others, especially our relationships with our intimate partners and with our parents and children.

For it is with "intimate partners" that the most profound projections are likely to take place.  It is with "intimate partners" that we are most likely to become anima or animus "possessed". It is with intimate partners that we are most likely to be both emotionally and physically/sexually vulnerable. And, consequently, it is with intimate partners that we are most likely to experience the most painful effects of our failing to relate consciously.

Unfortunately, as I am also trying to communicate here, that is not the only context in which True Love is frustrated by our unconsciousness.  It is also being frustrated in the relationships between parents and their children.  To the degree that parents and children "project" onto one another the exaggerated images and ideals that arise from their own unconscious, along with their inappropriate expectations, we are almost always perceived as failing one another. This perceived failure of love, further justifies the failure to love, which further justifies retreat into unconsciousness, which only leads to More of the Same patterning, generation after generation. 

In order to "turn the tide" it is up to us to learn to accept and respect the individual humanity, the Ordinary Humanity, of every child and every parent.  It is up to us, as adult men and women, to accept and respect the individual humanity, the Ordinary Humanity of every woman and every man.  It is up to each of us as individuals to learn to accept and respect every aspect of ourselves, as Ordinary Human beings, our capacity for deep feeling as well as our capacity for rational thinking, our love needs, and those things which are most meaningful to us.  It is up to us to take the time to get to know one another, to be slow to "judge the book by its cover", to appreciate that we are all slogging through a swamp of projections within our culture and it is nearly impossible for any of us to come through without our True Identities being a bit muddied by all of it!  Finally, it is up to us to make Conscious Choices to love one another, to recognize and meet each other's "love needs", as appropriate, for the various "levels of relationship" that are possible in all of the contexts and possibilities of Ordinary Human interactions, including those between parents and children.

As I have communicated in my previous blog, there are ways that we have begun to overcome some of these patterns, even without this framework of understanding concerning anima and animus, possession, and projection. Nevertheless, I genuinely believe that progress towards greater consciousness and expressions of True Love between Ordinary Human Beings might be significantly accelerated if more people could become aware of what I have shared here.  Even in the act of consideration and writing about this I have been profoundly affected by what I have come to realize. As some would understand it, I am experiencing a "radical paradigm shift", Really Radical, and I do not believe it is completely over yet!

(And here I thought riding my bicycle across the country was going to be an "adventure"!?!)

I don't know about you, but there is a voice in my head that has been asking: "Lori, do you really understand the implications of what you are communicating here? Do you see how you're challenging so many long-held beliefs? Do you realize there are going to be people who won't like you for saying these things? Are you sure you know what you're talking about?" (And maybe that's my potentially more judgmental animus speaking to my more intuitive feminine side?) And to that voice I would have to answer: "Yes. I am feeling the implications in my own life, in this moment, as well as the implications for others, but I cannot let myself be afraid of what others might think to such an extent that I do not communicate what I feel is mine to communicate. I am still in the process of considering all of this myself right now, so I do not know what else I have yet to discover or realize.  Furthermore, I do not know how these ideas are going to trigger insights in others as time goes by. So, in that case, I really do not know what all the implications might be for what I am communicating here...and I am okay with that."

But my feminine intuition is telling me, this is pretty big.  I'm just trying not to lose my head over all of it.  I'm trying to stay as grounded as I can, and, more than anything, I am simply trying to apply what I am understanding by Staying Conscious. I am focused on the idea that I am, like all of you, in the end, an Ordinary Human Being, composed of both feminine and masculine elements, with the capacity and need for true love, and with the capacity for rational thinking and insight, all of which I am capable of being fully conscious (even though it may be particularly challenging at times).

Furthermore, rather than struggling to Be In Control, especially to Be in Control of others, I am instead relaxing into simply Being Myself, relaxing into simply Being Love...

Nothing more...but also...nothing less.

I welcome your comments and questions.

(P.S. I really wanted to put links at several points in this post, but given the time limitations right now and the quirkiness of this platform, I am going to refrain until I have a better internet connection.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Regarding Anima and Animus "Possession"

Before I continue with my "Reflections on Projections" series, I feel motivated to provide something of a "homework assignment" for the weekend.  What follows is mostly a verbatim transcription of significant portions of Chapter 2 of Invisible Partners by John Sanford.  If you have not been inspired by my other writing to get a copy of Invisible Partners yourself, then my providing this material will save you the trouble, for now.  However, it is not a complete transcription and I may or may not continue with a complete review of the book in this blog, so you may still want to get a copy yourself at some point, if you're interested.

Nevertheless, from my point of view, what follows is really at the Heart of the "Problems" with the anima and animus.  Not that it is All Bad.  When related to properly, the anima and animus make up a very important part of our individual character; but they are, at the same time, just a Part of who we are.  When they become exaggerated in us due to a lack of inner relationship, if we are not fully conscious of them so that they become projected, or they take over, i.e. they "possess" our consciousness and we begin to think they actually are "who we are", that's when the "problems" arise.  Without ongoing awareness and understanding, in other words, if these characters remain invisible to us, then, in effect, there is "hell to pay", and as I have been alluding to, we will miss out on other potential opportunities of more direct, conscious, and loving relationships with one another.

Granted, this is a particular "framework" for understanding certain phenomena that many, if not most, human beings have experienced, to one degree or another.  I have found it particularly useful in my own life as a way to better understand myself and others; i.e. to understand why we act the way we do and say the things we say.  Maybe, more importantly, it has helped me to understand that, for the most part, people really do not want to hurt one another. I know I do not want to hurt the people I care about.  However, when the anima and animus get "triggered", for whatever reasons, then it seems to me at this point, pain and suffering in relationship are soon to follow; sometimes even very serious pain and suffering.  However, if one of the possible "goals" of being human is to become Fully Conscious, then it seems appropriate that there would be negative consequences for when we are not being Fully Conscious.

Furthermore, I have been wondering how anima or animus "possession" might relate to more violent expressions of mental illness. I would like to think if more people understood these "Invisible Partners" and could come into better conscious relationship with these parts of themselves, in fact, with all parts of themselves, then maybe future events like the recent catastrophe at Sandy Hook might be avoided. 

So towards the goal of Peace through better Understanding, I offer the following from Chapter 2 of Invisible Partners:

First of all, what happens when a man becomes "possessed" by his anima.  Sanford writes:

"In the case of the anima, it is she who lies behind a man's moods.  When a man is possessed by the anima he is drawn into a dark mood, and tends to become sulky, overly sensitive, and withdrawn. A poisonous atmosphere surrounds him, and it is as though he is immersed in a kind of psychological fog. He ceases to be objective or related, and his masculine stance is eroded by peevishness.  If a man argues or writes in this frame of mind, this peevishness and poison will certainly emerge.  In writing,  the influence of the anima can be seen in sarcasms, innuendos, irrelevancies, and poisonous jabs that reveal a subjective, personalistic bias and detract from the objective quality of the work.  A man in the grip of the anima acts for all the world like an inferior kind of woman who is upset about something and that, in fact, is exactly what he has within himself.

"Such a mood may fall on a man in an instant.  A seemingly chance remark from someone, a slight, an almost unnoticed disappointment, and suddenly a man may be in a mood.  Astonishingly enough, men almost invariably fail to note that something from within themselves has suddenly possessed them, that a mood has fallen on them and gripped them, and that the event has been quite autonomous.  Such moods may simply make the man a bit grouchy or out of sorts for a while, or they may become dangerously dark.  If the moods are chronic they may lead a man into alcoholism or severe depression.  Under certain circumstances, an intense anima mood may plunge a man into such a feeling of hopelessness that he commits suicide....

"If you can get to the bottom of a man's mood you will find that something has gone wrong, but the man may hardly realize what it is.  It may be that his inner woman does not like what the man is doing.  For instance she may not like his work because it drains her of life and energy, or it may keep her from her fulfillment in life.  It is as though the man's inner woman and the woman's inner man, also need to be fulfilled in life, but the only way they can be fulfilled is through the kind of life their outer man or outer woman leads.  Imagine a woman who is denied her proper scope in life, who is forced to endure a way of life that leaves her no room for her emotions or her own creative powers.  Such a woman would, naturally, become dissatisfied and her displeasure would be felt in the bad atmosphere she would create.  It is exactly this way with the anima if she does not have enough share in the man's life.

"But the negative anima mood may also be a function of a relationship.  For example, a man may get thrown into this mood when his feelings have been hurt.  Someone has ignored him, given him a nasty verbal thrust, or rejected him in some way and he is hurt and angry.  When the man is hurt, if he were to express his feelings directly he would be all right--he would not go into a mood.  If it is his wife who has hurt his feelings, for instance, and if he were to say to her, 'That really made me angry when you said that,' he would be himself and would not become possessed by the anima; he would not fall into a mood about it. But if the man does not express his feelings, they fall into the unconscious, and the anima gets them.  [As I have suggested previously, this is the equivalent of "pushing the balls under the water".]  The anger that the man did not express directly is taken over by the anima, who turns it into resentment; in fact, resentment in a man is always a sign of the anima at work.  In the hands of the anima this unexpressed and unresolved anger smolders, burns, and eats away at him, and is expressed indirectly by 'passive-aggressive' moods, and behavior.  It is always ready to erupt into flames; then the man does not have his anger,  it has him.  He is possessed by rage, and his anger is in constant danger of becoming a terrible affect, for it is as though the anima stands poised to drop her flaming match into the waiting can of gasoline, and the man will erupt in an engulfing and uncontrolled emotion.

"Jung noted that the anima can be seen to be at work wherever emotions and affects are at work in a man.  He wrote, 'She intensifies, exaggerates, falsifies, and mythologizes all emotional relationships with his work and with other people of both sexes.' (Jung, CW9, 1, p. 70.) The antidote for this, as has been mentioned, is for the man to know what he is feeling and become capable of expressing this in relationship. [This would be the equivalent of "keeping all the balls on the water".]  This keeps his emotion out of the clutches of the anima, and, moreover, satisfies her that the correct thing is being done with whatever it is that has wounded or aroused him.  The anima does not necessarily want to carry the man's emotional life for him, she gets it by default.  It is as though she says, 'Why don't you say something about that irritating thing that so-and-so has just done to you! If you don't do something about it, I will.'  We can say that if something has gone wrong in an emotionally significant relationship the anima will grouse about it until the man straightens it out, or comes to terms with his emotions in some proper way. 

[And that includes emotions that may have very deep roots in childhood experiences.  Something I will be discussing further, probably in my next blog.]

"Unfortunately, many men have difficulty expressing their feelings.  Men tend to like their relationships to be smooth, easy, and comfortable.  They are reluctant to get into emotionally toned discussions or difficult issues.  They want 'peace and quiet' and want their women to maintain a pleasant atmosphere and not bring up distressing matters.  But, as we have just seen, if matters of relationship are ignored they simply get worse, and when a man consistently denies his feelings, and fails to relate them to the people in his life, he becomes a chronically moody, resentful, anima-ridden man.  Then it is as though a witch has gotten him, for he has become identical with his moods.

"If a man becomes capable of expressing his feelings, not only does he keep emotional matters out of the clutches of the anima, he also becomes a much more developed person. A man who always avoids emotionally toned encounters with other people is contained within the Mother. One way for him to get out of his Mother complex is to express himself in relationship. If he fails to do so he remains emotionally a little boy who is afraid of women, who resents them if they don't keep him happy, and who is out of touch with his own masculine strength.

"Men are often reluctant to bring up unpleasant things that have happened in a relationship with a woman because they are afraid of her anger, or their own anger, or they are afraid they will be rejected, or they are afraid of pain....

"If a man is afraid of his woman's anger it often goes back to the little boy in him.  Watch a small boy when mother becomes angry at him!  See how unpleasant it is for him, and how many little boys will be terribly hurt, and want to do whatever they can to appease mother so things will be good again, or, if they are more robust, will spew out boyish defiance so as not to be overwhelmed by their own hurt feelings. A woman's acid anger and power of rejection have enormous influence on other people, men and boys especially, and if a man is to become capable of relationship with a woman he must overcome his fear of her anger and his anxiety about being rejected.  This may mean that he will have to find and help the little boy in himself.  By recognizing his hurt-little-boy side he is much less likely to become identical with it, and can remain more the man in relationship with the woman in his life.

[This, by the way,  intersects to some degree with my understanding that, for various reasons, people get "stuck" emotionally in earlier stages of development.  I will be considering this further in my next blog as it relates to Erich Fromm's ideas of "Mother Love" and "Father Love" and how these have differing effects on individual development.] 

"[A man] will also have to deal with the angry, rejecting side of his woman.  Why does she have to be that way? he may ask himself.  But just as the anima has a negative side that must be overcome if the positive side is to be realized, so every man must be capable of enduring the dark side of the woman in his life if he is going to find her tender and life-giving side.

"A man's fear that he will be rejected if he brings up difficult matters in the relationship is usually unfounded.  A woman who cares about a man, or is at all connected to her own instincts for relatedness, has a great capacity for confrontation and working things out...

"Related anger means that the issues that are brought up are concerned with what is going on between two people.  It is an honest expression of genuine feeling.  If a man expresses anger in an unrelated way to a woman, he will do it indirectly by creating a bad atmosphere or indulging in a personalistic attitude.  If he expresses anger in a related way, he will tell her just what it is that is upsetting him.  If a woman cares about a man she will not reject him if he expresses his anger at her in this way; to the contrary, she will welcome it, for it shows that their relationship is meaningful to him.  From a woman's point of view, if a man ignores matters of relationship it is the same as ignoring her, and that means to her that she and the relationship are not important to him.

"The important thing to remember, as will be seen more clearly later on, is that the correct position of the anima is inward, not outward.  She belongs as a function of relationship between a man's consciousness and the unconscious, not as a function of relationship between a man and other people.  When she intrudes into this outer sphere, there are difficulties.  Men are quite capable of doing their own relating and having their own feelings, and do not need the anima to provide this for them.

"The anima not only interferes with a man's emotional reactions, she can interfere with his thinking as well.  For instance, when a man is anima-possessed he may begin to give forth opinions instead of genuine thinking.  It is as though the anima begins to talk right through him, and she expresses herself as though she had an animus, which means she expresses opinions without regard to facts, relationship, or logic.  When a man is in this state of mind he begins to argue in a peevish way, and his masculine objectivity is quite lost in a sea of emotionally toned and irrational opinions that prove resistant to reasonable discussion...."

In summary, Sanford offers: "...[T]he anima can poison a man's consciousness and rob him of himself should he fall for her insinuations...a man can prevent the negative anima from having this destructive influence on making her conscious." (Pp. 35-43)

As for what happens when a woman becomes "animus possessed", Sanford offers the following:

"If the anima is the master of moods in a man, the animus is the master of opinions in a woman.  He typically expresses himself in judgments, generalizations, critical statements, and apodictic assertions that do not come from a woman's own process of thinking and feeling, but have been picked up from various authoritative sources, mother or father, books or articles, church or some other collective organization.  It is the animus who is behind the autonomous, critical, and opinionated thoughts that intrude into a woman's consciousness.  He thus represents inferior masculine logic, just as the anima represents inferior feminine emotionality.

"....If a woman becomes identified with such opinions within herself, which happens when the animus is not differentiated from her own ego psychology, we speak of animus possession.

"The opinions of the animus have an unpleasant and even destructive quality, and may be projected onto other people, or directed inwardly on the woman herself.  In the former case, other people cannot stand the woman because of the blunt and critical judgments she passes on them.  In the latter case, the woman cannot stand herself, for the effect of the judgments of the animus on her is to destroy her sense of her own value and worth.

"The animus is thus able to rob a woman of her creativity, even as the anima...can rob a man of his.  At the moment when a woman gets a creative idea, or her eros and tenderness begin to stir in her in a new way, the animus may intrude into her consciousness with thought that could prevent her from fulfilling herself.  He may say, 'You can't do that.' Or, 'Other people can do these things much better than you.' Or, 'You have nothing of value to offer.'  If the woman identifies with such thoughts, that is, mistakes them for her own thoughts and for the truth, the new creative possibility is taken away from her.

"The opinions of the animus have a peculiarly irritating effect on other people because, in spite of their seeming logic, they do not fit the actual situation.  Yet neither can they be reasoned with, for the animus has an absolutist attitude, and his opinions are not amenable to discussion or qualification.  Whenever the animus takes over, a woman is taken away from her own thinking and feeling, and she becomes identical with banal statements, sweeping judgments, or generalizations. Small wonder, when these judgmental opinions are directed from within against herself, that a woman tends to become depressed and is robbed of the colorfulness of life." (Pp. 43-45)

And as I referred the other day in my "In Defense" blog:

"The animus often keeps other people from reaching and experiencing the warm, feeling side of a woman because they cannot get through the animus and his opinions. Children with such a woman for a mother feel deprived of their mother's affection because they keep coming up against the animus.  She comes across to them as a hard disciplinarian, and the critical, judgmental attitudes of the animus effectively shut them out from her tenderness and affection.  (The situation is exacerbated when the father has relinquished the masculine role of disciplinarian and forced the mother to assume this role in the family.) It is not that the mother does not have warm feelings for her children; they are there, but the children do not receive them because the animus blocks them.  Such women may appear hard and steely, and other people may be leery of them, for their animus can wound; however, strangely enough, they themselves easily get their feelings hurt, and when this happens they are terribly injured and bewildered and do not understand why other people do not love them..." (Pp. 45-46)

"When the animus utters an opinion, it is said with an air of great authority. It is like a pronouncement, and pronouncements of course, are indisputable.  This air of authority, Emma Jung suggests in her monograph Anima and Animus*, is enhanced by our present culture, which tends to overvalue everything masculine and undervalue the feminine.  Masculine achievement, power, control, success, and logic are rewarded in our society by prestige, good grades in school, and generous paychecks.  The feminine principle, which tends to unite and synthesize, is undervalued culturally both in men and in women.  It is as though the animus were aware of this, and so his utterances are all the more authoritative, while, conversely, a woman is led to distrust her seemingly inferior and more vague feminine intuitions and feelings, even though it is these that have the truth of the matter.  This is a deplorable situation, for not only does our world need more of the healing influence and wisdom of the feminine, but the woman herself is all the more victimized by animus judgments that, if left unchallenged, nullify her own deepest psychological truth.

*Emma Jung, Anima and Animus (Zurich: Spring Publications, 1974).

"Since the anima and animus have these peculiarly irritating effects, it is not surprising that they are inclined to quarrel with each other. A typical anima/animus quarrel can start in many different ways.  A man may comes home in a dark mood.  He is possessed by this mood, that is, by the anima, and exudes an air of poison and gloom.  Now if the man were to tell his woman what his problem is, things could take a more positive direction, but the chances are that he will say nothing about his frame of mind, but will just inflict his mood on her.  Being in this mood, of course he is not related, and his woman senses this immediately, and cannot stand the lack of relationship.  She finds the psychological atmosphere, and the sense of isolation, increasingly intolerable, and also wonders if somehow she is being blamed for something, for a man in the grip of the anima has a way of being vaguely reproachful of others.  At this point, unless the woman is very careful, her animus may intrude.  It is as though he does not like that man's moody anima either, and so he will pick up his sword or club and take matters into his own hands.  This may be done with some kind of stinging remark, or a direct frontal assault on the man's objectionable moodiness.

"Stung by the attack, the anima of the man may retaliate.  Unless the man is quick to realize what is going on, and to make a conscious response to this situation, the anima will probably drop her match into the gasoline, and the result will be an eruption of affect.  The man will then become irrational and fight back in a sarcastic, affect-laden way, perhaps with a personalistic attack on his wife's character, that of her mother, and anything else that can be thought of to get revenge for the wound that has just been inflicted on him. The animus then comes back in kind, and the result is an angry quarrel.  It never occurs to the man, of course, that he has become possessed by a witch inside himself; to the contrary, he is quite convinced that his wife is to blame for all of this.

"Or perhaps it is the woman's animus that first delivers a stinging remark or irritating opinion.  The man is immediately affected by this, but unless he is quick to realize what is happening, it is his anima who reacts.  As Jung once wrote, " man can converse with an animus for five minutes without becoming the victim of his own anima...the animus draws his sword of power and the anima ejects her poison of illusion and seduction.'

"At this point projections occur again, but it is not the positive animus and anima who are projected onto the human partners, creating an air of fascination and magical attraction; it is the negative images, which have the effect of driving the man and the woman apart.  The man's wife now receives the projections of his inner witch, and is, accordingly, held responsible for his bad mood, while the woman projects onto her man all the infuriating qualities that, in fact, belong to the man inside herself.

"Clearly such anima/animus fights can be destructive.  The tragedy is that while the man and woman have their unproductive quarrel, and the atmosphere becomes darker and darker, neither realizes that the scene is being dominated by the Invisible Partners.  It is not John and Mary who are quarreling, but these archetypal figures within them.  For just as the anima and animus can fall in love, so they can quarrel, and the intensity of their attraction to each other is matched only by the intensity of their dislike.

"This destructive anima/animus fight is not to be confused with a genuine encounter between the actual man and woman.  When John and Mary confront each other to express their anger and work out their differences, something positive can emerge.  Such encounters between a man and a woman can have great psychological value and must not be avoided just because a person is too squeamish to get into emotionally difficult situations. But when John and Mary are eclipsed by their anima and animus, and these two begin to quarrel, the result is most unfortunate.

"The strange thing is, as suggested earlier, that the quarrel could be avoided if the man would just say what it is that he is feeling, and the woman would just say what it is that is troubling her.  If the man directly expresses his hurt, anger, or bewilderment, it is he who is talking.  If he does not, however, the anima gets hold of it and expresses his emotional reaction for him in the devious, destructive ways described.  She  exaggerates, as Jung said.  In her grasp, a relatively minor personal injury becomes magnified and a mountain is made of a molehill.  She falsifies.  Once the personal slight or hurt is in her grasp, the facts of the situation become distorted.  In the ensuing argument, what really happened becomes obscured by the emotionality of the anima.  She intensifies, so that the original emotion that man felt now becomes a powerful affect, and the small fire a large one. And she mythologizes.  When things are left in her hands, an ordinary human woman becomes a goddess or a witch and an ordinary human situation takes on a highly dramatic character.

"Similarly, when a woman who is troubled by something in a personal relationship says what she feels, it is she who is speaking, and the matter can be worked out.  But if she hides her true feelings, it is the animus who seizes the club or sword and tries to set matters straight.  The result is disastrous as far as the relationship is concerned, and is a defeat for the woman's ego, for the ego always experiences defeat when it becomes possessed by the anima or animus.  Club in hand, the animus will let the offending man have it by some form of direct attack that may have little perceivable relationship to the actual offense.  Taking his sword of seeming logic, the animus will bring up some argument that has little or nothing to do with the real emotional issue.  Irritated at such an irrational assault, and frustrated by its seeming unfairness, a man is all too likely to fall into the clutches of his anima at this point and then dark things happen.

"A woman can avoid this by saying something like, 'You seem to be upset about something.  Are you angry at me?'  If he is angry at her, he can say so and perhaps the matter can be resolved.  If not, the woman need not feel guilty or anxious, and can afford to let her man remain with his mood and work it out himself while she goes about her business.  For it is not her job to get him out of his mood; that is a task that every man must take on himself.  Of course the man may be dishonest.  He may snarl, 'No!' when he really means yes.  It is probably best, however, for the woman to take his words at face value and let him stew in his own juice, and say to herself, 'Okay, he said I was not to blame for his bad mood so I accept no guilt or responsibility for what he is feeling.' It goes without saying, of course, that if people persist in emotional dishonesty with each other, relationship is exceedingly difficult.

"A man who is confronted by a woman's animus can help the situation by keeping his cool and responding out of his own masculine strength.  If a man's masculinity is stronger than that of the animus, he can usually free the woman from possession; at least he can keep himself from falling into the clutches of his inner woman.  It usually helps to find out what the problem really is.  'What is really bothering you?' a man might ask if he realizes he has just been attacked by a woman's animus.  He may often find that what really is bothering her has nothing to do with the subject the animus has brought up.  (It isn't that she doesn't like the suit he has put on, which she has chosen to violently criticize, but that she is hurt because he ignored her at the party the night before.)

"One word of caution: In discussing their relationship a man and a woman do well to avoid the use of the terms anima and animus, or any psychological terms for that matter.  It is best to use ordinary language, for the use of psychological language is unnatural in relationships and tends to depersonalize them.  The value of being aware of the anima and animus is that we may know what is going on, and our heightened consciousness helps us in working out the relationship, but the use of psychological language as we do so is generally destructive.  So a woman who sees her man in a mood, instead of saying, 'Looks like you are gripped by your anima,' might say, 'You look upset; is something bothering you?' And a man, suspecting his woman's animus attacking him, can say, 'I have a feeling that you are angry at me about something,' instead of saying, 'Your animus is showing again.'

"[Regarding the anima and animus] It is always best to get the bad news first; besides it is usually the negative side that we experience first.  But the anima and animus also have a positive aspect, in fact, when they are in their correct place they have a great blessing to give to us.  However, in order to realize this blessing we must be able to overcome their negative effects...." (Pp.48-55)

Okay, I hope there are some lights going off for those of you who have persevered in this reading. And I must say, looking more closely at this again, as I have been typing it, and thinking about long distant and not so distant experiences, I know I still have work to do in terms of keeping my animus "in the correct place".

I think there are several important things to understand though: We are not alone in what we have experienced in our relationships.  This explanation, though certainly not absolute, does seem to give an approach to understanding that could be useful, and I suspect many of you saw things that were familiar to you, that you had experienced yourself, especially with "significant others".

For myself, personally, I have carried this "point of view" with me for many years now, but it is amazing to me how few men I've known have been willing to read this book.  Clearly, when both people involved in the relationship are aware of what could be going on, i.e. between their respective "anima" and "animus", there is a better chance they can help each other mediate their effects .  As they say, two heads are better than one, and, clearly, when it comes to our interpersonal relationships, even if just one person can keep from overreacting, if one person can stay Fully Conscoius, it is better than if each of them, in turn, becomes "possessed" by their anima or animus, and in effect "loses consciousness".

Finally, I would like to add that there are ways that we may end up alleviating some of the effects of "anima" and "animus" without really realizing it, without needing to be aware of the framework provided here to understand what is going on inside of us.  For instance, as I have already indicated in previous blogs, allowing one's emotions to remain "as balls on top of the water" instead of repressing them does a great deal to alleviate the  effects of the anima in men.  Not being judgmental of self and others helps to alleviate the effects of the animus in women.  (Of Note: Terry Gorski's "First Rule of Functional Relating" is to a) Be aware of your feelings, b) Put a label on your feelings and c) Be able to communicate those feelings effectively to another person, and d) Reciprocally, be able to listen to another person tell you how they feel without judging or condemning them).

Having reviewed this material again, I find it interesting that "masculine" character is more often associated with being rational, but it is the exaggeration of emotion carried out by the anima that subdues a man's capacity for logic.  On the other hand, it is the distortion of logic and judgment carried out by the animus that subdues a woman's more emotional and related nature.  And yet, when a man is struggling with his emotions, that is when he needs his woman's emotional nature the most. In other words, she must become a better woman than his anima. Likewise, when a woman is struggling with judgment, that is when she needs her man's rational nature the most; i.e. he has to become a better man than her animus.

I sincerely hope this material will be useful to all of you who are reading.  It is one more effort of mine to simply try to make the world a more peaceful place at this most up-close and personal level of relationship.

In my next blog, I'm going to take another look at our relationships with our parents and the profound influence of "mutual projection" between parents and their children.  This is a very recent, and actually, somewhat painful insight for me, but I think it is something else that needs to be considered and better understood if future generations of children are going to have a better chance of "Being Who They Are as Ordinary Human Beings" from a much earlier point in their lives, even "Day One".

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Reflections on Projections - Part 2

Another Way of Looking at "Sexual Magnetism"

So what happens when a man projects his positive anima on a woman and a woman projects her positive anima onto the man?

Sanford explains:

"If both a man and a woman project their positive images onto each other at the same time, we have that seemingly perfect state of relationship known as being in love, a state of mutual fascination. The two then declare that they are 'in love with each other' and are firmly convinced that they have now found the ultimate relationship..." (P. 17)


"...the human reality of the individual who carries a projection for us is obscured by the projected image.  This is especially the case with the anima and animus since these archetypes are so numinous.  This means that they are charged with psychic energy, so that they tend to grip us emotionally.  Consequently these projected images have a magnetic effect on us, and the person who carries a projection will tend to greatly attract or repel us, just as a magnet attracts or repels another metal...." (p. 13)

Also, as M. Scott Peck suggests in The Road Less Traveled, "falling in love" represents the spontaneous and effortless collapse of ego boundaries. It is only when the ego boundaries are consciously extended to include the other person that the effort and actual satisfaction of love is realized.

As I have considered in other blogs, whatever may be happening "psychically" or "emotionally" when we "fall in love", I would assert that there is going to be a biochemical component to it.  And most people's bodies Love the Love Drugs in part because (as I have posited in "The Biology of 'Omnipotence'") they harken back to a much earlier time in life when one felt secure and in control of the sources of their nurturance (i.e. the "two who are one bond" with the "Mother").

Furthermore, without some other experience to compare to, and with so much media propaganda promoting the effects of "romantic love", most people identify as "love" the fascinated, sexually magnetized, feeling associated with mutual projection, and mutual collapse of ego boundaries, etc.  However, if the projection is not mutual, then the feeling, and therefore the experience on a biochemical level, will not be the same. 

Having first read Invisible Partners almost 20 years ago, I have been aware of this "false impression" of love ever since, and, for the most part, I have been determined to See Men, and even other people more generally for Who They Are. I have had almost 20 years to practice recognizing projections when they have occurred and coming into conscious relationship with those elements of myself, rather than continuing to see them in others or as others. To be honest, I cannot remember the last time I felt "fascinated" by anyone.  Interested, most definitely, but not "fascinated".  I have also mediated my tendencies to "judge" people.  My post here "The Difference Between Judgment and Discernment" speaks to my orientation towards seeing people for who they are and more generally seeing Reality for What It Is.

Furthermore, as I told a male friend of mine recently, I have intentionally not been "putting it out there" for men to become "fascinated"  with me or "sexually magnetized" towards me.  In other words, I have not been seeking or encouraging those kinds of "projections" through the way I act or dress. I have not been seeking those "projections" because I know they are Not True and because I know that no man is going to love "Me" unless he first Sees "Me".  Since reading Invisible Partners I have not wanted my intimate relationships to be based on the lies that projections are.  Consequently, I have not been in a truly "in love" state with anyone for the last 20 years. I may not have abstained completely from emotional/sexual intimacy, but I have intentionally abstained from the relative "high" of "being in love" based on mutual projection. 

However, that does not mean I haven't been Loving People, even deeply, I just have not felt "in love with" them, and I am perfectly okay with that. I do not need to experience the  "high" of "oneness" in order to justify a motive to actively care about another human being and to consciously choose to meet their "love needs" as I come to understand them.

What I want to reinforce here is that there is no possibility of actually loving someone Until we see them for who they are. And seeing people for who they are means, in part, seeing them as Ordinary Human Beings, as I discussed in Part 1 of this series.  What seems to be the "problem", if we are to define it as such, is that, compared to all of the distorted imagery around us everywhere, both positive and negative, being an ordinary human being loving another ordinary human being isn't really all that exciting.

However, I am convinced, given the opportunity, it could lead to other types of emotional experiences that we are not as familiar with, for instance, the feeling of deep security that comes from "true" intimacy.  The peaceful comfort of knowing that you are being seen by your partner and that you are both accepted for who you are as well as encouraged and supported to continue to grow, to reach your fullest potential as an individual. To have the pleasure of consciously choosing to meet your partners most important "love needs" and to experience them also consciously choosing to meet yours.

Again, as Paul Chappell points out in Peaceful Revolution: Lies have a lifespan.  Part of the reason "romantic love" fades is it is based on the lies that projections and spontaneous collapse of ego boundaries represent. But, as Erich Fromm points out in The Art of Loving, true love is based on a conscious choice to act in a caring, responsible, and respectful way, with full and accurate knowledge of the other person (pp. 26-29).

As if to taunt me after my last blog post, I started hearing Sade' singing "This Is No Ordinary Love..." in my head as I rode my bicycle away from my local internet hot spot.  On the one hand, it is a perfect example of how what might otherwise be an "ordinary love" has been creatively expressed/projected and exaggerated through the social media of music.  On the other hand, if what most people consider to be "ordinary" love is the kind involving projections, then maybe the song has a deeper truth to it, as it might be applied in my own life right now; i.e. I do not want the ordinary/common/projection-based love that it seems so many other people are seeking, and, therefore, I am looking for something that is "not ordinary"; i.e. love that is based in the Reality of Ordinary Human Relating.

Although I am not certain where my reading and writing will continue to take me down this particular path of consideration, I do know I have at least one more major insight to share (so far) in this series.  So, again, if you have been following along thus far, I encourage you to "Stay Tuned".

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reflections on Projections - Part 1

In my last two blogs here I have referred to the term "projection" without taking the time to clearly define it.  Even without defining it though, I suspect many of you will have an intuitive understanding of what it means.  However, just to clarify, I will first refer once again to the book  Invisible Partners by John Sanford  wherein "projection" is described as follows:

"Projection is a psychic mechanism that occurs whenever a vital aspect of our personality of which we are unaware is activated.  When something is projected we see it outside of us, as though it belongs to someone else and has nothing to do with us.  Projection is an unconscious mechanism.  We do not decide to project something, it happens automatically. If we decided to project something it would be conscious to us and then, precisely because it is conscious to us, it could not be projected.  Only unconscious contents are projected; once something has become conscious projection ceases." (Pp. 10-11) 

(One might wonder, "Why are only unconscious contents projected?" I will offer my answer to that question shortly.)

Also in previous blogs I have referred to "anima" as a man's "inner feminine" nature and "animus" as a woman's "inner masculine" nature.  As Sanford explains, part of the reason people never become fully conscious of these elements of their own personalities is because they are so often "projected". He writes:

"...[T]he anima and animus have, for millennia of mankind's history, been projected onto mythological figures, onto the gods and goddesses who have peopled our spiritual world, and, perhaps most important of all, onto living men and women. The gods and goddesses of Greek mythology can be understood as personifications of different aspects of the masculine or the feminine archetype*.  Mythology has long been the way in which the human psyche personified itself, and as long as people believed in the living reality of their gods and goddesses they could, through appropriate ritual and worship, effect some sort of relationship to their psychic world." (P. 10)

(*Emphasis mine and I will get back to this shortly.)

He goes on to say:

"When the anima and animus are projected onto other people our perception of them is remarkably altered.  For the most part, man has projected the anima onto woman, and woman has projected the animus onto man.  Woman has carried for man the living image of his own feminine soul or counterpart, and man has carried for woman the living image of her own spirit. This has led to many unusual and often unfortunate consequences, since these living realities within ourselves often have a peculiarly powerful or irritating effect." (Pp 10-11)

In addition:

"Because the anima and animus are projected, we do not usually recognize that they belong to us, for they appear to be outside of us.  On the other hand, once the phenomenon of projection is recognized, these projected images, can, to a certain extent, be taken back into ourselves, for we can use projections as mirrors in which we see the reflection of our own psychic contents*.  If we discover the anima or animus image has been projected onto a man or a woman, that makes it possible for us to see in the reflection contents of our own psyche that otherwise might escape us." (P. 11)

(*Emphasis mine. Again, I will be addressing this below.)

There are two things I'd like to draw attention to here. The first is that where our projections once expressed themselves in the myths and stories of gods and goddesses, we now have an entirely new forum in which these projections take place, over and over again - Modern Media. Whether it is television or cinema, magazines or video games, hip-hop or country western music, our closest neighbors or someone half-way around the world -  these "projections" are more present all around us than ever before. In fact we are being bombarded by them constantly.  Given the function of "mirror neurons", automatically internalizing all of these images for us, it is extremely difficult for people to avoid being influenced and shaped by what they are seeing, day in and day out.

The second point I will go into in more detail shortly, but for now I would like to offer that not only is the perception of the other person "remarkably altered" when they are seen through a "projection" of anima or animus, but the anima and animus themselves are distorted in the process of projection.  Therefore, we have to be careful to accept without question the idea that  "The gods and goddesses of Greek mythology can be understood as personifications of different aspects of the masculine or the feminine archetype."  If they are "personifications" at all, I will explain later why they cannot necessarily be trusted as accurate "personifications of different aspects of the masculine and feminine archetype."

Sanford writes: "Empirical evidence for the reality of the anima and animus can be found wherever the psyche spontaneously expresses itself.  The anima and the animus appear in dreams, fairy tales, myths, the world's great literature, and, most of all, in the varying phenomena of human behavior." (Pp 6-7)

I would contend that it does not have to be "great literature" for these projections of anima and animus to take place.  In fact, I am slowly but surely coming to the conclusion that most if not all of our "creative" efforts to characterize human behavior will, of necessity, be projections.  Furthermore, in many cases, we think what we are expressing creatively is somehow "true to life" - in part because it does reflect the very same tendencies we have in life - i.e. for women to project their animus onto men and for men to project their anima onto women (and more generally for unconscious aspects of ourselves to be projected onto other people, regardless of gender).  However,  when viewing other human beings/ourselves through great literature, or on the big screen, or on the small screen, or the cover of a magazine, or in all the creative forms available to us - we are actually seeing Second Order projections; i.e. illusions On Top Of Illusions, "projections" about "projections".  

And further more, these projections are self-perpetuating in what I would consider a  negative loop: 1) The projection goes out and is "seen" as an actual human being.  2) Then someone creatively represents what they think they saw of that human being as a character in a movie or story. 3) Someone watches that movie or reads that story and internalizes that character, thinking that is the way "real people" act (or should act). 4) Then they try to embody that character, only to repress some other natural character in themselves. 5) What gets repressed is what then becomes part of the unconscious to be projected back out into the world and the whole cycle repeats itself.

Therefore: Projections Are Double Illusions.

First of All: When projected from the unconscious, anima and animus disguise the person onto whom they are projected giving the person making that projection a False View of the other person, either positive or negative.  In either case, they are Not Seeing the Other Person As They Truly Are.  

Second: (And I am presenting a challenge here):  Sanford and Jung contend that "we can use projections as mirrors in which we see the reflection of our own psychic contents".  But what I am offering is that the person making the projection is also Not Seeing the content of their unconscious "inner masculine" or "inner feminine" for what It Truly Is.  But to understand why, we have to answer the question I posed earlier:  Why is the unconscious content "projected" in the first place?

This is my "theory":  In order to "project" there has to be enough energy in the anima or animus to get beyond the subconscious and even outside of the conscious mind.  Consequently, the anima and animus come across as exaggerated, distorted versions of themselves, which means...even if we were to seek "self-knowledge" through recognizing our projections, that self-knowledge would not be "true" necessarily as we are seeing only exaggerated distorted versions of what comes up and out of the unconscious.

One of the best ways I know to describe this is with the metaphor of holding a plastic ball under water.  If you push it down with enough force, it will eventually "explode" out of your control and Out of the Water altogether.  Once you let go of it, or lose control of it, the ball doesn't just gently rise to the surface. No. It "explodes" out of the water.  And you might think to yourself, "There's something wrong with that ball that it would act that way!" However, the only reason why the "ball" accumulated that kind of energy in the first place was because it was being repressed.  Left on their own - floating naturally in view of one's conscious awareness, "balls", the "anima" and "animus", one's emotions, natural tendencies, ideas about oneself, etc. would not go "out of control", they would not come out as exaggerated versions of themselves either in their negative or positive aspects.

(Although the "Ball Under the Water" metaphor is one I've been using for a few years now, I've had another one come to mind recently involving a metal "Slinky".  I know as a kid, for some reason it was just so tempting to twist the Slinky really tightly in upon itself and try to keep it from "exploding" into a tangled mess. But, inevitably, that is exactly what would happen. Even if I were able to get the Slinky untangled after the fact, it would never be quite the same, its thin metal spiral would be bent here and there; i.e. "distorted", if not from the tension of my twisting, then by the consequence of the "explosion" once the forces on it became too great for me to control. But, it certainly wasn't The Slinky's fault that it "exploded" like that!)

Most people do not realize how much they repress in themselves, or even that they Are repressing certain things. I think most people can accept the idea that we start to repress things even as children. Jung has suggested repression actually starts within our very genes, when we are differentiated biologically as "male" or "female".

Sanford explains: 

"The simplest and earliest definition Jung offered is that the anima personifies the feminine element in man, and the animus personifies the masculine element in a woman.... [In addition], the anima, Jung has suggested, personifies on the psychological plane [the] minority of feminine genes [in a man], and, in the case of a woman, the animus personifies the minority of masculine genes.

"If this is so, that which makes men and women different is not that men are entirely Yang and women Yin, for each sex contains the other within; it is the fact that a man ordinarily identifies his ego with his masculinity and his feminine side is unconscious to him, while a woman identifies herself consciously with her femininity, and her masculine side is unconscious to her." (Pp. 12 - 13)

He goes on to  suggest that the "ego" tends to identify with the body, male or female, thus forcing the "opposite" nature into the realm of the unconscious.  At the same time, some may become over-identified with their "opposite" nature leading to a more homosexual presentation to the outside world (if not the actuality.)

Sanford writes:

"All of this has important implications for the relationship between the sexes.  As stated above, men, identified with their masculinity, typically project their feminine side onto women, and women, identified with their feminine nature, typically project their masculine side onto men. These projected psychic images are the Invisible Partners in every man-woman relationship, and greatly influence the relationship, for wherever projection occurs the person who carries the projected image is either greatly overvalued or greatly undervalued.  In either case, the human reality of the individual who carries a projection for us is obscured by the projected image." (P. 13)

What this also means is that we are currently living in a world of exaggerated versions of ourselves, and maybe, more importantly, we are all trying so very hard to live up to (or, in some cases, down to) similarly exaggerated expectations of what it means to be a human being. I dare say most of us have no idea of what it means to be an Ordinary Human Being, an Ordinary Man, or an Ordinary Woman.  At the same time, it is no wonder that our lives are so full of stress and disappointment, extreme highs and lows, various neurosis and psychosis, and searches of all kinds.

But in truth:  How many people do you personally know who act like people you have seen in the movies? How many people do you personally know who are as good or as evil as characters you have seen portrayed through any number of media? How many men or women have you known that you are certain you saw for Who They Were and not as (distorted) projections of your own animus or anima respectively?

As Paul K. Chappell has written in his book Peaceful Revolution: Truth is eternal. Lies have a lifespan.

Our "projections" are lies, not only about the other person, but, as I am suggesting here, they are even lies about ourselves. The projections are distortions of what is inside of us, not the reality. So even though there may be something to gain from "seeing projections as reflections", with this particular reading of Invisible Partners, I am considering the possibility that even that self-understanding, though useful, may not be entirely "true", and should be considered with "a grain of salt" as the saying goes.

Finally, although we may take at face value Jung's assumption that repression starts with our genes, when we are biologically differentiated as "male" and "female", we all know that it does not stop there. I dare say within the various cultures of man we have discovered as many ways to repress ourselves as we have to express ourselves.  I'm afraid we are far from the place where we live, moment by moment, with "all the balls on the water" as a personal and cultural norm.  But, I believe, with better and more thorough understanding of the mechanisms of repression and projection, we might just have a chance to see through all of the lies and illusions and find out For Real what it is like to live as relaxed, balanced, and (otherwise) ordinary human beings.

I, for one, am looking forward to that!  And to that end, I will continue to share what is coming to my mind regarding all of this.  And, there is definitely more to come. So...Stay Tuned!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

In Defense

Here's the latest video from my friend Ben Ralston:

How to Be Love

It ties very directly to recent realizations of my own.

First of all, it has come to my attention that the last time I actually had a place where I lived by myself for any significant period of time was when I was in Rockville, MD between, 2004 and 2005. I had just come off of sea duty, which meant I had been living in very close quarters with other people, a lot of other people, for several months at a time. I'd also lived with a couple of boyfriends during those years, but that was at least somewhat better because it was only one other person sharing my shore-based living quarters rather than 60 (as was the number of other women who typically lived with me in the berthing areas on board the ship, and then there were the approximately 5940 other people on board when the ship was "fully deployed").

However, because I was committed to a spiritual practice that encouraged communal living and because one of my female co-workers proposed the idea of our sharing a place together, I only stayed in that apartment in Rockville by myself for about a year, the term of the lease, before getting an apartment with the woman from work, and then we moved again into a house. It was not too long after that before her boyfriend started to live with us as well, or, at least, he stayed over enough to almost qualify as another housemate, even though he did not contribute (as far as I knew) to the rent or utility expenses.

I won't go into detail about all of the other living situations I was in over the next six years or so, but will simply say, I have yet to have my own apartment again, completely by myself. Furthermore, one of the motivations for my wanting to leave Maryland and ride my bicycle across the country was because I had become quite tired of having to live with other people, very, very tired in fact. (Again, I won't go into all the details, but as much as I have tried to "rise to the challenge", on a deep level, it's kind of been hell for me, emotionally and psychologically. Why else would being on the road, on my bicycle, living in the woods if necessary, be so much more appealing?!)

However, I grew up living with my mother, day in and day out. Our lives were "enmeshed" emotionally and pscyhologically. I was in no position to assert my own needs for personal space or even personal boundaries. I adapted myself to that experience and, in many ways, I have been adapting myself ever since.  Not that this is a unique experience for me. I totally get the fact that other people have also had to live in the company of other people maybe for most of their lives, and maybe they are okay with it, maybe they even prefer it, or maybe they have disliked it as much as I have. We live in a very complex and increasingly crowded world, so being able to Be Alone and Just Be may be becoming even more of a luxury. Nevertheless, it is a luxury that I am beginning to realize I need to figure out a way to afford myself, because, there is a part of me that has stayed "on the defensive" all this time, and I do not want to stay that way for the rest of my life.

In re-reading Invisible Partners by John Sanford, I have come across this particular passage and I had to stop and do some "home work" on it:

P45, para 4 - "The animus [a woman's "inner man"] often keeps other people from reaching and experiencing the warm, feeling side of a woman because they cannot get through the animus and his opinions. Children with such a woman for a mother feel deprived of their mother's affection because they keep coming up against the animus.  She comes across to them as a hard disciplinarian, and the critical, judgmental attitudes of the animus effectively shut them out from her tenderness and affection.  (The situation is exacerbated when the father has relinquished the masculine role of disciplinarian and forced the mother to assume this role in the family.) It is not that the mother does not have warm feelings for her children; they are there, but the children do not receive them because the animus blocks them.  Such women may appear hard and steely, and other people may be leery of them, for their animus can wound; however, strangely enough, they themselves easily get their feelings (p. 46, para 1) hurt, and when this happens they are terribly injured and bewildered and do not understand why other people do not love them..."

Although I read this book for the first time in my late 20's and got a lot out of it then, now, almost 20 years later, I am realizing other things as well.

First of all, and this has actually been part of my self-awareness for a long time, I know that I have had to "be the man" in my own life, even from the time I was a young child.

To begin, my father was a long-haul truck driver, which meant he was not at home very much. (In that case, as Sanford suggests, he was not there to play the disciplining role in the family, although I can see now that my mother was very much an "animus driven" woman herself, with or without my father's presence.) Once my mother divorced my father and especially after my sisters went to college, I was left to become the "opposite" of my mother in terms of the "masculine/feminine" polarity that tends to emerge in very close interpersonal relationships between single children being raise by single parents. This is especially true when those single parents have mental illnesses that often prevent them from developing healthy, functional, interpersonal relationships with men or women their own age. Given the child's natural dependency on the parent, they are ready servants to the parent's emotional needs.

I can't find the source right now, but I know I have read somewhere that children who are the same sex as their single parents very often polarize to the opposite role; i.e. boys with single fathers will polarize towards the feminine and girls with single mothers will polarize towards the masculine. This happens in part because of the emotional neediness of the parent when they are not able to get those needs met with men or women their own age, or, possibly even from a spouse who is physically present but not emotionally available to them. Regardless of the source, I know the reading stuck with me because I easily recognized that was exactly what had happened to me, and I have since observed this to be the case with others as well.

(As another note though: Opposite sexed children who share this kind of emotionally codependent relationship with a single parent are also at risk as the surest way to keep the child in the relationship with the parent is for the parent to make sure the child never matures enough to have a close relationship with any other adult; i.e. an adult peer. And it is quite easy to prevent that not expecting it. In such cases, the children instead remain a "Mama's Boy" or a "Daddy's Girl", and may not ever establish truly intimate ties with their spouses because, should there be challenges that demand growth, they can always return to the "unconditional" but also unhealthy and controlling love of the parent.)

Having started in ernest when I was 10 years old, the masculine patterning I developed in relationship with my mother was well established by the time I was in college. Furthermore, given my mother's paranoia and her keeping me from socializing normally with my peers, roughly from age 7-16, I entered college with even more naivete about men than most. Yes I was of "legal age" to have relationships, even sexual relationships, but I was not emotionally prepared for all of that, and I feel now my "animus", my "inner man", became a very significant part of my life in part to Protect Me, to Protect my still very vulnerable emotional core from the inevitable trauma so often associated with intense emotional-sexual relating. Truth is, my animus became active to Protect my vulnerable psyche From My Own Mother way before I set foot on the college campus, and without my father's presence in my life to protect me from her or from other men who may not have had my best interests at heart, again, I was left to figure out ways to protect myself.

But, I wonder, am I really that different from so many other women in the world, or just a more intense case, skewed somewhat towards one end of the continuum because of my more challenging relationships with my mentally ill mother and absent father? In other words, my "animus" has become even more developed as my Protector than for other women?

If you were to look at the previous writings in this blog, the defense is also there. In much of what I have written I am providing a defense against Unconscious Relating. For instance, in the
"The Biology of 'Omnipotence'" I am defending myself against being seen as Only a "Mother/Woman"; i.e. a perpetual Source of love and nurturance for a man that he may want to control for his own purposes without recognizing that, as a "Woman/Woman", I have love needs of my own; and that, in that case, I need him to be a "man" with me - an equal who can reciprocate love and not just a dependent "boy". In "Understanding the Psychology of Romantic Love...", I am also defending against the unreasonable expectations that often come when people are seeking "romantic love" partners. I do not want to be seen as "The Goddess" or "The Witch" - I just want to be seen for who I am.

With regards to Ben's video, how often are we allowed to really "connect with ourselves"? To connect with that love-core of our being so that we can also express that more fully moment to moment and in relationship with others? If we are being constantly bombarded by others "projections" and expectations, often irrational and unreasonable, if we never have a "safe space" where we can go regularly just to be alone with ourselves, to be at peace with ourselves, to meditate through the various moments and activities of our lives without the persistent distraction or demand of others, then how much more difficult is it to get to that Feeling of Being Love that he is talking about? How often can we carry out the normal activities of our days as a moment-to-moment Meditation of Ourselves as Love rather than a "performance" for others to observe and possibly judge or criticize?

The problem is, most of what people have been seeing of "who I am" over the past 20+ years has been heavily shadowed by my animus: My inner masculine is fairly quick to come to the front should there be any threat to my heart. Sometimes I can keep "him" at bay, and sometimes I cannot.  And given that I have not even been able to relax out of that completely, even in my own living space; i.e. in what should be the physical and emotional privacy and safety of my own home, then it is pretty much who I am perceived to be, all of the time.

But it is not All of who I am, and it is certainly not expressing the depth or warmth of my feminine core. And, I am beginning to realize that is not only a loss for me, it is a loss for those I care about as well.

Consequently, in the next year or so, I am going to put out the very clear intention that I be able to find a suitable living situation where I can actually live (and afford to live) By My Self for a while, even for a long while. I have a feeling, at this point in my life, if I am given the option to relax those defensive masculine patterns consistently, at least in my own home, it will also help me to relax those patterns in relationship with others outside of my own home as well. I do not want my animus to prevent or block others from experiencing the love and warmth that I know is in me.

In the mean time, I will once again highly, highly recommend Invisible Partners to anyone who is interested in following along with me on this part of my "inner journeying".

Oh, and for all of you men out there, be advised: Your "inner woman", or "anima", functions in very much the same way as the animus in a woman, in that she can undermine your masculine core if you let her rule your life, especially in your "defense". I will be writing more about that in future blogs as I continue my re-reading and reviewing of Invisible Partners.