Monday, April 23, 2012

Spiritual Pathology and the Freedom to F*** Up

In reviewing these verbose volumes of Voegelin, it has occurred to me more than once that some innerprizing fellow needs to develop a system and gnomenclature of spiritual pathology, otherwise the field -- such as it is -- will remain as undifferentiated as the spiritually compacted individuals to whom it applies. (Recall that Voegelin frames human progress as an engagement with the ground of reality, moving from a state of compaction to one of ever-increasing differentiation and synthesis.)

The problem is analogous to the field of psychopathology prior to Freud. Among other things, Freud demythologized and systematized mental illness, and gave us a way to categorize various forms and levels of psychopathology.

Just as Aristotle defined and developed most of the scientific and philosophical categories that are still with us today, Freud did the same for psychology, giving us words and concepts (or else defining them in a stable way) such as neurosis, id, ego, superego, hysteria, paranoia, unconscious, projection, introjection, displacement, condensation, transference, internalization, idealization, repression, regression, denial, sublimation, acting out, and many more. Each of these words and concepts is still widely used today.

Is there anything analogous in the field of pneumopathology? In medicine there is the ICD, and in psychology we have the DSM -- the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

In fact, there are some very useful systems of spiritual pathology, for example, the seven deadly sins -- which is especially helpful, since it is mirrored by seven virtues which are the very markers and measures of spiritual health, e.g., prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude -- not to mention the theological virtues of faith, hope, and love. (One also thinks of the eight-fold path of buddhaflaw correction.)

So the field is actually already pretty differentiated -- or at least was, before the barbarous wave of modernity de-differentiated it again. For if there is evolution -- progress -- there must also be devolution, and no progress is completely secure, especially on the human plane, where it must be won again and again, even by each generation.

Nor were America's founders unaware of the problem of spiritual pathology, which was one of their primary motivations in differentiating the realms of spiritual and worldly power. The sad history of Europe shows how the realm of spirit is corrupted when a particular denomination is merged with the state -- even though that merger of necessity existed everywhere and everywhen prior to man's differentation of the two realms.

With the 20th century came the general de-differentiation of spirit, and with it, a re-merger of church and state in the form of the political religions, e.g., National Socialism, communism, leftism, "social democracy," etc.

This was another of Voegelin's enduring concerns, and one might even say his central concern, since a political religion -- an ideology -- is a modern substitute for contact with the ground, while explicitly forbidding any actual contact, unless it is in an orgiastic or paganistic manner. Hence the new-age mush of the Oprah- and Chopraheads, which necessarily leads to political mush as well. The obliteration of spiritual distinctions is the doorway to barbarism.

We can look at this question of pneumo-political pathology in a very concrete and experience-near manner.

Let's take, for example, the predicament of blacks vis-a-vis the Democratic party. As we have discussed in the past, for human beings, the discovery of the exterior precedes the discovery of the interior. Viewed from a world-historical perspective, it took Homo sapiens a long time to discover the "enemy within," i.e, the internal saboteurs we call mind parasites.

Quintessentially, psychotherapy -- and psychological growth in general -- involves smoking out and disempowering our internalized mind parasites, so they don't exert an unconscious influence on us in repetitive, dysfunctional, and deviant ways.

Now, let's say I attend college, or watch a lot of TV news, and internalize a doctrine that teaches that all of my persecutors and saboteurs are outside my head, and consist of "white people." I cannot be a failure. Rather, I was enfailed, and unjustly!

Please note that it actually doesn't matter whether the perception is accurate or not, because personal development will still be stymied.

Let's take an extreme case, the situation of a Jew in Nazi Germany, or a black in the Jim Crow Democrat south. When one has real enemies and persecutors, one hardly has the luxury of introspection into one's own psychic impasses. A Jew couldn't very well go to his analyst and say, "gee, Doc, I don't know what's wrong with me. I constantly feel like all Germans hate me and are out to get me." That can only become fodder for introspection and analysis if Germans don't hate him.

Now, the left argues that blacks have real enemies, and that the existence of these enemies is the principle reason for any failures on their part. As we all know, no amount of sociological evidence can sway the leftist from this belief, because it is not based on evidence; or, to be perfectly accurate, the evidence of (contemporary) racism is expanded out of all proportion, in such a way that it dwarfs more serious problems afflicting the so-called "black community," e.g., out-of-wedlock birth, drop-out rates, fatherlessness, horrible schools courtesy of the liberal education establishment, etc.

The ubiquitous accusations of racism (you aren't conservative if you haven't been falsely accused of racism) are either cynically rooted in political need -- white Democrats cannot win national elections without 85% to 90% of the black vote -- or a transparent defense mechanism against acknowledgment of personal failure.

Let's take the example of a fatherless black kid who drifts into a life of crime. Let's also say he's very angry. What's he angry about? Could it be paternal abandonment, or perhaps a pathological attempt to separate from the maternal sphere, since he has no intimate male role model for the healthy development of manhood?

Ever since the 1960s, there has been a kind of systematic effort on the part of the left to avoid such questions, and to externalize them onto society. To the extent that someone is seduced into this mindset, their personal growth will again be thwarted and success stymied -- unless one is an Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, who reap great material reward from wealthy whites in exchange for keeping blacks on the Democrat plantation.

The same can be said of homosexuality. Is homosexuality ever pathological? The very question will be scurrilously attacked on the basis of "homophobia," which is an interesting irony in itself.

Or consider the mystery of how 15 million Jews are somehow responsible for the failures of a billion or so Muslims. While that sort of thing has happened -- as when a handful of Brits controlled the Indian subcontinent -- I don't know if it speaks well of the culture that can be so easily cowed and pacified. Too bad Muslims can't imitate the Jews, in the same way India has profited from imitating British law and other institutions. Hey, I have no shame whatsoever in acknowledging the great benefit of having been a British colony!

Likewise, so long as unappealing feminists imagine that men are the reason for their unhappiness, they will remain deeply embittered and unhappy, and this unhappiness will only fuel a more entrenched and pathological war on manhood.

So I think it is entirely accurate to say that the left systematically externalizes our agency and locus of control, whereas a conservative would say that the greatest obstacle in our life is ourself. For this reason the left doesn't mind diminishing our freedom, since they either don't believe it exists, or realize that people will use it in ways that displease the state.

Thankfully, -- at least since the age of six or so -- it has never occurred to me to externalize my failures, which you might say is one of the ironic privileges of whiteness: the freedom to be a fuck-up without any bogus excuses.


julie said...

When one has real enemies and persecutors, one hardly has the luxury of introspection into one's own psychic impasses. A Jew couldn't very well go to his analyst and say, "gee, Doc, I don't know what's wrong with me. I constantly feel like all Germans hate me and are out to get me."

Once again, I'm reminded of George Zimmerman. Now that he's out on bail, the Twitter death threats have been pouring in.

Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, the left opposes the death penalty unless it is in the form of vigilantism and lynching.

Magister said...

Which they will then call "social justice."

Sal said...

There was a scholarly study on why the state-mandated obliteration of religion failed in the Soviet Union on the clearance shelves at Half-Price Books.
Should probably go back and get it, as it sounds very timely.

Re: projecting failure. That sounds exhausting, especially if on some level, you know it's not true.
In the sacrament of Penance, you are not allowed to mention the extenuating circumstances that made you fail.
Unless they truly are relevant, which is almost never. You failed, own it, get absolved and co-operate with grace better in the future.
Not pleasant, but very liberating.

Cond0010 said...

"The same can be said of homosexuality. Is homosexuality ever pathological? The very question will be scurrilously attacked on the basis of "homophobia," which is an interesting irony in itself. "

That's the new wing on the Democrat Plantation, Bob. Votes, Entitlements (in the form of Taxes/Wealth-Redistribution), etc...

Its a good gig the Democrats have, you know...

Cond0010 said...

I have my hearing for 'threats' against William, tomorrow. From what I have seen of the complaint, its an edited/distorted version of what I have posted. Considering that fact that William has nearly scrubbed clean this blog of his trolling, all I need from you is:

How long has he been trolling here?

mushroom said...

One of the Christian books I ran across that actually had some benefit to it was Happiness is a Choice by Minirth and Meier. No need to read it -- once you've seen the title, you pretty much have it.

If I am miserable, that's my choice. Given the truth of God in Christ, no one has the power to make me unhappy. Etc.

There's a corollary to that as well. Other people have the same choice I do. Apart from real oppression -- done mostly, these days, by government bureaucrats, most of our suffering is our own fault. We can learn from it, or we can sit and whine and cry that we can't get our way.

They can blame me if they want, but, unless I've actually beaten them up and taken their lunch money, I am getting harder and harder to convince. Blaming God does not work very well either.

Gagdad Bob said...

Years. My site meter indicates that he is usually my most devoted visitor, and he posts under various names. He has been banned from at least one blog (Protein Wisdom) for obnoxious and provocative behavior. I myself would ban him if not for the valuable lessons he unwittingly imparts, not to mention the comedic value. Plus I don't ban anyone, since they lose interest pretty quickly unless they are particularly daft.

Cond0010 said...

Thank you, Bob.

Sorry about the mess.

julie said...

OT, I had no idea The Church of the SubGenius actually had commercials...

julie said...

Also, how weird it is that William spends so much time here. Weirder still that he really seems to learn nothing from it. I can't think of too many worse ways to spend my time or thought than wasting it at blogs of people I don't like. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's one of the special torments of hell...

Gagdad Bob said...

A person can't make much spiritual progress until he understands the secret pleasures he derives from indulging certain supposedly unpleasant emotions. Think of the woman who gets involved with the abusive or alcoholic man in order to both punish herself and to feel morally superior to him. It's all very twisted. For similar reasons, liberals enjoy living in the racist country of their imagination.

julie said...

Good point; I hadn't thought of that. Almost makes me pity him. But not quite.

John Lien said...

Mushroom, Heh. Reminds me of a review I read of the book "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking" After a paragraph or two I got the general concept, blinked, and didn't need to read the book.

Lazarus Came Forth from the UPS truck today. Can't wait to dig in. Julie, you liking it?

julie said...

Yes, very much. Ran across a great passage the other day describing the creation of egregores (pg. 158). It is an almost perfect description of the Democrat side of the 2008 elections...

Cond0010 said...

"A person can't make much spiritual progress until he understands the secret pleasures he derives from indulging certain supposedly unpleasant emotions. "

Yea. I'm amazed that he would continue coming here even though he was not welcome - Thus my earlier thought that he was here to pick a fight. If that was his purpose, then I fell into his trap.

I'm a bit nervous about all this as they are now formalizing the issue (though I've been told by my coworkers not to worry so much).

But... if worse comes to worse, I have just 4 words to say (which actually seems to fit this whole silly nonsense with 'villiam'):

"God Bless Captain Veers!" :)

PS: As Irony would have it, I will be on a work 'vacation' until May 5th - starting tomorrow and has nothing to do with - 'Villiam' (Dang, I NEVER expected to be part of a silly drama such as this. Sheeesh...).

Talk to you later fellow Raccoons! I WILL be back.

Van said...

"...(you aren't conservative if you haven't been falsely accused of racism)..."

Well whattayaknow, I enjoyed that accusation just this morning, while at the same time questioning my 'street cred'.

I replied with some derisive laughter, of course, and let him know that if I did have any street cred, I'd be sure to wipe it from my shoes.

Coonservative cred's intact, and with no one to blame but myself. Ahhh sweet liberty.

walt said...

I have read enough of William's comments to know I will learn nothing of substance from them, so the back-and-forth with him is of no concern to me. Or so I have thought ...

Mizz E left a quote on her blog from J.B. Phillips that said, "Suppose Christianity is not a religion at all but a way of life, a falling in love with God..."

I began to notice over time that, the more William went on, the more I had a sense of loving God -- as if the downward force of his denial was propelling a part of my own self upward. So, hey: Thanks, pal!

There's a strategy in fighting which states, "Learn to use your enemies." That, too.

Bob wrote that, "...psychological growth in general -- involves smoking out and disempowering our internalized mind parasites, so they don't exert an unconscious influence on us in repetitive, dysfunctional, and deviant ways."

But this pertains to a person interested in The Truth, and especially about oneself. We've talked before about those sorts who Love Darkness, and they grow psychologically too, by way of their "love" ... but into greater darkness.

Lee van Laer wrote just a couple of days ago:
"We encounter what we encounter; we do what we do. It is our alignment to it that makes a difference."

Peyton said...

"...psychological growth in general -- involves smoking out and disempowering our internalized mind parasites, so they don't exert an unconscious influence on us in repetitive, dysfunctional, and deviant ways."

Is that another way of understanding Romans 7?

julie said...

Walt - thanks for that last quote; so true. Actually, thanks for all of your comment. Not for nothing you were nicknamed "Sensei."

I was just reading at Sultan Knish's about the two major ways Jews coped with the aftereffects of the holocaust:

"There are two basic human responses to an assault. I will protect myself. I will make the world a better place. The first deals with the risk of an attack. The second with your feelings about the world. The first leaves you better able to cope with an attack. The second makes you feel better about the world."

Of course, both of these may be expressed in positive and negative ways, but again the point being that life happens; however we cope with it is what matters.

chris m said...

Sultan Knish's article today was so excellent that I reposted it and a photo of my necklace which has a crucifix and that exact same Star of David he used in his photo(which is the version that is worn by American military). My patron saint is Edith Stein, so every day is Holocaust remembrance for me.

It's interesting that egregores were mentioned here today as I was just speaking about this with my husband. I always got the distinct impression that Anders Breivik was a Norwegian egregore.

Prayers for one of the posters here. Don't know the whole story, but am alarmed.

Gagdad Bob said...

Light inevitably attracts darkness, for self-evident reasons. Or perhaps we should say that darkness is envious of light.

julie said...

Chris, I hope things work out alright for him as well.

As to egregores, I don't know if Breivik really qualifies, as an egregore is a manifestation of collective will that is then given power over the collective. Here's the relevant bit from Tomberg:

"The magical fundamental law of creating and ensouling a leader, i.e. a "god" (called an egregore in the French magical tradition), is the following. There must be present, first of all, a collective willing, which through collective, intellectual fantasy creates an image (a thought picture or an external image, with the help of collective contributions, offerings of valuables, jewelry, etc.). The picture (or image) should be the result of collective contributions of all members of the corresponding human community (the nation, brotherhood, party, etc.). It should be the result of voluntary offerings from everyone. In the case of an outer image that is to summarize and incorporate the collective will, everyone concerned must make donations of gold, silver, and other precious materials--materials that represent what is most valuable to the human beings of the given community. The more offerings that are given over for the creation of the image the stronger its influence and authority will be. The outer image, as well as the "thought image," should be intensely elivened, ensouled, and "magnetised" so that it becomes magically effective. For, to the extent that psychic energy has been put into the picture or image and, so to speak, "stored up" in it, to that extent does it give off energy in the sense of influencing the attitude of the people, even to the extent of healing their illnesses. The collectively created picture or image, in order to retain its effectiveness, must be regularly "charged" again and again--similar to an electric battery. This purpose is served by the repeated practice of the cult, which culminates in the bringing of offerings--offerings of objects of value, animal offerings, and in certain lands (like Mexico and Carthage) even human offerings."

julie said...

Of course, in that case Tomberg was speaking particularly of the creation of the Golden calf while Moses was up on the mountain; there may be more to egregores than is indicated in this one passage...

ge said...

"Claw a Churl by the breech and he will shite in your fist"

mushroom said...

Wow, that does read as though Tomberg were talking a recent election. It is interesting, too, that Aaron did not really have a plan when he created the idol, famously saying, "I put the gold in the fire and out came this calf" -- as though it were the manifestation of the collective unconscious.

Of course, in context, it is easy to read that as Aaron just trying to make an excuse and deflect some of the blame. But the mob-mind which will, more often than not, be an all-out convention of the United Mind Parasites Local 666, may have surprised even the guy with the hammer.

Gagdad Bob said...

Re the Cond situation, it is another reminder that it is exactly people of William's character who wish to control our healthcare. Reminds me of something I read at David Thompson:

'It seems to me one can’t explain the appeal of Marxism without addressing the psychological license that it offers, specifically for coercion and petty malice. It’s a golden ticket for a certain kind of sadist. Why Marxism? Start with rationalised envy and a vindictive desire for power over others, wrap it in a drag of altruism, and then take it from there.'

julie said...

Also reminded me of this other gem over at the Sultan's from this weekend:

"The people behaving this way have lost the ability to recognize enduring abstract principles that have an existence beyond their emotions of the moment. They don't live by rules, rather rules live by them, if they are angry, then their anger is a moral issue, if they are not angry, it isn't. Emotions are the only moral barometer that people who cannot see beyond the self have.

That makes them natural bullies, their shows of outrage lifting their anger up to self-righteousness. Their tactical anger is part pretense, part real, and even they don't really know the difference anymore. They have been taught that their momentary moral tantrums make them good people, they have not however been taught to be good people. They believe that they are right because they are angry and that they are angry because they are right. It's an attitude you can see in traffic arguments, in divorce court and on the evening news."

And in the comments sections of blogs...

EbonyRaptor said...

I'm sorry to hear of the trouble William has caused, although it finally confirms the obvious for me that William is in fact a troll. There have been times when his intractable thickness made me wonder if he was a rhetorical device employed by the teacher.

chris m said...

Julie, thanks for that quote. I'm going to copy it and work on it. I so want to read that book, but I'm working through a long list of unread books first. Right now it's "Explaining Postmodernism." And I'm still slowly, slowly working through MOTT. *sigh* I used to suck down books in a day.

I read Breivik's journal or manifesto, or what ever it was, at the time they caught him. He was being portrayed by the media as from the right and Christian. I don't believe he is either from the right or Christian. I don't think it's possible for a right to exist in Norway. I think he is the embodiement of the Norwegian Lefts' unspoken rage. I got the impression from things Breivik wrote, that political correctness and leftist thought coersion had gone so far that no one was ever allowed to speak freely about what is going on in that country: that the Norwegian Left is dragging the country towards cultural suicide.

chris m said...

I was operating on the assumption that egregores are the embodiment of strong thoughts or words. I may have been wrong.

chris m said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
chris m said...

David Thompson's article about the attraction to communism, caused me to come up with this bumpersticker:

Progressives/Leftists "occupy" the moral high ground. And trash it just as much as the OWSers do.