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« America Invades Nigeria to Liberate Nigeria’s Oil! | Main | Nigeria Must be Made a Leader of changes in Africa and the World »

December 30, 2005

Redirecting the Desire to Make Fantasy Real

by Ozodi Thomas Osuji, Ph.D. (Seatle, Washington) --- All through my life, I have hated and rejected my body and true self, and by extension, hated and rejected all people’s bodies and real selves. I have hated every thing that is real, such as anything that is in body, in matter, space and time. I preferred the abstract and beautiful to the impure but real. I have tried to replace the material with the mental construct of how the world should be.

In the process, I have lived in fantasy land, the world of idealism and imagination. I used my mind to imagine and wish for everything to be better than they are, in fact. I hated the real world and preferred the imaginary ideal world.

I never really did anything to help me adapt to the real world. Make no mistake about it, I understand the real world alright, as in studying science, but, somehow, I did not like that real world and aspired after transcending it. I transcended it in my mind, in imagination, where I preferred to live. I did not like to live in the empirically real world, the messy, imperfect world.

Because I escaped into the world of imagination, I did not do what the real world required of me to adapt to it hence failed in the real world. I failed not because of what other people did to me or did not do to me but because I could not resign myself to the real world.

I have the skills to adapt to the real world…I have as much skills as any political scientist, psychologist and management professional. If I had resigned myself to any of those professions, I would have done well in it. The problem was that none of those professions seemed good enough for me. I preferred the imaginary ideal profession and ideal world, knowing fully well that human beings cannot make fantasy, idealism (such as socialism) real.

So what should I do? I should accept the empirical world. That is, I should accept the scientific method, the most realistic mode of approaching our world. I should accept technology.

In the job place, I should seek out what people desire in the empirical world that I can do and supply it to them. What is that? What is it that enables people to adapt to their real world, not the imaginary world of religion, spirit etc but to the world of the here and now that I can do and supply it to them?

I am in a position to give people psychological science, a field that I believe that I am second to none.


Sigmund Freud wrote about what he called Thanatos, the desire to kill ones self. Since his postulation was mental and not amenable to empirical verification, it was not accepted.

But I have come to the conclusion that people have a desire to kill themselves. I reached this conclusion by observing my own self destructive acts.

Recently, I found myself ignoring exercising. I used to run, at least, every other day, swim, and weight lift, ride my bicycle and generally engage in all kinds of exercises. I hated to have an extra ounce of weight on my body. But these days, I have stopped exercising; I eat more. I drink too much coffee. I have gained several pounds.

So I got to thinking why I am doing this to me? I came to the conclusion that I am doing these destructive things to me because deep down I want to kill myself? I want to self destroy with caffeine…for caffeine is a stimulant and over stimulates the heart and is correlated with cardiovascular diseases and pancreatic cancer. So, why do I want to kill myself?

I think that I want to kill myself for, as I approached middle age, it became clear to me that I had not achieved my ego ideals and that I was not likely ever going to achieve them.

My ego ideal wanted to be the most important person in whatever I was doing. If it dreamed of politics, it wanted to be the best politician in the world, indeed, the head of the world. If it dreamed scholasticism, it wanted me to be the best scholar in the world.
Well, I am not the best in anything. At my age, I ought to be at the top of my game, but the fact is that I am not at the top in anything.

Since my ego ideal expected me to be at the top of something, I could not really resign myself to being at the bottom of any profession. To avoid being at the bottom of any profession, I dropped out of the usual professions. I did not fit into any real world profession. At this point in time, I am not functioning from the parameters of any one particular profession. As a result, by the world’s standards, I am a failure.

I am not materially rich and I am not socially powerful. I am a nobody in society. I am unimportant.

I believe that as I fail to achieve my ego ideals, life lost its meaning for me. Pursuit of my ego ideals had given my life purpose and meaning, what purpose and meaning there was in it.

I recall myself as a boy. At age twelve, I had set my mind to obtaining a PhD and did so at a relatively young age for an African. My desire to become somebody important motivated me.

I worked in the mental health field and in a few years was the executive director of a very large mental health agency, supervising folks some of whom were older than my own father. Then I felt the job boring, ennui and quit and embarked on a study of the various religions of the world: Hinduism, Buddhism and New Thought Christian churches like Unity and Religious Science. I spent three years in this quest and eventually came to the conclusion that they are useful but not for me.

I am an African and cannot fit myself to Asian or Americans religions. Now what? I was back to square one.

What is missing in my life is something to give my life worth, purpose and meaning. Hitherto, pursuit of ego ideals had given my life pseudo worth, purpose and meaning. But now that I know that ego ideals are fantasy and cannot be realized in the real world, and I seem unable to fit myself to the real world, I seem goalless and stuck.

I believe that it was at this point that I embarked on an unconscious desire to kill myself via over eating and drinking too much coffee (I do not smoke cigarettes and do not do drugs, I drink a beer every once in a blue moon.)

I believe that Freud was right: people reach a point in their lives when they see no point in living and they unconsciously desire to kill themselves. Somehow, they manage to get themselves killed.
Of course, people do all this in an unconscious manner. The average person is, more or less, unconscious of the motives for his behaviors. Africans seem particularly dense in this regard. I am yet to see Africans who take interest in understanding their personal psychology. In fact, they tend to look at me and my efforts to understand us in a psychological manner as if I am insane. When you look at them, what you see are warped and stunted lives, folks living meaningless and purposeless lives, but who do not even think about it. They seem like mere animals eating, defecating and dying without asking why they live. No, my African brothers and sisters do not seem to care to understand why they live and do what they do. Be that as it, they still have death wish and like every one else manage to get themselves killed and die. Some do so by over eating and dying from cardiovascular diseases: heart attack and stroke.

If you over eat and do not exercise and die of heart attack what do you expect? You are the one who killed yourself. Even though your ego would like to see you as a victim unto whom bad things happen, the fact is that you are the one who brought your death to you. You are responsible for what happens to you in your life.

When one fails in actualizing ones ego ideal, one prefers death to living and begins to do those things that would bring about ones death.

One can understand the process and redirect ones life and give ones self a different purpose and meaning.

As I see it, empiricism is the only alternative purpose I see in this world. Understanding things as they are and devising a technology to manipulate the workings of nature seems the only realistic thing to do in this world. Thus, pursuing the sciences and technology seem the best thing to do in this world.

Escaping into ego fantasy aka idealism or sprit fantasy aka religion is unrealistic and a dead end.

Killing ones self, as in suicide, is cowardly. True, life is tough. Courage requires one to accept life on its own terms and make the most of it without illusions that it is going to become heaven on earth.

I believe that there is a life force ala Henri Bergson operative in the universe, what folks call God, but it is impersonal and does not interfere in this world.

As long as we are here on earth, we have to study science and technology and use them to adapt to our world and live up to the maximum it is possible to live in body (maybe 120 years?).

I have no illusion of worth, purpose and meaning, for I do not see self evident worth, purpose and meaning to my life (or to any ones life either).

I do what existentialist thinkers like Jean Paul Sartre urge us to do: posit a purpose that seems meaningful to me and pursue it and do not have the illusion that it is meaningful beyond the meaning I give to it.

In this light, I love and forgive every person in the world because doing so gives my life worth, purpose and meaning, not self evidently and objectively verifiable worth, purpose and meaning but subjective worth, purpose and meaning.


One posited an ego ideal and that ego ideal invents its ideal standards and one uses them to judge real people. But real people are limited by their body, space and time and cannot ever become ideal persons.

To judge real people, ones self and other people, with ego ideals are, therefore, foolish. It is a waste of time and energy, for it seeks to accomplish the impossible, try to make the imaginary seem real.

Moreover, one is causing ones self, other people, the entities judged with ideal standards, pain.

One is actually playing an imaginary god for one’s ego invents imaginary self and imaginary ideal standards and uses them to judge real people. This behavior is play-acting imaginary god.

Engaging in judgment and other ego behavior does not enable the individual to adapt to the empirical world and does not put food on the table.


One is tempted to go from escape into ego fantasy to escape into spiritual fantasy. Some people escape into religion and its myriad fantasies of God and what the after life is like. The fact is that whereas there is an eternal changeless life force, those on earth cannot explain him. It is a waste of time talking about God, spirit.

One must talk of real psychology, a psychology that understands human beings in the here and now world; a psychology that nevertheless recognizes the reality of God, without pretending to understand him.

Man must recognize the reality of God and bow to him, so as to shrink his ego to normal proportion, but he cannot pretend to understand God.

So what is the right thing to do? We must study real psychology, secular plus some spiritual psychology, and sell that understanding to people, for people need it to adapt to the exigencies of this world.

One should not escape into suiting but unproductive ego idealism or spirit idealism. (Whereas idealistic intellectuals like me escape into philosophy for consolation, the poor masses of urban Nigeria seek solace in Pentecostal religions. These religions essentially are magical thinking and enable poor folk to imagine that if they wished hard and prayed long enough that some god would give them what they want out of life. This is pure wishful thinking. As far as we know, no god gives us what we ask for. See the slum folk live in abject poverty and die from poor nutrition. We cannot change empirical reality by wishing for it to change. Only doing science and technology enable us to wrestle decent living from nature.) One must face the empirical while acknowledging the non empirical without fleeing into magical thinking.


I have amazing insight into human nature. I am tempted to abuse this gift of understanding. In fact, in the past I had come close to abusing it.

I believe that if one abuses ones gift that one must pay a heavy price. Consider my troubled relationship with women. Men do abuse women’s vulnerability to seeking love. Women may talk tough but when you get to know them they are different from men. They need love and without it would wither. If a woman is not loved by a man she would do funny things. If you wish to manipulate this reality, you can pretend to love women and they would fall for it. But if you do so, you have toyed with human feelings. This is a crime against knowledge, in religious terms, a sin against the real self (which is love), and a sin against God.

(However, since God does not acknowledge sin, he urges the apparent sinner to stop sinning. To sin is to not love people. To not sin is to love ones self and other people. To love requires forgiving ones mistakes and other people’s mistakes done in the past; and not consciously repeat them; to live a sinless existence is to love all people in the present. It is in forgiving the past and loving in the present that one becomes peaceful and happy. Love and forgiveness of the past is the only way to obtain the gifts of God, peace and happiness.)

I say all these because last week, I received a Christmas Greeting card from Alaska. I used to live in Alaska.

When I divorced, I decided to get out of town for a while and went to Alaska. Without really meaning to be involved in a love affair, somehow, I got involved with a female psychologist. I later found out that she was really, really in love with me. But I was not intent on having a serious relationship and certainly was not invested in another marriage, so I abruptly ended the relationship. I refused to return her phone calls and largely returned to the lower forty eight (states) to avoid encountering her.

Through mutual friends, I do hear about her. The minister of the church that both of us had attended while I lived at Anchorage, Alaska (teaching at the University of Alaska, Anchorage), recently called and gave me a picture of what she is doing with her life. The composite picture that I gathered is that she vowed to not have anything to do with men, ever, again; that she sees all men as exploiters of women’s affection. To her, men use women and abandon them in the lurch and she is going to do without men. Apparently, now she prefers the company of animals to men: she lives with her two dogs, two cats and assorted other animals.

Given what I had heard about her, I was, therefore, surprised that she sent me this cute little Christmas Greeting Card. The talking electronic card contained a dog in a snow bound surrounding, your typical Alaska ambiance during the winter months.

As an introspective type, I wondered about the import of her sending me a Christmas card and the symbolism of a lonely dog in a snowy, god forsaken sub arctic world? What was she trying to tell me?

Psychoanalysis teaches us that our behaviors are metaphors and that most of the things we do are motivated by unknown unconscious forces. We do not always know why we do what we do but there seem deeper reasons why we do what we do.

At the conscious level this woman is sending me a Christmas Greeting Card and that is all there is to it. Case closed.
But life is seldom as simple as that, is it? If life was that simple, it would all be honky dory. So, my mind went to work speculating on the probable meaning of her remembering me during this period of the year.

It is a well known fact that folks tend to want to associate with their loved ones during the Christmas session and that if they do not have close relations that they tend to feel sad.

The Christmas and other holiday periods are the most lonely periods for some folks, and it is said, the time that witnesses the highest depression, even suicide in folks.

Could it be that the lady is lonely and even depressed? Could it be that she is reaching out for love? Could it be that she is attempting to connect with an old flame?

What is the meaning of the dog in the dunes of snow? Could it be saying: see what you did to me, you abandoned me to live like this dog, lonely and lost in the snow of Alaska?

When I first got to Alaska and experienced its cold and lonely six months winter, I developed a habit of buying paintings (first, as an investment, but later as a hobby). One time I went to an Audubon society sell and bought a painting of a dog in a tundra surrounding. The dog seemed so lost and lonely! In fact, that painting, the dog, seemed symbolic of my own sense of been lost and lonely in the snowy world of Alaska. Imagine an American trudging all over Alaska, as I did, renting “bush taxis” (small planes) and flying to practically all the villages in the Lower Kuskokwim delta.

Every once in a while, I looked at that painting of a dog in a tundra setting and told myself that he is me, lonely and lost in the tundra. My God, I was so lonely in Alaska that I went and got two dogs, golden retrievers and black labs, to keep me company.

Could it be that I am merely projecting my own sense of loneliness, symbolized by the picture of a lonely dog, to my ex lady friend? Is it the case that she is not lonely, that I am merely transferring what I see in me to her?

If she is not lonely, how come she has dogs and not human beings as her friends?

Could I be making myself seem very important by imagining that a female doctor would desire me? I have had female clients who told me that certain famous men are in love with them, when those men did not even know that they existed. This is called delusion disorder, erotomanic type. When a person feels worthless and undesirable, she can delude herself into thinking that she is so beautiful that important men desire to have her as their love object. Being found attractive and loveable by important persons, apparently, make ugly duckling feeling persons feel beautiful and attractive?
Could it be that I feel like am not attractive and that I am making myself seem attractive by imaging a successful female professional desiring me? You never know how these things work out.
I have no illusions about who I am. I am one giant nothing. I am an empty vessel that makes a great deal of noise.

Nevertheless, I feel that this woman is seeking love. Unfortunately, I am not able to love her, for my own madness inclines me to be independent. My line of work requires that I be unattached to anybody. I have to be dispassionate and objective; love triangles have a way of contaminating a man’s objectivity in his perception of phenomena.

Life is a bummer, is it not?

In the final analysis, the point is for men never to mess with a woman’s love. You must love a woman but do not feel her to fall in love with you and vamoose, as I did.

If you get a woman to get attached to you and you disappear, you will pay a heavy price, as I am paying. I am always feeling guilty, feeling like I did something terribly wrong, like am evil. I tell you, this is not a pleasant feeling.

You do not want to be in my shoes. To not be in my shoes, please to do toy with women’s desire for genuine love with men.

This year, I resolve to be realistic in my thinking and behavior and to forgive and love all people in a genuine manner.
December 29, 2005

Next week I begin my weekly profiling of African countries, my justification for being alive in 2006.

Posted by Administrator at December 30, 2005 04:00 PM


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