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BNW Profiles

Profile of
Ozodi T. Osuji, Ph.D.

 

Some of you asked: who is this Ozodi Osuji?  He seems to have come out of nowhere and is making a whole lot of noise. None of you at this Forum know me in person, and some wonder whether I exist as a real person? For all you know, I could be planted by foreigners in Nigerians’ midst? To answer your questions, I have decided to be narcissistic and spend some time talking about me. However, I will do it in such a manner that folks learn about the human personality in general and, hopefully, their own specific personalities. We Africans need to become a bit more introspective and reflect on our personalities. Perhaps, in so doing, we shall learn to stop making a royal mess of our continent, as we currently are doing.

 

 

What is science?  Biafra NigeriaWorld Writer: Ozodi OsujiScience is a methodological approach to phenomena. Science seeks to understand phenomena, as it is, not as one wants it to

Articles by Ozodi Osuji

ozodi Osuji Articles @ BNW: TheOsuji Files

Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #4 of 54: Botswana
Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #4 of 52: The Alienating Nature of Criticalness
Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #3 of 54: Benin
Ozodi Osuji Weekly Psychological Series 2006, #3 of 52: Forgiveness as the True Meaning of Salvation, Peace, and Happiness
Ozodi Osuji Weekly Psychological Series 2006, #2 of 52: The External World Mirrors our Thinking
Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #2 of 54: Angola
Ozodi Osuji Weekly Psychological Series 2006, #1 of 52
Ozodi Osuji Weekly Lectures on African Countries #1 of 54: Algeria


Redirecting the Desire to Make Fantasy Real
Politicians should Write Blueprints of what they Plan to do for Nigeria
Insanity Results from Searching for Worth, Meaning, and Purpose in the Wrong Places
Science and Technology of Thinking and Behavior: Focus on Paranoia (Part 2)
Science and Technology of Thinking and Behavior: Focus on Paranoia (Part 1)
Do American Liberals have a Death Wish?
The Nature of Sanity and Insanity (Part 2)
The Nature of Sanity and Insanity (Part 1)
The Role of Fear in the Genesis and Nature of Government: An Essay on Political Philosophy (Part 2)
The Role of Fear in the Genesis and Nature of Government: An Essay on Political Philosophy (Part 1)
Negative Uses of Body and Personality
Self Concept and its Problems
Intelligent Design by an Insane God
Why do Human Beings Tolerate Slavery? and other Little Essays
Salvation: Where does it Come from, Inside or out?
Man: The Thinker
Do Nigerian Politicians Inherit Criminal Genes?
Neurotic Idealism and Unhappiness

Ozodi Osuji Lectures #30: Introduction to Customer Care and E-Commerce
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #29: Introduction to Labor Relations
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #28: Introduction to Organizational Behavior
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #27: Introduction to Management and Supervision
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #26: Introduction to Human Resources
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #25: Introduction to Business Operations
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #24: Introduction to Marketing
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #23: Introduction to Accounting
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #22: Introduction to Corporate Finance
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #21: Introduction to Public Finance
Fantasy (Idealism), Physics (Realism), and Metaphysics (Escape): Physics vs. Metaphysics
The Five Modes of Thinking: Studies in Science and Thinking
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #20: Training for Leadership in Nigeria
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #19: Nigeria and the Business World
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #18: Extra-legal Governments in Nigeria:: the Military, Religious Groups, and Transnational Corporations
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #17: Nigeria and International Organizations
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #16: Nigeria and International Relations
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #15: the Bureaucracy in Nigeria's Politics
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #14: State and Local Governments in Nigeria's Politics
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #13: the Judiciary in Nigeria's Politics
The Ozodi Osuji Lectures on Nigeria’s Politics #12: the Executive in Nigeria's Politics
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #11: the Legislative Process in Nigeria
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #10: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties in Nigeria
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #9: Public Opinion and Public Policy in Nigeria
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #8: The Media in Nigeria's Politics
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #7: Political Parties and Elections in Nigeria
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #6: Interest Group Politics in Nigeria
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #5: Nigeria and the Capitalist Political Economy
Ozodi Osuji Lectures on Nigeria's Politics #4: Nigeria and Political Ideologies
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #3: Nigeria's Political Socialization
Ozodi Osuji Lectures #2: Nigeria's Political Culture
Science of Thinking
The Ozodi Thomas Osuji Lectures on Nigeria's Politics #1: Introduction, Why Study Politics?

Idealism, Realism, and Christianity
Sadomasochism and America's Future, Part II
Sadomasochism and America's Future, Part I
Why we Must Confederate African Countries, Part II
Why we Must Confederate African Countries, Part I
The World is our Idea: So, let us Make it Better, Part II
The World is our Idea: So, let us Make it Better, Part I
Addressing Cleavages in Alaigbo
Can Africans Govern Themselves Well?
Africans (Nigerians) and Addiction to mood-Altering Drugs
A Realistic Educational Policy for African Countries
Overcoming the Fear that Holds Africans Down, Part 2
Overcoming the Fear that Holds Africans Down, Part 1
Africans should Pay Reparations to African Americans, Part 2
Africans should Pay Reparations to African Americans, Part 1
Understanding our African Personalities: Ozodi Osuji on Ozodi Osuji
Developing Political Leadership in Ala Igbo
The West, the Middle East, and the Rest of us: How Africans should Respond to the Clash between the Christian and Muslim Civilizations
Africa Leadership Matters: Idealism and Realism in Leadership Matters
Self-centeredness in African Politics, Part III: Solution and Discussion
Self-centeredness in African Politics, Part II: Why there is Polical Chaos in Africa
Self-centeredness in African Politics, Part I: Causation
be.

 

The science of human thinking and behavior, psychology, observes human thinking and behavior, as they are, in fact, not as one morally or ideally wishes that they be, and accepts them as they are.

 

Science does not first posit ideals and uses them to compare the real world and judge it, good or bad, as old time philosophers did. Science does not compare reality to ideal states.

 

The human mind has a tendency to construct mental ideals, and is tempted to think that just because it can imagine ideals, that there are ideals in nature. Plato believed that there are ideal archetypes, to which our imperfect world is a variant of.  Plato and similar philosophers used to think that imperfect things deviated from perfect things that existed out there.  They then struggled to make things perfect, to approximate their alleged perfect nature. Alas, you could try forever to make things perfect and you cannot make them perfect.

 

Perfection is a mental construct and does not exist apart from the mind that thinks it. Moreover, the mind is always changing its idea of what perfection is; as one idea of perfection is attained, the goal post is extended, and different ideas of perfection enter ones mind and beckon one to attain them. There is never an end to what is perfect hence no amount of trying would ever make a human being attain perfection. 

 

Reality is not our mental models of it. Reality is not of our making; instead, we have to make our mental constructions of reality approximate it, and not the other way around.

     

Psychology is a science that attempts to describe human beings as they are, not as they should be. As they should be, human beings should be perfect, whatever that is.  But in reality, as they are, human beings are imperfect animals.  It is the job of psychology to understand human beings as they are, imperfect, and not dwell on impossible imaginations of how they should be.

 

Among other things, Psychology studies the human personality. Personality is the specific manner individuals relate to their social and physical world.

 

The term personality is derived from Greek for mask.  It implies that personality may not be the same as the real self. Personality, mask, denotes the bundle of habits and patterns of behavior that characterize the empirical individual.  Each person has a specific pattern of relating to his world, his personality, but that is not necessarily all there is to him. Beneath the mask of personality, some believe, is another self, what they call the spiritual self.

 

Those who call themselves metaphysicians believe that personality, aka the ego, is a picture, a role that people invented for themselves and act out.  As they see it, the human personality is not the real self, but is a dream self. Helen Schucman (A Course in Miracles) believes that our lives on earth are as in a dream and that in the dream each of us, with the help of all of us, invents a personality/ego-separated-self for himself or for herself. That self is housed in body and made to seem real.  That ego, false self is deliberately made to feel, upon attack, pain. Feeling pained, it feels fear and defends itself. Defense makes it, the false, seem real.  As she sees it, we are all like mad men trying to actualize our personalities; we all try to make what is not real seems real in our awareness. And this applies to both the so-called normal and abnormal personalities.

 

According to Schucman, each of us is in a personal battle to make a self he made for himself, a self that is not real, seem real in his consciousness.  She wants us to stop defending our personalities with the various ego defenses, particularly with fear. As she sees it, when the unreal is not defended, its unreality becomes apparent.

 

Relax, Schucman tells us, because we are not our personalities, we are not the roles we are playing in the dream of space, time and matter.  We should stop trying to make our personalities seem real. We should be quiet and do nothing and in silence, aka meditation, our real self, who she says is spirit, will reveal itself to us. Who we are is the role maker, the inventor of our personality and our world; we are not the personality/ego and the world. The ego and the world are dreams; people on earth are like dream figures, seemingly real, but, in fact, not real. 

 

Are people on earth mere figures in a dream? Is Schucman’s philosophical solipsism true?  I do not know.  What is apparent is that personality is formed in childhood and can be understood.

 

Personality could be helpful or not helpful in the individual’s efforts to adapt to the exigencies of his environment. Where the individual’s pattern of relating to his environment is adaptive to the demands of his world, he is normal. Where the individual’s personality does not enable him adapt effectively to the demands of his world, he has personality disorder.

 

Persons who have personality disorders tend to have problematic relationship with other people, and generally do not do what needs to be done to effectively cope with the realities of their world. Thus, for example, a chap with outstanding intelligence and education may have so much interpersonal problems that he is unable to make it on the job and fails at it. Ordinarily, intelligence and sound education are correlated with success at work; but the individual’s inability to get along with other people contributes to his failure at work.

 

Each of us has a specific personality, normal or abnormal. It behooves the individual to understand his personality, and where there are issues in it, attempt to change them, as much as is possible.

 

It is doubtful that personality can be made perfect hence the individual has to live with some problematic aspects to his personality. 

 

The reason why the individual is not ever likely going to make his personality perfect is that personality is largely a product of the individual’s inherited biological constitution. The individual child is born with a set of genes, body, and those interact with the physical and social environment he is born into.  The child’s body interacts with the exigencies of his physical and social world, and forms a personality for him, a specific pattern he employs in responding to stimuli emanating from his environment.

 

Personality is that which the child’s experience informs him is the best way for him to relate to his world; personality is what he believes works for him in his efforts to adapt to his world.

 

Given the incomplete information on the nature of the world and what works in adapting to that world available to the human child, he may be wrong in adopting the personality he has.

 

Those with personality disorders still believe that their disordered personalities are best at enabling them to cope with their world and are unwilling or afraid to give up their disordered personalities.  May be their personalities worked in their childhood but does not work in their current adult situations? Nevertheless, their personalities are all they know, and they are unwilling to give them up, and risk other forms of personality, ones they have not known to work through actual experience.  For example, one may be told that serving other people is good for one. But if all that one knows to work for one is selfishness, one would be cautious trying service oriented lifestyle. One does not know for certain that being altruist would contribute to ones survival. One knows for sure that looking after ones interests conduces to ones survival.

 

Simply stated, the individual does not easily give up his personality, for it is what he believes enables him adapt to his world; to him, talk of alternative personalities is hypothetical and not based on experience. In life and death matters, experience supersedes mere intellectual talk.

 

I believe that personality is formed, beginning in the womb, and is complete by the first year of existence on earth.  I believe that personality is 90% biologically determined.

 

The role of social factors in the formation of personality is overrated by social psychology. When psychology becomes a true science, it will be rooted in biology (and chemistry and physics), not social psychology.

 

I reached the conclusion that personality is primarily a biological phenomenon by observing my own personality. I have been the person I know myself to be now, right from the time I was born, certainly from the time I developed consciousness of who I am, age five.  I know myself from age five and have remained the same person.

 

My parents and those around me tell me that my behavior from age one to age, when I can speak for myself, is the same. I take it that they told me the truth when they told me that I was late in walking, late in talking, was shy, and avoidant of other children.  These traits I know to be in me since at least age five.

 

I believe that I have been the same person from the moment of my birth.  Indeed, my father and grandfather were like me. Therefore, I believe that biology determines personality. I see much of the emphasis on sociological causation of personality as so much nonsense.

 

I believe in learning theory because I know that we do learn many things, but we learn those things with our inherited body, and that body affects how we learn them.

     

Why did I learn to walk late and to talk late? I believe that it is for the same reasons that I did not learn well at school. 

 

When I was at elementary school, I was preoccupied with how other pupils and our teachers saw my performance.  I wanted to be seen as always doing well. I feared not doing well at anything that I was doing, be it schooling or participating in sports.  The worst thing that could happen to me was for the teacher to call on me to answer a question.  I feared giving him the wrong answer.  Coming up with the wrong answer made me feel small, imperfect and like I was insignificant.

 

I wanted to seem important, perfect, ideal, superior and powerful.  I felt like I was not good enough and compensated with desire to be good, in fact, to be perfect. 

 

I was born with two medical disorders, Spondilolysis and Mitral Valve Prolapse. My body produced pain for me at most times. My body felt very weak and unable to cope with the exigencies of living on planet earth.

 

Given my weak body and the toughness of the physical environment that I had to adapt to, I necessarily felt physically weak, and developed psychological sense of inferiority. As Alfred Adler pointed out, the demands of the physical environment is such that the human child must have power if he is to cope with them. It takes power to adapt to our world. Power is instrumental in coping with the impersonal nature of the physical environment. The human child, therefore, desires power with which he adapts to his world.  If he does not have that power, he imagines that he has it.  The weak feeling child restitutes with desire for power and perfection.

   

In learning situations, I felt like I could fail and not learn what I was supposed to learn. To fail made me feel inadequate. Apparently, I did not want to seem inadequate and not good enough.  To avoid failing and seeming not good enough, I hesitated learning new tasks, particularly difficult tasks. 

 

In not learning, not trying, I did not fail. In not failing, I retained the illusion that I was not a failure.  In not trying, in not competing, and not failing in learning and competitive situations, I retained an imaginary sense of perfection, power, adequacy, ideal, superiority etc.

 

I did not learn to talk when I was supposed to talk. I believe that the psychological dynamics going on then was the same as what happened when I was at school. I felt that I could make mistakes in learning to talk. If I made mistake learning to talk, I would be shown as not good enough. I did not want to seem not good enough, so to not fail, I did not learn to talk. I kept quiet.

 

I probably understood what those around me were talking about, but did not want to hazard talking lest I made mistakes hence be seen as not good enough and lose social face. I know this to be the case for when later on in school I was learning Latin and French I felt the same dynamics going on in me.  I loved the two languages and would have liked to speak them.  But in class, when called upon to speak them, I felt embarrassed at the prospect of making mistakes, particularly mispronouncing words.   Not pronouncing words properly made me feel small. 

 

To avoid making mistakes, I did not even try to speak the languages I was learning in front of my peers.  By not speaking them, I did not make mistakes and was, therefore, not seen as imperfect.

 

I believe that the same phenomenon took place when I tried walking. I felt that if I took my first baby steps learning to walk, that I would fall down, which is true. A child cannot learn to walk without falling down. No one can learn new tasks, particularly difficult ones, without making mistakes. I did not want to fall down, that is, I did not want to make mistakes. To fall down is to be embarrassed and lose social face.  To fall down is to seem like I am not good enough. To fall down is to seem imperfect and powerless.  I wanted to seem perfect and powerful, so to avoid their opposite; I did not learn to walk until I was reasonably certain that I would not fall down when I tried walking. Thus, I waited until I was a bit older, when my leg muscles were strong enough to support my Weight and prevent my falling down, before I walked.

 

I was told that I learned to walk at age two and half, around the same age that I learned to talk. Most children learn to walk and talk before age two. I was at least six months late learning talking and walking.

 

At elementary school, I feared making mistakes. I particularly feared failing examinations. I also feared not doing very well at sports.  The mere prospect of not doing anything well filled me with anxiety. I had anticipatory anxiety of examinations, sports and competition.

 

Any thing that I could not do well at made me feel tremendously anxious.  To avoid failing and feeling anxious, I avoided doing many of the things done at school, things my cohorts seemed to be enjoying. 

 

I tried not to take examinations or show my assignments to my teachers. I hesitated in turning in my homework assignments.  I felt like the teachers would give me poor grades, or any grade less than perfect grade.  The prospect of not making good grades filled me with anxiety.  It was like I would die if I had less than perfect grades.

 

To avoid imperfection and failure, I did not really compete with the other children at school and sports.  I kept to my self. I was mostly on the sidelines when sports were taking place. 

 

While not participating in competitive activities, I imagined myself not failing.  In idle imagination, I felt like I was perfect at whatever I feared failing at. Thus, I visualized myself the best student in my school work, and the best student at sports. I imagined myself an Olympian athlete, even though I did not participate in competitive sports. One must first participate in sports to win and, in as much as, I was not participating, I could not win, could I?

 

One thing is very clear to me: I wanted to seem perfect. Withdrawal from social activities, from schooling, sports, and later on, from work, is a maneuver to avoid failing.

 

The desire to avoid not failing is motivated by the desire to be perfect, powerful and ideal.  I wanted to be special, ideal and perfect.  Perfection, ideal and superiority are compensatory, for I saw my real self as not special, as weak and not good enough.

     

Later on in life, I developed an interesting lifestyle. When I did not immediately get what I wanted, I felt angry.  For example, if I was kept waiting on a line before the school clerk etc got to me, I felt furious at her. To this day, I feel angry when I stand on long lines, waiting my turn to be served.  For example, if a bank teller is taking a long time getting to me, I feel angry at her. Of course, I keep quiet about it and do not tell her what I feel. I know better than to tell her so.

 

When I entered the job market, I recognized that I would like to be the boss and enter the work world at the top.  I resented being at the bottom of the employment ladder. Moreover, if I applied for a job and was not offered it, I felt angry.  I desired big jobs and felt angry that I did not obtain them. 

 

To avoid being rejected for the big jobs that I desired, I stopped applying for them. I would simply take the most unchallenging job that I could obtain.  Since I could do such jobs with my eyes closed, there were no prospects of making mistakes in them hence I was not likely to be judged as not good enough at doing them. Thus, I wound up performing unchallenging jobs, rather than go out there and compete for more difficult jobs and show that I can do them competitively.

 

To compete is to make mistakes and I did not want to make mistakes. To make mistakes made me seem not perfect and all powerful. In not competing and not making mistakes, I retained imaginary sense of perfection, power and superiority.

 

In interpersonal situations, I hated being treated as an insignificant person.  If people dared treat me as if I was not important, I felt angry.  I used to fly into rage at the slightest indication that others treated me as insignificant.  I recall in secondary school when other boys did not invite me to participate in their activities. I felt demeaned, slighted and angry at them. On a few occasions, I actually yelled at them and asked them who they thought that they were not inviting me to their parties.  If I was excluded in what seemed to me significant meetings, I would feel so offended that I would confront the person who excluded me and asked him to not do so again in the future. To be ignored by my peers made me feel like I was nothing, and I did not like to feel like an unimportant person. To this day, I still fear being ignored by people.

 

I did not want to seem subordinate to others. To avoid subordination to other persons, I avoided them.

 

Generally, I felt tense in interpersonal situations. I anticipated being treated "as if I was unimportant" and resented that. To avoid being treated as a worthless person, I did my utmost best to seem good at whatever was being done in situations I was in.   I was always acting “as if” I was good in all situations I found myself in. I was Mr. Proper person in my behaviors.  I conformed to most socially expected behaviors.

 

I tended to be stiff and proper in social situations. To relax was to be seen as not good enough, and possibly be rejected, and I feared rejection. 

 

Boy friend-Girl friend situations were particularly difficult for me. I would like a particular girl.  I would hesitate approaching her for friendship.  I would anticipate her rejecting me.  Her rejecting me filled me with anxiety.  To avoid that anxiety, I did not approach her. I kept to myself while wishing that the girl that I liked would approach me for friendship. Unfortunately for me, society expects boys to take the initiative in approaching girls for friendship, so, very few girls approached me for friendship. I wound up lonely, even though I wished for the company of girls.

During my late teenage years, boys talked a lot about sex. Like most of the boys around me, I desired to experience sex.  But to have sex with a girl one must be sociable and less stiff. I could not relax. I was always stiff in such situations. I felt like if I relaxed that girls would see me as not important enough. I always tried to seem important and that made it very awkward to have intimate relationship with girls.

 

I have been a failure in many areas of my life.  I have been a failure at school, sports, interpersonal relationships, work and making money.  The reason for my failure in these various arenas of life is my underlying sense of inferiority and desire to seem superior. I want to seem important and fear being unimportant.

 

When I see myself as unimportant, I pretend being important. For example, I did not attend the best secondary school in town. I wanted to do so. One time, I was with my friends and they were bragging about their elite private schools and I told them a lie regarding the school I attended. I said that I attended an elite secondary school, when, in fact, I did not. (Many of those boys who attended elite schools like Kings College, Lagos, the envy of my peers and I, ended up with crummy grades in their final results. Since I had mostly As in my final examination in secondary school, GCE Advance Level, I suppose that my non-elite school was, after all, not that bad?)

 

I tend to feel angry when I am actually treated as if I am unimportant. I remember yelling at people who treated me as if I was not important. In my work life, I have actually fired subordinates who dared talk back at me. I felt: how dare such persons talk to me, their boss, in that manner?

 

I have had the same personality since I was born. I have had the same sense of inadequacy and desire for adequacy. I have had the same fears of failure and imperfection.  My personality, contrary to what behaviorists say, is not learned.

 

In as much as personality is shaped by our inherited physical constitution, we might as well say that personality is partially inherited.  I inherited my personality.  My father and grandfather were like me.  I believe that our inherited bodies made our personalities inevitable.

 

The individual's inherited body shapes his personality, at least 90% of it. Social factors are over rated in shaping personality. I am willing to grant less than 10% to the role of social variables in influencing personality.

 

Biology mostly determines the formation of personality.  If you want to change the individual's personality, you first have to understand the role his body plays in it, and where possible change his body, before you talk of changing his personality. And since body cannot be completely changed, I doubt that personality can be completely changed. Perhaps, in the future when the  science of genetics is fully understood, and we develop genetic engineering to correct our problematic genes, we shall be able to change the human body, and in doing so, change human personalities. Until then, all we can do is understand our personalities.

 

Because personality is shaped by our bodies, I believe that when we die, our personalities die with us.  I do not believe that our personalities survive our physical death.

 

If there is an immortal aspect to us, it must transcend our bodies and personalities.  It is conceivable that an intelligent force exists apart from matter, space and time, and that it enters our bodies, or seem to do so, and body and social experience shape its personality. When our body dies, our personalities also die. The intelligent force, spirit, that had entered our bodies, and through them formed our personalities,  probably continues to live without being aware of the life and death of its past bodies and personalities.

 

The individual’s thinking and behaviors are literally shaped by his body and personality. In fact, thinking and behavior are body and personality at work.

 

The individual's personality shapes everything he does.  Consider my fear of being ignored. It disposes me to do everything I do. I fear society ignoring me.

 

(I feel that white Americans ignore black Americans; that feeling is rooted in my personal feeling of being ignored by other people. I projected out what is in me to society at large.  Of course, white Americans do ignore African Americans.  However, if I did not fear being ignored, I would not be acutely aware of being ignored by white Americans.)

 

My desire to seem important affects everything that I do. I tended to seek friends that seemed socially important. I wanted to marry a woman that seemed important (the daughter of a medical doctor.)   I did not want to marry persons from the lower classes or from those groups considered not good enough.

 

 

EGO DEFENSE MECHANISMS

 

Once the child invents a separated self, the ego, for himself, he defends it. The separated self is that which must be defended to seem real in our awareness. If we did not defend the ego, it dies. The unreal needs defense to seem real. That which needs defense to seem real must not be real.

 

The child employs the various ego defense mechanisms to defend his ego.  There are many ego defense mechanisms, some known, and others still unknown to psychology. The major ones are: repression, suppression, denial, dissociation, displacement, projection, rationalization, reaction-formation, sublimation, intellectualization, and minimizing, adjusting, blaming, perfection, avoiding, fantasy and so on.  Please see any text book on psychology for detailed explanation of the defense mechanisms; here, what I will do is briefly define them.

 

Briefly, the individual represses whatever he does not want to consciously think about.  If an issue is too dangerous to think about it he represses it, that is, he puts it into his subconscious mind, from which it exercises unconscious effects on his behavior. Sex is a topic that most societies repress. Very few persons talk about their sexual organs, their penis, and vagina and or having sexual intercourse. That subject is shrouded in hush-hush. People are embarrassed to talk about their sexual activities. Sexual intercourse is seen as animalistic and not thought about, while more moralistic issues are talked about. From its unconscious repository, people engage in sex in perverted forms, such as homosexuality, pedophilia and other products of sexual repression. The Catholic Church represses sex in its priests, and unwillingly makes them pedophilic homosexuals. In cultures where sex is more openly accepted, it is doubtful that these absurd sexual practices exist? Traditional Alaigbo (Africa) was realistic about sex, and there was no homosexuality in it. (Homosexuality seems a product of repression of heterosexual sex in so-called civilized societies.)

 

Whereas repression is done early in life, and, in fact, is imposed by the culture on the individual, the individual can consciously decide not to think about a subject, this personal repression is called suppression. 

 

The individual can deny a subject. What is repressed, suppressed or denied is still there, of course, and affect behavior, albeit indirectly. One may deny that one has an addiction problem and go ahead and drink or smoke cigarettes.  Mood altering drugs have adverse side effects and produce them for the individual, denied or not.  If you smoke you risk getting cancer, whether you deny that you have a smoking problem or not, does not matter. 

 

If an event is too painful, the individual may dissociate from it, and pretend as if it did not happen to him. If a woman was, for example, raped by a close relative, that experience is so embarrassing that she might dissociate from it.  Dissociation often results in developing an alter ego, an altogether different self. In multiple personality disorder, the individual has many ego selves, many personalities, each unaware of the existence of the others.

 

When it seems dangerous to express an opinion, to preserve their security, individuals might not do so. For example, if one is angry at ones boss, to express that anger at him, one might get fired from ones job.  Therefore, one desists from expressing the affect and swallows it. Then one goes home and displaces that anger to ones wife. She, in turn, displaces her anger to the children, who displace their anger to the family pet. We displace anger to weaker objects, those not likely to fight back and harm us.

 

Sometimes, society says that it is too dangerous to own some feelings and one projects them out to others. For example, if society prohibits sex between certain classes of people, they are likely to project out their sexual desires for each other. In racist America, society prohibited sex between whites and blacks. Whites who desired sex with blacks denied it and projected it to blacks. They then believe that blacks want to have sex with whites, true, and there is nothing wrong with that.  Members of the same animal species desire sex from each other, and in as much as all human beings belong to the same species, they will desire sex from each other; prohibiting it is social constructed reality, and is futile.  The salient point is that the white person who projects his sexual feelings to blacks is talking about his own desire to have sex with blacks. If one feels hostile to other persons and believes that if one expresses that affect that they might harm one, one might say that they are hostile to one. Blacks resent being socially marginalized by whites and feel hostile to whites. They then deny their hostility.

 

Sometimes, we know that we should not do something and go ahead and do it, anyway. We then rationalize our actions and attempt to make them seem rational. This is pretty much like making excuses for our actions. 

 

Sometimes, we see something is us and instead of accepting it (reaction formation), we see it in other persons and, perhaps, fight it in them. A man who is interested in pornography (there is nothing wrong with that), might see other people as interested in it, and fight it.  In so doing, he sees more pornography than the average person does. The crusading anti pornographic minister sees more smut than the peddlers of smut; he gratifies his prurient interests by examining smut, to decide whether to censor it or not.

 

Sometimes, we redirect, sublimate, what we see in ourselves, that society prohibits, to more socially acceptable ends. If one likes to see nude women, one might paint nude pictures, a more acceptable form of that desire. 

 

Sometimes, we think about things but lack the courage to do them. We intellectualize but fear doing what we think and talk about lest society punishes us.  You can talk about sexual freedom, but engaging in it is a different matter, for that requires courage to defy your society’s mores and the injunctions of your religion. 

 

Sometimes, we minimize the effect of what we are doing.  You discriminate against people and see it as not a big deal.

 

We all adjust to the situations we find ourselves in. Bad situations are adjusted to, perhaps with hope of a better future. Even slavery is adjusted to. 

 

Sometimes, we blame other people for our problems. If we can blame others for our issues, then we are no longer responsible for them. Blaming is used to retain a sense of perfection, while one is imperfect. A girl, who dropped out of school hence feels like she was a failure, may blame her parents for dropping out of school. She exaggerates their imperfections and faults to make it seem like they made her drop out of school.  If it is their fault then she is good.  This is, of course, an infantile attempt not to take responsibility for ones action and feel imperfect. 

 

We all desire perfection, superiority and ego ideal; it takes courage to accept ones imperfection. 

 

Sometimes, we avoid what makes us feel anxious. The shy child anticipates rejection and feels anxious from it, and to avoid rejection he withdraws from people and keeps to himself. 

When life is tough, we tend to escape into fantasyland, into wishful thinking, into dreams of what could be that is not in fact what is. If one is poor one dreams of wealth, if one is socially powerless one dreams of power. In America, white society marginalizes black people and blacks often escape into the fantasy world and, in it, imagine themselves powerful.  The weak feeling child tends to over utilize fantasy.  The psychotic person, in fact, lives in his own fantasy world where he is whatever he dreams that he is.

 

Fear, anger, shame, pride, guilt and the other emotions are really ego defense mechanisms. We feel fear of what could harm or destroy our bodies and our psychological selves and fear makes us flee from them or fight them, and in so doing protect our bodies and egos.

 

Sometimes, we feel angry when our bodies and psychological selves ere attacked…if you humiliate a person, he feels angry at you, and may attack you to protect his pride.

 

We feel proud of our ego selves, our sense of importance, significance, and dignity.  Pride is mostly an empty affect for human beings are not different from animals and trees.  Neurotics who over identity with their imaginary ideal, superior selves and take pride in those false selves tend to over utilize pride defense.

 

We feel shame when our sense of dignity is affronted…such as falling down in the presence of other persons, or being seen by others having sex etc.

 

We feel guilty when we do something that our sense of right and wrong tells us is wrong.  The ego has a sense of right and wrong, and that makes it feel proud of itself. But in the natural world there is no right and wrong.  Nature will destroy you in a jiffy without respecting whether you are right or wrong.  Terrorists will kill you despite your sense of being innocent. Criminals will steal from you despite your working hard for your money. In short, there is no right or wrong in nature. Right or wrong is a social construct. Clearly, we need socially constructed morality if we are to get along with each other and survive in society. Nevertheless, the fact is that morality is a socially made up variable and does not exist in nature.  When ones survival is threatened, even stealing is engaged in by the most moralistic person.  Guilt feeling is a social thing and an expensive thing at that. It assumes that one did wrong. In a world where there is no right or wrong, how can one do wrong?  Anti social personalities do not feel guilty or remorseful for their hurtful actions.  They just take what they want to survive with. American whites needed land and took it from Indians and do not feel guilty from doing so. Guilt feeling is a neurotic thing, a luxury a rational person cannot afford.

 

Helen Schucman (A Course in Miracles) gave the ego defense mechanisms religious coloration. In her view, we separated from God and feel guilty from doing so, and we fear punishment from God. To be human is to feel existential guilt and fear punishment. She then tried to persuade us that we did not separate from God hence are not guilty and, therefore, should not fear God’s punishment.  Her views are interesting but we are not at present discussing metaphysics, but psychology. 

 

For our present purposes, human beings have a sense of separated self housed in bodies and employ the various ego defense mechanisms to defend those self invented selves.  How the individual defends his self characterizes his personality.  The avoidant personality, my personality, aka shy child, employs avoidance, and fear, excessively. The paranoid personality excessively employs the ego defense of projection.  The multiply personality over employs dissociation. The antisocial personality over employs the ego defense of denial.

 

You can figure out which ego defense mechanisms you frequently employ. That would give you insight into your personality type. Then try to reduce the employment of the various defense mechanisms. To the extent that you are less defended, to that extent are you relaxed, peaceful and happy? However, it is impossible not to employ ego defenses and still be alive on earth. If you did not feel fear and run from danger, or fight it, you would be killed and not live in this world. The world is a place where our selves are made up and, as such, must be defended to seem to exist.

 

When you no longer defend your body and ego, they die and disappear into the nothingness from where they came. (See the chapter on Ontology, in my book, Real Self Psychology.)

 

What seems to exist, eternally, is the agent that constructs the ego, the intelligence in us, aka spirit self.  I believe that there is a universal intelligence that manifests in all living things.  I believe that the real self is part of that universal intelligence. As I see it, unified intelligence enters space, time and matter and uses them to construct separated selves and bodies and defends them. When it stops defending them, defending human personalities, and the bodies they manifest in, they die and that universal force reverts to being only aware of itself as pure intelligence.

 

 

 

PERSONALITY DISORDERS

 

 

 

Western psychiatry has done an excellent job describing the various personality disorders.  At present, American Psychiatry recognizes eleven personality disorders.

 

The eleven personality disorders are paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal; narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, antisocial; avoidant, obsessive-compulsive, dependent and passive aggressive.

 

Briefly, paranoid personality disorder is characterized by feeling of inferiority and inadequacy and compensatory desire for exaggerated adequacy and power. The individual assess himself as inferior but resents being so and does everything not to seem inferior and inadequate. He works very hard to seem adequate, powerful and superior. He so wants to seem adequate that sometimes he pretends to be adequate, rather than own that he is feeling inadequate. Sometimes, he behaves “as if” he is the superior and powerful person he would like to be but knows himself not to be.  He is Alfred Adler’s neurotic personality.  He hates being seen as inadequate and imagines that people around him see him as inadequate. He fears being demeaned, belittled, degraded, humiliated, criticized and ignored. If he feels that other people treated him as an insignificant nobody, he feels angry at them. He is suspicious and untrusting. He feels like only he can defend his own interests.  He is very rationalistic and not sentimental or poetic. He wants to seem like a man and hates whatever makes him seem like a woman: weakness and softness.  He wants to be an important person, a social somebody, and detests being a social nobody.  He is usually very argumentative and wants to win all debates he is involved in, even if his position is wrong. Winning is all that matters to him, not the right or wrong answer. To win makes him feel like he is important, perfect and ideal, and to loose makes him feel like he is an existential nobody, a situation he dreads more than death. He is guarded and scans his world expecting danger and defends himself. Physically and emotionally, he looks proper and stiff, dignified and lacks spontaneity in behavior. He is rigid and inflexible and finds it difficult to relax and flow with life. He must do everything to conform to his desired existential importance. As it were, he is forever playing roles, the role of “I am a very important person; treat me so, or I would be angry at you.”

 

He lacks genuine sense of humor and is almost always serious. People generally stay away from him, for they never know what they could say that might offend him. Besides, since he seldom laughs and people enjoy the company of those who laugh, they do not enjoy his company and avoid him. Thus, he is generally left alone. 

 

His loneliness is compounded by his tendency to pursue ideal self and that self’s allied ideal standards. He mentally constructs ideal “how people ought to be and behave”. He then uses those ideas to judge real people. He is always judging those around him, pointing out their imperfections, relative to his ideal standards. Nobody likes to be constantly reminded that he is not perfect, even if that is true, so people resent him for being judgmental and critical. People avoid his company, like the plague, to avoid being criticized. To be criticized makes people tense and anxious and nobody likes to be emotionally upset, so people avoid the critical paranoid person.

 

Although he has something in common with the deluded person, the paranoid personality is different from such persons. In delusion disorder, the individual has systematic delusion, and believes in what is not true as true. For example, the individual may believe that another person is out to kill him, poison him, and persecute him, when no one wants to do so. True or not, the deluded person defends himself, as if he is actually being attacked. His life is guarded and uptight; he is like a soldier at the battlefield, all of life is a warfront, and he is always defending himself, lest he be killed by a world he perceives as dangerous and does not trust.

 

There are five types of delusion disorder: grandiose, persecutory, erotomanic, jealous and somatic.  In grandiose delusion, the individual feels like he is very important and powerful, when he is clearly not so. He wants to be treated as the most important person in the world, if a woman, the most beautiful woman in the world, and if you did not relate to him as such, he feels angry at you.

 

In persecutory delusion, the individual feels like other people, or a particular person, has it in store for him, and wants to kill him, when that is clearly not so. He defends himself from anticipated attack, when no one is attacking him. (Eventually people do attack him.  He stimulates such attack by accusing people of doing what they did not do to him.  This is called paranoid self fulfilling prophesies; here, the paranoid accuses people of trying to harm him, when they had no such intention, and they feel angry at him for falsely accusing them, and then do to him the things he had falsely accused them of doing.  This hostility from people confirms his earlier belief that people and the world are hostile to him. What he does not realize is that he generated the hostility that came his way.)

 

In jealous type, the individual has insane jealousies and accuses those around him, particularly his girl friend or wife, of cheating on him; he may even follow her around, trying to catch her with other men, and when his suspicion gets the better of him, he may beat her up, and wound up in jail for domestic violence. This type of person wants to control every aspect of his spouse’s life and makes her life a living hell. Generally, she resents him and seeks out of their relationship. Thus, he is left alone and he muses about how unjust people are towards him. As long as he sees people as property to be owned, and nobody is his property to do with as he likes, people would continue resenting his presence.

 

In erotomanic type, the individual believes that a famous person is in love with her, when that is not the case. Such a woman may believe that she is married to Jesus Christ. Apparently, it makes an inferior feeling woman feel important to believe that famous persons are in love with her or that Jesus is married to her. To let go of such delusions, the individual must stop wanting to seem existentially important and accept our reality, our existential nothingness. If one accepts that one is insignificant, one would not be deluding ones self with the idea that important persons want to marry one, or that one is married to important persons; one would not stalk famous persons, trying to convince them that one is their spouse. The cure for delusional disorder is to give up all desire for special ness and accept that one and all humanity is not special.

 

(By the way, every normal human being is a bit deluded, and paranoid, therefore, I am describing every human being and you, the reader, not just some mentally ill person in a psychiatric hospital, though that too. As long as the individual desires to seem important, he will sometimes act like the deluded character.  Delusional disorder is a reaction to our perception that we are nothing, that we are not special and do not matter, as far as nature is concerned.  Delusional disorder is the product of our efforts to make ourselves seem important when we know that nature does not see us as important. Those who are more sensitive and are therefore more acutely aware of the human condition, unimportance, struggle the mightiest to seem important, hence develop clinical delusion disorder. The so-called normal person has mild delusions.)

 

In Somatic type, the paranoid person believes that there is something wrong with her body, when clearly there is nothing wrong with her body.  She runs from doctor to doctor, trying to get a medical diagnosis that confirms her imaginary illness. Actually, there is always some somatic issue in the paranoid’s physical make up, except that that underlying medical disorder is exaggerated and used to make excuses for not doing productive work, to malinger and have society support her, via putting her on the welfare dole.

 

All paranoid persons inherited problematic bodies; sicknesses that make them feel bodily weak and inadequate and psychologically react with their compulsive quest for power. Their inherited physical disorders are generally not pronounced, it could be organs that work slowly or are weaker than the average. For example, some people’s intestines digest food slowly, they have weak intestine. Such persons tend to be constipated. Their constant constipation prevents them from enjoying food.  Their stomach distress makes them feel like there is something wrong with their body, and that is generalized to belief that there is something wrong with them as persons. They then compensate with effort to seem powerful.

 

Adolf Hitler could not handle most foods. Food caused him stomach pains. He avoided most food and was a vegetarian, did not drink alcohol, and did not smoke cigarettes. He was constantly experiencing stomach distress and tried all sorts of medications, seeking relief, to no avail.  His constant stomach distress produced a sense of weakness in him. He restituted with desire to be the most powerful man in the world. His politics was his battle to be the most powerful man in the world, his Mein Kampf.

 

The deluded person is less disturbed than the schizophrenic, paranoid type. In schizophrenia, there is both delusion and hallucination. Hallucination may occur in any of the five senses: auditory, visual, olfactory, tactile etc. In delusional disorder, there is no hallucination.  The schizophrenic is the quintessential mad person, he hallucinates and is deluded. 

 

The deluded person is a partial madman, for he only has one attribute of mental disorder, delusion, but not the other, hallucination. A deluded person can be a professional, such as be an engineer, whereas a schizophrenic seldom can be in paid employment; his voices so distract him that he cannot concentrate on the abstract thinking required by most professional jobs.

 

The person with paranoid personality is not mentally disordered. He is intellectually well functioning, although he experiences social and interpersonal problems. In fact, he could be your medical doctor, lawyer, and president.  He is mentally intact and generally is able to perform abstract thinking and work. His problem is mainly interpersonal. He feels inferior and fears being seen as such, and being demeaned. He is characterized by suspiciousness and lack of trust in other persons. 

 

Paranoid personalities tend to do well in jobs where not trusting other people is a plus, such as police, immigration, customs, prosecutor, judge, prison warden and so on.

The paranoid personality is neurotic, he is not psychotic.  A neurotic is a normal person who understands reality, as it is, but does not like it. He wants to change reality into ideal forms of it. In the meantime, he lives in reality and does not flee from it.

 

The psychotic (such as deluded, schizophrenic, manic etc), on the other hand, rejects reality and uses his imagination and thinking to construct ideal reality and pretends to live in it. Thus, a poor person tells himself that he is the world’s richest man or the most powerful man in the world or the most beautiful and desired woman in her world and believes this falsity as true and acts as such.

 

 (I dwelt at some length on paranoia for a reason. I did so because I see this problem in many Africans in the USA. In fact, I am yet to see an African without some paranoid traits.  I should, however, add that this phenomenon is not unique to Africans. Immigrants to new countries tend to exhibit paranoia at higher levels than the norm. Apparently, when people leave their countries of origin, they tend to lose some social status. For example, a medical doctor has prestige in his world. But if he goes to a different country, he may not be able to practice as a medical doctor, until he takes some courses and passes some required examinations. In the mean time, he may work as a medical assistant in a hospital or even worse…I have seen Filipino doctors working as janitors in American. These hitherto prestigious persons lose social status. This loss of high social status does not sit well with them. They, then, try to seem important in a vicarious way: by pretending to be important, hence become deluded. Also, we must factor in the fact that until immigrants secure the all important green card, or become American citizen, that they tend to fear deportation to the countries they were fleeing from. They fear police and immigration officers. If a police car passes by, they imagine that he is out to get him; and on the job, they fear immigration officers coming to arrest and deport them. This intense fear of deportation contributes to the etiology of paranoia in immigrants. All things considered, paranoia, the pretence that one is important when one is not, a mask of importance, is very rampant among immigrants. Most Nigerians in the USA are paranoid and, even worse, some are deluded. Some of these psychotic paranoids claim to have been nominated for the Noble prize in physics, when they are not even physicists, or that they invented the internet, when their knowledge of computers is, at best, marginal. They are given a school boy prize, perhaps for writing a good paper, and that swells their little egos and they proceed to make outrageous claims about how smart they are. We have too many deluded Nigerians running around the USA, so I decided to spend some time explicating the phenomenon. Hopefully, folks will know what the insanity is and seek help from mental health professionals. I must however, warn that such persons usually do not seek psychotherapy. Why?  They like their delusions for it makes them seem important. To let go of their delusional claims makes them feel small, feel like the insignificant persons blacks are supposed to be. And they do not want to be seen as insignificant. In The Black middle Class, Franklin Frazier, the esteemed black American sociologist, tells us that middle class black Americans so feel inferior that they devote most of their energies trying to seem superior. Instead of doing research and contributing to knowledge, the clowns go about presenting themselves as important persons. See, in Nigeria just about every middle class person is deluded and thinks that being called Professor, Doctor, Chief, Alhaji  ‘Do Nothing” is going to make him seem important, when he is clearly not so. Franz Fanon, in Black Skin, white Masks, makes the same point that blacks feel inadequate and pretend to be adequate hence their apparent childish vanities, their ridiculous egotism. A people that have contributed very little to science and technology ought to be ashamed of themselves, keep quiet and work hard to make some contributions, instead of masquerading about as very important persons. As Fela Anikulapo Kuti would say, these people are “Big man my Yass”.)

 

The schizoid personality does not like the company of people, or does not care for it, and generally keeps to himself. He does not feel the urge to be with people and is not bothered by not having friends always hanging around him. He is perfectly happy being by himself. He tends to do well in professions where emotional independence is a plus, such as physics, engineering and mathematics.

 

The schizotypal personality is eccentric and odd and believes in what most people in her world do not believe in, such as believe that she possesses sixth sense and extrasensory powers and can predict the future. She is your neighborhood so-called psychic. She believes in aliens, UFOs and other such unscientific beliefs. But beyond these eccentric beliefs, she might be a nurse, a doctor etc. In a word, she is a normal person. Human beings come in all shapes and types and we have to accept them all.

 

The narcissistic personality believes that he is special and worthy of other people’s admiration.  He feels superior to other people, and, as the superior person, believes that he is justified in exploiting other people, and using them to get what he wants and discarding them like scrape iron. He uses people to get what he wants out of life and forgets about them. He may marry a beautiful wife just to have a parlor trophy and use her to get other men’s admiration. He does not marry because he loves a woman.

 

Deep down, the narcissist feels inferior and inadequate and restitutes with the mask of superiority. When finally he recognizes that he is not the important person he had hitherto imagined himself to be, he tends to become depressed and may even commit suicide; suicide from his inability to cope with our common human imperfection, powerlessness and worthlessness.

 

The narcissist is a neurotic who succeeded early in life, at school, sports and work, and come to think that he is a special person. Whereas the paranoid child failed in childhood activities, like play and school, and feels like a failure and restitutes with false superiority, the narcissistic child succeeded at school, work and sports, and later, in his chosen profession, and comes to feel special and better than other people. His success masks his underlying sense of inferiority.

 

The typical American is a narcissistic character, a person who feels inadequate but had succeeded in the world hence seem superior to other races, those who seem like they are failures, such as black persons. When the narcissist finally fails, he recognizes his underlying sense of worthlessness and generally becomes depressed. When America’s civilization, a shallow one, is surpassed by others, as is inevitable, she would become depressed. (What goes up must come down.  Civilizations come and go.  The world is littered with past civilizations and America, despite her delusion of special ness, is not an exception.  America is already becoming second to Asians.) America’s narcissists will turn into depressed characters. They are almost already there, see, they are popping antidepressants at an alarming rate. Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and the other serotonin reuptake blockers are perhaps the most demanded medications in America. Americans, apparently, can not handle existential depression and need to stimulate their bodies to convince themselves that they are important persons. When Americans finally grow up, become mature, at the moment they are adolescents, they would accept human existential reality, our worthlessness, without turning to belief in false superiority.

 

The histrionic woman is overly dramatic and seeks attention from all those around her. She feels inferior and inadequate, and getting others attention masks her underlying sense of nothingness. As long as she obtains other persons’ admiration, she feels sexually and physically important. . She is the drama queen. She is the female version of the male narcissist.  She has shallow affect and does not really love men or women. She uses men to gratify her desired sense of worth. (If she is lesbian, she uses other women to gratify her desire to make her body seem important. Her unstated philosophy is: “See, other women are like my dogs, they lick my smelly Vagina, so I must be very important for them to want to do so”.)  She stays with her lovers for as long as they see her as the most beautiful and desirable woman on earth, the queen, and leaves them when they no longer admire her aging and sagging body.  She tends to have many lovers and serial husbands, none of whom she loves.

 

The borderline personality is dysfunctional in most areas of her life. She has tumultuous interpersonal relationships. She demands that those around her pay her attention and take care of her. She fears abandonment. She may cut on her body and or threaten suicide if she feels abandoned by her lover. She does not care for others but expect them to care for her. She is generally a confused woman, and has a difficult time making up her mind what to do with her life, for example, what vocation to go into.  She may even have a difficult time deciding whether she is a woman or man.  Some of them are bisexuals. Any one who takes care of her, she hangs around with, not because she loves him/her, but because she fears aloneness. This type of person drains those around her, and they eventually abandon her. Abandonment confirms her worst nightmares: her belief that she would be abandoned.

 

Clearly the best way to get people to care for one is to care for them; to obtain love, one must love other persons, but this stunted character wants to get love but not give it. She will not get what she desires, for in the adult world, people must give love to receive love.

 

The antisocial personality has underdeveloped conscience. He does not feel guilty or remorseful from hurting other people or doing bad things to them. He steals and kills and does not feel bad about his behavior. In fact, he enjoys hurting other people. Seeing other people in pain, apparently, makes him feel powerful. He is sadistic and seeks out masochists who enjoy pain and inflicts pain on them. This personality type often graduates to criminal behavior and wound up in jails and prisons. But not all of them are in jails, some of them are found in government and the corporate world. In these arenas, they steal money from the public and do not feel bad doing so.  In fact, they feel their ego importance gratified from outwitting the public. Think of corrupt Nigerian politicians and bureaucrats, they are antisocial personalities, criminals in government.

 

The avoidant personality fears other people’s rejection. To avoid being rejected, he withdraws from society and keeps to himself. He feels anxious in social situations, such as schools, sports and work, and in any situation where he is likely to be judged and evaluated by other persons and found not good enough. He feels not good enough and does not want other people to see that he is not good enough. To avoid being seen as not good, he avoids people. In social isolation he manages to feel vicarious importance. Not being evaluated by other people, he feels like he is the most important person.

 

Many avoidant personalities drop out of school and work, and other competitive activities and stay at home. In not competing at any thing, they, of course, avoid failing. They then delude themselves with imaginary belief that they are important and better than other persons, those who compete and risk failing.

 

They do not have to demonstrate their superiority, they just believe in it. A bit of competition would quickly disabuse these neurotics and get them to realize that all people are the same and equal and that nobody is superior to other persons. But as long as they do not compete, drop out of school and work, they can satisfy their imagination and believe that they are better than others. As a matter of fact, it serves their ego self interest for them not to be at school, sports or work, for then they do not have to fail. These people can go through life and die feeling better than other people, even though they avoided all competition and did not achieve anything significant in their lives.

 

The best therapy for these neurotics is to teach them to go out there in the world and compete with other people: at school, sports and work. So you think that you are bright, eh?  Prove it at school by beating out other students at examinations. Be an outstanding student; don’t just talk about how smart you are, prove it to yourself and to the rest of the world by taking part in examinations and passing with flying colors.  So you think that you are the best at sports?  Go compete and prove it and win medals. So you think that you are good at a line of work? Prove it by competing with other workers in that line of work, and show that you can do the job better than the rest of them. 

 

The neurotic needs to overcome the fear of rejection that holds her back and keeps her on the sidelines of life, and go out there and find out what she can do well and what not, through actual competition, not just talk. (I generally have a person in mind as I write each of these personality types. I have a girl in mind, here. She dropped out of school, sits on the sidelines and tells people that she is very smart. She is very bright all right, but needs to recognize that being intelligent does not equate to being educated. One must still go to school and learn something to be good at something.)

 

Neurotics generally inherited problematic bodies that in childhood made them feel inferior hence develop low self esteem. They believe that they cannot compete, and that they cannot succeed in real life activities. To avoid failing, they avoid competition. They need to develop positive self esteem.

 

Positive self esteem is developed from doing real work, from competition, from acquiring competence in a line of work. Good self esteem is not attained by merely wishing it or talking about it or reading about it, but from doing something and doing it well. Avoiding competition contributes to low self esteem. Avoidance is the person’s problem. Approach and doing is her solution.

 

The obsessive compulsive personality thinks a lot, as if thoughts are placed in his mind and he cannot, not think about them. Thoughts are intrusive into his mind and he feels like he is compelled to think them through. He feels harassed by thinking, as if he were a slave made to think by a higher force he could not resist. He sometimes acts compulsively, such as check and rechecks to make sure that his stove is turned off, that his door is locked etc.  He seeks perfection and ideals and admires those in power and has contempt for the weak and socially powerless. He has underlying anxiety and fears not been seen as perfect. Some such children are afraid to show their school work to their teachers, lest they are given bad grades. They desire perfect grades. Some such persons write books and are afraid to publish them, to avoid being negatively evaluated. They suffer from anxiety neurosis.

 

The dependent personality feels weak and powerless and sees other persons as more powerful than him. He pleases the seeming powerful, hoping that they would support him. He is afraid of asserting his will lest he offends people and they abandon him. He generally is a door mat and permits people to push him around.  He tends to be a follower, not a leader. Generally, such persons had medical issues in childhood that made them feel weak and made those around them to take care of them. From prolonged childhood illness and being cared for by others, they develop a sense that they are weak and need other persons to rescue them.

 

The passive aggressive personality is like the dependent person; he pleases other people, out of fear of rejection. He then feels resentful from being unassertive and from being pushed around by other people. Other people will push you around, and even take advantage of you, if you are seen as a pushover, timid and unassertive.  The passive aggressive person thinks that other people made him a door mat and feels angry at them, and in an indirect way, obstructs the realization of their goals, so as to get back at them. Clearly, these neurotics have problems asserting themselves and need to be taught assertiveness skills.  They do not need to be aggressive (disrespectful self assertion) or passive (door mat) but to assert their rights in a self and other self respecting manner.

 

 

CHILDREN’S PERSONALITIES

 

Whereas the personality types described above seem to exist in children, some in young children, as young as age one, official Psychiatry chose to give different names to them. Psychiatry gives different names to the same mental health issues found in adults when they occur in those under age eighteen. We shall follow this nomenclature, although we do not see the reason for it. The nosological presentations of childhood and adult mental disorders are the same; they are merely given different names.

 

The most common childhood mental health issues are anxiety (separation anxiety), Opposition defiance disorder, Conduct disorder, autism and other attachment disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Of course, there are purely medical disorders like Dawn’s Syndrome.

 

Briefly, some children have excessive anxiety. Fore example, during the first days at school, they cry a lot and refuse to stay at school, and cling to their mothers’ legs. These children have separation anxiety disorder. Anxiety is fear at work. We all know what fear is: pounding heart, rapid breathing, tight muscles, rapid movement in the nerve system as messages are rapidly sent and received from all parts of the body to the brain, processed and feedback sent, uptight stomach, somatic tension and urge to run or fight whatever is making one anxious. It appears that inherited constitutions play roles in anxiety disorder. Apparently, some persons have less inhibitory neurotransmitters like GABA and Endorphin, and more excitatory neurotransmitters like Neuropiniphrine and Acytecholin. Where there is less GABA and more adrenalin, the individual tends to be anxious. Some children are perpetually anxious.  They tend to develop some of the anxiety based disorders like avoidant, obsessive-compulsive, dependent and paranoid.  The medications employed in treating anxiety disorder, the anxioleptics like Valium, Librium, Xanax, and Ativan have adverse side effects, are addictive and produce withdrawal symptoms similar to those experienced in alcohol withdrawal. Therefore, these medications are not good option for anxious children. Psychotherapy seems a better option, talking the children into reducing their fears and becoming outgoing children, from introversion to mild extroversion.  However, since it appears that temperament is inherited, anxious and shy children will remain so for all their lives, after all, we need our introspective thinkers, our philosophers. We don’t all need to be persons lacking in serious reflection, as are thrill seeking, socially comfortable extroverts.

 

In opposition defiant disorder, the child is in power struggle with adults, and refuses to do what they ask him to do. This generally starts around age nine. Such children may drop out of school, for they do not want authority figures to tell them what to do. They tend to progress into adult paranoid personalities, argumentative, willful and insisting on winning at whatever they do.

 

In conduct disorder, children steal, tell lies and generally engage in what in adults is called antisocial personality disorder.  These children have poor conscience and do not feel guilty or remorseful from their apparent criminal behaviors. They tend to wound up in juvenile detention centers, from about age twelve on. They generally graduate to adult criminal behaviors. It appears that this disorder is inherited since such children tend to experience less fear and anxiety and tend to be more extroverted than introverted. The specific biology of mental disorders has not been understood, but over twenty years in the mental health field informs me that most mental disorders are based in inherited genes.

   

In reactive attachment disorder (Asperser’s disorder), children find it difficult to attach to other people; they are emotionally self contained and distrust being bonded and close to other persons. In Autism, such children completely fail on attaching to other people and live in their own world.

 

In attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, children have poor attention spans and find it difficult to stay still for extended period of time, and generally find it difficult to learn. These children are given psycho-stimulants like Ritalin, which are stimulants in adults, but have paradoxical effects in children: calm them down, and enable them to have good attention span to pay attention to what their teachers are saying.  I think that ADHD is over diagnosed in children by lazy school psychologists; these seem to please equally lazy teachers who cannot tolerate rambunctious pupils and want to use medications to calm them down. Of course, there are genuine cases of ADHD that seem to require medications?

 

My goal here is not to focus on these disorders of children but to mention them, so that if one sees them in children one goes to mental health professionals to seek help.

 

 

ADDICTIONS

 

Some people, children and adults, develop psychological and physiological addictions to mood altering drugs. I have seen ten year old alcoholics and or methamphetamine addicts.  Addiction is dependency to chemical agents that alter human consciousness and are craved for. Once addicted, it is difficult to desist from craving these mood altering agents.

 

Drugs, legal and illegal, tend to have terrible side effects. Drugs like Cocaine, Methamphetamine, LSD, Heroine, Alcohol, Caffeine (coffee), Nicotine (cigarettes) etc are addictive and not to be ingested by both adults and children.

    

Do I have a personality disorder?  I have traits of the following personality disorders: avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive, passive aggressive, narcissistic and paranoid, in that other of importance. I may even have some antisocial personality traits? I have justified being brutal towards other people. If you did something that annoyed me, I would get back at you and would not feel any qualms hurting you, firing you from your job etc. Although I have not actually stolen from other people, perhaps, if I was born poor, I probably could steal and not feel remorseful?  This is hypothetical and we shall leave it at that. Let us just say that, like most people, I am probably a potential criminal?

 

What is evident to me is that I am a neurotic, ala Adler and Horney. (I will ignore Sigmund Freud, here, for I do not believe that his methodological categories are explanatory of neurosis.) To the extent that the category neurosis can be broken down into the various personality disorders, as modern psychiatry has done, I have the traits of those personality disorders. However, it would be simpler to just refer to me as a neurotic and explain what neurosis is and from so doing understand my personality. 

 

I do not have delusional disorder, schizophrenia, mania, organic mental disorders and other serious mental disorders.

 

I have existential, but not clinical depression. At age nine, I concluded that life in body is worthless, meaningless and purposeless. I see myself as just another animal crawling between heaven and earth, not knowing what the hell I am living for. I see my body as food for worms hence have no delusion that it is important. I see other people in a similar manner.

 

I can be very cynical. For example, when I was in college, and was attracted to girls, if those girls flaunted their bodies, and acted as if they were pretty and sexually desirable, and difficult to get, I would quickly tell myself that their bodies were food for worms, and that when they died, their bodies would smell worse than feces. Such cynical but realistic thinking immediately killed whatever desire I had for girls.  I have never had illusions over women and sex. To me, sex is a filthy activity to be endured for the sake of procreation. And now, as a middle aged man, I would not even want to procreate, for I see no purpose bringing children into a world of pain and suffering. (Arthur Schopenhauer was my philosophical role model. I used to carry his World as Will and Idea around with me. Schopenhauer had no use for the fair sex. He was asexual, as I am.)

 

(As an aside, one should note that sex and desire for it, and desire for the opposite gender is strictly a social phenomenon. If you desire women, they have value for you. But if you choose not to desire women, they become valueless in your eyes. Desire is what gives the object of desire value. The object, in itself, has no value until it is desired, demanded. A woman has no value in a man’s eyes until he desires her body. I have never overestimated the value of sex or women. I just ignore them most of the time. Feminists who raved and ranted about men desiring women had not talked to me. I could care less for the human body. To me, life is best lived if the body is ignored and one concentrates on rational thinking. As Shakespeare observed in Hamlet, thinking makes us like the gods, whereas sex makes us animals. I could never understand homosexuals; these folks love the human body so much so that they do the bestial things they do, such as put their penis into other men’s anuses and mouths. They seem absurd and certainly not worthy of social respect. They are more like animals. If truth be said, in my eyes, my dog has more worth than homosexual men and women. A healthy person ought to transcend desire for flesh and focus on pure thought. This does not mean that I persecute homosexuals. I could care less about them, provided they are not around me.  My philosophy is: live and let others live. I can live with other people’s absurd lifestyles.)

 

 

REJECTION OF THE REAL SELF AND PURSUIT OF THE IDEAL SELF

 

What is self evident in my self structure is that at an early age, I would say, right from the womb, I rejected my real self. I rejected my body based self.

 

This rejection of my body was undertaken because my body produced enormous pain for me. I was born with Spondilolysis (softness of the fifth lumber vertebrae) and Mitral Valve Prolapse (weakness of one of the valves in the heart) and these produced pain for me. I felt pained right from the get goes of my existence on planet earth.

 

My thinking assessed my body as not good enough and rejected it. I then used pure thinking and imagination to invent a different and seeming better self for me.

 

Let me borrow some of the useful ideas in Psychoanalysis and use them to paint a picture of what happened in me. I am like Alfred Adler’s neurotic child. I inherited a body that made me feel pained, a body that could not compete in the physical and social world. I felt inferior, inadequate and no good. I used my thinking to construct an alternative self, a superior self. I resolved to become a superior and all powerful self. In Adler’s terms, I compensated with a superior self. The superior and all powerful self is an all or nothing self. I wanted to be best in everything that I did, or I would not do them. At school, I wanted to be the best student, and failing that, did not want to be at school. At sports, I wanted to be the best, and failing that, not compete at all. I wanted to make all As in my school work or I felt like a failure. (Later, if a teacher gave me less than perfect grade, I felt furious at him. In graduate school, I refused to talk to a professor who gave me a B in his course.)

 

I wanted to be important and powerful and feared not being important and powerful.  Not being so meant being the pained, inferior self that I did not want to be. I did not want to be the pained inferior self and therefore had my mind focused on the superior self and pursued it as if my life depended on it.

 

In Karen Horney’s categories, I was the neurotic child.  I rejected my real self and used my imagination to invent an ideal self and identified with that false self. The ideal self is a perfect self and exists only in our minds, not in the empirical world.

 

Karen Horeney re-conceptualized Alfred Adler’s individual psychology and really did not add much to him. She did not publicly acknowledge her debt to Adler. She was a proud, neurotic female medical doctor, a plagiarist who borrowed from another’s views and did not credit him. For our present purpose, let it be acknowledged that Horney’s Psychology is Adler’s Psychology.  She merely employed different terms to represent what Adler meant. Where Adler employed the term superior self, Horney preferred ideal self and perfect self. But both of them were saying the same thing.

 

Redacting and conflating Adlerian and Horneyian Psychologies, the neurotic child rejects his real self, a self he sees as not good enough, and uses his imagination and thinking to conceptualize an ideal, alternative perfect self and identifies with that false self. His whole goal in life is to become the ideal, perfect self. 

 

Whereas, the normal child tries to actualize his real but imperfect self, the neurotic child tries to actualize his imaginary perfect self.  

   

(By the way, all human beings are neurotic.  I am, therefore, talking about you, the reader. The normal person is a happy neurotic, nothing more or nothing less. The normal person accepts his lot in life, whereas the neurotic is unwilling to accept his lot and hankers after improved forms of himself, other people and life in general. His wishes are futile and chimerical, for life is never going to be ideal. We are stuck with our imperfect selves and imperfect world. We must have the courage to accept our imperfect self. Maturity is defined as courage to accept the real, the imperfect and reduce infantile wishes for impossible perfect states.)

 

Pursuing the ideal self gives the neurotic child a sense that life has meaning, purpose and worth. He is the one who constructed and invented the ideal self and its ideal world.  Though they are fantasies, in as much as they are of his making and, as such, are his idols, actualizing them makes him feel like he is doing something worthwhile. (A neurotic American clinical psychologist, Helen Schucman, gave religious coloration to what Adler and Horney presented in secular terms. To Schucman, the egotist, read the neurotic, wants to make his ego, read, ideal self/superior self, real.  He wants to make the false self real. He cannot succeed for the false cannot become the real. See A Course in Miracles. Also see my criticism of it.)

 

Life on earth has no inherent meaning, purpose and worth. Pure thinking shows us what existentialist observers like Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Heidegger, Jasper and Kierkegaard, observed: a meaningless, purposeless and worthless life. We are born, grow, age and become weak and die. Our bodies are food for worms.  Nature does not treat us as if we have worth. Tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, volcanoes, earthquakes, virus, bacteria, fungus, germs, plagues etc destroy our bodies, as they destroy animals and trees. As far as nature is concerned, man is not different from dogs and mosquitoes; we are all dispensable. Any man, who so wishes, can harm, even kill other persons. Hitler wished to gratify his sadistic wishes and killed over 50 million persons and caused untold suffering for others.  God, if he exists, did not prevent Hitler from doing what he did. (See Thomas Mann, Venice. This novel dealt with God’s silence when bad people cause good people pain and suffering. Does God exist?  If so, why keep silent as the powerful abuse and oppress the weak? Go figure.  I am an agnostic.)

 

We all know that existentially we are not significant, important and special. However, our minds do not like the reality that we are nothing.  We struggle to give ourselves false worth, meaning and purpose.

 

Religion, metaphysics etc are mechanisms through which human beings give themselves worth. By convincing themselves that there is an all powerful God, and that that God cares and protects them, if only they pleased him via prayer, people manage, albeit delusively, to seem to have worth. (See Sigmund Freud, The Future of an Illusion.)

 

Law and government are efforts to give human beings worth. Law defines people as dignified, and, as such, ought to be treated with respect. If you do not respect your neighbors, maltreat, oppress and abuse them, you are arrested by law enforcement agents, tried and jailed. Law is a social construct designed to make human life worth while. But we all know that the worth law gives us is make belief, for any man who so wishes it can still treat you as insignificant, indeed, could kill you.  White Americans treated black Americans as shit and still do so. They used their law to make blacks slaves, and currently are changing their laws to make blacks seem respect worthy. Law is a two edged sword: it can be used to marginalize or to elevate people. In this paper, I am interested in the truth, not the socially constructed artificial truth that law is.

 

Whereas, society seeks ways to give human beings worth via culture: religion, law and government etc; Eric Fromm points out, the individual seeks his own ways to give himself worth. Neurosis is an individual’s effort to seem worthwhile when he sees no worth in him. Neurosis is a personal religion, and like all religions, is designed to give human beings existential worth.

 

The ego ideal, a neurotic false self, painful as it is, gives the human being purpose, meaning and worth. As long as the individual pursues his imaginary ideal self, ideal other people, imaginary ideal social institutions and ideal world, he feels like his life has meaning and direction.

 

If you were to take away the neurotic individual’s ideal goals, he would suddenly feel like his life is meaningless, purposeless and worthless. He would feel despaired and depressed.  When the neurotic recognizes that his ideals are not going to occur in the world of space, time and matter, he tends to become depressed. (See William Meisner, The Paranoid Process, and also his Psychotherapy and the Paranoid Process. Dr Meisner argues that paranoia gives the individual worth, albeit false worth, and that as long as he is pursuing paranoid goals, that he feels worthwhile. When you convince him to give up his paranoid goals, the paranoid feels worthless and may feel depressed. As long as one feels persecuted one feels important, for only the important is persecuted. If one gives up that sense of persecution, one suddenly feels like one is nothing. The neurotic needs to feel existential depression, so as to accept the human reality of worthlessness and stop living in the delusion that he has worth. See David Shapiro, Autonomy and the Rigid Character and his Neurotic Styles, and David Swanson et al, The Paranoid. Of course, also see the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association.)

    

 

Life on earth is not ideal. To live it on the basis of ideal fantasies is neurosis and psychosis. Insanity should not be the basis of living. Insanity, false ideal goals, should not be what gives us meaning, purpose and worth.

 

When the ideal, superior self is given up, the individual is ready to live realistically. He becomes a materialist.  He accepts that his ego self, that is, his personality, is shaped by his body and social experiences. The self that we are aware of is a product of our body hence is material. Our self, personality, being a product of matter, dies with the death of the body. 

 

When one accepts materialistic monism, (as opposed to idealistic monism…See George Berkeley, Dialogues) as one methodological approach to phenomena, one becomes calm and peaceful. One no longer has the illusion that one is going to change ones self and make ones personality perfect and ideal.  One accepts the limitations imposed on one by the body one lives in. One shrinks ones ego to material conditions and no longer lives in ego fantasy.  One, in effect, becomes mentally healthy; normal, actually, for there is no such thing as perfect mental health. 

 

Ego idealism is unattainable. No amount of effort would enable one to make the unreal become real. One will always be imperfect and never perfect. Pretending to be perfect is a waste of time, is self deception, and is delusion; a belief in what is not real as real. 

 

Pursuit of ego ideals, perfection, superiority and power gives one pain, tension and anxiety.  This is unnecessary anxiety and psychological pain. Why give ones self pain on account of the unattainable? 

 

The neurotic gives himself pain and anxiety and yet is not going to be able to attain his ideal self, pursuit of which makes him feel anxious and angry when other persons do not validate and affirm that ideal self.

 

Realism dictates that one give up pursuit of the ego ideal, the perfect self, the superior self and accepts the real self.

 

Psychological realism demands the acceptance of the material self, the real self.  It is in accepting this limited self that the individual becomes sane, peaceful and happy.

     

 

I have made it all seem simple. But, in fact, it is not that simple.  If it were that simple to let go of the ideal self, psychotherapists would not have jobs.

 

In the real world, society rewards achievers and winners. All of us aspire after winning, so that society would positively reinforce us; reward us with what society values, belongingness, prestige and money.

 

The neurotic inherited a problematic body that makes him lose out in obtaining what society rewards winners with. He does not like to loose. He wants to become an ideal self that seems to succeed in whatever society rewards.  Thus, he strives to actualize the perfect, ideal and superior, all powerful self.  Since the ideal self is a mental self, a picture, an abstraction and not a real self, the neurotic is trying to actualize a false, imaginary self. He is trying to make the imaginary real.

 

Insanity lies in this effort to make the imaginary self seem real-self.  Pursuit of the imaginary, ideal self is the root of the neurotic’s lack of inner peace and happiness.

 

When I was a child, I used to want to be a very important person. At age twelve, I visualized myself the president of the world, and used my mind to conceptualize an ideal world that, as president of it, I would bring about. Since I was raised a Christian, I imagined a world where all people love and forgive one another their sins, and a world of abundance where no one had any lacks. 

 

In my mind, I changed reality and made it be whatever I wanted it to be. I changed myself from imperfect to perfect; I changed other people from imperfect to perfect; I changed social institutions from imperfect to perfect. I changed everything into perfect pictures of them and strove to make those perfect pictures of reality come into being. 

 

The pursuit of an imaginary ideal self and world gave my life direction, purpose and meaning.  I obtained a doctorate degree at a young age, and then wanted to go into the world and work to change it into becoming what I wanted it to become, perfect.

 

Alas, the more I interacted with people, the more I realized that I could not change them, and that they could not change themselves either. Initially, I felt angry at people for not trying to become ideal. I would use my perfect standards to judge people’s behavior and, of course, found them less than ideal. I would criticize people for not being perfect. 

 

      At last, I recognized that my perfect ideal self and its ideal standard is the problem. The problem is not people, as they are, and not the world, as it is, but me. I was the problem. I was trying to become ideal and make people and the world become ideal.  I was trying to bring about the impossible. I had to change my goal of making me and the world perfect, and accept our imperfect world, and when I did that, I finally obtained inner peace and happiness, variables that had eluded me as I sought idealisms.

 

(I consider myself Adlerian in my methodological approach to psychology. However, I am not an idealistic socialist, as Adler was. Adler was an idealist and I am a hard nosed realist.  I am a capitalist in the order of Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations.  I totally accept my self centeredness and human selfishness. I make no apologies for it. I believe that people tend to work hardest when they pursue their self interests and tend to work less hard when they pursue so-called social interests.  The economy tends to be maximally productive when people pursue their self interests and nations pursue their national interests. Pursuit of self interest allocates resources efficiently to those areas where there are demand for them.  I see democracy and capitalism as the best means of organizing society and the economy. I consider socialism, communism and planned economy as utopian philosophies and idealistic nonsense.  Adler had equated neurosis with selfishness and equated mental health with social centeredness. He believed that when we served social interest that we were healthy.  Of course, we should aspire to serving the public good. But in the real world, not Adler’s sentimental world, it is pursuit of self interest that produces wealth.  A reasonable person seeks balance between self and social interests, not in an either or, good or bad manner, as Adler did.  I am a social realist, a materialist and an empiricist, not some deluded idealistic person who wants to translate reality into what our minds want it to be, socialist.  It is cute to say: “from each according to his abilities and to each his needs” (as Karl Marx said in the Communist Manifesto). But does that approach to life contribute to economic productivity?  The answer is, of course, no. We live in a world of competition and animals struggle to survive and the fittest survive; some lose and some die. There will always be those better at doing anything we are doing. There will be winners and losers in any line of work and in society in general. In my view, we should train losers, and those with minimum intelligence, to do such jobs as planting trees, cleaning city streets and pay them minimum wage, but never give them free money, as in welfare doles.  There is no such thing as free lunch in life. Man lives by working for his daily bread. Nature does not give us our food freely, and we should not give each other free food.)

 

 

DEATH OF THE OLD SELF AND BIRTH OF THE NEW SELF

 

Letting the old self die, so that a new self is born in one, is a familiar Christian theme.  What this statement means is that the individual can understand his personality, and where there are problems in it, work to change them. If one has a neurotic personality, one can consciously let it go, metaphorically, let it die and replace it with a healthier self. That is, one can choose not to think and behave in line with a disordered personality.  One can consciously behave in line with what the science of psychology tells one is the true human being: imperfect, and leave it at that. One lets the old neurotic self, the self that identifies with ideal self, superior self, powerful self, perfect self, go, and accepts the self that has limitations and leaves it at that. 

 

The healthy person accepts his real self and gives up questing for a false, ideal self. The real self is the biological self, the self that behaves as is realistic with the human body: limited and restricted to what body can do; limited by space, time and matter.

 

The ideal self is ideational; it is, strictly speaking, a product of mentation: thinking and imagination. In imagination, we are limitless and can imagine everything possible. We can, for example, imagine that we could fly to the sun. In reality, we cannot do so, not until we have devised mechanical contraptions that can fly to the sun and withstand the heat around the sun.  Imagination can be wild but reality is limiting. 

 

The real self is a material self.  The ideal self is an imaginary self that transcends matter, space and time, and no amount of wishing for it is ever going to bring it about.  One might as well let go of the ideal self; let it die and think and behave as the real self, the biological self, the material self.

 

 (The concept of self and mind are abstractions. There are no tangible entities called self and or mind. Self is metaphor for the thinking agent in us; mind is concretization of thinking. The universe thinks through humans beings, and, therefore, we can say that there is a self and mind in the universe. That self and mind does not have to be human self and mind, only. That self and mind may be an impersonal intelligence that operates through everything in the universe.)

 

Religious persons, especially those who call themselves metaphysical religionists, tend to see the real self as spirit. Some of these religionists call the real self the Christ self. They proceed to give us quaint pictures of what the Christ, real self is.

The problem with religion is that the Christ self is an intellectual construct, an abstraction, an imaginary self constructed by human thinking. It does not seem to exist independent of our thinking, in the empirical world we live in. Abstraction is not the same thing as physically concrete self.

 

Those who pursue metaphysical thinking are told to let go of their old self and accept their new Christ self.  The new Christ self is presented as a unified self, as loving and forgiving and as joined with all people. There is some truth in these mental abstractions.

 

I believe that there is a self and mind that is not part of our conscious personality. What that self is, I do not understand. I just have a hunch that there is a self that is beyond my understanding. 

 

I think that, at root, there is one unified-intelligence, at work in the universe. That intelligence may be called God, Spirit, self, mind or whatever you prefer. In truth, it probably has no name, for to name something is to limit it. That universal intelligence is obviously limitless hence is nameless.

 

That universal intelligence is not in the form we currently know ourselves to be.  I think that that intelligence enters the world of space, time and matter, and that the later enable it to form our personalities. The specific nature of the child’s inherited body, his genes, and the space and time he is operating in, makes the disembodied self to form a personality for that child. 

 

Personality is shaped by biology and social experience. But that abstract self, intelligence, is not the child’s personality.  When the individual dies, his personality, being a product of his body, and social experience, dies with him. What continues to exist is the abstract self, the life force in him. That life force is not the individual’s personality.

 

I think that upon death, the abstract intelligence in the individual momentarily remembers his life on earth and, as in a situation where one awakens from a dream and remember the dream, but quickly forgets it, that life force remembers and quickly forgets the personality that it had inhabited during its existence in human form. That life force continues to exist in its non-human state, until it chooses to re-manifest in human forms.

 

When it chooses to experience humanity, that life force, as it were, forgets its true impersonal nature and blindly enters into any child (in the womb) and forms a personality, without remembering the personalities it had formed in other life times. 

 

It does so over, and over again.  It may manifest in millions of bodies and personalities, at different times. It is none of these bodies and personalities and does not remember them.

 

Why keep manifesting in human form and developing personalities, if they are to be quickly forgotten?

 

Life energy comes over and over into human form with the goal of understanding the human form it manifests in. Its goal is to understand matter, space and time, and the human personality.  It will keep coming to the world until it has fully understood science and human personality.  When finally it has understood physics and personality, there is no longer any challenge in manifesting in space, time and matter. The fun will be over and it stops manifesting in the world. 

 

As we are witnessing, we are beginning to understand the nature of space, time and matter.  If science is not obstructed, I believe that in the next 1000 years, that we shall know so much about energy and matter that we shall be able to travel at the speed of light (186,000 miles per second), and go to other parts of the galaxy and universe. 

 

Life on earth is a game we set for ourselves. The object of that game is to understand the nature of matter and energy. It is a fun game.

 

We are here on earth to understand our selves, psychologically and physically, and then manipulate the physical universe through technology. It is a game, a fun game and one likes it. 

 

Religion and philosophy were primitive ways of attempting to understand ourselves and the world we live in. Now that understanding has shifted to scientific understanding, and May the game and fun continue, until we have fully understood our world and moved on to other games.

 

 

CONCLUSION

 

(1961)        The individual’s purpose is his work. The individual’s purpose for living on planet earth is his vocation. My purpose is to understand my personality. To do so, I have to study the generic human personality.  Having somewhat understood personality, mine and the generic human being, I strive to help other people to understand their personalities, their individual psychologies, their habitual patterns of relating to other people and to their world.  Each human being has a habitual and predictable pattern of relating to his world. Where his personality is problematic, it creates disturbances in his interpersonal relationships.  More importantly, disordered personality produces lack of peace and happiness for the individual and for those around him. 

 

(1962)         Personality disorder is a block to the experience of peace and joy in life.  To experience peace and joy, the block to it must be removed, that is, personality must be straightened out.

 

(1963)         My purpose, which is my work, is to enable people to understand their problematic personalities, and remove the blocks to their experiencing peace and happiness. 

(1964)         Most people, particularly neurotics, invented false, ideal selves, masks, and pretend to be those false selves.  Our real self is unified spirit self, with its unified mind.  All selves are unified in one spirit and in one mind.  But none of us is aware of this eternal self.  We all assume that we are separated selves, housed in bodies. We defend our separated, ego selves, aka personalities, and their bodies.  In so far that we do so, we experience lack of peace and happiness.

 

(1965)         My goal is to enable people to recognize their real selves and validate them in their lives.  In the here and now world, the real self seems the physical self.  Accept your physical self. Do not be ashamed of your physical self, affirm it.  Accept your black African self. Live fully in the here and now world.  Do not feel guilty to be who you are. You are not a mistake, for God does not make junk. As a matter of fact, there are no other you in the universe. Without you, the universe would not be complete.

 

(1966)         I try to be who I am, physically and spiritually.  I teach my purpose by writing on the nature of the real self (Publishing a monthly magazine, Real Self). I am an African. As such, I have an obligation to help develop Africa.  Since I see leadership and management issues as the most crucial needs of a developing continent like Africa, I write about them and publish a quarterly: Africa Leadership and Management Review. 

 

(1967)         My purpose is to write and teach what I know to be true about human nature, and to help Africa become all that it could become.  

(1968)         I can be reached at: africainstitute@yahoo.com

(1969)         600-1 Avenue, Suite 325, Seattle, WA 98104  Tel: (206) 464-9004

 

 

 

FOR FURTHER READING

 

 

Adler, Alfred (1999) The Neurotic Constitution. New York: International Library of Psychology, Routledge.

 

Allport, Gordon.   Pattern and Growth in Personality.  Out of Print.

 

American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, (1994) Washington, DC. American Psychiatric Press.

 

Ansbacher, H.L.  The Individual Psychology of Alfred Adler. Out of Print.

 

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Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (UCLA)

Understanding our African Personalities


Dr. Osuji can be reached at
Africa Institute, Seattle
600-1 Avenue, Suite 325
Seattle, Washington 98104
(206) 464-9004
africainstitute@yahoo.com