Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Psychic Catastrophe and the Repression of God

Some readers were a little unclear on Sertillanges' statement that "To be long multiple is the condition for being richly one." I suppose I was thinking of Bion's theory of thinking, one aspect of which he calls PS<-->D, which is "the emotional experience of a sense of discovery of coherence."

Bion references Poincaré, who wrote of how a new scientific discovery unites "elements long since known, but till then scattered and seemingly foreign to each other, and suddenly introduces order where the appearance of disorder reigned. Then it enables us to see at a glance each of these elements in the place it occupies in the whole. Not only is the new fact valuable on its own account, but it alone gives a value to the old facts it unites" (emphasis mine).

The passage is worth quoting in full: "Our mind is as frail as our senses are; it would lose itself in the complexity of the world if that complexity were not harmonious; like the short-sighted, it would only see the details, and would be obliged to forget each of these details before examining the next, because it would be incapable of taking in the whole. The only facts worthy of our attention are those which introduce order into this complexity and so make it accessible to us" (emphasis mine).

Thus, the "D" in PS<-->D refers to what Bion calls the "selected fact," and we can see how in psychic development, one selected fact becomes a part (PS) of a new whole (D), as in metabolism (discussed yesterday). Indeed, this is why you are what you eat, and why you should think twice about what you shove into your head.

Hinshelwood elaborates: "In the creative process, thinking involves the dismantling of previous views and theories, with the development of new views. In changing one's way of thinking, the container has to be dissolved before it is reformed.... When this happened, Bion thought, it caused intense emotional experiences -- so intense that he used the term catastrophe [to refer to] the mental event of having a new thought." We must tolerate disintegration (catabolism), but more importantly, integration (anabolism).

Why integration? You don't need to be a licentious coonical pslackologist to understand this. All you have to do is observe the maturational process in your child. Every significant development is fraught with ambivalence, as it represents a catastrophic departure from the familiar.

Watch how a young child who is exploring the world will constantly look back and "touch base" with mother. In fact, they've done studies in which mothers are instructed to reflect a proud smile or a worried frown back to the child. Those with the frowning mothers immediately cease their explorations and scurry back to her arms, because the unknown becomes too frightening without the background of psychic "support."

When a patient comes in for therapy, it is always because, in some form or fashion, he has not found the "selected fact" of his life. More problematically, this Fact can be forcibly prevented by not allowing its constituent parts to come together.

Indeed, sometimes the Fact is unconsciously attacked and dismantled, which Bion called "attacks on linking." It's a more sophisticated way of accounting for the same phenomena as repression. Repression is a very linear and three-dimensional way of looking at it, when the mind exists in more dimensions than just three or four.

In mother worlds, it's not like taking the unwanted fact -- imagine, say, a balloon -- and just shoving it beneath the surface of the water. Rather, the balloon is first rendered into bits, which makes repression unnecessary, since you've "un-Known" the thing that needs to be repressed (and bear in mind, of course, that you must already have some inchoate awareness of the truth in order to have to deny it; you might say that only the Lie requires a thinker).

This is what I call a "dimensional defense," because another way of doing it is to simply live one's life in a mental space of fewer dimensions, where none of the unwanted meanings can coalesce or be consciously available. No mind, no problem, so to speak (although this usually causes problems for other people due to acting out the unKnown thoughts).

I hope this isn't abstract, but rather, quite clear and even experience-near. All of us have done it at one time or another. If I were a more literate or even more caffeinated fellow, I'm sure I could make reference to famous characters in literature. Sometimes the whole plot can revolve around That Which Must Not Be Known by the character(s). The one fact that is desperately needed in order to grow and move beyond the psychic impasse is the one fact that is denied.

But denied does not mean forgotten, so the fact nevertheless has a kind of shadowy, persecutory existence at the periphery of local being. It is like a thought in search of a thinker who will host it. It is "out there" wanting to come together, so it requires a considerable outlay of psychic energy to forcibly separate its constituents. It's just like your body, which has a powerful "tendency to wholeness." Cut or injure it, and it "wants" to heal and revert to wholeness (indeed, heal and whole are etymologically related).

Your mind and soul quite obviously run along the same lines, since the soul is the form of the body. It wishes to be whole, to such an extent that you might say that this is its earthly mission.

But there are various degrees of wholeness. There is material wholeness, say, a rock or crystal. There is biological wholeness, i.e., the living body, and there is psychic wholeness, the true self.

There is also spiritual wholeness. However, like psychic wholeness, it cannot be given "all at once." Why not? Because we do not exist in only three or four dimensions, like material objects. Rather, it requires at least a single lifetome to compose the book of "who we are," so to speak. This becoming is a ceaseless process of PS<-->D -- of psychospiritual metabolism -- which is why "To be long multiple is the condition for being richly one."

Think of the difference between a rock and the simplest body, even that of a single cell. Both are "one." But what a difference! They tell us that the cell contains more information than what, the entire New York City Library or something? A humanly inconceivable degree of multiplicity, and yet, a harmonious one.

And it only becomes more multiple -- and therefore more richly one -- the higher we move up the cosmic food chain. At the very top we find this thing called God or O, which is -- you guessed it -- the simplest thing imaginable, since it effortlessly unifies all this mayaplicity. Or, all of it is re-solved, as it were, in God.

And this, don't you know, is what we were driving at in our book, which begins in the multiplicity of Cosmogenesis and ends in the unity of Cosmotheosis, or the conscious divinization of all reality, both vertical and horizontal (again, that Rich One).

The principle difference between theists and atheists is that the latter cling to the absurd belief that there is no nonlocal sponsor of all of this dynamic wholeness within and without, no ground and no end, no origin and no destiny. Again, this is strictly absurd.

This is why philosophical time has been moving backward since the great synthesis of Thomas Aquinas, who, suffice to say, wanted to develop a philosophy that excluded nothing, whether horizontal or vertical; in other words, the richest One man is capable of attaining. Pieper:

"... [H]e was intrepidly affirming the whole of natural reality, not only with regard to objective existence, but also within man himself.... [I]t was his life's task to join these two extremes which seemed inevitably to be pulling away from one another."

One cosmos under God, as one wagdaddit:

We are Ones again back by oursoph before the beginning, before old nobodaddy committed wholly matterimany and exhaled himself into a world of sorrow and ignorance. Back upin a timeless with the wonderfully weird Light with which everything was made, a Light no longer dispersed and refracted through so many banged-up and thunder-sundered images of the One. Back at the still point between the vertical and horizontal, where eternity pierces the present moment and we are unborn again (p. 248).




Rick said...

This fact of this post reminds me of the iPhone. The so-called "inventor" of it really didn't invent anything (nothing ever really is invented, or it couldn't be invented). He saw chaos, in a sense, where no one else could, and most importantly how the parts could be unified.
One type of "value" is evidenced by all the copycat devices that followed after the iPhones as soon as possible.

Rick said...

Well...looks like it's just you and me, Captain.


Magnus Itland said...

"The emotional experience of a sense of discovery of coherence" is one of my favorite feelings. It would have been quite habit-forming, except I have found no way to reliably repeat it in the long run.

julie said...

Rick, I like that analogy.

Magnus, I know that feeling. One way to repeat the experience is to successfully integrate disparate parts of the self, either in terms of psychic wholeness or, even moreso, spiritual wholeness. Of course, one never knows when that's going to happen, and timelessness does take time. All the more reason to do your verticalisthenics ;)

One other way to get that fix is to foster it in someone else - say, a kid who needs a little extra mentoring in some area or other. Watching the lights go in another face can be as good as having it happen yourself. Giving, receiving, etc.

julie said...

Ugh - Need more caffeine. That should have said:

"Watching the lights go on in another face..."

Magnus Itland said...

Well, it is not that this experience does not happen, it is more that it is unpredictable. I can for instance expect it to happen at some point if I read books by certain people or even a couple blogs, but the timing and frequency follow their own schedule. It is not something I can sit down and plan that "one hour from now I am going to discover some form of coherence". So it is not like, for instance, eating (which is predictable), but more like dreaming (which is not).

Magnus Itland said...

And of course there is the "not reproducible in others". Sometimes I could be like "omigoid you guys, you must read this, it is like being outside in a thunderstorm", and people were like "I agreed with it / I did not agree with it" which is entirely beyond the point.

Van said...

"The only facts worthy of our attention are those which introduce order into this complexity and so make it accessible to us"

Ooh... I like that a lot. Closely related to inference & induction too, I think.

julie said...

Magnus, agreed, absolutely. The point I meant to make was that there are things one can do to make such an experience more likely, but that doesn't mean it's ever predictable.

And re. the experience, I know that feeling, too. For me it's probably the most lonely I ever feel, when there's something that has that sort of effect and the people you hope will share it are either indifferent or insensate. Sometimes it would be so much easier if you could just reach inside people and flick a switch for them that would make them see. But I guess that would be cheating...

mushroom said...

And of course there is the "not reproducible in others".

It's frustrating and funny. You just never know where the fulcrum is for another person. The oddest things -- to me -- will tip the balance for someone else.

JP said...

"And of course there is the "not reproducible in others"."

I just thought that was normal.

The not reproducible in others, that is.

I have a whole pile of things in my brain box that as far as I can tell are of no interest to other people. Normally, I keep my mouth shut. It's safer for me that way.

My current operating theoy is that the human personality has six dimensions, by the way.

I honestly don't know how that applies to mind and consiousness, by the way.

Magnus Itland said...

definitely once you start on the fifth dimension, people will start looking at you strangely. There seems to be no established naming standard beyond Time.

However, basic meditation definitely gives many people (but seemingly not all) access to a fifth dimension. You don't even need to follow a particular religion for this, it seems. I used to encourage this kind of observation, but I am more wary of that now. It does not always work out well for people - there are stuff that way not all can handle without preparation. And even the good stuff can cause an influx into the old wineskin that causes it to be puffed beyond measure.

I am really starting to see the value of a coherent tradition, and thank the Light eternal that I was somehow protected during my own innocent forays into the Unknown.

mushroom said...

The Fifth Dimension?

SippicanCottage said...

I like the example of a businessman.

A man to carry on a successful business must have imagination. He must see things as in a vision, a dream of the whole thing. Charles Schwab

It's as poorly understood as anything metaphysical. Attacked in sort of the same way, by the same sorts of people. The sum exceeding the value of the parts. What's in the interstices? Inspiration - the dream of the whole thing.

julie said...

What's in the interstices?

Ah, the space between the notes...

Van said...

"This is what I call a "dimensional defense," because another way of doing it is to simply live one's life in a mental space of fewer dimensions, where none of the unwanted meanings can coalesce or be consciously available."

What happens when someone lives in more dimensions than they have space to fill?

Got word yesterday that an old friends little sister, mother of three teen & pre-teen girls... killed herself Monday.

In my mind, she's still the happy 18yr old I last saw... wha....


JP said...

Van says:

"Got word yesterday that an old friends little sister, mother of three teen & pre-teen girls... killed herself Monday."

I can't really understand suicide.

I've hated life for years, but I'm not about to kill myself. I can endure 40-50 more years of marking time until I get to the grave.

We had a opthmologist from our church commit suicide. I think his 14 year old daughter found him in the back yard.

If you have children, you really, really shouldn't commit suicide no matter how bad you feel. That's just stupid.

JP said...

Magnus says:

"However, basic meditation definitely gives many people (but seemingly not all) access to a fifth dimension. You don't even need to follow a particular religion for this, it seems."

I think that meditation is a tool that has nothing to do with religion.

Meditation is on my list of "things to avoid doing".

Meditation is a technical/engineering tool (for lack of a better word) that has certain effects that I don't really feel a need for in my life.

I have enough problems dealing with a complete lack of purpose in my life (coupled with general anger). I definitely don't need strange mental side-effects from meditation on top of that.

Gagdad Bob said...

Good news: your hatred of life makes you 100% unqualifed for this path. The absence of ambiguity in this statement should appeal to the technician in you.

julie said...

Van, I'm so sorry to hear about your friend's little sister, and especially for her family. It's rough to lose someone no matter how it happens, but suicide has got to be one of the worst ways. They think they're just killing themselves, but they're also killing a part of everyone who loves them.

JP said...

Julie says:

"They think they're just killing themselves, but they're also killing a part of everyone who loves them."

The real problem comes later in life for the children.

They will certainly need a special kind of (ongoing) support from their friends and family for a long time.

ge said...

not being born
when these are thoroughly figgered out, let me know

yesterday my nephew had his fave old TV show on--King of Queens
Charles Rocket [rip] was the guest star doing a fine russian workman's impression.
i knew Charles: he had a wife & kids and slashed his throat.

a mutual friend knew him since RISD, he said that CR was the 1 person he knew in Providence he felt was sure to make it big---and David Byrne whom he also knew there he felt was headed for a nutty burnout