Real Self Therapy aims at understanding the nature of human beings, their real selves, as opposed to the ideal
false selves they made for themselves, and pretend to be. Because it attempts to understand the nature of human
beings, RST searched the usual quarters where human beings have always looked for information on their true nature:
religion, philosophy and science. Human beings do not derive information on which they are only from psychology,
as has come to be the case in recent years when psychologists presume to be the authorities on human nature. Religionists
and philosophers have as much salient information on human nature, as psychologists; therefore, RST examined the
postulations of religion and philosophy in its attempt to understand real human beings and their issues.
Individual and social conflicts and, indeed, wars are the direct products of our living as false selves. It is those individuals and societies that attempt to live as if they are their imaginary false, ideal selves that tend to go to wars with their neighbors.
When we live as real selves, we necessarily do not live in conflict, personal and interpersonal. To live as the real self leads to personal, social and world peace. No person living as he is hurts other people. It is those who seek to be who they are not in fact, ideal persons, that generate interpersonal conflicts, and or go to wars to prove to themselves and to other people that they are their imaginary important selves.
Consider the neurotic person he wants to seem socially important. He is always conscious of how other people treat him. If he feels demeaned by other persons, he feels angry, and quarrels with those who seem to have demeaned him, those he thinks are putting him down; when they may not think that they put him down. The desire for social and existential importance leads the individual to easily feeling slighted, and to anger and consequent interpersonal conflict.
If the individual did not have a wish to be seen as important by other persons, he would not have noticed their seeming belittlement of him, and would not have had conflict with them. That is to say that it is the individual's grandiose self-concept that causes social conflicts and wars.
If one did not have a false ego self, one would be at peace with one's environment. In fact, if one does not have a false big self one would not be self-conscious at all, and would not experience anxiety, depression, paranoia, mania, schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
Real Self-Therapy is a form of cognitive behavior therapy. It is so because adopting a false self-view, and living as such, is a cognitive and behavioral activity. Teaching the individual to adopt a different self-view, to change his perception of himself, and behave differently, is cognitive and behavior activity.
Whatever is the original cause of the individual's mental disorder, and there are, as many causes of mental disorders as there are individuals in the world, he can heal it by changing his view of himself, and by changing his view of all human beings, and changing his views of what life should mean to him.
Real Self Therapy teaches people to think about themselves differently, think about other people differently, and think about all things differently. Ordinarily, the individual confuses his identity with his idealized self, but RST teaches him to see himself as his Real Self'; also the individual perceives himself as separated from other people, and RST teaches him that he is unified with other people.
When the individual thinks about things differently, from ideal to real self, from separately to unified self, and from hateful to loving self, he finds that what before upset him, what made him feel anxious, angry, depressed, paranoid, guilty, shamed etc no longer does so.
RST agrees with Albert Ellis, a cognitive therapist, when he said that it is not events occurring out there in the environment that upset people, but how they interpret those events.
Real self-Therapy can be employed in any modality of therapy: individual, marriage, family and group. However, RST is not conducted in the traditional forms of these psychotherapies, and their belief that a supposed expert on human psyche and human behavior, a psychologist, listens to a person who supposedly knows very little or nothing about himself. RST is like a school where both the teacher and the student teach each other about their real selves, and learn about the obstacles to their living as their real selves, and striving to live from their real selves hence more fully.
All parties in RST therapeutic process are teachers and learners. Each person presents his habitual pattern of behaving, his personality, to the other person to observe, and learn from.
The person in front of you is not there for you to change him, or for him to change you, but for you to learn from him about your behavior, and change yourself, and for him to learn from you, and change his behavior. The other person's apparent problematic behaviors reflect your own apparent problematic behaviors. You can see his problems more clearly than you can see yours. And he can see your problematic behaviors more clearly than he can see his.
Human beings are structured in such a manner that they can perceive more clearly other persons' issues than they can their own issues. By learning how other persons could have solved their problems, and behaved differently, you learn how you could solve your problems, and behave differently. Other persons are mirrors for you to see your problematic behaviors and make appropriate changes, and you are a mirror for them to see their own problematic behaviors, and change them.
You are not there to change other people, as they are not there to change you. You and other people are not God, and, as such, cannot change each other. The only person that the individual can change is he.
Other people, including so-called patients and clients, come to the therapist, to you, to enable you learn about your issues by seeing their issues, and change yourself. The patient, as it were, is the healer of the therapist, and the therapist is the healer of the patient.
This is not the usual way therapists perceive their clients: they tend to see their clients as sick persons and themselves as healthy persons, helping their clients, and the clients giving them nothing in return (except, of course, pay them money for their services).
You observe how the patient, other people, defeat their interests by living from a false self, and from their problematic examples learn how you, too, live out of your false self, and defeat your interests. Hopefully, you work to change your thinking and behavior, and if you succeed, you live in peace and joy.
When you live in peace and joy, you become an exemplar of peace and joy; you model peace and joy for those around you, and those around you, clients and all people, learn it from you. They learn that peace and happiness can only come when the individual human being lives from his real self center.
THE CONCEPTUALIZER AND HIS CONCEPTUAL SELVES
Upon conception and birth on earth, something in human beings, and, up to a point, in all other animals, begins to think about the world into which it is born. There is no doubt whatsoever that there is a thinker in all of us human beings. That thinker, conceptualizer, ideationer, imaginer, call it what you like, it is nameless, immediately upon entry into the material world, thinks about itself and its world.
Most of us, as adults, are not exactly sure when we began to observe and think about our world. We began thinking about our world the moment we are born on earth. It seems the average human being, however, is consciously aware of his thinking at about age six. Whereas this may not be so for every person, nevertheless, let us, as it were, arbitrarily say that by age six the thinking agent in us is aware that he is thinking about himself, herself and the world he or she is born into.
Some observers think that the thinking agent in us is epiphenomenal, that is, is a product of the permutations and configurations of matter, elements, atoms, and particles in our nerves. Others think that that thinker is outside matter. We cannot resolve this largely philosophical question for other persons. We shall merely assert what seems self- evident to us. There is a thinker in human beings, who though is influenced by the material body it lives in, is not of material origin. Our position seems a dogmatic assertion, thus you can choose to ignore it. One can see it as heuristic and not self-evident. Well, then, proceed as makes sense to you.
RST believes that it is the thinker in human beings that give their bodies life. If a human being dies and for that matter if any animal dies, its body becomes life-less. The dead body can be burnt and the animal feels no pain. If the body were still lived in burns would pain it. It is, therefore, the life force that makes a difference whether the animal's body is dead wood or is an animal. It is thinking that gives animals bodies movement Thinking excites the cells in the body. If the individual stopped thinking, he would calm down the cells in his body. This is the secret of meditation. In meditation, the individual tries to stop thinking. In so far that he succeeds in stopping thinking, his body becomes calm, and peaceful. A peaceful state induces joy, hence the joy felt in meditation.
What happens in meditative state tells us that it is with thinking that we give our bodies life, and movement. Frenetic thinking over excites the body. This is what happens in mania. In mania, the individual thinks too m, wishes for too many ideal goals, his thinking over excites his body and makes him behave in the manic manner he does. The pursuit of idealistic goals excessively excites the body. If the individual stops pursuing idealistic goals and seeks realistic goals, his body tends to be less excited. If the individual wants peace of body and mind, he must discipline his thinking, and think less, wish for less things, and think realistically.
It is wishes/thinking that gives the cells in our body life and keeps them alive. Without wishing to be alive and pursuing whatever goals the individual pursues, his body tends to die. Wishes give one purpose and meaning. One cannot, therefore, altogether give up all of ones egoistic wishes, for some ideals are necessary to be on earth. All one can do, if one still wishes to live on earth, is redirect one's wishful thinking to more realistic goals.
In the end all wishful thinking about the things of this world, even realistic ones, are vanity. The world will ultimately end and whatever is done in it will end. Nevertheless, Real Self Therapy accepts the real world, the ego that adapts to the physical world, aware that in the long run the true self is beyond this world and is unified self and unified self cannot be material in nature. A non-material unified self cannot be dwelled on in this world, for it does not enable one adapt to the exigencies of a physical world of space and time. The only self that is meaningful in this world is the real self. The ideal self is mere fantasy and is not adaptive to the realities of this world and the true self, though real is not of this world, and at best awareness of it gives one hope of eternal life and peace of mind. In the here and now world it is the real self, the self that recognizes our bodily reality that enables us cope with the world and we emphasize it.
The goal of less thinking, however, is very difficult to attain. Life on earth came into being through wishing/thinking for idealistic goals. The individual wishes for goals he himself set, goals that are different from other persons' goals, and that are different from the unified goal of unified life. In eternality, all persons are unified as one shared self. The individual wishes to separate from eternal union, and that wish set his mind on fire. He thinks about ways to attain his goal of separation. He, in effect, rejects what is, unified state, and wishes for what could become the opposite of union.
To be on earth, the individual does not accept his true self, the unified self but wants its opposite, separated self to seem real. What he does to himself he does to other people. He does not accept other people as unified with him. He seeks to make the separated self he has made for him and for other persons ideal, to make them better than the self of the unified self. He seeks ideals for every person and thing in the world. He seeks ideal countries, ideal social institutions and ideal world.
It is pursuit of these generalized ideals that over excites the individual's thinking mind. Indeed, his mind is in a frenzy of wishes. As it were, he is trying to remake the world of reality, unified, into what he likes of it, ideal separated world. He is, so to speak, playing God. He wants to be greater than God and remake the world God created in his own self-image.
This desire to remake the self and the world into one's desired image of them is what disturbs the individual's peace and gives him neurosis and or psychosis. Accepting the self and world as they are is what gives normalcy. However, even the most normal person has a little wish for ego ideals and ideal world; otherwise the individual would not be in this world. Nevertheless, the normal person accepts the real self and its real world more than the abnormal personality does. The neurotic and psychotic reject the real self and the real world and want to improve them. This wish for improvement sets the individual's mind, thinking afire, and he knows no physical and psychological peace. When he learns to accept the real self and real world and live with them as they are he gains a measure of inner peace, a peace reflected in his calmed nerves, and peaceful body.
While on earth, the thinking element in us cannot be totally silenced. If one were to entirely stop all ego-based thinking, one would not be conscious of this world at all. To be in this world one must have a sense of separated self, the ego, the I. The world of space, time and matter requires awareness of the separated self.
RST is not aiming at stopping thinking, for to do so is to escape from this world and return to unified state. RST believes that we must first study this world and understand it and adapt to it before we can leave it. At any rate, the individual cannot leave this world until all of us are ready to leave it, so we might as well make the most of it, and not negate it and run from it, as Gnostic religion did.
The thinking element in us thinks about everything in its world, but more importantly about itself. It must invent a self-concept, for itself. The thinker must posit a thought, an idea of which it is, while it lives in the human body, and on earth. Therefore, the first order of business for the human child is to invent a self-concept for his or her self.
By age six, the average human child has posited a rudimentary self-concept, an idea of who he or she thinks that he is. Throughout childhood, the child continues to modify his original self-concept, and by adolescent, age thirteen, has, more or less, completed the construction of the self-concept and, thereafter, it is a set self-concept.
From Adolescent onward, most observers agree that the human child has postulated an idea of who he thinks that he is, and that further experiences on earth merely influence, but do not totally change it. Any adult who looks back at his or her self agrees that he has not really changed that much, from his adolescent to the end of his physical life on earth. Adult experiences modify, but do not change the self-concept once developed by adolescence.
Damage to the brain, as in organic mental disorder, is probably the most powerful way to change the self-concept once it has been established. Even then, the organically damaged person still retains aspects of his old self-concept in his behaviors. Though the person with organic brain damage may seem different from the way he was, but upon closer examination, retain aspects of the old self, and its manner of behaving before the brain injury was sustained.
The human child, the individual, not only invents a self-concept for himself but for all people around him. Each of us has concepts of that he thinks that other people are, concepts he invented for them, through the same process he invented his self-concept. Of course, the individual's perception of which other people are is based on his limited understanding of them and on limited information available to him about them and, therefore, is never correct. Whereas we are all willing to accept that the individual's perception of other people is false, what is not always accepted is that the individual's constructed self-concept for himself is also not correct.
None of us really knows who he, in fact, is. We all have mere conjectures as to who we think that we are. (If you disagree, may we ask you: who are you? Are you just your body or are you spirit? How do you that your answer is correct?)
Outside of brain and spinal injuries, the other ways to make incremental changes to the self, once established, is through life experiences, and particularly through religious experience and psychotherapy. People who have had conversion experience are said to have changed their personalities, from fear driven, for example, to courageous. St Paul's experience on the way to Damascus, Syria, is said to have had such transformative effect on him.
The overt purpose of psychotherapy is to change the individual client's self-concept, to change his psyche. The term psyche means mind or self, therapy is any effort to change something for the good, in this case, to change the self, to improve it, and make it more adaptive to the exigencies of the world we live in, to make the self functional to the demands of social living.
There is no tangible entity that we all can see or touch and call self. The self is always conceptual, ideational, cognitive and mentational. The self is not a tangible entity but a concept, an idea of which the individual thinks that he is, and who the other individuals in the individual's world think that he is. The point is that the self is not self-evident. The self is a mental construct. It is also a social construct.
The human child is born with capacity to think. He is born into a body. He is also born into a human society.
The child experiences his biological constitution and his society (particularly the family he is born into), and by about age six, develops a self-concept for him or her self.
The body the child is born into, and the social experience he is subjected to, obviously, influence his construction of his idea of whom he thinks that he is.
The American Psychologist, George Kelly, writes that the human child is like an engineer or philosopher, and upon birth, takes the materials in his world, his body and social reality, and constructs a self-concept for himself or her self. The nature of the body the child inherited, and society he is born into, influences how he conceptualizes his self.
Many psychologists have made contribution to the idea of the self, ego or self- psychology. RST studied extant psychology, religion, and philosophy; the fields that attempt to understand the nature of the human self. RST borrowed from all the information about the self that is out there in the scientific and philosophical literature. RST is grateful to whoever has written about the nature of the self.
Be that as it may, particular observers of human nature mostly influence RST. We will, therefore, selectively describe their views in brief. It must be remembered, however, that other observers influenced those observers we borrowed greatly from, hence it is correct to say that all human beings influenced the individual, and that, he in turn, influenced other individuals.
There is no such thing as independent thought. We all ride on the shoulders of those who preceded us, and must show our eternal gratitude to them all, and to all human beings.
Karen Horney (Neurosis and Human Growth) is probably the most single influence in Real Self Therapy. She wrote that the human child conceives a self for himself or her self. As she saw it, the exigencies of the child's family life, that is, social variables play a critical role in the eventual self the child construes for himself. In her view, if what Harry Stack Sullivan called significant others (parents, guardians, siblings, peers, authority figures like teachers, ministers etc) in a child's life accepted him or her in what Carl Rogers called unconditional positive manner, loved and accept him as good, no matter what he did or did not do, that the child tends to construct a normal self. In her view, the normal child accepts what she called his real self. The real self, in her view, is the self the child knows himself to be. Since the child is living in a body, the real self is that self that accepts the body the individual is born in, and lives in. In Horney's view,
the normal person accepts his real self, who amounts to accepting his body, and how that body behaves in the world it finds itself. As it were, the normal person looks himself in a mirror, and says: I like what I see there. What he sees in a mirror is his body, and how that biological organism responds to the stimuli coming at it from its world.
Horney did not quit explicate the nature of the real self hence we found it necessary do talk about the self as body related. Horney was a scientist and, as such, did not take flight into metaphysics hence did not conceptualize the self as spirit, as the religions of mankind do. To her, the self is the empirical self, the self we associate with matter, the human body. However, before she died, rather suddenly, Horney was beginning to expand her idea of the self. She did go to Japan, and attempted to study Zen Buddhism. Perhaps, she would have developed a more spiritual concept of the self? This is a speculation. Let us then leave Horney as a psychoanalyst and medical doctor who necessarily delimited her conception of the self to the purview of science, which is matter.
Whereas the normal child has a pattern of growth that seeks to actualize his real self, Horney wrote that there is a pattern of growth that rejects the real self, and conceptualizes a false, ideal self, and attempts to actualize that false self. She called this pattern of growth neurotic growth. Thus, to her, are two patterns of growth, normal growth and neurotic growth. Horney was a psychoanalyst, and employed the psychoanalytic term of neurosis that was in vogue when she wrote in the first half of the twentieth century. Sigmund Freud, the founder of Psychoanalysis had coined the term neurosis and defined it in his own idiosyncratic manner, and his many followers embraced that term, but each giving it a different twist that eventually the term meant whatever the individual said that it meant. The term became confusing and was, therefore, discarded by official psychiatry, and replaced with what today are called the various personality disorders.
Horney believed that the neurotic child rejected his real self, a body associated self, and used his thinking, mind, to invent an idealized self that he thinks that if he were to become it that his significant others would accept and approve him. The neurotic child hates and rejects his real self, and attempts to become a different and better self he thinks that those around him would accept. He attempts to actualize the ideal self. Since the ideal self is entirely conceptual, and is not related to his actual physical self, it is obvious that the child would never be able to actualize it. The ideal self is a product of imagination only.
In imagination human beings rise above the limits set on what is doable by the laws of space, time and matter they live in. In our imaginations, we can fly, but in reality, physical laws make flying impossible (except in so far that science studies and understand the laws of aerodynamics, and in conformity with it, constructs airplanes that can fly).
The ideal self is every thing the real self is not. The real self is a realistic self that adapts to the exigencies of
As Horney saw it, the real self is developed in response to the exigencies of the child's social life. If those around the child insist on accepting him or her only when he becomes able to do what society wants done, only when he is good, and he sees himself not as good, as society wants him to become, he panics and fears social abandonment. The human child, under age twelve, probably would die if adults did not provide his food and material needs for him. Therefore, he wants to be accepted by the adults in his world. If the adults seem to not accept him as he is, but accept him when he seems ideal, the child rejects his weak self, and uses his thinking, and imagination to construct a self that seems ideal and perfect, and tries to be it, so that his significant others would accept him.
The ideal self is constructed under duress to live up to what other people would accept, least one disappoint them, and they reject one, and one dies. It is that self that the child thinks that if he became it that his parents, siblings, peers and society in general would approve and accept, and since he wants social approval he constructs one and pretends to be it. He pretends to be his mentally constructed ideal self in an obsessive-compulsive manner. It is like there is an inner pressure inside him, pressuring him to seem like the ideal self he constructed for himself. If he did not act to seem like the ideal self, he feels anxious, what Horney called Basic Anxiety? The fear of not seeming like the neurotic ideal self is what Horney called neurotic anxiety disorder.
According to Horney, the pursuit of the ideal self, what she called a neurotic pattern of growth, is a socially caused behavior. Society, as it were, rejects the child as he is, and accepts him only when he seems ideal, and he feels an inner compulsion to seem ideal and perfect so as to be accepted by society. In the process, he develops a neurotic personality of our times (Horney's terms).
The neurotic person, according to Karen Horney, is a person who has been forced by society to hate and reject his real self, and seek to become an idealized, perfect self that he invented but is not. The ideal self is a pure thought, a product of mentation and does not exist in the empirical, physical world.
The real self is also an idea, but it is an idea of a self that accepts the physical realities the individual live in. The real self is an idea of a self that accepts the body the individual lives in, a body that limits what the individual can do.
The ideal self, on the other hand, rejects the body and is limitless in what it can do in its imaginary world. As it were, the neurotic lives only in the world of imagination, in the mental world, and not in the world of body. The neurotic is not realistic; he is generally unrealistic. He is, generally perceived by those around him as childish and immature. In the adult world, maturity is seen as accepting the limitations set for human beings by the realities of matter, space and time. Adults know what is doable and what is not, in their world.
The neurotic defies physical and social laws and dreams of impossible goals. Mental health professionals general say that neurotics build castles in the air, and psychiatrists charge them rent and live in them; others live in the castles that neurotics constructed.
Horney's psychoanalytic psychotherapy aims at understanding why the child fled from his real self, and the childhood experiences that led to it. It then teaches the individual the difference between the real and the purely imaginary perfect, ideal self, and urges him or her to live only as the real self.
One would think that the neurotic client would jump at the opportunity to live as his real self. But no, the neurotic is now so totally attached to the ideal self, and identifies with it that he does not want to let go of it, and be a different self. Even though attempting to be an ideal self is causing his anxiety, depression and paranoia, anger, guilt, shame and other mental upsets characteristic of neurosis, yet the neurotic does not want to give up his neurotic self concept and self image. Why so?
The ideal self-image seems all powerful hence desirable. The neurotic takes pride in his powerful, ideal self. He made it up, he invented it, he constructed it, and all things being equal, he likes his construction. The ideal self is an idol of the neurotic's making, and he does not want to give up this craven self-image that he wants to become, and worships. Eric Fromm pointed out that the neurotic's self concept and self-image is like an individually constructed god and the neurotic worships his god. Neurosis, Fromm wrote, is a private religion of sorts; the neurotic invented a god and a ritual of worshiping it, his various efforts to seem like his ideal self. Though it is clear that it is the efforts to seem ideal that is at the root of all his mental upsets, the neurotic is afraid of letting go of that ideal self.
In existential terms, the pursuit of the ideal self gives the neurotic purpose and meaning in life. Apparently, the child confronted a meaningless and purposeless world, and constructed an ideal self that he feels that if he becomes it, that his life would become meaningful and purposeful. He pursues the neurotic, ideal, but false self, in an effort to seem to live a meaningful and purposeful life, and live in a meaningful and purposeful world. If he were to give up seeking his idealized self and its idealized society, the neurotic would confront what existentialist philosophers (Sartre, Camus, Jasper, Hiedegar, and Kierkergard) call our terrible meaningless world. Without his heavens and hells, man would perceive the world and his life as an empty void, and this is very scary. (See Sartre, Being and Nothingness.) If the neurotic gave up the ideal self and ideal society that gave his life meaning, albeit pseudo meaning, he would feel that his life is meaningless.
Herein lays the danger of asking the neurotic to give up his self-concept and self-image. If he listened to the cavalier therapist and gave up his imaginary self-view, he would become depressed. In fact, he may find life so meaningless and purposeless that he might contemplate suicide, and may even kill himself. Therefore, one must be very careful in asking people to give up their idealized selves and their religions.
For example, white Americans pursue the neurotic self that fancies itself superior to black persons. As long as they seek to become this idealized, but false self, their lives seem to be meaningful, albeit it deluded meaning. If they were to suddenly give up their imaginary superior self, they would experience mass depression. In fact, the present increase in depression in America is probably correlated with the gradual relinquishment of the delusion of superiority to other races that white America had. It used to give white Americans cheap pride to feel better than other people, but now that they can see Asians out competing them in academics and blacks doing so in sports, they are losing their sense of existential importance. They have to go through this therapeutic process until they are healed of their mass neurosis.
A mentally healthy person accepts his or her perfect equality with all people, black, white and Asians, child and adult, male and female. Simply stated, all human beings are the same and equal, and it is an illusion and delusion to see ones self or ones race as better than other people.
Of course, there are cultural differences between people, but there is not an iota of difference between the so-called races of mankind. Culture is how people adapted to different environments, and, in as much, as the exigencies of the world they are adapting to be different, culture must be different. People, on the other hand, are not their environments. People everywhere are the same.
Genetic studies show that all people originated in Africa, before they spread to all parts of the world. People are 99.9% the same. The .1% percent biological difference in them is a result of their adaptation to different environments, to hot, or cold and temperate climate hence with black, brown and pale bodies.
The neurotic is attached to the idea that he is a superior and ideal self. The illusion of personal superiority gives him a sense of meaning. Therapists must, therefore, be careful in disillusioning the neurotic. William Meisner, in his writings on the paranoid process, (paranoia is a neurosis, and anxiety disorder), points out that the paranoid is an extreme neurotic who rejected his real self, and seeks to become his imaginary ideal self. He presents the ideal self to other people to accept and when they validate it he feels neurotic joy, and when they did not, he feels neurotic anger at them. As it were, the paranoid personality exists to make his false, ideal self-seem real. All his activities are geared towards convincing him and other people that he is who he is not, an ideal, all-powerful self. He wants to be a self he is not, in fact, Belief in what is not true, as true, and in this case, a self that is not true, as true, is what is meant by delusional disorder.
The paranoid, a person with delusional disorder wants to be a self that he is not. Adolf Hitler, had delusional disorder (paranoid personality) in the sense that he rejected his short five- feet- seven inches, dark complexioned, Semitic looking body, and wanted to become a six-foot- six inches blond Aryan. He completely identified with the ideal self, and detested his real self, a self he perceived as ugly. He embarked on killing those who reminded him of his imperfect real self, Jews, non-Germans, the mentally ill, homosexual persons and the physically handicapped.
Paranoid neurotic process can progress to delusional level. Whereas the garden variety neurotic, every human being, secretly wishes that he were an ideal self, but knows that he is not ideal, the paranoid person thinks that he is his desired ideal self hence has lost some touch with reality and is now psychotic.
The psychotic has lost touch with reality and is unable to test reality. He lives in fantasyland, where he is whatever he wants to become.
The neurotic is still in touch with reality, and, as such, knows what it is, although he does not like it and wants to become an idealized version of it. The neurotic is Thoreau's man living a life of quiet desperation, not liking his reality, and wishing for an idealized reality.
Meisner believes that for the paranoid person to be healed, that he must let go of his idealized self, and stop trying to become his imaginary perfect, powerful self. When he stops doing so, he initially becomes depressed. As Meisner sees it, paranoia is a mask over an underlying depressed self-concept, and depressing world. In effect, the paranoid person is always a depressed person, and is hiding his underlying depression with the paranoid mask of importance. When the false, all-important paranoid self is peeled off, the paranoid person feels depressed. But this is therapeutic, for as" Grief Process" tells us, we must first get to depression before we can accept the reality of our powerlessness to make the world what we like. When we accept the diminished self that is the real self, and live within its realistic parameters, we are sane.
Sanity lies in accepting the real self and the real world. Insanity lies in pretending that the unreal, though desirable self and world, is real. The individual, whether he likes it or not, is circumscribed by space, time and matter, and is always imperfect and limited in what he can do. To pretend ability to do what one cannot do or be, ideal, is to be insane, to live in an imaginary world. We must all accept our diminished self and stop questing after grandiose and unrealistic self-concepts and self-images. Successful psychotherapy enables people to accept their real selves, imperfect, yes, and make the most of it in the world of science and technology.
Alfred Adler contributed rather significantly to Real Self-Therapy. He is the psychoanalyst who told us that all of us, as children, felt inadequate…in degrees, some more so than others…and did not like it, and compensated with desire for superiority. As Adler saw it, all human beings feel somewhat inferior and restitute with desire for superiority. In normal persons, the drive for superiority is put to social use. A person who fears death, for example, could study medicine, and through it help people overcome their illnesses hence, as it were, postpone death and dying, and in the process seem to overcome his fear of death. But, alas, he must die as all biological organisms must die, so the fear of death is never completely eradicated. Perhaps, such a person can find some solace in religion and or philosophy that tells him that there is life after death? Perhaps, he can be heroic and accept finitude upon our physical death. Some people accept that oblivion awaits us when we die. They are called atheists. These people are perfectly able to live their lives on earth without fleeing into imaginary concepts of heaven and hell, as superstition tells us to do.
According to Adler, there are instances where children inherit problematic bodies (what he called inferior organs), and are raised in adverse families (what we now call abusive families…abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual and neglecting the child's basic needs). Such children grow up feeling exaggerated sense of inferiority. As Adler sees it, they become over invested in seeming superior. More importantly, their attempt to restitute with superiority becomes self-centered.
Whereas the normal person seeks to do what enables all society to survive, some children just want to survive, and could care less for other people's survival. The later children, Adler called neurotic. The neurotic child feels an inner compulsion to seem as if he is superior to other persons, and generally acts as if he is superior to other people. Selfish interests motivate him; he wants money and power just for him, but not for all society.
As Adler sees it, all human beings are neurotic, in degrees. How could they not be, when the exigencies of living in weak bodies make them feel small and inferior? All we can do, according to Adler, is train all children and all people to seek superiority in a manner that contributes to social interest. By all means train to become a world-class athlete, and feel superior to all people, but use your strengthened body to serve mankind in some form or another.
Adler did not think that we could ever eradicate neurosis, but that we could redirect it, by making us do what serves social interests.
Whereas Horney saw the etiology of neurosis in social factors, Adler saw them in both social and biological factors. Adler's individual psychology is, therefore, biosocial in its etiological accounts of neurosis. Obviously neurosis is caused by both biological and sociological factors that we can safely say that Adlerian psychology is more complete than Horney's.
You cannot deny the role of biology in the etiology of neurosis and provide an acceptable causal analysis of problematic human behavior. Contemporary neuroscience has, in fact, demonstrated the biochemical and biophysical aspect of most mental disorders. Now we know that in anxiety disorder there is problematic GABA, a neurotransmitter, in depression there is problematic serotonine, a neurotransmitter, in mania there is problematic neuropiniphrine, a neurotransmitter, and in schizophrenia there is problematic dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Neuro-psychiatrists attempt to cure the mentally ill with medications: anxioleptics for the anxious, antidepressants for the depressed, anti mania medications for the manic and neuroleptic medications for the psychotic. Psychopharmacotherapy assumes that mental disorders are caused by biological factors. All these medications are useful, although they do not heal mental illness. We believe that in the future, genetic science would come up with genetic engineering that would correct whatever genes are malfunctioning in specific mental disorders, and help to heal them.
In the meantime, we have the ability to re-conceptualize whatever self-concept we conceptualized under the confines of our various problematic bodies. If, for example, the individual constructed a neurotic and or psychotic self-concept, he can, through understanding what constitutes the real self, and false self reconstruct his old self-concept. He can deconstruct the old self-construct, and reconstruct it on a more realistic line. When he does so, he begins to live healthily, hence more peacefully and happily.
Real Self Therapy works with people with all the so-called mental disorders, normal (oh, yes, normalcy, too, is a mental disorder, a mild form of neurosis), Neurotic and Psychotic and helps all of them jettison their problematic self-concepts and replace them with more realistic self-concepts hence live fully and happily. Real Self Therapists are mature human beings, and go about their reconstructing of peoples self constructs in a gentle and careful manner.
As noted, if you force people to give up their imaginary ideal selves, they may, in fact, go through transient psychoses and recompensate with more grandiose self-concepts. If you forced white Americans to give up their illusions of superiority, you would generate mass psychoses in them. Therefore, you have to be gentle with them, and gradually get them to see the logic of human equality, and then give up their amusing sense of superiority, and replace it with our shared equality. If you succeed, you enable them to relax, and experience peace and happiness, not the type they seek in drugs and over eating.
Experienced therapists do not rush people to decompensate, to give up their manner of ego compensations, for they know that there is a possibility of panic should they do so. The false ideal self may be insane, but it is the only self-people know of. If they give up this insane self that they have defended with the various ego defenses (repression, suppression, denial, dissociation, projection, displacement, rationalization, reaction formation, sublimation, fantasy, avoidance, projective identification, minimization, intellectualization etc), they feel tremendous anxiety.
If neurotics give up their ego defenses and the ideal self they defend, they feel like they have no self. A false self is better than a no self at all. People, in fact, experience derealization, and depersonalization, which is what mental disorder is all about, if they lose their self-concepts. The greatest terror a human being could go through is the loss of the self. In ego decompensation, the old self breaks down, and the individual no longer knows who he is, and recompensate with more outrageous self-concept, what is now psychotic self.
For example, the neurotic merely wishes to be important but knows that he is not all that important. The neurotic seeks high social status and titles to make him seem a very important person, a VIP, but knows that he is not that person, although he wants to be him. But if you force the issue, and make him feel unimportant, he decompensates and recompensates with a more absurd sense of importance: he now believes that he is the most important person on earth; if he is religious his sense of importance may take on religious ideation so that he sees himself as God and his surrogates, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, depending on where he lives, Christian or Asiatic culture; if he is secular, his psychotic self may see itself as the riches man in his world, say Bill Gates, the most powerful man in his world, Adolf Hitler, and so on. Therefore, we must be very careful in working to getting people to give up their ideal selves, and gently help them replace them with acceptance of their real selves, and living out of the real self.
Religious experience actually lies in going through what psychiatry calls mental decompensation. When the individual goes through ego death, the break down of his imaginary self-concept, real or ideal, and accepts it, he knows that there is no such thing as a separated self. All ideas of separated self are illusions and delusions. Ultimately, when we let go of our sense of separated self, we return to awareness of being part of one life. Our truest self is being part of unified life.
Life as life is, is not any thing we can conceptualize. Life as life is, is one unified force. Life is one force that is simultaneously one and infinite in numbers. One life is itself, and at the same times all of us. That life in its pure form is not the life we currently know ourselves to be in our bodily living. Pure life is non-material in nature.
Pure life is what the various religions of mankind call spirit. Life/spirit is eternal and immortal. While on earth, we do not experience pure life; Real Self Therapy, therefore, does not waste its time and energy talking about what conceptual talking cannot talk about, unified life, Spirit/ God. (Spirits are infinite in numbers, and yet are one, and behave as one spirit hence is always written in singular form. Though there are infinite spirits, they all are one spirit. All spirits share one self and one mind hence are one singular spirit.)
Speech is adapted to our world of separation, space, time and matter, not to the unified world of one life, Spirit/God. Where all are unified as one, there is no use for language, as we know it. Our language is meant to help those who seem apart from each other communicate with one another.
In unified life, people commune differently. Each person knows what all other persons are thinking about, as they know about his thoughts. All minds are joined and open to each other, and know what is in each other.
Indeed, our world came into being to close off each other's mind to each other, and prevent open communion with each other, so as to seem separated from each other, and to have the illusion that each of us has private thoughts.
Real Self Therapy limits itself to our current world, though it appreciates the unified world. It merely acknowledges that there is a non-material spiritual world, a world of perfect union, and an everlasting world but knows that RST's language and concept based mode of communication can say nothing germen about the world of spirit.
Talking about the eternal world leads to religion and Real Self Therapy steers clear of religion and metaphysics. The world of religion tends to dwell on belief, and in accepting the unempirical, whereas RST is interested in the world of science, the world where everything we say can be verified. (See Karl Popper, 1963)
An American Clinical Psychologist, Helen Schucman, for example, took Karen Horney's real self psychology and spiritualized it in a book she called A Course In Miracles. She added a dash of Hinduism and Gnosticism to Horney's otherwise secular ideas, and people are falling all over themselves claiming that their particular interpretation of ACIM is the correct one. They have deified the perennial wisdom rearticulated in ACIM, and made it into a religion to be worshipped, and instead of trying to live the truth expressed in the book, albeit in convoluted verse, fight each other in ego-based Courts of Law. Each of these combatants would like the privilege to be the sole decider of what constitutes ACIM's correct teaching. Each claims that it is motivated by desire to prevent others from corrupting the teachings contained in the book.
We have seen such behaviors before. It is called Catholicism, and its efforts to prevent Protestants from interpreting the Bible, as they see fit. The result of such irreligious behaviors is wars of religion. In our world, each of us is unique. We came to the world to seem different from each other, and must have a different perception of reality, although in truth reality is the same and unified. In our extant world, each person's interpretation of God, of any book, must be idiosyncratic. It, therefore, makes no difference how each person interprets ACIM, for in the final analysis each interpretation is unique and false.
Unified reality is not up to each of us to interpret what it is. Unified reality is beyond the world of separation hence perception where interpretation matters. In the meantime, we live in a conceptual and perceptual world where interpretation is inevitable, and thus must engage in interpretational behavior.
The point is that religion generally leads to theological disputes, and RST prefers to stay out of such conflicts. Thus, whereas the ideas contained in RST are the same found in true religions, it prefers not to see itself as a religion, but a philosophy and a science of human thinking and behavior. As a philosophy and science, RST welcomes debate and different interpretations of reality. Different interpretations lead to improved understanding of the human condition.
Helen Schucman is perhaps the greatest religious thinker North American has produced, and we borrow from her ideas, although we are not limited to her ideas. More importantly, we prefer to present our ideas in a non-religious manner, in secular language, whereas Schucman presented hers in religious language, which, unfortunately, tends to be poetic, and does not lend themselves to rational discourse, but belief. We are not interested in believing anything as true, but in working with people to understand the truth, and accept it on rational, not belief grounds. We presented our philosophy and science in our book, Real Self Psychology/Therapy. The interested reader should read that more voluminous write up in Real Self Psychology/Therapy.
Real Self Therapy accepts that there is a force in human beings, a force that takes their biological and sociological experiences and constructs a self-concept for each human being. That force is life. If it makes you feel good, call that force spirit or God. Call it what you like; the fact is that it has no name. To name something is to limit it. Life is nameless because it is limitless.
Life manifests in space, time and matter, in the human body, and experiences some deficits, and feels compelled to construct a self-concept for itself. In each of us, life constructs a self-concept. The individual's self concept is influenced by the specific body and social experience he finds himself in.
A force that is not of this world, a non-material force, life, enters this world, and conceptualizes the self-concept. In most instances, the self-concept life construes for the individual is normal in that it approximates the realities of this world. In some cases, the self -concept construed by the life force in the individual is neurotic, that is, wants to be an ideal self that has no reference to the individual's biological constitution, a self that, as it were, transcends body.
Life can construe for the individual a psychotic self-concept, that is, a self that is like the neurotic self, totally ideational and lacking reference to body, unlike neurosis where the individual merely wishes the ideal self but knows it to be unreal. In psychosis, the individual forgets that the ideal self is unreal, and believes in it, and attempts to act as if the imaginary is the real. The psychotic, therefore, takes himself out of the shared world of normal-neurotic persons, and lives in his own world, a world of unshared fantasy.
People cannot relate to the psychotic and his world and, therefore, leave him or her alone to wallow in his dream world where whatever is wished is made real, as the mad man flies all over the world and does whatever he wants to do, albeit in fantasy.
Whatever is the individual's mental disorder, normal, neurotic or psychotic, there is hope for him. There is hope for him because the life force in him is always healthy and sane.
The life force in us is the conceptualizer of our self-concepts. The conceptualizer, the thinker is not his thoughts. You are not your thinking. But man does identify with his thinking and if that thinking is problematic, he develops problematic behaviors.
In the temporal universe, in us, Life thinks in two modes, in either real or ideal self-mode. All people have realistic thinking and idealistic thinking. But normal persons identify with their realistic thinking. Others, neurotics, identify with their idealistic thinking, but know them as mere wishes. Psychotics lose touch with reality and take ideals as real.
The thinker is always sane whereas his thoughts can be insane. If you can get the thinker to identify with his realistic thinking, he becomes normal. Thus, the neurotic and psychotic can be enabled to see their idealistic thinking as pure fantasy, and give them up, or at least not attempt to actualize them in the world of matter. If the hitherto neurotic and or psychotic now only attempts to actualize his realistic thinking, thinking in accord with the world of space, time and matter, we say that he is normal.
Real Self Therapy enables people to actualize their realistic thinking. RST does not ask people to give up their idealistic thinking; people are free to dream and wish all they want, but we insist that they accept the parameters of science and technology, and its scientific culture, as a way of living, that is, to engage only in realistic behaviors. We are scientists who study human thinking in a dispassionate and objective manner, and develop a behavior technology to actualize realistic thinking.
(We are not just talking the childishness called behaviorism that denied thinking itself and dwelled only on learned behavior, in classical and operant conditioning and behavior modification. Man is more than the sum of his behaviors, there is a life force in him that does his thinking. RST attempts to make the individual's thinking and behavior realistic to the exigencies of life inside matter, our bodies.)
Building on the contributions of all past and present observers of the human condition, and on our own observations, we concluded that there is irrefutable evidence that human beings tend to construct self-concepts, and transform those ideas of whom they think they are into self-images. Each person has a self-concept and self image; the self-concept is also what people call the human personality and character.
The self-concept could be normal, neurotic and or psychotic. Whether normal or neurotic or psychotic, no self-concept represents the individual's true self, and in that sense no self-concept is totally real and healthy. Whereas the normal self-concept approximates the individual's earthly reality and his body, yet it is not necessarily who he is, and cannot be said to be healthy.
It would be desirable if the people who have neurotic or psychotic self-concepts had normal self-concept, but the fact is that self-concepts are constructed in childhood, and done with the information, which is always limited, available to the human child. Moreover, self-concepts are constructed under the duress of problematic bodies and social practices. Most self-concepts are problematic.
Real Self Therapy aims at helping all people, normal, neurotic and psychotic to improve their self-concepts, to relinquish whatever attachment they have to false, ideal self-concepts, and to increasingly identify with their real selves, and live from them.
Real self Therapy is applicable to all mental upsets: fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, pride and to all mental disorders such as schizophrenia, delusion disorder, mania, depression, anxiety disorders and personality disorders.
Real Self Therapy is a recipe for the individual and society in general to obtain mental, somatic and social peace and happiness. RST works.
Those who practice Real Self Psychology empirically tend to be at peace and are happy human beings.
Peace and happiness are correlated to living out of the real self, and, ultimately, to living out of our shared unified self.
If the reader wants to find out whether the claims made for RST are true or not, all he has to do is practice what it teaches: live out of the real self, and give up trying to live out of the false, ideal self. At all times, and in every situation, the individual finds himself or herself, he has a choice to live as the real self or to live as the false ideal self. This is an existential choice, to be authentic to whom one is or to try to seem who one would like to become: a very powerful and ideal self that in reality one is not.
If one consistently chooses to live as the real self, one finds how unspeakably peaceful and happy life is. Life is unbearably light, but we make it a burden by trying to seem who we are not, false perfect and ideal selves.
Remove all the ego defenses with which you defend your neurotic and psychotic ideal self-concept, and just be your real self. The real self simply is and is real. As a reality it does not need defenses.
It is what is unreal, the ideal self, that needs defenses to make it seem real. But no amount of defenses of the unreal would make it real. No amount of one's defense of ones ideal self would make it real. One can only pretend to be an ideal self when, in fact, one is a real self.
It is sad really, considering all the anxiety and stress we give to ourselves by defending our false, ideal selves; we give to ourselves unnecessary mental upsets.
Undo what you have done to seem an ideal self. In Helen Schucman's poetic terms, undo the ego and you experience your real self, which she called Christ.
Schucman confused the ego and the ego ideal. The term ego is Latin for self. Each of us has a self, on earth and in heaven. We cannot, not have a self, on earth and in heaven. The problematic self is the ideal self. On earth, the real self approximates our true self, a unified self, what Schucman called Christ self. However, the real self is not the unified/Christ self, for unified /Christ self is spirit and unified with all selves, God included. The real self is in our bodies, but approximates its true self, unified self, without denying the bodily environment it lives in. The ideal self, on the other hand, is in our bodies but denies that bodily self, hence is totally ideational and unrealistic to the realities of our material world. The point is that we must make distinctions between the different types of the ego, self, rather than give the impression, as Helen did, that all ego is bad. Christ is ego, self, but a self that recognizes its union with all selves, God
included. What Helen called ego is properly speaking the neurotic ego, the ideal self, a self-psychologists like Alfred Adler associate with selfishness and self-centeredness. Adler's socialized self, the healthy self, is akin to Helen's Christ self.
You do not need to do anything to be your true self. What you need to do is undo what you have already done to prevent yourself from being your true self. You have to undo the ideal self, so as to experience the real self, and from that to the true self.
The real self is in body hence is a physical self. On the other hand, the true self is outside of body, is spirit, and since only spirit can unify, the true self is a unified spirit self. The true self is eternal but while living on earth we are not aware of it.
Beginning from birth, the individual invented an ideal self, (which Helen Schuman called ego) and defends it. Defense of the ideal self, ego, prevents one from living as the real self.
In Helen's terms, ego defenses are a block to the awareness of the real self. And the real self itself is a block to the awareness of the true self. But we must first get to the real self before we become aware of the true self; hence RST concentrates on attaining the real self. RST knows that once the real self is accepted and lived from, that it is only a short step before the true self is experienced.
When one stops defending the ideal self, one experiences the real self. Thus one needs do nothing to be the real self. One simply lives as the real self.
It is the false, ideal self that one needs to do something to. One must pretend to be the ideal self. One must act as if one is the ideal self, and defend that false self with the various ego defenses.
Do nothing, that is, do not defend the ideal self, and you revert to experiencing your real self, a self that is peaceful and is always happy. When we live from our real selves, we are unbelievably peaceful and happy and approximate mental health.
The founders of Real Self Therapy practiced the other known psychotherapies: Freud's Psychoanalysis, Adler's individual Psychology,
Jung's Psychology, Ellis Rational Emotive Therapy, Beck's Cognitive Behavior Therapy, B. F. Skinner's Behavior Modification, Neurosciences ready application of medications to mental issues, and found most of them useful, up to a point, but in the final analysis not contributive to peace and happiness. They gradually learned what contributes to peace and happiness as living from ones real self center, rather than trying to live from ones false self center.
Moreover, the founders of RST resented traditional psychotherapies becoming cohorts with the state. Finding their psychotherapies mostly not therapeutic, these folks got state legislatures to pass laws making the practice of their therapies illegal unless one is licensed to do so. Imagine a way of life, a religion, and a philosophy that requires licensure to teach it. One does not need a license to practice physics, does one? Why should one need a license to practice the less scientific field called Psychology? This seemed absurd. The individual does not need license to teach the truth. Therefore, they founded RST and give it away.
You do not need licensing to practice RST. All you are required to do is read its books and take courses from Real Self Center, demonstrate that you have understood the methodology of RST and live it, as demonstrated by peace and happiness in your life, and you are certified to teach the system to other people. RST is not affiliated with university psychology, for it resents being part of an establishment that does not really heal people, but charge them money to talk to them. RST does heal people. Try it and you would find out that it works, and if you do not agree with us, then you do not have to practice RST's methodological approach to understanding yourself and living peacefully and happily.
We at Real Self Center and practitioners of Real Self Therapy see human beings, normal, neurotic and psychotic, as essentially laboring under a heavy yoke. Upon entry into the world of space, time and matter, each of us, and we emphasize, all of us, appears to not like the world he or she entered. This not liking the world is of course in degrees, for some persons seem to like the world more than others. Nevertheless, it is an existential datum that human beings experience their world as depressing.
The world is depressing. Therefore, all human beings feel initially what we call existential depression. We entered a meaningless and purposeless world, and that world, in Helen's terms, is upsetting, and in our terms, is depressing. A meaningless world is a depressing world.
To be a human being is to be existentially depressed. All human beings are existentially depressed. We are not talking about clinical depression requiring anti depressant medications to manage it, but existential and phenomenological depression, that require philosophical thinking to cope with it.
Human beings do not like to live with depression. To accept depression is to be immobilized and paralyzed. In as much as we came here to live, so live we must. Each of us finds a way to overcome his original existential depression. Actually, we never completely overcome that existential depression and anxiety, but merely find a way to cover it up, to mask it.
The pursuit of ideal self is our initial way of masking our existential depression. To seek to be an ideal self, and create an ideal world makes a meaningless and purposeless world seem purposeful and meaningful to the human child. The pursuit of idealism gives the individual meaning and purpose, something to do to improve himself and other people and the world, a world he finds utterly depressing and upsetting.
Neurosis and psychoses are, therefore, means of making a seeming meaningless and depressing world seem meaningful and less depressing. As long as the child seeks becoming ideal self, he appears vibrant and happy. People, of course, have other ways to seek to make themselves less depressed? They join religions. Religions give them stories of a better life outside our world, and that makes them derive a sense of hope hence less depression. Most religions are, simply stated, illusions. Other neurotic persons finding our world meaningless seek meaning in high social status and titles. In Nigeria, folks who feel themselves worthless and their lives meaningless seek to become big men and confer on themselves meaningless and sometimes ridiculous titles, such as the same person calling himself: Professor, Dr, Chief, Engineer, and Alhaji Vanity Itself.
This is not to say that there is no life after death. Life in its spirit form is eternal. That eternal life is not the life we know, while living in bodies. Those born in bodies are temporary beings; they are born and must die, and rot and smell to high heaven. The awareness of their temporality and fate as food for worms makes them experience what we have called existential depression, and seek whatever seems to make them seem worthwhile and meaningful.
Some people seek to alleviate their existential depression through in-gestation of drugs, alcohol, others through over eating, and others through promiscuous sexuality (sex addiction). Many people use chemicals to stimulate their bodies and in so doing feel momentarily fine and less depressed.
Psychiatry has joined the tendency for people to use drugs to stimulate themselves out of their existential depression hence these days give people medications. Like alcohol, nicotine, caffeine and other drugs people employ in stimulating themselves when they are down in spirit, psychiatric medications do alleviate people's existential depression, but do not cure it. (One of RST's founders used to be the Executive Director of a Community Mental Health Center, and considered the psychiatrists working at his agency no different from drug pushers. Like drug pushers, they get folks addicted to drugs, this time to psychiatric drugs, and as long as they take these drugs seem not depressed. Finding happiness in a bottle is not exactly real happiness. All the happy pills of this world would not wash away our existential depression. He resolved to find a non- medicinal means of feeling fine, hence Real Self Therapy. It must be stressed that he is not like Thomas Tzas and R. D Laing and doubts the reality of mental illness. Human beings are sick, all right, and need healing. It just happens that the traditional means of healing them was not good enough. We need RST, and where necessary, supplemented with recourse to medications.)
People employ all sorts of means to avert the awareness of their underlying existential depression, and existential anxiety. Some seek power. They enter into politics and believe that if they are powerful and tell other people what to do that they would overcome their depression. Power masks the underlying existential depression, but does not eliminate it. Others pursue religion and moralize about how awful the world is. In doing so they seem to feel less existentially depressed. The various ministers of religion pontificate on how to please God, as if God would care one way or another about their ideas of good or bad, and in so doing so, cover up their existential depression. (Actually, some of these religious mullahs are alcoholics, and sex addicts, they over eat and do other things people do to stimulate themselves out of their existential depression.) Some pursue high social status and titles and wealth. In being seen as persons of high status, professor, Doctor, Governor etc, these folks seem important in their eyes and hope, also in their fellow human beings eyes. Pursuit of high social status masks peoples underlying existential depression, their sense of worthlessness and meaningless.
If you take away all the things people do to mask their existential depression, you discover that they are really depressed persons. Take away people's religions, ego ideals, power, drugs, food, and sex and they become depressed. (One must be profoundly depressed to engage in homosexual sex, imagine putting ones penis into another man's anus, into shit, and calling that enjoyment, this is the height of perceived meaninglessness and purposeless of being; to think that they are shit).
If you take away all that folks do to mask their existential depression, they would experience their childhood felt worthlessness, meaninglessness and purposelessness in life on earth? Therefore, to avoid re-experiencing that existential depression felt by every human child, people do not want to give up their neurotic and psychotic means of seeming to make their lives bearable. They insist on their false happiness. If you take away classical music, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart etc, this writer would experience life as intolerably depressing.
The rational person does not take away people's crutches. Indeed, he seeks ways to temporarily reinforce them, for the alternative is their sense of worthlessness, meaninglessness, purposelessness and existential depression. People, upon entry into this world, find it meaningless and a meaningless world, as Schucman noted. They, therefore, construct elaborate neurotic ways of giving themselves meaning.
Deep down, of course, all human beings know that their neurotic false goals do not really remove the meaninglessness of existence on earth or make them not depressed. But as long as they seem to give people some respite, they clutch unto them, and do so rather compulsively. Consider the Catholic Church. The founders of RST were raised as Catholic Christians. This religion has belief in God, heaven, and life after physical death. Now, do these people really believe in their theology? If they did, how come they are afraid of death and dying? They go to great lengths to keep their ailing pope alive, through medical means, trying to prevent him from dying. Now, if they truly believed that if they died that they would go to a better world, one would expect them to embrace death gracefully, indeed, to gladly leave this world for their putative better world. The fact that they, like all of us, strive to be in this world, painful as it is, for as long as possible, and fear death, means that they really do not believe in the heaven they talk so much about?
Nevertheless, the idea of heaven is soothing. It makes people feel less depressed when they think about their existence on earth. When people think of themselves as going to die and become food for worms they become depressed. But if they can believe in life after death of sorts, their depression is alleviated. Thus you leave them to wallow in their various illusions. (Freud saw all religion as illusion. See his, The Future of an Illusion.)
Neurotic goals whether individually derived or pursued through organized religions, seem to give people's lives pseudo worth and meaning and, therefore, pseudo happiness. This is the state of affairs in our world. Most human beings are existentially depressed, and as Henry Thoreau observed, live lives of quiet desperation
The real question is whether if we gave up all the illusory goals we employ in masking our existing depression, life has meaning? What happens when we give up pursuit of neurotic ideal self, and the goals based on it? What would happen if white Americans, for example, did not obtain cheap neurotic pride by seeing themselves as superior to black people, and simply accepted themselves as human beings? What would happen when the neurotic gives up pursuing his ideal self and ideal world? What would happen when the psychotic gives up his fantasy that he is an ideal person? What would happen when normal persons give up their unconscious neurotic goals of ideals and superiority?
(The neurotic person is aware that he wants to seem superior to other people and pursues ideal goals, but the normal person is not consciously aware of having those goals. Nevertheless, he has those goals. He wants to seem superior to other persons, and he wants to be ideal. If in doubt of this conclusion, go find out by telling people that they are better than their neighbors, and see whether they would not swallow that nonsense. That was Adolf Hitler's secret. He told Germans that they were superior to their neighbors, and they believed it. If you tell people that they are superior to other people, you can make them your slaves, and they would do anything you asked them to do, including going to war, killing people that did not harm them, and dying for you. Simply stated, the so-called normal person is as neurotic as the so-called neurotic person is. The difference is that the neurotic's more stimulated nerves, more excited brain, the neurotic, on the average is generally more intelligent than the normal person…makes him aware of what, in the less intelligent normal person, is masked. In normal persons, the idea of superiority and ideals are unconscious, in Freudian terms, are repressed into the unconscious, from where they still exercise influence on the normal persons' behaviors. Hence the irrational behavior of normal persons. You would find an American college professor discriminating against black persons, an irrational behavior. He does so because unconsciously he feels superior to them. It is irrational for doing so, he alienates black persons, who very soon would have the weapons of mass destruction to wreck havoc on white America. Only loving behavior is rational behavior. Love does not see skin color or gender differences but treats all people as equal and the same.)
If you removed all the props of the ego ideal, you would initially revert to experiencing life on earth as terribly meaningless, purposeless and depressing. Existential philosophers like Camus, Sartre etc have talked about that fact. However, existentialism was not deep enough.
If, in fact, you removed all ego ideals and the defenses of those ideals and just be, what you would experience is a type of peace that, as St Paul observed in one of his epistles, passes human understanding. This is the secret of the mystic's peace and happiness.
The true mystic removes his pursuit of ego ideals. He accepts his real self and just be. In being without ego masks, he finds himself experiencing partship with all life. He experiences what Buddha called nirvana, a sense of oneness with all life? Life is one. We are all part of that one life.
When we give up trying to seem separated from one unified life, and just be, as in meditation, we experience peace and happiness. (We expanded on these metaphysical ideas in our book, Real Self Psychology.)
We shall now provide brief summaries of how Real Self Therapy is applied to the issues people generally bring to psychotherapeutic situations, issues they seek help dealing with. These topics were covered in detail in our main book on Real Self-Psychotherapy, Real Self Psychology. The reader should consult that more theoretical book for expatiation of the topics briefly mentioned here.
FEAR AND ANXIETY
Perhaps, fear and anxiety are the most endemic issues dealt in psychotherapy. It is appropriate, therefore, that we begin our discourse with them.
All human beings experience fear. If a person did not have the capacity for fear, he would not survive on earth. In fact, there are children born with diminished capacity for fear. They seldom live to adulthood. Somehow, such children's fear alerting signals are not working properly, and they, therefore, do not appreciate future danger, and take measures to protect themselves. They tend to live dangerous lives, and die from injuries. This situation is most likely to occur in those children born with little or no capacity for pain. Not feeling pained, they do not develop anticipatory and precautionary fear of what could hurt them in the future. Thus, they jump into dangerous activities, and get injured and die from their wounds.
Fear is built into all normal animals, human beings included. It is a danger alerting mechanism in animals' bodies. When an internal environmental stimulus (such as sickness) or external environmental stimulus (such as a person pointing a gun at you) is perceived, the animal involuntarily engages in fear response. Without pausing to think about what to do, the animal's body elicits certain excitatory neuro-chemicals, including neuro-adreanlin. This hormone hastens the workings of most of the organs in the body. The heart pumps faster, sending blood to all parts of the body; that blood carries energy, sugar, released by the body and used to supply muscles to work quicker; the individual finds his muscles tort and tense and able to perform quickly; he breathes faster, as his lungs inhale more oxygen into his body and exhales carbon dioxide; his nerves work fast, sending messages to the brain, retrieving information stored in the brain's memory bank, as to whether the individual should stay and fight or flee from the threat; the individual feels hot, as his body temperature goes up from the quickened activities of most of the organs, this level of heat is dangerous, for if not removed from the body, could damage some organs, so the skin supplements the nose in getting rid of the heat…when in fear our skin is very hot, for blood carries heat to the skin and from there gets rid of it, the air we exhale is also hot.
All told, when an animal feels threatened, it experiences fear, and fear is characterized by certain physiological processes, the end result of which is to compel the animal to run from the danger, so as to protect itself, or to stay and fight it. Fear is characterized by flight or fight response. Either response is meant to protect the endangered animal.
Fear is a danger alerting mechanism. It is fear that alerts animals to threats to their bodies and compels them to do what they have to do to survive. Therefore, fear protects animals' existence.
Fear defends the sense of the separated self, the ego. Fear is the instrument for keeping us, separated selves, alive on earth. A person, who has no fear, and does not defend himself from danger, dies. Fear is, therefore, the foremost ego defense mechanism. Without fear, the individual cannot survive on earth, as demonstrated in the early death of children born with diminished capacity for pain and fear.
All human beings experience fear and in that sense fear is a normal physiological response. On the other hand, whereas normal persons feel fear when there is objective threat to their lives, others feel fear even when those around them do not see threat. Consider a person in the safety of his room feeling all the symptoms of fear. If he felt so when another person points a gun at him, his fear would be objective, but since there is no external threat to his life, his fear is considered unrealistic hence called anxiety. Anxiety is fear without known cause.
Here psychiatry shows that it is not yet a real science. Where there is anxiety, there is always a cause for it; perhaps the cause is internal, inside the body. If a child is born with an organic disorder, say spondilolysis, he feels inordinate pain. Pain alerts his body that he is threatened, so he reacts with fear. He feels anxious most of the time. But those around him would not see what is making him fearful hence would dismiss his fear as unrealistic anxiety. No, his fear is very realistic for nature is telling him that his life is threatened, albeit from inside him, and urging him to flee or fight it, in this case, seek medical treatment for the disorder of the fifth lumber vertebrae. If he ignores the pain and fear he feels, and does what normally healthy children do, engage in reckless physical activities, his back gives up and he dies. One must listen to one's pain and fear, if one wants to live on planet earth.
Nevertheless, it is the case that once an individual has experienced objective fear, his mind could apprehend what could harm him in the future, and experience fear as if there is an objective cause for fear in the present moment. That is, thinking, imagination and cognition, and psychological anticipation of danger can make the body react as if it is in fact threatened. If a woman has been raped, and this is always a traumatic experience, she can use her thinking to recall the rape, and her body would react as if she is being raped right now, even though no one is raping her, and she would re-experience the intense fear she felt while been raped. Indeed, merely seeing a man or house or anything that reminds her of the rape, elicits fear response in her. A woman could be walking down the street, sees a man that looks that a man who raped her, or sees a house that reminds her of the house where she was raped, and feel intense fear, panic, and run. In mild cases, she walks to the other side of the street, to avoid seeing the man who resembles her raper. People who have undergone traumatic experiences, such as be at battlefronts, tend to experience this sort of fear, what contemporary psychiatry calls post traumatic stress disorder.
Fear and anxiety is the same thing except that in fear we can see the cause of it, and in anxiety we do not see its cause, but it has a cause, nevertheless. As noted, fear response is built into us, as part of our involuntary response to danger. It is controlled by the spine and animal brain, hypothalamus, and is not necessarily controlled by the higher part of the brain, the cortex. Whether one likes it or not, if one is normal, if there is a threat to ones life, one goes into fear response mode, in an involuntary manner. It is in so doing, that one takes appropriate measures to defend ones self, run away from the danger that could have destroyed one, run from the tiger chasing one, trying to make a meal of ones body. Without fear, our ancestors would not have survived, and our species would have died out, like Dinosaurs did.
Whereas fear is an involuntary response, nevertheless, the individual can use his thinking, a cortex part of the brain, to override the signal that fear gives him to run or fight. There is a story of an old woman that, while sleeping, was awakened by a robber ransacking her bedroom, and saw the thief. The thief noticed her and pointed a gun at her, demanding her money or her life. Naturally, she would go into fear response mode. But this courageous woman overruled her fear, and instead asked the young thief whether she could fix him something to eat. The thief, always a coward, accepted the offer of free food, and the woman got up from her bed, and prepared food for him. The criminal ate while responding to the woman's questions about his life. He poured out the story of his life to her. Criminal thinking believes that the world and other people harmed one, and that one is a victim, justifying harming other people. The young criminal told the woman what the world of other people did to harm him, how he was a victim of abuse hence justifying his criminal behavior. The woman hugged him and asked him to go home and try to find a way to help other victims of abuse, rather than become a victimizer. This story may or may not be true, but the salient point it makes is that love can overrule fear. Try it. When some one threatens you and your heart beats fast and your nerves go into fight and flight mode, pause to love the person. Pray for him, ask the universe to show you a way to help him or her and see your fear dissipate. If you can overlook your self-interests, your physical life and do something to help other people, you tend to live less fearful existence. Think of Christian Missionaries in primitive Europe, civilizing the wild Germanic tribes, or in Africa of the nineteenth century. These people had love in their hearts, and that love overcame their natural fear.
Fear serves a function for all animals: forces them to defend their bodies and psychological selves. Fear is a survival mechanism.
Real Self-Therapy studies and understands how fear works in the human body. It understands how people come to be anxious. It proceeds to teach them how they can use their thinking, cognition, to over ride their fear and anxiety.
Fear is an involuntary response hence under the control of the lower brain. But if one remembers the higher brain, one can make a choice to use it to over rule the workings of the lower brain. Consider this writer. When he first visited Harlem, New York, he walked on a street that looked like a bombed out battlefield. The ghetto houses were in varying states of disrepair. Broken bottles littered the sidewalks. People were selling drugs, doing drugs and some were drunk. The ghetto denizens looked like they were about to mug him, and he felt fear for his life. He felt a powerful urge to get out of that urban jungle, quick, before some one mugged him. This is animal fear response and is normal. But he switched into his cortex mode. He changed his cognition and told himself that the brothers may look dangerous, and in fact may be criminals, that what they need is love, not fear of them. He decided to love them. Thus he stopped and joined the first group of young hoodlums he saw, and asked them how they were doing. They poured out their soul to him, the usual story of how they were abandoned, grew up in fatherless homes, with mothers with several johns coming through the door.
It is a pity that some children have to grow up in broken homes. The point, though, is that he used cognitive reorientation to overcome his fear. Fear can be overcome, if one decides to love all people, and do what serves social interest. Try it, the next time you are afraid, seek ways to help the person who made you afraid.
If you live from your real self-center, which is a part of you that is in touch with your true self, the unified life force that manifests in all of us, you tend to be less fearful and less anxious.
Briefly stated, Real Self Therapy teaches people to recognize our oneness, our union with each other, and, as such, love one another. When we seek ways to love, we reduce, but not eliminate our fear and anxiety. You cannot get to a point where you are not prone to fear, for fear is built into our biological equipment, but you can use your thinking to reduce your tendency to fear.
Think Jesus Christ. He was crucified and he forgave those who killed him. "Father, forgive them for they know not what they were doing", he said. In that state of mind, love, Jesus was less fearful than he would have been was he thinking only about his self-interest, and his personal survival?
Love overcomes fear, St Paul said, and our personal experience verifies it. (Please note: we see the Bible as a book of wisdom, as well as fairy tales, tales employed in teaching wisdom, and take from it what seems wise and works, as we take from the other religions: Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam etc. We reviewed all these religions in our book, Real Self Psychology. Religious books contain the perennial wisdom and philosophy of mankind. However, we are not necessarily religionists though we know that life is eternal, and that the true nature of human beings, is love. Love is union. When one is in a state of union with other people, one is in love with them. In love, in union, one feels peaceful and happy. In separation from other people, on the other hand, one feels conflict, tension and is unhappy.)
PRIDE AND ANGER
Karen Horney wrote that the neurotic is a proud person. The neurotic uses his thinking to construct an ideal self, and identifies with it. Since the ideal self seeks to be a perfect person, and the neurotic seeks to be a perfect person, he takes pride in his ideal self-construct.
The normal person generally indulges his senses. The neurotic, on the other hand, may see his body as not well enough and not indulge in sensual living. He generally feels superior to normal persons who seem to live at the mere animal level. Simply stated, neurotic persons are proud persons.
Adolf Hitler, a paranoid neurotic, eschewed sex, alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, and was a vegetarian. He lived an ascetic existence. A person who has the discipline to avoid the food other people fall all over the place eating could and do feel superior to them. Hitler saw those around him indulging in vices he disciplined himself to avoid. He looked down on them as inferior people who could not discipline their senses, as he did.
Neurotics tend to pursue ideals and therefore look down on those who seem to have fewer ideals. Think of the idealistic Karl Marx and his contempt for the bourgeoisie who enjoyed his dinner while his fellow human beings starved.
Neurotic pride is a two edged sward. Whereas it could be put to doing some good for society, but generally it leads to dangerous behaviors. Consider sexually disciplined Christian neurotics and their utter contempt for homosexual persons, whom they see as perverted animals. Such pride can lead to harming other people, those one has contempt for. Much of human cruelty is rooted in neurotic pride.
Moreover, pride leads to anxiety. The neurotic posits an ideal self, and tries to become it, and experiences anxiety, to the extent that he falls short of his ideal self-concept and self-image, and their ideal goals and standards. Pride produces anxiety, and whatever produces anxiety is a neurosis, a mental disorder.
Human beings are prideful animals. We are not going to wish pride away. If you doubt that people are proud, vain and narcissistic, then injure their pride and see what happens to you. Call a black person a nigger, a woman a bitch, etc and see how they react towards you. They would feel psychologically attacked by you, and make no mistake about it, you attacked their psychological self, albeit neurotic self, and react with anger. Your putting them down attacked their pride. If you persist in doing so, you may run into very proud persons, and they would teach you a lesson of your life, including killing you or putting you in jail. You are a mature person when you understand human tendency to pride and respect it. Treat people as if they are very important persons, and they feel respected and will become friendly to you. But ignore people, disrespect them, and see them make life miserable for you.
Pride, fear and anger usually go together. Anger is the fight part of the fear response. Remember that in fear one feels an urge to fight the cause of the fear or to flee from it. When they choose to fight the cause of their fear, they have engaged in anger response. And when people run from it, they have engaged in fear response. Thus anger and fear are associated, and are two sides of the same coin. A fearful person is an angry person, and an angry person is a fearful person.
It should be noted that the same neurochemicals and neurotransmitters are involved in anger and fear responses. As far as the body is concerned, fear and anger is the same thing, both are means of protecting the physical and psychological self when it is threatened.
Anger is a response to perceived attack on one. If a person feels that you threatened him or her, he feels angry with you. Anger is the energy the threatened individual mobilizes to remove the threat to him or the obstacle to attaining his goals, and self-interests. If you are perceived to insult ones pride, you have threatened ones dignity (people do harm and kill those they do not respect hence being angry at you when you did not respect a fellow is a realistic survival response to you; see white Americans did not respect black people hence justified using them as slaves, and killing them, and discriminating against them, thus making black people angry at them, anger that one day will find opportunity to be destructive).
If you attack people's pride, you invite trouble, counter attack, physical or other wise. Therefore, you are a mature person when you respect all people, and do not hurt their vanities. Understand that narcissistic rage can lead to killing and to wars. Insult a country's president and they could go to war with you. Scholars in international relations tell us that issues of pride and prestige cause many wars.
Real Self Therapy teaches people to understand the nature of pride. More to the point, it teaches the individual to see the correlation of his own pride and his anger responses. The goal is to not respond with anger when other people insult you. If you do not identify with an ego ideal self, and, therefore, do not care whether other people respect that ideal self or not, you would not be prone to anger.
Neurotics tend to be angry persons for they identify with their cherished ideal selves, and perceive other people not validating them hence reacting with anger.
To the extent that the individual does not identify with the false, ideal self, he tends to be less prone to anger. Those who live out of their real selves tend to be less prone to anger.
Yes, other people would always do hurtful things, but if one chooses, one can use one's higher thinking, the cortex part of the brain, to override one's anger response.
Let's say you are a woman and a man called you a "B. C" (image from women's monthly menstruation). You respond with fear and anger. You want to fight that person, to teach him a lesson in not hurting your pride, as a dignified woman. This is natural response to attack on your psychological self. But you can choose to override the anger response. You can see the name caller as a clown, an immature person who deserves pity rather than attack. If he were mature, he would respect all people, men and women. Indeed, if women were not "B Cs", did not menstruate, they would not produce children, and the name calling man would not exist on earth to feel empty, neurotic pride. Thus you see him with sympathy and ignore his insulting behavior.
If you have good assertiveness skills, you walk away when you are angry, and when calm, come back to the source of your anger, and tell him to go learn respect for all people. Perhaps, you could give him a book on the subject or point to a therapist who could help him. You do all these without anger or hatred. Try it and you would be surprised at how that other person would react, probably with respect for you. But do not try this suggestion when you are angry. First go manage your anger: walk away, take deep breathes, count to ten before you talk etc. (We expanded on how to manage anger in our main book.)
Human beings tend to feel guilty when they do something wrong. If they are normally socialized and they did something that hurt other people, they tend to feel guilty. (The anti social personality disordered person generally does not feel guilt and remorse when he hurts other people, in fact, he may enjoy hurting other people. Apparently there is a malfunctioning part of his body that makes him not to have empathy for human suffering. Generally, such persons inherit capacity for less pain, feeling and less fear/anxiety feeling; hence do not empathize with others' pain and fear. They generally seek thrills and excitement). The normal-neurotic human being feels guilt and remorse when he does something wrong. This feeling is what makes people to do the right thing. Thus society is maintained because of our capacity for guilt feeling.
In some neurotics, what otherwise is useful for maintaining social order is exaggerated. A neurotic may so identify with an idealized self that picking up a penny from the street and spending it makes him feels guilty all his life. He sees himself as an awful person, and forever puts himself down for this behavior.
Where guilt is paralyzing, obviously it needs to be addressed in psychotherapy and alleviated. Rational thinking can help in this regard. Helen Schucman has an interesting take on guilt. She thinks that there is such a thing as an existential guilt. According to her ontology, reality is unified. We decided to separate from unified life. This decision to separate from oneness, she said, constitutes an attack on it. She anthropomorphized life and called it God. Separation from God is then an attack on God. Those who seem separated from God, she said, feel that they have attacked God.
What is God? God is life. To attack God is to attack ones self, ones unified self. The person who prefers separation to union feels like he attacked his true self, the unified self. He, therefore, feels like he did something wrong. He feels guilty.
As Ms Schucman sees it, to live in separation, on earth, is to feel guilty, like one did something wrong.
Guilt calls for punishment. One, therefore, expects God to punish one. Thus every where human beings believe that they committed an original sin by living on earth, by separating from their true self, unified self. She said that as long as the individual acts as if he is individuated that he must feel guilty.
As she sees it, separation is impossible. Reality remains unified. We only seem separated, but have not separated from unified life. We are still unified with life, with God, with our true self. We only seem to have separated from God in our dream of separation, but in reality we remain unified with him and with all people. Therefore, we have not attacked God, union, and split into fragments, and identified with these fragments. Reality remains as God created it, Unified. We are still as God created us, unified children of God, Christ. Separation seems to have occurred only in a dream. Our world is only a dream, an illusion, reality, heaven is always unified.
As she saw it, if one accepts ones eternal union with God, relinquish the desire for separated self, gives up the ego and embraces ones true self, Christ self, one would feel no guilt.
In this world, Helen thinks that we have a choice to live from the ego self that is, separated self or to live from what she called the Holy Spirit directed self/mind, that is, to love, and forgive all, to see all as unified with one. As she sees it, when we live through the right mind (Holy Spirit), as opposed to the wrong mind (ego), we feel guiltless.
As long as we live through the left mind, ego, we have affirmed separation hence must feel guilty and punish ourselves on behalf of God.
But when we live out of the right mind, love and forgive all, we feel guiltless, sinless and innocent.
In effect, Ms Schucman believes that the only way not to feel guilty is to let go of the separated ego, self and return to love, to unify self. She seems to have useful points. However, her writing is in the nature of poetry, as opposed to science. You cannot demonstrate the truth of her thesis. Therefore, whereas we essentially think that she is articulating the perennial philosophy of mankind, we think that there are better ways of doing so.
Moreover, Helen employed Christological terms that many people may see as offensive and or not understand. She also seemed to concretize what are really metaphors. The Holy Spirit is obviously not a person. In Catholic theology, the Holy Spirit is symbol of the immanent God, God in the temporal universe. As the Catholic Church sees it, God is in three persons, God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. This Holy Trinity implies that one God is in three selves.
Helen took the triune concept and gave it her own idiosyncratic interpretation. As she sees it, it is the Son of God who wished for separation and separated from his father and his brothers. The Son of God created our world, and lives in it. God could not reach his Son, all of us, so he entered his Son's dream as the Holy Spirit.
In the Son's mind are now three parts: the shared one mind of the son and his father, the ego mind or the wish for separation, and the Holy Spirit or the part of mind that urges the son to cease separation, and return to union, return home to heaven and God. In God and heaven, God and his Son are one, and do not need the intermediary of the Holy Spirit to communicate with each other. The Holy Spirit, Helen says, is a link between the separated son and his father, a communication device for us to relate to God, a bridge between heaven and earth.
In Helen's view, separation has not occurred; we merely think that it has occurred. In reality, there is no space and gap between the father and the son. God is in his son, and His son is in God. We are in God and he is in us. There is no space and time between God, and us, and with each other. The space and time we see between us is only apparent, not real, is an illusion. The people we see on earth are parts of us, and are not separated from us, they are mere figures in our dreams; we projected them out, as they projected us out.
The Function of the Holy Spirit, and his teachers like Jesus, is to remind us that we remain as God created us, unified, and that the separation we see in our world is an illusion, and not real. We are not separated hence have not done what we seem to do in the world of separation. The world is a dream and what is done in it has not been done.
Because what we see each other people do on earth has not been done, we ought to not bear grievances and ought to forgive each other. To forgive is to love, to return to union with each other, and with God. To forgive, which is the truest meaning of love on earth, is to return to innocence, guiltlessness and sinlessness.
All these are useful metaphors, a way of explaining what we do not understand. But Helen made her take on the mystery of being seem concrete and real, hence folks run around talking about the Holy Spirit guiding them. No, the Holy Spirit is not a person just as the ego is not a person. Holy Spirit and ego are modes of behaving, Holy Spirit being loving mode, and ego being unloving, hence separating mode. Again we understand Helen's epistemology but choose to see reality in our way, not hers.
Real self-Therapy, without indulging in elaborate theology, simply teaches people to love each other. When we think loving thoughts we tend to feel less guilty. If you love other people, you would not hurt them and, therefore, would not feel guilty. Love all humanity, and you would feel less fearful, less anxious, less proud, and less guilty.
Love is really the answer to our human problems. Love makes us work for the well being of all humanity, whereas hate makes us not care for others, and if we do not care for others, they feel angry with us, and may harm us. Our well being, therefore, lies in our mutual love for one another.
Although this is not the place to discuss metaphysics, Helen Schucman's thesis that the Son of God invented our world, took blame for the suffering of this world away from God, and gave it to the Son of God. Now we must blame the Son of God, us, for our suffering. We no longer have to curse God for our plight, as we would do, if he invented this world. Traditional Christianity said that God created this world and man in his self- image.
Of course, God did not create this world and the Son of God did not invent this world either. The world is evolving, as physicists tell us. Fifteen billion years ago, all the matter in the universe was in a ball, the size of an atom. This very hot ball split apart, and space and time were created and thereafter particles came into being. If space and time exist, particles, atoms and matter must logically follow, must exist. But if there is no space and time, no separation, matter cannot exist. The emergent particles latter joined into atoms, and atoms differentiated into the 104, and counting, elements in the universe. These elements somehow became amino acids, proteins and the other source of biological life. Evolution, as delineated by Charles Darwin in the Origin of Species, is probably the best approximation of plant and animal formations in this world.
Helen's effort to make it seem that the Son of God invented this world is understandable, but shows that she is not very bright. If she were bright, she would have immediately seen the absurdity of her thinking. Consider, if God extended himself into his Son, then God is his Son. Therefore, whatever the Son did, the father did. This is particularly so if there is no space and gap between them and the father always know what the son is thinking, even his dreaming. Therefore, if we must blame any one at all, we must blame God, not his son, us, for the woes of this world.
Nevertheless, one understands what the neurotic thinking of Helen was trying to accomplish through her weird philosophy. She was trying to tell us that we are responsible for what happens to us in this world. She said that the secret of salvation is realization and acceptance that one is responsible for whatever happens to one.
There is overwhelming empirical evidence that one's personality stimulates other people to do what they do to one. This, however, does not mean that one invented the world. One does not see how one invented the world. One does not have that kind of power. If it is said that in one's dream a world that looks real seems to exist, and that one invented that dream world, and since our world is also a dream world, that one invented it, the logic does not follow. Talking about dreams, the fact is that one does not know how one invented ones dream, night or day.
To say that dreams are wish fulfillment is to echo Freud's silly reductionism. Freud had said that what we could not gratify in the daytime, in the real world, we do so, magically, in our nightly dreams. Helen extrapolated from that Freudian unverified hypothesis and applied it to the entire world, and the entire world became one's dream fulfillment. Some dreams do not fulfill any wishes that the dreamer had before he went to sleep. Sometimes one wishes for something and could not gratify it in real life, and in dreams seem to set things up in such a manner so that one seems to gratify that wish in the dream world. Okay. But some dreams are not wish fulfilling dreams and seem meaningless.
Many so-called new age religionists run around claiming that they create their reality. One wonders how many of them knew that Arab Moslem terrorists would fly planes into the world trade center and kill over three thousand people. And for that matter, whether any of them knows what is going to happen tomorrow? One does not even know what is going to happen in the next second of ones life. One does not have power to predict the future or to invent the future. It is simply grandiose, even psychotic, to claim to have invented this world.
One does not even know what the material world is made of…do you know… and how can one have invented a world one does not even understand? Yes, our personalities do affect what happens to us but that does not mean that we are responsible for everything that happens to us. Everything in the universe affects us, as we affect everything else. Systems theory said that much. There are infinite contingencies in the universe; all affecting one that to claim that one is independently responsible for what happens to one in life is the height of absurdity.
Helen appears marginally intelligent and as noted she is perhaps the best religious thinker that has come out of the pagan country called North America. But she needed to talk to real enlightened persons like Buddha and Shankara to really understand this world. Shankara, a brilliant Indian philosopher provided the most acceptable of how this world of suffering could exist along with a benevolent God. In his view, the world of dreams, our world, came out of nowhere. Heaven exists as a unified state and that unified state produced its opposite, the world of separation. Neither God nor his son produced our world. Our world just came into being on its accord. But each of us, the children of God is tempted to go investigate that world hence we came here. Like the prodigal son of the Bible, we go on a journey to nowhere, for everywhere is in God. We are always in God while dreaming that we are apart from him; we are always in unified state, but think that we are separated from it.
One does not wish to get carried away responding to Helen's interesting cosmology. That subject has been addressed elsewhere. Suffice it to say that the unintended consequences of Helen hypothesizing that we invented this world is to give human beings guilt for the sorrows of this world, and to exonerate God for the world's suffering. You cannot do that; it is illogical to do so.
And to say that the world is a dream and its suffering has not occurred hence we are not guilty is not much help. You do not first accuse someone of guilt and then tell him that, by the way, he is not guilty because what he did has not been done, that his crime has no effect since it is causeless. This is convoluted logic. You cannot accuse some one of a crime and then turn around and tell him that he is not a criminal for he has not committed the crime you supposedly thought he committed. This is like the Catholic Church accusing us of committing the so-called original sin, disobeying God in the Garden of Eden, separating from God, and then telling us that Jesus Christ has washed away that sin, yet tells us to pray to God to forgive us our sins. What sins? Religion's convoluted reasoning is disingenuous and Helen indulged in that crazy making nonsense.
There is no existential guilt. Guilt is only in the real and now world. If you do something wrong to other people, you ought to feel guilty, and repent for your sin, and ask for them forgiveness. White America, for example, committed a crime in enslaving black Americans and for discriminating against them. They must apologize for their criminal behavior. Black people have a right to bear grievances against white America and insist on their making amends for their criminal behavior. If they do not change their criminal ways, they will pay a heavy price. An emergent Africa and decent humanity will punish them for their sin against humanity.
Shame is a tendency to feel bad for doing what society disapproves of, even if the behavior itself is not necessarily wrong. In guilt, what was done, in ones estimation, is wrong, but in shame what was done may be right, but as long as society prohibits it one feels shame. Thus shame is a social affect, whereas guilt is an individual affect.
Apparently traditional societies employed shame to control people. For example, there is nothing wrong with sex. Traditional societies, on the other hand, associated sex with shame. Actually, contrary to our flippant views, traditional societies had reason to associate sex with shame. There were no contraceptives and sex had to be restricted to the marital bed to prevent people from having children, when they could not be well provided for. Today, with ready contraceptives, women do not have to worry about extramarital sex for there would be no children running around, telling the world of their sexual activities. Moreover, these days' women have the economic wherewithal to take care of children by themselves, what they could not do in a primitive society, with less technology, requiring mutual efforts for our survival.
If the over socialized person engages in sex, he or she feels shamed. This is particularly so if he engages in less socially approved sex. If society approves sex within marriage, and one has sex outside of marriage one feels shame…particularly shame of being caught doing so, even though one does not think that the sexual act itself is bad. Thus everywhere shame bound people engage in sex in a hidden manner, afraid to let other people see them do so. All of sex is so associated with shame that people engage in intercourse behind closed doors. The average person feels embarrassed being seen engaged in the act of sexual intercourse.
Thankfully, we are moving away from shame based societies, and someday will get to a point where folks do not feel ashamed of their sexuality, to the point of doing it wherever they are, and not being bothered by the presence of other people. This will happen, but society has not gotten to that shameless state yet. In the meantime, it should be noted that western societies are less shame bound than African societies. Africans are very ashamed of their sexual organs more so than Westerners. Indeed, the typical African women would die from shame beholding what western women do with their sexual organs.
Real Self Therapy simply teaches what is known about the biology and sociology of sex, and enjoins people to be rational about it, and to limit it to one partner, not for moral reasons, but to avoid contracting diseases and therefore protect their lives. RST teaches people to live less shame bound lives, while recognizing the role of shame in controlling people, getting them to obey the norms of society.
People do not want to be shamed, for shame makes them loose social face, and as a result they abide by social mores. We hope to get to a point where people independently accept what is socially right or wrong, and live it without doing so out of fear of shame.
It is right to love other people, so love people. It is right to limit your sexuality to one partner, preferably of the opposite sex, so do so. It is not necessary to do something out of shame: do whatever you do because it is right to do so. For those folks who believe that homosexuality is right, they have the right to engage in it, whereas those who believe that it is wrong have a right to not be exposed to that life style. There is enough room in the world for people to live their lifestyles without infringing on others space.
As we have observed earlier, any one who has any kind of intelligence appreciates the futility of life on earth. We are born and begin to die from the moment we are born. Give or take, one hundred and twenty years, and one are dead. We die and our body' rots, decay and smell like garbage. The chemical bonds holding the various elements that compose our bodies loosen, our bodies return to hydrogen, nitrogen, carbon, calcium, magnesium, and the other identified 104 elements in the universe. The elements, in turn, decay, and return to atoms. Atoms decay and return to their particles: neutrons, protons and electrons. These in time decay into quarks and ultimately we return to nothing from whence we came.
Any one who contemplates the nature of our physical reality must conclude that our bodies are nothing and, as such, not that important. The only importance our bodies have is the ones we give to them.
Nature does not respect our so-called importance; earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, hurricanes, draughts, germs, bacteria, virus, fungus and other natural forces destroy our bodies, as they destroy animals and plants. Simply stated, pure observation of the human body shows that it has no intrinsic worth.
Indeed, any one who so desires it can kill other people, as they can kill him. Hitler, a paranoid neurotic, decided to kill people and killed over fifty million persons, and no god stopped him from doing so. White Americans decided to enslave Africans, and enslaved black Americans, and to this day discriminate against them, and no god stops them from that evil.
A rational disinterested appraisal of the human condition is depression making. By age six, the average human child is existentially depressed. The condition of living on earth made him depressed. He sees a meaningless and purposeless existence and feels depressed. We are not talking clinical depression but existential depression.
To live here on earth the child must use his thinking to overcome his depression. One way of doing so is positing an ideal self and hoping to attain that idealized self that is immune from the realities of this world. He also posits an idealized people and society and as long as he works towards them feels like his life has worth and meaning. As we have already pointed out all mental illnesses is secondary response to a meaningless world.
The view that our human life is depressing is, of course, not found in official psychology and psychiatry. Psychology, as presently taught at American Universities, assume that human beings are children without minds, and do not think about their world and their place in it. Psychology essentially dwells on rubbish and calls it science of human thinking and behavior. In so far that it talks about depression, it talks about clinical depression. It never occurs to it that life on earth, life in a body that is destined to die and rot, is in itself very depressing. People finding the writing of official psychologists' childish, tune them out and look elsewhere for information on what is really bothering them. Many of these folks flock to new age religions that, at least, recognize their existential issues and talk about God, his reality or lack of it.
Human beings cannot be happy without talking about their origin, where they come from, and where they go to when they die. These are adult topics, not the brain dead, infantile stuff found in college textbooks on psychology.
Let us hope that soon psychologists will grow up, and make themselves useful to adult human beings. If not, the profession has marginalized itself, and will pass away. Already only less serious students study psychology, and only attention seeking histrionic personalities go to so-called psychotherapists for help, actually not for real help but to satisfy their craving for admiration and attention. Real people need adult information about the nature of being, what life is all about?
The first order of business of every human culture is to find a way to give people a sense of meaning and purpose. This goal has traditionally been accomplished through religion and philosophy. But here comes psychology masquerading as a science of human nature hence in a position to talk about issues that exercise the human mind, and initially people looked to it for answers. Instead, what people found was a profession that talks infantile nonsense and calls it science of man. It is time for psychologists to grow up, and become useful to human beings or get out of the business of pretending to understand human thinking and behavior and helping people. At present few, if any officially trained western psychologists seem capable of helping adult males. We find talking to American psychologists like talking to brain dead persons, they are utterly boring. Psychology must return to philosophy, from when it departed. If you are not capable of discoursing Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, Marcus Aureoles, Epectatus, Spinoza, Descartes, Liebnitze, Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Pascal, Voltaire, Rousseau, Bergson, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Karl Marx, William James etc, you are not a psychologist, a children's writer may be, but not an adult interested in adult issues of life and death.
Clinical depression is characterized by lack of interest in living, and lack of interest in activities of daily living such as food, sex, work, making friends, sports, personal hygiene and grooming. The person feels fatigued and simply does not have the energy to get up from bed and go do what life requires of us to make a living. They do not take showers and could care less for their looks. If this process is not arrested some of them contemplate suicide and even try it, and some kill themselves. Teenagers all over the world kill themselves when they see life as meaningless. Those who buy into the usual means of masking the meaningless of life cover their underlying existential depression, and seem normal. If a teenager accepts the God of his people's religion, he is likely to be normal, and go to school and seem not depressed, but the fact is that underlying this euphoria, he suffers the human condition, depression.
Contemporary neuroscience thinks that depression is correlated with deficit in the neurotransmitter, serotonin, and gives depressed persons serotonine reuptake blockers, antidepressants. Obviously, these medications do dissipate the gross symptoms of depression. They ought to be used by clinically depressed persons. Nevertheless, the underlying existential depression also needs to be addressed. Existential depression is best approached through religion and philosophy.
Real Self Therapy is both a science and a philosophy of human nature. It gives a philosophy that enables people to deal with their depressing existence. If the individual could find a profession he or she enjoys, say in the sciences, physics, chemistry, biology, and devote his or her life to it, and find ways to improve human existence, he tends to be less depressed.
Whatever serves social interests reduces depression, but does not eliminate it. As Freud pointed out in Civilization and Its Discontents, it is our destiny to live with some depression, for our world is a depressing world. If the individual is amenable to religion he could benefit from religion. For example, the founders of RST, though agnostic, found A Course in Miracles, a Gnostic religion, a useful frame of reference, for a while, at any rate, before they decided that they do not need any religious crutch. Pure thinking is good enough for them. Human beings can find consolation in philosophy.
The term paranoia is derived from Greek; it means to construct a false, ideal self, and identify with it. The paranoid is the Greeks idea of a mad man, a man who denied his real self, invented an ideal self, and pretend to be that ideal self, and asks other people to validate this false self, and feels angry at them when they do not agree to collude with him, and see him as the grandiose self he wants to be seen as.
To be paranoid is to pretend to be who one is not, an ideal, perfect powerful self. In this sense paranoia is the ultimate neurosis. (See Swanson et al, The Paranoid, Meisner, Paranoid Process, Shapiro, Autonomy and the Rigid Character, and, of course, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, sections on schizophrenia, paranoid type, delusion disorder and paranoid personality.)
Aspects of paranoia are found in other mental disorders such as mania, anxiety and in organic mental disorders. Paranoia is thus the quintessential mental disorder, and every human being is paranoid, hence insane.
The paranoid person is a thoughtful person, but, alas, an incompletely thoughtful person. He appreciates the human condition, as it is: meaningless, purposeless, and his own condition, weak, powerless and inadequate, and uses his thinking to construct a self that seems to overcome the reality he sees out there. He constructs an all-powerful self that never is weak or dies. He sees himself as whatever he lacks in reality. He uses the various ego defense mechanisms to defend his ideal self. He is generally over defended, defensive, guarded and scans his environment trying to make sure that it treats him as an important person, and fights with those who seem to demean him, or treat him as if he is not important. He sees the world as hostile and accuses people of demeaning him and gets them to be angry with him, from perpetually accusing them of doing what they did not do. This is called self fulfilling prophecy whereby the paranoid person expects people to be hostile, accuses them of doing what they did not do, and they become hostile to him, and that confirms his sense that people are hostile hence makes him defended around people, unaware that he generated the hostility he sees coming towards him by insisting on being seen as a very important person, and feeling easily demeaned.
The paranoid person is all human beings writ large. All people have bits of paranoia in them. Those who seem normal and not paranoid, if placed in strange environments, manifest paranoid traits. For example, hitherto normal persons, upon immigrating to foreign lands, suddenly feel loss of social status, and feel less important, and think that other people do not respect them and accuse people of not respecting them hence become paranoid. Every person is sometimes suspicious and untrusting of other people's motives, but the paranoid is extra suspicious and untrusting.
Simply stated, to be human is to be paranoid. The natural and sometimes social world belittles people and they strive to seem special and important. Consider America where the pathological society makes it its accepted business to degrade and humiliate black persons. They attack black persons physically, and at the slightest excuse arrest and try them at racist kangaroo courts, and put them in jails or even kill them. Black persons feel degraded and persecuted in America, and seek to upgrade and defend themselves, and in the process exhibit paranoid symptoms. All our efforts to seem very important are attempts to mask our existential nothingness, hence are paranoid.
There are degrees of paranoia. There is schizophrenia, paranoid type. Here the individual has bizarre delusions and may also hallucinate (hears voices, sees what others do not see, feel like ants scrawl on his skin, smell odors other people do not smell etc). This type of paranoia is considered a psychosis and treated with medications (respirardol Zyrexa etc). Then there is delusional disorder without hallucination. A fellow may simply believe that his wife wants to poison him and not eat food she cooked, or believes that the FBI, police or whatever is out to kill him, but other wise seems healthy. (There are five types of delusional disorder, persecutory, grandiose, erotomanic, somatic, and jealous types). Then there is paranoid personality where the individual does not trust other person's ability to look after his interests, is suspicious, and fears being demeaned by other persons.
Paranoid personalities tend to rise far in life, and many heads of states are paranoid personalities: think Idi Amin, Richard Nixon, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin and many African heads of states jailing and killing their phantom enemies.
Paranoia is an attempt to have a false big self, when one sees one's self as small. It is an existential
Healing of paranoia is a serious business. If you figure out a way to heal paranoia, you have figured out a way to heal all mental disorders for all of them are variations of paranoia. Healing of paranoia lies in letting go of the quest for an ideal, perfect, powerful self and accepting the inferior, inadequate self, and, ultimately, in accepting the depressed nature of human existing. Let go of all efforts to seem important and accept existential unimportance.
The healing of paranoia requires a philosophy of life that accepts ones real self. The philosophy articulated in this paper is very useful in healing paranoia and other mental disorders. However, the individual must practice the philosophy before he can reap its benefits. He must resolve to live through his real self and not his ideal self. He must never give in to the temptation to talk and behave from his prideful ideal self. (Always ask yourself; from what part of my mind am I thinking, talking and behaving, real self and its humility or ideal self and its pride?)
The paranoid person must live through the real self to enjoy its benefits, peace and happiness. In fact, if one lives from the real self, one would no longer experience excessive anxiety and anger.
Anger is mostly a defense of the false ideal, superior self, when that self perceives itself affronted by other people who did not treat one as respectful, as one thinks that one ought to be treated. Anxiety emanates from fear of not living up to ones grandiose self.
Social withdrawal engaged by paranoid and avoidant personalities is generally a strategy to prevent other people from seeing one as a small self, so as to retain the illusion that one is a big self.
The paranoid is a very judgmental person; he is always judging people from the perspective of his grandiose, paranoid standards, and if he were to accept his real self, he would be less judgmental.
When the individual no longer behaves from the false, ideal, superior self, he is healed of his paranoid self and all other mental disorders. He receives the gift of peace and joy, qualities that elude paranoid persons
Interestingly, when you let go of all the masks we employ to make our existence seem significant, you discover a happy fact: the fact that despite existential depression that life has worth, meaning and purpose. When the ideal self is not defended, the individual may experience what is variously called mystical experience, unitive experience, cosmic consciousness, Samadhi, Nirvana, and Satori etc.
Mystical experience takes people to a self that is eternal, immortal and all worth. But that self is not the self we are currently aware of as us. That self is non-conceptual. It is a unified self, all selves as one self. Our human language cannot explicate unified self, and we might as well not try to do so. Suffice it to say that the unified self is not defensive, is not arrogant, and is totally at peace with all selves, and loves all people.
RST leads those who want to transcend their separated ego selves to the unified self, but allows those who just want to live out of their real self, still separated self, a conceptual self, to do so and enjoy the lesser peace of having a purified self, a loving self, and purgatorial world (total peace is of unified state, heaven).
Schizophrenia is the quintessential mental disorder, a psychosis. It has both hallucinations and delusions. Whereas the paranoid person has only delusions, hence is partially insane, the schizophrenic has both delusions and hallucinations, hence are fully insane. There is also thought disorder and other problems in schizophrenia. Such persons do not think in logical association, what they say now does not follow from what they said before. The schizophrenic has many problems including talking in word salad, believing in thought broadcasting, thought insertion, and so on. In a word, he is insane.
There are many types of schizophrenia: disorganized type…the typical mad man talking to himself on the street…paranoid type, sees above, catatonic type, undifferentiated type, not differentiated into any type, residual type and so on. We shall not get into technical discussion of the various types of schizophrenia.
The schizophrenic lives in his own world, a fantasy world were he is everything he wishes to be, but is not. He is unable to test reality, as the neurotic is, but takes his imaginations and dreams as real. The primary modality of treating such persons is medications, neuroleptics. You cannot do therapy with them, how can you, when they are trying to convince you that they are god, Jesus Christ, Bill Gates etc. If medications reduce some of the gross symptoms of psychoses, what we see is a person trying to flee from his existential reality, and become who he is not. There is underlying depression, anxiety, and paranoia in schizophrenia. In so far that cognitive therapy is attempted, it is to teach the patient to accept his real self.
Real Self-Therapy has not tried to treat schizophrenics with its methodological approach to mental disorders although it believes that if done, that it would work. At present, case management, medication management and psychiatric hospitalizations are the modalities for treating schizophrenics. Schizophrenia affects less than one percent of any human population.
Mania is characterized by excited sensorium. Persons experiencing mania feel excited and talk in a rapid manner. It is like they are on speed (cocaine, amphetamine) and talk fast etc. They usually go for days without sleeping, are involved in frenetic activities, have grandiose goals of saving the world, or becoming the most powerful man on earth, or the richest man on earth, or the most beautiful woman on earth, claim ability to do what they cannot do etc. There are always delusions of grandeur and / or persecution in mania. Such persons generally exhibit poor judgment. They are psychotic in the sense that there is presence of delusions (and in some cases hallucinations also). Bipolar affective disorder, as it is now called, affects about one percent of the population.
It is generally believed that mania is biologic in etiology. The current belief is that there is too much of the excitatory neurotransmitter, neuropiniphrine (too much adrenaline hence the folks are over excited). Lithium, Depakote, Transedone and Tegretol appear to reduce the gross symptoms of mania, but do not cure the disorder.
If the manic can be calmed through medications, the therapist can work on his inflated self-concept and self-image. He can persuade him to give up questing for grandiose, ideal all-powerful self and accept the real self, a humble self. RST is applicable to mania.
What we have been calling neurosis is these days called personality disorders. We prefer the omnibus term, neurosis but recognize that there are subtle differences in how it is manifested, hence the need to be more specific and employ the term personality disorders.
There are eleven accepted personality disorders: paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal; narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, antisocial; avoidant, obsessive-compulsive, dependent and passive aggressive personality disorders.
Briefly, the paranoid personality is suspicious and untrusting and fears being demeaned, belittled, degraded and humiliated by other people. He wants to seem very important but consciously feels inferior and inadequate.
The schizoid personality does not care whether other people have company with him or not, and seems happy alone.
The schizoptypal personality has weird beliefs, such as UFOs, that she has sixth sense, extrasensory powers, is odd and eccentric.
The narcissistic personality thinks that he is God's gifts to mankind, that he is special and seeks others attention; he believes himself superior to other persons and justifies using and exploiting others for his own good. Since he sees others as inferior, he sees no reason to feel guilty or remorse from exploiting people. Think of white Americans and their exploitation of black Americans.
The Histrionic personality is the female version of the narcissist. She is over dramatic, hysterical, lacks attachment or affect for others, but wants people to pay attention to her; she may marry many times; she marries whoever gives her attention and dumps him when he does not pay her attention etc.
The borderline personality wants every person to take care of her and may inflict injury on her arm to make others feel guilty and care for her, but lacks caring for others.
The antisocial personality thinks that the world owns him a living, has a sense of entitlement, and takes from others if he wants it, steals, hurts people and does not feel guilty or remorseful. Think of criminals.
The avoidant personality fears other people's rejection, and to avoid rejection withdraws from people and keeps to himself. In isolation, he fancies himself special, and ideal. This category, we believe, is similar to paranoid personality.
Obsessive-compulsive personality is an anxiety disorder, such a person thinks a lot, as if ideas are intrusive, and he cannot not think about them, behaves compulsively, such as go home to make sure that his doors are locked, stoves turned off etc. He seeks perfection, and is afraid of seeming imperfect.
The dependent personality feels weak and expects other people to support him; he pleases others to get them to support him.
The passive aggressive personality pleases every person, to get them to like him and is unassertive. And feels angry when other people step all over him, and use him, and manifests his aggression in a passive manner, such as makes a costly mistake that affects those using him.
The various personality disorders are problematic self-concepts, and behaviors based on them. They are all rooted in constructing the self as ideal, and special, and better than other people.
RST is designed for persons with personality disorders. It teaches them cognitive restructuring, and how to conceptualize themselves differently, and to give up pursuit of ideal selves and accept real selves. Therapists generally avoid persons with personality disorders, for they do not think that such persons can be helped by their so-called therapies. If they do not deal with psychotics and folks with personality disorders, whom do they help? Perhaps nobody?
RST performs a re-socialization role for persons with screwed up self-concepts. The antisocial person is taught to respect other persons rights; the avoidant person to see himself as equal and the same with all people and give up his wishes for ideal self; the narcissistic person to care for other people; the paranoid person to trust other people and to stop fearing belittlement, for no human being can belittle his real self; only the false ideal self can be humiliated, the real self cannot be humiliated.
It is very critical for the individual to understand his personality type. Personality so affects everything in the individual's life that we urge him to pay attention to it. If necessary, the individual should take some of the more sound personality tests, such as Minnesota Multiphase Personality Inventory and California Personality Inventory etc. He needs a mental health professional to go over the results, and generally help him ascertain his personality type.
Given the confluence of biological inheritance and early childhood experiences, the individual develops a certain type of personality, a self-structure that is unique to him. No one else in the entire universe has his or her personality. Given the individual's inherited biological constitution and his early childhood social experiences, he must have the personality he now has.
Having the personality he has, he must relate to other people as he does. Relating to other people as he does, he affects them as he does, hence compelling them to react to him in the manner they do.
Given the individual's personality he responds to the external environment in a specific manner and, therefore, sets the later up to respond to him in a specific manner. If you like, his personality largely determines how he sees the world treats him. In fact, the individual's personality largely determines his life chances, that is, determines what he gets from other people and from life. As the German novelist, Novelis observed, Character/personality is fate.
Consider the shy, avoidant child. By age six, even earlier, the shy child is already so. The neuroscientist, Jerome Kegan, of Harvard University, thinks that shyness is inherited, as opposed to being learned, as Philip Zimbado, behaviorist had said in the 1970s. The shy child is anxious, timid and withdrawn from other people. He fears other people's rejection, and to avoid rejection is socially unassertive and keeps to himself.
Generally, society rewards assertive persons. Thus shy, unassertive persons are less socially rewarded. At school and on the job such persons are seldom given leadership roles. One might be a brilliant scientist or engineer, but if one is shy and timid one is bypassed as less qualified, but more socially extraverted persons are promoted to supervisory and managerial functions. The individual's personality affects what he gets from other people.
Clearly if the introverted, avoidant personality wants more out of life, if he wants to make friends, become socially outgoing, get promoted on the job and receive other social rewards, he must change his approach to dealing with people, from retiring to outgoing personality.
Personality, once formed in early childhood, becomes the individual's fate and destiny, affecting everything that happens to him. It is the fact that personality affects how other people relate to one and what one gets out of them that led new age religionists to conclude that one creates one's reality and fate. Of course, no one creates ones reality. None of us created the sun, the moon and weather, variables that affect us. What these religious poets are trying to say is that once one forms one's personality, that that personality "creates" what happens to one.
When our forefathers talked about fate and destiny what they were really trying to say is that one's personality affects what happens to one, hence, as it were, one is fated. Once your personality is set, your fate is set, in the sense that your personality influences whatever happens to you, or how you respond to whatever happens to you.
It is very critical for the individual to understand his personality and change it. Personality can be understood and aspects of it changed. Not all of personality can be changed. Biology plays a role in the formation of personality, and in as much as we cannot yet change our body, we cannot change all aspects of our personalities. (In the future, genetic science and engineering will be able to reprogram the information in our genes, alter the manner our bodies' function, and induce change in personality.)
We can understand our personalities, change what is changeable in them and live with what we cannot change.
The sole function of the miracle worker, Helen Schucman said, is to atone for himself. In her quaint poetic diction, miracle means change of self-concept. Traditional Christianity employed the term miracle to stand for acts that seem beyond natural workings of matter, such as healing physical diseases with prayer. But to Helen, Miracle means change of one's mind, ones self-conception, and not necessarily the healing of physical diseases, although she did suggest that when the mind is changed that physical diseases are automatically cured? To her, we formed an ego, a separated self. The ego separated self is a mistake that needs to be corrected. A miracle occurs when we change our self-concept from separated to unified; from feeling apart to feeling joined to all people. What is miracle? She said: change of perception, from seeing the world as if one is apart from it to seeing the world as if one is one with it.
As Helen sees it, the individual needs the help of the Holy Spirit, the immanent God, as opposed to the transcendent God, to help him change his mind, and to experience the miracle of changed perception. Left alone, she thinks that the individual cannot perform this miracle by himself, and that he needs to permit the one who can do it, the Holy Spirit, do it for him.
To Helen, the Holy Spirit is the therapist, not us human beings. In her pamphlet on the nature and purpose of psychotherapy, she made it crystal clear that it is the Holy Spirit who is the change agent, the therapist who can heal people. (In her view, to heal is to see one's self as unified with others, and to love and forgive them their errors.)
Helen has an interesting way of stating the truth in poetic and metaphoric way. She spiritualizes commonsensical psychology. What she was really saying is that the individual must understand and change his personality, his self-concept, aka, as his ego.
The individual's sole function is to change his personality. He cannot change other people's personalities for them.
You cannot change other people's personalities no matter how hard you try. This is because their inherited bodies largely shape their personalities and what is changeable in them can only be changed by their act of choice. The individual must make a voluntary choice to change himself, a choice you cannot make for him.
In new age religious lingo, atonement means at-one-ment. This means that one recognizes one's oneness with all existence, in effect, one's oneness with God. One returns to the awareness of unity and gives up the consciousness of separation. In effect, one changes from ego self concept to Christ self-concept, from selfishness to common interests directed behavior.
A person who has effected such change of mind is said to be saved; he is saved from the ego, meaning that he is no longer experiencing the pain that follows living as a separated self. One is delivered from the pain of the ego, and redeemed from the hellish existence that is the ego.
The terms healing, saving, deliverance and redemption are the same; they mean to go from living as a separated self to living as a unified self, from ego to Christ. Christ is a sense that one is unified with all selves and with God and loving behavior towards all persons.
Helen's terms are very fascinating, and, if actually understood, and the individual tries to live as she suggested, he, in fact will experience peace and happiness. Our own terms are secular and have the same result.
As we see it, each of us has formulated two selves: the real and the ideal self. He must give up the ideal self and live through his real self.
Both the ideal and the real self are conceptual selves, and are false, but the real self approximates who the individual is in the world.
Ultimately, the individual has a true self, a unified self, a self that is non-conceptual, and a self, in his current material state, he cannot think about and cannot understand. In this world, we think with our separated minds, which are conceptual. But there is another mode of thinking, unified thinking, which is non-conceptual. God and all his children think holistically, in tandem, in concert. They have one- thinking, one mind and one self.
The shared mode of thinking cannot be explained by us, or by any one else. What we can explain is idealistic and realistic thinking. We urge the individual to increasingly choose realistic thinking to idealistic thinking.
A normal personality thinks mostly from the real self-mode of thinking, and an abnormal personality thinks mostly from the idealistic mode of thinking.
A healthy person thinks from his true self, a mode of thinking that no one on earth can understand. On earth, the temporal universe, the most we can do is attain realistic thinking and experience its lesser peace, and relative happiness, not the absolute peace and joy of unified thinking, God, and heaven.
Real Self Therapy is particularly appropriate for treating mental health issues presented by children. Children are happy learners and can be taught to learn easier than adults. Children can be taught to live out of their real selves rather than from their false, ideal selves.
Some children feel fear when they are separated from their parents, or those they are familiar with. Think of the first weeks of school and the five or six year olds that cry and cling to their mothers, and do not want to be left at school. These children have separation anxiety. They feel insecure when their parents are not present. Generally, it takes them a while before they reconcile themselves with strange environments like school; even then they still feel some anxiety.
Separation anxiety is a fear response disorder. We have dealt with anxiety earlier. Apply what we said about anxiety in general to children.
Some children are more anxious than others. Jerome Kegan believes that the shy, anxious child is born that way and was not made, as, Philip Zimbado had believed. Shyness and anxiety is biosocial and benefits from RST's restructuring of the self- concept.
The shy child has a grandiose self-concept and that self feels inordinate fears; if helped to have a humble self-image, and identify with the real self, anxiety is reduced. RST trains children in how to reduce their anxiety builds confidence in them and helps them develop positive self esteem, and generally trains them to feel secure and get along with other persons, through interpersonal, social skills training.
OPPOSITION DEFIANT DISORDER
Some children have a need to oppose adults and defy whatever adults tell them to do. Psychiatry calls them opposition defiant disordered children. These children want to do their own things, and are always in constant power struggle with adults. They challenge their parents and teachers and whoever seems to exercise authority over them. They are argumentative and want to win arguments, be right and adults wrong. If parents insist that they obey rules, they may run away from home and quit schooling.
These rebellious adolescents drive their parents up the wall. They are in a power struggle with adults, and for that matter with every one. In Adler's terms, they feel powerless and inferior and are trying to seem superior and Powerful. They have constructed ideal selves that want to seem powerful and resent the fact that adults do not seem to validate their neurotic ideal selves. As in all other situations, RST teaches them to evaluate their ideal selves, give them up, and accept their real selves, and live out of them. If they do so, they, like every one else, experience pace and happiness.
Some children lie, cheat, steal and generally engage in anti social behaviors. If they are under the age of 18, they are said to have conduct disorder, but if older, to have antisocial personality disorder. The anti social personality does not feel guilty or remorse when he or she steps on other persons' toes. In fact, some such persons appear to enjoy hurting other persons. Think about the child who beats up other children or takes joy from stealing or setting property on fire. RST accepts the usual therapies for conduct disordered children. However, RST includes training such young persons to understand the need to respect other persons' properties. No body likes his things stolen from him or beaten up by others. The golden rule, do unto others' as you want to be done to, is a guiding moral training for all children.
ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPER ACTIVITY DISORDER
Some children are hyperactive and have short attention spans. The operating hypothesis is that this disorder is biologic in etiology. The various psychostimualnts seem to help them improve their attention span, and reduce their restiveness. As usual, RST sees no problem with medications, except that these amphetamines (Ritalin) are addictive, and have negative side effects. As far as RST is concerned, it teaches ADHD children to give up their desired ideal, all-powerful selves, and live out of their real selves, and experience peace and happiness.
There are many other disorders of childhood such as, asperser, autism etc; we approach them as we approach all the order thinking and behavior disorders: teach living from real self, and recognize our unified nature.
PURSUIT OF IDEAL SELF AND FAILURE IN THE JOB MARKET
The person who is motivated to seem an ideal self has a difficult time in the job market. He approaches all extant jobs and correctly appreciates their imperfections. None of them seem good enough for him. He then uses his imagination and thinking to visualize an ideal work for himself. His ideal work is not real and does not exist in the world of matter, space and time. Indeed, when he trains for an extant vocation, he does not delimit his activities to it, but imagines how to improve it.
He does not really commit to doing any realistic work and doing it well. He is not really competing with those persons engaged in the line of work he is in, but, instead, is living in his imagination where he makes his work whatever he wants it to be. In the real world he is not devoted to doing any known job and doing it to the best of his ability.
He, therefore, fails to make a decent living. Of course, he wants to live and to live requires one to pay ones bills, so willy-nilly the idealistic neurotic accepts doing any kind of job that he could get, so as to make enough money to pay some of his bills. He generally manages to scrape by, but is not really making a decent living. This is all because he is not devoted to doing real work that the real work world rewards.
There is no such thing as an ideal work. Even if you started your own line of work, in as much as it is done in the world of space, time and matter, it must address human needs. It must do something that people in the market find satisfying their needs hence demand it. The laws of supply and demand holds everywhere in the real world. People have needs and will demand the services (goods or jobs) of those who can satisfy those needs, and will not pay attention to you, if you do not supply/sell what they need.
Therefore, one must do a type of work that satisfies social demand. Since society is composed of imperfect human beings, the jobs that do what people demand must be realistic jobs, that is, jobs that produce what meet people's needs, in the here and now world. One cannot perform idealistic jobs that exist only in the esoteric world of imagination, but not in the world of matter, and expect real people to demand it.
Realistic persons, therefore, delimit their job interests to what real people demand. They produce what people need and in so doing sell them, and make a living.
Neurotics do not want to perform realistic jobs or produce realistic goods, hence fail. In failure they feel angry with people, and at a world they perceive not to reward their imagined great talents. They may have talents all right, but it is talent put to imagination, and not to real world use.
We live in a real world and must deal with the realities of the real world, a world circumscribed by space, time and matter. In space you need to travel from point A to point B. You cannot fly between two points. You must expend energy to travel between two points. Walking is exhausting, so if you have a better means of transportation such as bicycles, cars, ships, trains, airplanes, rockets etc, you would make traveling easier for people, and they would buy your traveling contraptions. The same goes for other areas of living on earth.
Real Self Therapy trains people to delimit their job aspirations to the realities of the job market. People must understand their real selves and the real world they live in. Having understood the real self, they then find a way to be involved in the real world, via a line of work that is socially useful.
The idealistic person likes the idea of working for all mankind. That is good provided it is done in the real world, not just at the intellectual level only. College students save the world only in their imagination, in academia where they do not have to do real work to make the world a better place, but merely wish it and it becomes so. To really help mankind one must roll up one's sleeves, and get into real work situations and do dirty work. One must make realistic contributions to real people, for one to be a realistic fellow. If one is highly intellectual and wants to perform intellectual work, well, then, let one write about the real self, and help people to understand their real selves, and from so doing, attain self-acceptance and consequent peace.
Pursuit of ideal self is a curse for it is never going to be attained. It is not going to be attained for it is a fantasy, and a fantasy cannot be attained. The ideal self is a chimera and pursuit of it is futile. As soon as you think that you have become a bit ideal, the ego extends its conception of what is ideal, and bids you to struggle some more for the extended ideal/perfection. You never attain perfection for the yardstick for perfection is always being moved a notch. Pursuit of ideals, be it the ideal self or ideal world or ideal work, is a recipe for depression and paranoia.
One must give up pursuit of any kind of ideals and perfections, and simply accept the real self, the real world and the real work world, all of which are imperfect.
So look at the existing lines of jobs in your world, and figure out which one you have interest in doing and have aptitude in, and go train for it, and go do it. Go compete with other people doing the same line of work as you, and may the best in doing it be rewarded accordingly.
We live in a capitalist economy; arguably the best type of economy and it rewards those who can do better what people do. Do you want work success? Then do better what other people are doing with you. But do it in the real world, not in your idle imagination, not in fantasy. The neurotic works in a fantasy world, and fails, but the normal person works in the social world, in the shared real world, hence succeeds.
IDEAL SELF, IDEAL VALUES AND JUDGMENT
Once the individual posits a rigid ideal self, that ideal self develops an ideal value system, and subsequently uses the standards of its value system to judge the individual and other human beings. The neurotic's ideal standards, morals are perfect and no matter what real human beings do, they cannot live up to them. To the neurotic, nobody ever lives up to his standards. He is constantly judging and evaluating other people, and himself with his idealized standards, and necessarily finding them imperfect. He makes his life and the life of those around him, particularly his wife and children miserable, by judging them with impossibly high standards that they can never measure up to.
The neurotic is a very critical person, and is always putting down what people do and find fault with them. He always finds faults with himself too, in fact, he is very harsh on himself, hence is always unhappy. However, he mitigates his self-criticism by seeing himself as a victim of other people's evil doing and sees his foibles as the fault of other persons, and that way rationalizes his own imperfection. He makes excuses for his weaknesses, excuses that he is not willing to extend to other people. He has rationalizations for his failures, but not for others whom he in fact blames for his failures.
The ego ideal feels compelled to judge the real self and find it not as good as itself. The unreal self judges the real self; so as to make itself seem real. This is madness, that which does not exist, ideal self, judging that which exists, real self and condemning it.
Judgment causes tension and disturbs the individual's and social peace. Judgment is involved wherever there is social conflict and wars. Judgment, Helen Schucman observed, makes the judger and the judged tired, and one ought to be desisted from.
Alas, the ideal self, the unreal self, must judge to seem real and alive. If the ideal self, the ego, did not judge, it would not be alive. If the individual did not judge himself and other people, as good or bad, he would realize that he is not his ideal self. He would, in fact, learn that he is not even his real self.
If judgment is altogether given up, the individual experiences ego death; his idea of separated self-dies, and he reverts to unified existence, where there is no separated self, but one shared unified self.
But we are afraid of our ego death; we do not want to give up our separated self. Judgment is a means of making the ego self seem real in our awareness. Judgment makes the ideal self- real in the judger's consciousness. If one gives up all judgment, one no longer exists as the ego self. One experiences Samadhi and knows one's self as simply part of one unified life.
The benefit of not judging one's self and other selves is peace and happiness.
RST teaches people not to judge. When you see a person and feel an urge to judge him or her, good or bad, desist from doing so. Do not judge yourself either. Just let the other person be, as he or she is.
To judge is an attempt to recreate the person you judged in your own self-image. To judge, you or others, is to play god, and create you and others. To avoid playing god, do not judge you and other people. Stop all judgment.
This is easier said than done. The world came into being through judgment. The judgment that unified state is not good enough for us, and the desire for separated existence, is what seems to have split the world into fragments, and makes us seem separated from each other. Judgment caused the big bang to take place and produced a world of space, time and matter, a world of separated people.
To stop all judgment is to reverse the world, to remove what caused it, and keep the world of separation, ego, going. In as much as we want to live in the world of separation, we feel compelled to judge ourselves and other persons.
In truth the world we see is an illusion, a dream, and what is done in it is only good or bad relative to the dream's parameters. If one overcomes the world, as Jesus did, what are done in our world are neither good nor bad, but plain dream activities.
RST knows that it is very difficult to give up all judgment. Therefore, it urges people to judge from real self-perspective. The real self accepts ones, hence others imperfections. If one is imperfect and other people are imperfect, what is one doing judging them as imperfect? Just do what you can to make your life and others lives as pleasurable as is possible.
Assuming that you want peace and happiness, you must stop judging yourself, other people, as much as is possible. To the extent that you did not judge, you or other persons, you feel peaceful and happy.
If you must judge, remember that what is done in this world is ephemeral and transitory hence is really nothing. Judging with the values of nothingness is actually not judging at all. Judging with the ego's standards of good and bad is not judging but being insane.
The world is an insane place, and is maintained by insane activities like judging one's self and other persons. Just remember to be as less judgmental as is possible. Hopefully, you can progress to a state where you are totally non-judgmental? If, for a second, you were non-judgmental, you would escape from our world and return to a world that no ego reason can understand the unified world of Spirit.
Real Self Therapy is a view of the individual and his appropriate role in society. As a worldview, it can be incorporated into the usual modalities of therapy: individual, marriage, family and group. The therapist does what he or she does in therapies, but incorporates RST's views of individuals and their proper functioning in life on earth. If you like, RST is an add-on to what therapists normally do for their clients.
Real Self Therapists, as all therapists, upon encounter with new clients, perform Intake Assessments and formulate Treatment Plans for them. Intake assessment is done at written and verbal levels. At the written level, the therapist has the client take whatever tests he gives his clients to ascertain their psychological issues (these include personality tests like MMPI, CPI etc and Intelligence Tests like WAIS and WISC etc and other tests to ascertain emotional and social functioning). Verbal tests include thorough mental status examination that determines the nature of the mental health issues the client presents for therapy.
Here is a profile of a black person in therapy:
Axis 1 Dysthymic Depression with anxiety
Axis 11 Personality: Avoidant personality features
Axis 111 Medical issues, Spondylolysis
Axis 1V Psychosocial Stressors: Racism
Axis V Level of functioning, relatively high
Once the client's problems are defined, a treatment plan to address them is devised. The RST therapist writes out what he or she is going to do to address the issues he has identified in the client, and explains his plan to the client. When both agree that the treatment plan has correctly ascertained the client's issues and posited a correct intervention plan on how to solve those issues, both therapist and client sign off on the plan.
Typically, clients are seen once a week for about an hour. The therapist writes down his or her work for the client every time they meet (Progress notes). The treatment plan is reviewed every ninety days, for both quality and utilization. Both therapist and client review the treatment plan and sign off on changes made to it, to make sure that the right things are being done to address the client's identified issues.
Typically, RST therapy is expected to last no more than a year. A year is considered enough time for the client to have understood his problems and accepted a therapeutic approach to them. Human problems are not going to go away, but if the individual has a useful method of addressing them, their impact would be reduced. If the client accepts the basic assumptions of Real Self Therapy, he or she could then be applying them to his psychological problems, and problems of living in general. Real Self-Therapy is a life's skills and coping mechanism that, once understood, are utilized throughout the individual's life.
Real Self Therapy is initially didactic. That is, the therapist attempts to teach the client what RST are all about, its assumptions and methodologies. It typically takes the first month for the client to have listened to the therapist, and read the materials he is given on RST and understood them. During the first month, then, the therapist is essentially a teacher and instructs the client on RST, gives assignments, and reading materials. This introduction to RST is part of the assigned reading material. RST's major text, Real Self Psychology is recommended reading. The client is then told to employ the worldview explained in the lectures and readings to his or her problems.
In subsequent therapy sessions, the therapist employs the world view of RST to address the client's issues, as identified in the Treatment Plan, and issues of daily living that come up on a day to day, and week to week basis.
Individual therapy sessions, one hour a week, entail having client's talk about their issues and then attempt using RST to address those issues. The therapist essentially becomes a coach and helps the client to, more or less; solve his or her issues by himself. If the client is doing the work correctly, the therapist says very little, but if he is not properly addressing his issues in light of RST, the therapist coaches him on how to do so correctly. Essentially, the client is his own healer. The therapist is not the healer of the client, but the client is.
To heal is to change one's habitual pattern of thinking about one's self and other people, and the world and ones habitual pattern of behaving. No external individual can change the individual's thinking and behaving. Only the individual can change his thinking and behaving patterns.
In as much as, to heal, is to change one's self concept, self image, and thinking and behaving based on those concepts, only the individual can accomplish those for himself, only the individual is his own healer. The therapist, and for that matter, other human beings, can only be a guide for the client in the client's efforts to change himself, change what is changeable in him, and live with what is not yet changeable. (There are many things we still cannot change in ourselves; for example, we cannot completely heal our pain, if the source is medical/ biological, all we can do is changing our minds, thinking about how to approach it).
When we say that only the individual heals himself, we mean it. This point must be accepted least we encourage therapists to develop the annoying arrogance that they are the change agents in their client's lives. No, no one else changes other people, only people change themselves. What we all, therapist or bystander, can do is offer helpful information, and helping hands to individuals in pain, and guide them to change themselves, but we cannot change them.
If an individual, for example, overeats food, smokes cigarettes and drinks a lot of alcohol or even does drugs (cocaine, heroin, amphetamines, LSD and other street drugs), it is not for the therapist to stop him from doing so. The therapist can explain what he or she is doing to himself, and help him make the decision to stop his self-destructive life style. It helps if the individual understands the underlying psychological issues that he is using food, sex, alcohol and drugs to cope with, and the nature of addictions itself, physiological and psychological, but in the final analysis, it is the client who must make an existential choice to stop his self destructive lifestyles. The therapist, in this regard, is a supporter of the client's good intentions, and works, but not the one who does the work the client must do to change his life style.
The basic philosophy of RST is that, upon birth on earth, a thinking life force in the child begins to utilize the child's biological constitution and social experience, to construct a self-concept for him or her. By age six, or thereabout, the rudiments of a self-concept and self image is in place, hence psychological tests of children as young as six can, more or less, ascertain their personalities, level of intelligence and emotional problems.
Through empirical observation, the scientific method, RST concludes that the typical human being tends to construct two self-concepts and self images: the real self and the ideal self. The real self is the self of the individual that approximates his biological reality. The real self is the self-concept that is realistic to what the child/adult knows himself to be, a biological organism. It is the bodily self that adapts to the physical and social environment. That self is always imperfect.
Because of the perceived imperfections in ourselves, we tend to employ our imaginations, thinking and other cognitive processes, to come up with a mental self that seems better than we know ourselves to be, in fact. This is the idealized self, the ego ideal. The idealized self is found in all people, normal or not. In normal persons, the idealized self is not very powerful; in neurotics the idealized self is very powerful and exercises powerful obsessions and compulsions in people. As it were, such persons feel an inner pressure that they are unable to resist, to act as if they are their ideal selves. They mostly attempt to do so, but still know that they are not their ideal selves. But since they are constantly struggling to be the ideal self, and there is a difference between the ideal and the real, such persons experience anxiety. They are always in conflict between their split selves. The real and the ideal are conflicting and creating tension, physical and psychological,
for them. The neurotic lives in somatic and psychological tension.
In individual therapy, the therapist explains to the client the dynamics of real self and ideal self, and the consequent tension, stress and anxiety, and the nature of existential depression and paranoia. He then works with the clients to do what they have to do, to consistently refuse to live and act as if they are ideal selves. He helps them live mostly through their real selves. He helps them cope with their real selves.
When the real self is applied to situations that normally upset people, they tend to be less upsetting. The person living out of his or her real self tends to be less anxious, less prone to anger, less guilt ridden, less prone to shame, less depressed and less paranoid. Simply stated, the person living out of the real self-part of the mind, who thinks from a real self-perspective, tends to be a normal person. He is not a perfect person, for there is no such person as a perfect person on planet earth.
The real self-living person is a person who accepts his physical and social reality, and makes the most of them, without desecrating himself. Generally, such persons tend to be at peace with themselves and with their neighbors. They tend to be happy and well adjusted persons. They live in their bodies and are happy in their skins. They are not fleeing to any mentally invented ideal states that no human being can attain.
Individual therapy helps the individual to live out of his real self, and live at peace and have happiness. This is relative peace and joy, for there is no such thing as absolute peace and joy in a world of space, time and matter. As long as we live separated existences, and the world is a separated place, we must have some tension and lack of peace, for total peace and no tension can only exist in a unified world, which is not our world.
Marriage therapy aims at helping two individuals, who have different self-concepts; self-images and personalities coexist together. Each individual is different, because he or she inherited a different body and had different formative social experiences; each person simply has a different personality, a different habitual pattern of responding to his environmental stimuli. Where there are two people who are inevitably different from each other, conflict is bound to exist. There is simply no way two different persons can coexist in the same space without having interpersonal conflicts. For there to be absolute harmony, people must be the same and equal. In our world, people are not perfectly the same and equal. We live in a world of differences and inequality. Some are tall and others are short, some have superior intelligence and others are average or even less average in intelligence.
When two different persons are attracted to each other, the power of erotic and romantic love initially makes them not see their inherent differences. Within a few years, even months, of marriage, however, the illusions of love wear out and the reality of differences dawn on the couple. They can go from the illusions of love to mature love.
In mature love, people understand their differences and still find a way to accept and respect themselves, and coexist together in the same household. Of course, people can choose to separate, divorce and go their separate ways, if their differences are irreconcilable. But should they choose to continue their marriage and cohabitation, good marriage therapy can help them understand and accept their differences and develop good conflict resolution methods.
Real Self Therapy supplements what marriage therapists learned in school and practice, with it's teaching on real self and false, ideal self. Marriage partners need to understand each other's psyche structures, their real self and false, ideal self, and how pursuit of the ideal self, for example, leads to over criticalness. The neurotic who wants to become his ideal self tends to have idealized standards and employs them to judge their partners and those around them, particularly their children. Nothing real human beings can do ever satisfies the ideal seeking neurotic husband or wife or father or mother.
The Real Self Therapist enables couples to appreciate how they make each other's lives miserable by looking at them from the perspective of the ideal self and ideal behavior standards. For couples to live together and have peace, they must look at each other from their real self-perspective. You must look at those around you from a realistic perspective, from an understanding of the imperfections of the human body and the self of that body. If you make the mistake of looking at people from a disembodied, abstract mental self, you are going to criticize them for not being the angels of your mental creation. You are going to be a critical person and a critical person creates tension, and a tense household is not where people want to live in. People quickly get out of situations filled with criticism, tension and non-acceptance of flawed human beings. RST helps people accept and live as human beings with foibles, and not pretend that they are angels who do not make mistakes.
Marriage is an association of two people that agree to share their lives, including their sexuality. Sex is a big issue in marriages. Real Self Therapy is totally realistic about the nature of sex and its place in marriage. RST does not encourage sex outside marriage, but asks married people to find ways to satisfy each other's sexual needs. Real Self Therapy accepts the teachings of good sex therapists, that is, that sex is a natural process, that like food, must be satiated in adults or they feel its absence and seek ways to satiate themselves.
If a partner in a relationship does not satisfy the other's sexual needs, the marriage is likely to have conflicts. Therefore, two adults, male and female, ought to talk about their sexual needs and consciously make efforts to satisfy them, within the context of marriage. They must do so without guilt, shame and other issues associated with sex.
Clearly, in some instances, couples sexual needs are too different for them to satisfy each other. The average couple has sex once or twice a week. Suppose a partner in a marriage has more sexual needs or less, it follows that the other has to accommodate him or her or there is conflict. If such accommodation cannot be made, it is probably best for the couple to go their separate ways.
In other instances, some persons want to have sexual practices that their partners cannot approve, and do not have to approve. Again, separation is the best solution in such incompatible situations. No one should be forced to accede to others sexual fantasies that he does not share. It is only when sexual fantasies are shared that it should be consented to.
Some persons like oral and or anal sex. To others this is sheer perversion. To the later no such demands should be made, and should partners insist on what is contrary to their core values, should immediately separate and go their separate ways.
In the end, marriage and sex therapy finds a way for two different human beings to cohabitate the same space in a loving manner.
Love is more likely to exist where people live from their real selves. Real Self Therapists help people to live from their real selves and give up the temptation to live from their neurotic ideal selves.
Real Self Therapy complements, but does not substitute accepted family therapy methodologies. The family is a system where all members adjust to members' behaviors. In a general system, every parts behavior affects all other parts, and they must adjust to it. There is no such thing as behavior without public consequences for others in systems.
Family therapist's studies show how members of the family affect each other, and how they adjust to each other's craziness. All of us grew up in families, many of which were dysfunctional hence we adjusted with dysfunctional life styles. There is no such thing as a perfectly functional family. What we have are varying degrees of dysfunctional families. What we, therefore, need to do is not cry over spilled milk, and forever talk about ourselves as victims of dysfunctional families, while victimizing our own current family, but seek ways to make our families less toxic in the here and now.
Real Self Therapy teaches people to understand their individual psychologies, and examine their thinking and behaving patterns. If they tend to think and behave from their ideal self-perspective, they probably create problems for their family members. Where such is the case, they are taught to think and behave from real self-perspective. In the family, this means accepting themselves and all family members as they are, in their real selves. In Carl Rogers's terms, this means unconditional positive regard for one's self and for other members of the family. As Abraham Maslow pointed out, the individual is more likely to be happy and productive if he is in a situation where he is accepted as he is, and he tries to actualize his real self, rather than try to actualize a sham ideal self. Families that affirm each member's real selves are peaceful and happy families, whereas families that insist on members pretending to be ideal selves are conflicted families.
Real Self Therapists do what family therapists everywhere do, but add to it their basic understanding of human nature, and how people behave either from real or ideal selves. The result is that Real Self Therapists tend to help families become peaceful, happy and loving.
Let us assume a typical dysfunctional family. A member is not performing his or her accepted family role. The family, like all social systems, assigns roles to members. The father has a role, make a living for the family, love all members and be a rock of safety for all members; the mother performs a role, nurture the family members, particularly the children, and in some ways also contribute to providing materially for all members, and the children play their own assigned roles. Now, suppose the father and husband is not fulfilling his assumed role, provide well for the family, and be a calm, problem solver, he forces every member to adjust to his inability to do what he is supposed to do. Of course he could have opted not to marry and have children, but as long as he chooses to be married and have children, he must provide for the family. There are no two ways of going about it. In the objective world, there are no free lunches, and manna does not fall from the sky. We must work and earn our daily bread or starve to death. If the father is unable to perform his social role, then other members adjust. Perhaps the mother goes to work. Perhaps the children experience lack and neglect and indeed may be forced to go to work when they ought to be at school.
Suppose the father or mother is an alcoholic or drug addict. We know that such persons have certain behavior patterns. The other partner probably will become a hero and try to save the alcoholic and children. The children adapt to this very sick situation by playing roles of hero, rescuer, and scapegoat, and rebel, clown and so on. In the process, these family members become distorted in their personality structures. These distortions of their personalities may be with them for the rest of their lives.
The Real Self-Therapist does what other family therapists do to heal problematic families. In addition, he teaches all members of the family to know and live out of their real selves. Chances are that where family members are authentically living out of their real selves that they tend to be functional and generate peace and happiness for each other.
The family is a social construct; it is a creation of society. As such, the perception of what the family is or is not is always changing. For example, in the past, polygamy was approved by all societies. The Christian society endorses one-man one wife. Islamic societies accept one man and up to four wives. In our own times, there have been changes to the conception of the family. Radical feminists have deconstructed the family and now insist on calling spouses partners, to reflect the belief that the husband does not own the wife.
In North America, due to the history of slavery where black men were not encouraged to marry and stay married, there is a tendency for black men to abandon their wives and children. It is reported that well over 70% of black American children are raised by single parents, usually the mother. However, a network of extended family members, grandparents, uncles, aunts etc generally supports the single parent.
Some argue that single parenting is part of the American family system, and ought to be accepted as such. These folks argue that there should be no single conception of family, but that our idea of family ought to reflect its diversity.
Obviously, we must accommodate changing realities. However, there is empirical evidence that children are best raised in nuclear families where the mother and father are present. Real Self Therapy encourages traditional family values while not preaching against other experiments with family structure. Where possible, Real Self Therapists reinforce the survival of nuclear families and seek ways to strengthen them.
In the long run, Real Self Therapy is in the business of enabling individuals to understand their real selves, and live from them, as individuals and as members of social aggregations.
Real Self Therapy is particularly amenable to group therapy. Group therapy is the gathering of many persons, usually under twenty, to benefit from therapy. Traditionally, a therapist facilitates such groups, and gets members to talk about their issues and receive feedback from the other members, the therapist included. Group therapy is usually problem solving focused, as opposed to dredging issues from clients past and analyzing them ad nausea, as are done in psychoanalytic oriented psychotherapies.
In group therapies, each therapist has a frame of reference, a methodological approach to therapy, and employs it to help a group of persons to help heal their issues.
Let us assume that the therapist employs Albert Ellis' Rational Emotive Therapy. This approach says that the world is such that events will always take place out there. Shit will happen. All that the individual can do is choose how he responds to them, without upsetting him or herself. Ellis built his psychotherapy around the Roman slave, Stoic Philosopher, Epectatus, who said that it is not what is happening out there that upsets us, but how we interpret and respond to it. The same event could make some people happy, others unhappy and others anxious. It all depends on how one looks at the world. The same old world can make one happy or sad.
Consider. Some one around one dies. One feels shocked, angry, and sad and so on. (See the Grief Process.) But on the other hand, one can accept the reality of death. We are born and grow up, and will die. We do not seem to have power over when we are born and will die. Therefore, one accepts the reality of death, ones and other persons. One becomes stoic about death and dying. Death is simply a part of our reality. It does not matter whether one likes it or not, one and other people will eventually die. So when death occurs around one, one processes it differently and perhaps feels only mild sadness.
It is obviously true that events in themselves are not responsible for how we feel, but that how we process information plays a role in our feeling. The same event can make one anxious or depressed or paranoid. If you are in the ghetto and see folks engaged in drive by shootings and killing of each other, you could devalue your life in such a manner that being killed is not fearful for you (this is how ghetto denizens see themselves, as not much), or get out of the ghetto and go value your life. Alas, society can prevent you from getting out of the ghetto. Until recently, America's society was segregated and prevented minority persons from living in certain neighborhoods. Thus you cannot always run. Sometimes you have to stop and try to improve the situation you find yourself in. This is called courage.
Ellis' Rational Emotive Therapy and Aaron Beck's version of it are up to a point, useful. However, both of them suffer from cowardice. Both are the philosophy of slaves, the philosophy of adaptation to situations without trying to change them.
So you see some one abusing other people and you choose not to be angered by it, and remain calm. Good. You are a coward, for you have not made any difference to other people's lives. And as long as you opt for cowardice, you would never be happy. Happiness lies in being brave and in doing something to help all humanity.
The founders of Real Self Therapy used to practice cognitive behavior therapy until they realized its implicit cowardice. This is not a wonder for after all a slave founded this so-called stoic philosophy. It is sometimes not enough to not be upset by the world, but to be upset enough to do something about it. If you see a person abusing a child, be upset and do something to prevent child abuse. If you see a majority group oppressing and abusing a minority group, be upset and do something to stop and correct it, even if it means being angry and fighting the establishment.
It is not enough to acquiesce to a bad situation, as many cognitive therapists do. Ellis himself lived in America of the 1960s and did not participate in fighting racism. He did not march for civil rights. He used his slave philosophy to remain calm, to adapt to his oppressive society. Therefore, we rejected his philosophy of life. Life should mean more to one than just being calm. Carthaginian peace is not peace, for if you do not ask for whom the bell tolls, it will soon toll for you. If when Nazis start killing Jews, and you say that it is not your concern, well, after they are done killing Jews, they will come after the mentally ill, then the physically handicapped, homosexuals and any one who disagreed with their nihilistic philosophy. Thus it is sometimes necessary to suit up in military uniforms, and fight just wars. If one dies fighting for justice, that is glorious death.
Why fear death, any way? We are born and must die, and at best buy time before we die, so why not devote one's life making sure that all people live in justice and peace? Where there is oppression no one has a right to peace and happiness. We all share this world and every person's suffering is our suffering, and we must get involved in other persons plight. The correct response to Cain's question: Am I my brothers keeper, is yes.
Real Self Therapy employs group therapy and does what every therapist does in groups, with the addition of its didactic approach to human problems. During the first month of each group meeting, the therapist lectures it on the dichotomy of the real and ideal, false self, and, thereafter, facilitates the group's processing of members issues. Issues are looked at from the perspective of how members attempted to solve them from their real selves or from their ideal selves? People are encouraged to solve their living issues with real self-perspective. For example, if what other persons said made you feel angry, the chances are that you responded to it from the perspective of your idealized, prideful self. If you responded from your real self, you would not be angry by the apparent insulting statements of insensitive others.
It seems appropriate that we say something about Sigmund Freud and his psychoanalysis. Freud started the whole idea of psychotherapy, and it is, therefore, necessary for every one to know a bit about him and his work. Indeed, it can be said that most psychotherapies are really derivations from Freud or departures from him. One needs to know what one is departing from, what one sees as not good enough.
Real Self Therapy does not associate itself with Freud's psychoanalysis. To it, Psychoanalysis is an escape from solving human problems. RST does not see how Freud and his apostles could have helped real human beings solve their problems. It seems to us that Freud was a mere myth maker, sort of like ancient story tellers who provided their people with fairy tales and mythologies that do not help them adapt to the objective world they lived in, but somehow met their intra-psychic needs?
Homer's Illaid and Odyssey, myths, apparently, did something for the Greek psyche? Freud's mythology probably did something useful for his mostly Jewish audience, but not us, gentiles?
Real Self Therapy believes that Freudian Psychoanalysis could be dangerous. It is probably one of the teachings that prepared Jews to be docile, and like sheep walk into Hitler's gas chambers without fighting for their lives. Freud taught pacifism to authority figures, him, and his fellow analysts. This prepared Jews to accept the authority of whoever rules Germany and did what he asked them to do.
Instead, authority must be questioned and if it is abusive, told so, and rejected. Freud was full of nonsense, and ought to have been told that, and ignored, rather than listened to.
Freud wrote many books, and from a literary point of view, was actually an excellent writer. His writing was good literature, except that he talked gibberish. Let us try to summarize some of his salient ideas.
Freud believed that in our heads are three parts: id, ego and superego. Right there you know that this man is a mythmaker. Where are the id, ego and superego in our heads, brains and minds and thinking? Nowhere. The concept of id, ego and superego are metaphors that, if one likes tortured thinking, one could employ to make sense of what is going on in one's mind. One could also employ other metaphors, rather than Freud's metaphors.
According to Freud, the id is a compendium of instinctual drives, particularly sex, aggression, and later Freud added death, Thanatos. As Freud sees it, we are born with instinctual drive towards polymorphous, perverse sexuality. We desire sex from both genders (this is not the awareness of most people, but since papa Freud said so, it must be true?). We desire sex from our parents (this is not the awareness of most people, but since papa Freud said so, it must be so?). We desire what other people have, and left unchecked by punitive laws, would harm or kill them and take it from them. Freud believes that we have inherent sexual and aggressive desires that must be redirected, such as been channeled into marriage, sports and business competition.
Sex and aggression are said to be natural instincts. If left unchecked these instincts wreck havoc in society. So society tries to redirect them through its mores, rules, laws and norms. Society tries to get people to repress their sexual and aggressive instincts. Society gets people to repress their perverse sexuality and proclivity to aggression. Left alone, we would be having sex with our mothers, sisters, men and women Freud said. (You ask: where in nature has this been the case? It is always in hash circumstances that incest is practiced, such as when Lot had sex with his daughters, because there were no other men around, even then, the daughters had to make the man drunk to do the unthinkable).
Society, Freud says, makes us repress our natural sexual drives and our presupposed bisexuality via giving us a strong superego. The normally socialized child introjected a strong superego, a harsh and punitive conscience. If he steals, his conscience punishes him, even though in nature there is nothing wrong with stealing; if he engages in certain sexual practices, his conscience punishes him, even though in nature all forms of sexual practices are permitted. (If this is all true, then it logically follows that stealing is permitted, and nature is the bases of justifying behavior, it follows that we must legalize stealing. This points needs to be made for it is the rationale for approving homosexuality that it occurs in nature, and must be natural. While at it, we must also legalize pedophiles for there are men who swear that they are born finding one year old children sexually attractive, and do not find adults sexually attractive.)
Freud says that a sort of referee, the ego, mediates the struggles between the id and superego. The ego is reason that insists that the id be satisfied but in a compromised situation, such as have sex in marriage etc. The ego permits aggression to be satisfied in sports and war rather than in random killing of people and taking of their properties). In a normal person the forces of id, ego and superego are balanced.
In some persons, neurotics, Freud believes that the three parts of the psyche are not balanced. The neurotic could be an under-socialized person (weak superego) or an over socialized person (strict super ego). He either seeks too much sex (un-socialized id) or he has over repressed sex (punitive superego as found in sexually repressed neurotics, the hysterical women who came to Freud for therapy and swooned at the mere mention of sex). All said, Freud wanted the supposed three forces in the human psyche to be balanced.
In Psychoanalysis, it is assumed that one, the patient, is an unbalanced neurotic, and that the three forces in one are not harmonious, so the analyst, Freud/his disciples, is to enable one to balance them. One is encouraged to lay on Freud's famous couch, and free associate, say whatever comes to one's mind, and not try to make it rational, and in so doing, what was repressed into one's unconscious mind, from whence they still exercise irrational influences on one, come out, and are cathected. When the unconscious is made conscious, Freud teaches that one becomes freed from their compulsions.
Freud encourages his patients to form transference relationship with the psychoanalyst, and project unto the analyst their hidden patterns of relating to authority figures, and analyzes what comes out of one's unconscious, and hopefully enables one to come to terms with social reality.
Ultimately, one must consciously suppress some id desires. If one had repressed ones homosexually, because one was punished were one to desire to have sex with one's father, now one consciously suppresses such thought because it is not good for one. Freud did not approve homosexuality, contrary to the nonsense written by those trying to rationalize every depravity there is with Freud's so called approval. (See Freud's analysis of Judge Shreber. In it, he tried to show that paranoia is caused by repressed latent homosexuality. Many Psychoanalysts still believe that paranoid persons are latent homosexual persons. Actually, Freud is wrong in his causal analysis of paranoia. Paranoids feel inordinately weak and inadequate, and fear being seen as homosexuals because homosexual men are equated with weakness, and paranoids fear being seen as weak, hence fears homosexuality.)
Freudian analysis entails dredging childhood experiences repressed into the unconscious mind, and examining them and, hopefully, coming to terms with them. A well analyzed neurotic is still a neurotic, but is now a well adjusted one. Think Woody Allen. Freud himself had a lot of phobias, was afraid of riding in trains etc and had obsessive -compulsive thinking and behaving patterns. He remained so all his life. Indeed, he did not overcome his own sexual peccadilloes and had sex with his wife's sister, and was for a while hooked on cocaine.
Freud was not an ideal human being. His life was as messed up as one can be. He is, however, of historic importance because he founded modern psychology. This is not quit true, Krapeline did…and Krapeline was a biological psychologist and attempted to explain mental disorders from a somatic point of view, as we now do in neuroscience, but Freud hijacked psychology and misguided it for fifty years, until Behaviorism pointed out the short comings of psychoanalysis and redirected our attention to logical positivism, to focus on only empirically observable behaviors, and not merely speculate on what is going on in our minds.
Real Self Therapy does not borrow any thing from Freudian Psychoanalysis, except in so far that in borrowing from Freud's disciplines such as Adler, Horney, Jung, Fromm, Sullivan, Abraham Otto Rank, Wilhelm Reich, Maslow, Carl Rogers and other early psychoanalysts, RST indirectly borrowed from Freud.
Behaviorism, especially as formulated by Watson, Pavlov, B. F Skinner, Bandura, Hans Essynck, Stanley Milligram, Philip Zimbado, Seligman etc rejected Freud's over emphasis on speculating on intra-psyche matters, and, instead, choose to focus on observable behaviors. Behaviorism chose to not worry about what is happening inside the box called the human brain/mind, but, instead, focused on what we see people do.
We see people learn behavior. Whatever behavior is approved by society is usually learned and prohibited behavior is rejected. So behaviorists developed behavior technology to help people learn certain behaviors and extinguish others. Through classical and operant learning, Skinner proposed to teach us whatever he wants to teach us, and extinguish whatever behavior he wanted to extinguish in us. Positive reinforcement of desired behavior is supposed to enable us to learn some behaviors, whereas punishment for some behaviors was supposed to make us stop them.
Armed with Skinner's behavior technology, the 1960/70ss psychologists descended on prisons, schools and other arenas where there were captive audiences, and tried to modify peoples behaviors. Alas, for all their efforts, we still have criminals and problematic students.
Obviously, we do learn some things; if we did not, there would be no need for schooling. But learning is not all there is to human beings. We are biological and ratiocinative creatures.
The failure of behaviorism spawned another reductionism: the attempts to explain all behavior and particularly mental disorders, from a biological perspective.
These days, everything people do is said to be due to their inherited genes. Are you intelligent? Your genes are responsible for it, it is not due to propitious environment, as behaviorist would have argued, it is not society that makes one intelligent or not, but one's genes. Are you a criminal? It is in your genes. Are you a homosexual? It is in your genes, rather than a masculine protest, as Adler would have explained it, or a learned response where there are no members of the opposite sex, as in jails or in the animal world, where male animals have sex with each other, when there are few or no females. Are you schizophrenic, manic, depressed, paranoid, anxious neurotic? It is in your genes. Thus we treat the mentally ill with psychotropic medications.
If one lives long, one learns that society goes through fads. The fads of psychoanalysis and behaviorism are gone, and the fad of neuroscience too, will go. In the end, we will be left with the truth that man is a complex creature, and that his behaviors cannot be reduced to this or that causal factor alone. Many factors, some biological, some sociological, and yes, thinking, affect who and what people do. As a man thinketh he acted, the good book tells us.
We at RST borrow from all the methodological approaches to man and his thinking and behaving, and do whatever helps him function more fully. As we see it, human beings, despite their bodies and social experiences, are thinking animals. They can choose to think and act from their real selves or from their ideal selves. One is correlated with peace and happiness, and the other with conflict.
We shall conclude this material by focusing on meditation. To do so, let us briefly say a few things about Hinduism. We do so because, of all the religions of mankind, Hinduism emphasizes the need for meditation the most. We are very much aware that there are controversial aspects to Hinduism that tend to repel people of good will. For example, Hinduism believes in reincarnation and Karma. This belief teaches that there is a law of cause and effect, and that people come back to this world to take the consequences of their behaviors in past lives, to pay a price for their sins or to enjoy the rewards of their good works. The idea of karma can be appreciated as the Christian idea of hell. Both are instruments religions devised to scare people into doing the right things by their neighbors, least they be punished with eternal hell fire or return to this life to suffer. Seen in this light, these otherwise cruel and heartless ideas, ideas unbefitting of a loving God, have social
utility: they were necessary for getting primitive people to be law abiding, and to not hurt other people.
According to the Hindu story of creation (this, of course, is a metaphor), there is one force in the universe, Brahman. Brahman is all there is. Apparently, Brahman wanted to experience himself as many, perhaps to have someone to talk to. So he divided himself into many parts. Each part is called Atman.
Brahman is the whole and Atman is the part. The whole and the part are made of the same material, and are one. The whole extended himself into the part and, as such, is the part. The part is the whole and the whole is the part. There is no space and gap between Brahman and Atman, they are one self. One of the Upanishad made this point rather poignantly when it said: Thou art that, you, Atman, are Brahman.
Somehow, Brahman cast Maya (spell, magic) on himself, went to sleep and dreams. In the dream, our world, an illusion, the parts of Brahman, Atman, seem separated from Brahman and from each other. In our world each part of Brahman, Jivatman, seem separated from others, and from Brahman. We take on a false identity, ego, in Sanskrit, Ahankara. Each Ahankara, separated ego, sees itself as different from others, and believes that it has different interests from others. The result is conflicts and wars.
But Ahankara, ego false self, is no other than Atman, who is no other than Brahman himself. Thus, in reality, we remain as Brahman created us, spirit, not the physical entities we see our selves as, but unified with him and with each other.
Hinduism posits a physics that resembles contemporary quantum physics. As it sees it, matter, called Guna, is composed of three strands, three Gunas: Tamas, Rajas and Satva. Each of these parts of matter is said to have specific quality. Tamas is said to be dull, Rajas to be active, and Sativa to be thoughtful. These elements of matter are said to be in the individual human being, and the one predominating in his physical make up determines his temperament and personality: predominance of Tamas leads to a dull, not very intelligent person, a person suited for the lower classes, Sudras; Rajas leads to very active life style, a person suited for the ruling and administrative classes, Kastraya; Satva leads to being thoughtful and a person suited for intellectual and priestly functions, Brahmin class.
These ideas would seem to give India's culture a fatalistic view of people. They imply that people's stations in social life are destined by their biological constitution, and by reincarnation and karmic forces. Such deterministic ideas seem repulsive to liberal humanistic persons who believe that our lives are in our hands to do, as we like with. On the other hand, if these ideas are seen for what they are, metaphors for talking about issues pure reason does not yet understand, they are tolerable.
The most amazing aspect of Hindu cosmology is that its views on the composition of matter, that it has three parts, is similar to quantum physics notion that the atom is composed of three parts: electron, proton, neutron. If we remember that Indian thinkers did not have access to laboratories, and were merely speculating rather than conducting scientific inquiry, we must respect their perceptiveness. Of course, India's primitive physics is not true, but it is interesting that the ancient Rishis were able to speculate about the composition of atoms as nearly correctly as they did.
Hindu religious practices seek ways to get the seeming separated parts of Brahman to recognize their union with each other. Patanjali's five Yogas (Jnani, Bhakti, Raja, Karma, and Tantra) seek ways to unify people, to yoke them back to the awareness of their oneness with each other. As Patanjali sees it, each of us has a different temperament and personality, and must return to God in a manner appropriate to his personality. The intellectual, Jnani, must reason his way back to conviction that all of us are one; the Bhakti, the worshipper must find ways to worship God and, in so doing, recognize that he is one with God, and all of us; the Raja yogi must experiment and come to know that he is one with all of us; the karma yogi must do good work that contributes to social well being, and, in so doing, realize that he is one with all people. The lover, the Tantric yogi, must respect his love partners, and, in so doing, come to realize that they are unified as one self. Each
person must follow his path to the awareness of his real self.
Although we all could benefit from learning about other paths, yet we can only return to the consciousness of our true self, Atman/Brahman, through doing what is suitable to our nature? The Jnani, the intellectual, less than ten percent of the population, can only realize the reality of God through philosophical reasoning, not by believing in God. The Bhakti, who constitute ninety percent of the human population, are not rational thinkers but are emotive, and can only return to God through devotional services to God. Hinduism says that there are different religions for the different types of people. The vast of Hindus are Bhakti; these are the ones who worship the myriad of Indian gods and goddesses, like Kali, Shiva and so on. A small percent of Hindus embrace Vedanta, the rational path to God, such as Shankara and Ramanuja. Christianity is a non-rational, poetic Bhakti religion. (The Karma yogi, Raja yogi and Tantra yogi, non-intellectuals, follow subsets of Bhakti religion.)
Hinduism believes that religious practices enable people to break through the illusion of separateness, and return to the awareness of unity. When this happens, they have broken from Mocksha and experienced Samadhi, union with all being. But to get to that state of enlightenment of our true self, what Buddha called illumination; people must love and forgive each other. To love is to work out one's Samsara, to make amends for one's past evil behaviors, in Christian terms to atone for one's sins, which means to love all persons, and come to realize that one, as Atman, is Brahman, is pure love. (See Hindu religious books: Veda, Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Bagavad Gita, and the writings of Shankara, Ramanuja, Vivikananda, and M. Gospel of Ramakrishna and others.)
Hinduism, particularly its non-dualistic Adviata, Vedanta, writes that it is Brahman that is dreaming this world. However, while dreaming this world, Brahman remains himself. In other words, Spirit remains spirit, and, as in a movie, sees itself doing the things we do on earth. When each of us breaks out of the dream of this world, he recognizes that he is no other than Brahman who was dreaming this world.
Shankara, writing in the eight century of our common era, observed that the world does not even exist, and that Brahman does not know that this world exists. As it were, our material world is a dream in a tiny corner of Brahman's mind, and he scarcely is aware of it. When each of us awakens from the world's dream, he recognizes that he did not miss anything going on in Brahmanaloca, Brahman's real abode, heaven.
An America clinical psychologist, Helen Schucman, translated Hinduism into Christological categories.
Although A Course In Miracles is Christian in language it, however, gave different interpretations to familiar Christian terms. For example, traditional Christians believe that we do sin, and are to be punished by God for our sins. Schucman says that whereas it is true that we do make mistakes, that God does not punish us for them. As she sees it, this world is a dream, and what we do in it is done in a dream, and has not been done. Therefore, we shall not be punished for our activities on earth.
In the meantime, we take our world as real, and see what is done in it as real events; hence we want to punish those who harmed us. In effect, what God would not do, punish us, we do to ourselves, punish ourselves.
In reality, Schucman says, we cannot punish ourselves, for no one can disobey God, and do what he does not permit, punish his children. We only seem to punish ourselves in our dream that sin and guilt are real, and that punishment is justified.
In our world, Schucman says, what one believes is real seems real to one, even though it is not real in the world of God. More importantly, what one does to others people are done to one?
If one believes in guilt and punishment, punishes those who injure one, those one injures will punish one. Conversely, if one does not believe in guilt and punishment, and does not punish those who harmed one, those that one harm would not punish one.
In this light, Americans believe in sin and punishment, and punish sinners, and, in turn, are themselves punished when they sin. Americans see criminals as guilty, and punish them. In turn, when they themselves have infractions of the law, they are punished by their justice system. In the international arena, Americans believe that Arab terrorists have sinned against them, and punish them. Arabs also believe in sin, and see Americans as wronging them, hence punish Americans. Thus Americans and Arabs are caught in on-going rounds of mutual punishments.
The implication is that what you do to others would be done to you. If you see others as sinless, guiltless and innocent, despite what they do to you, what they do on earth; if you forgive and overlook what other people do to you and what they do on earth, and do not punish them, people would overlook your own errors, and would not punish you.
Schucman also give a different interpretation of judgment. In Christian tradition, we are sinful and will be judged by God and punished. But as Schucman sees it, to judge the world and what is done in it is really a waste of time. The world and what is done in it are done in a dream setting, hence have not really been done, in heavenly terms. What is the point of judging a dream good or bad? A rational person, Schucman says, should overlook the events of the world, and not judge it good or bad.
In Schucman's view, it is judgment that makes the world seem real for the judging person; for judgment implies that what is judged has taken place. What we see other people do have not been done, hence ought to be forgiven (which is the same as being overlooked). People's apparent harmful behaviors are done in a dream, and have, in fact, not been done. We must, therefore, forgive them, and not bear grievances and seek revenge for the harm others did to us. We should not bear grudges for others past harms towards us.
In this light, white Americans enslavement of black persons took place in a dream, and, as such, has not really taken place. White persons have not enslaved and or discriminated against black persons, except as in a dream, which is not real. Black persons must, therefore, forgive, that is, overlook, slavery and racial discrimination. They should not bear grudges and hold grievances against white folks.
What is done in the past has not been done, since the past was a dream, and a dream is not real. If black people look at their situation in this manner, a reinterpretation of the past, looking at with Christ vision, looking with the eyes of the Holy Spirit… he always forgives what is done in the world, for he knows that it is a dream, and has not been done… they would forgive what they think was done to them, and would receive the Holy Spirit's gifts: peace and be happy in their world. To those who forgive themselves and their brothers, God gives peace and happiness; but to those who hold grievances and seek vengeance for the ill done to them by other persons, the ego gives conflict, war and unhappiness.
In the here and now, if we judge other people, we merely disturb our peace. To judge is to disturb one's peace, and, if the person one judges believes in ego-based judgment, and accepts one's judgment, one also disturbs his peace. But if that person does not recognize ego judgment, our judgment would not disturb his peace. Our judgment would not matter to a person who sees the world as a dream, as nothing worthy of moral considerations, as neither good nor bad.
Schucman recommends not judging one's behaviors, as good or bad, or judging other people's behaviors, as good or bad. One should merely see what one and other people do as activities in a dream, and overlook them.
She further states that one cannot join the person one judges, for to judge is to push away the person one judged. To judge is to disconnect and separate from the person one judged.
To judge is to be unhappy and to disturb ones peace. To not judge is to be peaceful and happy. Judgment is a means of destroying ones and other people peace, happiness and joy.
Judgment is a means of fragmenting an otherwise unified world. It is judgment that brought separation into being, and when one stops judging one's self, and other people, one ends the world of separation, space, time and matter, and return to the unified spiritual world, the shared world of God and his sons as one self.
Judgment brought our world into being and maintains it. Judgment attacks unified spirit and splits it into the fragmented world we see with our ego/physical eyes.
Judgment tires the individual; it literally wears him out and wears out those he judges. To judge is to attack what one judges, to push the person away, to separate from him.
To judge is to attack God, Christ, and to separate from ones real self, and other people's real selves. Giving up judgment is one way to return to the world of God and union, and obtain peace and happiness.
Hinduism and A Course in Miracles write that we can live our lives in this world in a meditative manner. In meditation, we recognize that what is going on in our world is not real, and is like events in a dream. Our present self-concepts, egos, are not our real selves, are false selves. The ego, real or ideal, is false self, and is a dream self. As it were, the persons we see on earth, even though they seem solid in their bodies, are mere dream figures. Our real selves are atman, who is spirit and is one with Brahman.
(For two or more selves to be one self, Atman and Brahman, they cannot be in body, they must be non-material, they must be spirit, for only spirit can unify. Body is a means of separation. Brahman and Atman are unified spirit. Our true self is spirit, unified spirit.)
What this means in reality is that one does not take the events of this world too seriously. One keeps quiet and observes the events of this world as if they are a play, a drama being enacted on a screen, seemingly true, but not true.
Neti, neti, not this, not this, one of the Upanishads said. We are not what we seem in this world. We are not what we do in this world, either. What we are is spirit having physical experiences.
In meditation, the individual observes every thought, idea and concept that comes into his mind. He recognizes that they are of this world; all egos based, and are separation-based thinking. Even at their best, our conceptual thoughts deal with the transitory and ephemeral world we live in. They, like the world they struggle to understand, are impermanent and what is impermanent and changeable cannot be real, and cannot be true.
Truth must be permanent and not changeable. Truth must be the same at all times. Indeed, in truth there is no time and space.
In meditation, the individual observes his thinking and recognizes it for what it is: transitory ideas, at best good opinions, but not the truth. He watches those ideas come and go, ego chatter they are called, but knows that they are not true. Because they are not true, he does not get himself all rowed up by them. He does not attach himself to any idea that enters his mind. He does not identify with any ideal that he can think of because he is a not his ideas, he is the thinker of ideas. The Thinker is not his thoughts, Buddha, an enlightened Hindu, tell us.
If he is not his idea, thoughts and concepts, then, who is he? That is the most important question each of us must answer. Who are we? Hinduism asks one to keep quiet, to let all ego based thoughts disappear from one's minds by constantly saying neti, neti, not this, not this; this is not the truth, this is not the truth. Hinduism believes that if this negation of all conceptual ideas is permitted to run its logical course that at some point one feels one's thinking stop.
Buddha, perhaps, put it best. He said that the mind, a raging bull, must be tamed, quieted and when accomplished through meditation becomes an empty void. In that void, emptied of all concepts, including concepts of the self, other selves and the world, the individual suddenly recognizes that he does not know who he is, in fact. Who we current think that we are, are mere illusions of who we are, in fact. At this stage, the individual is encouraged to ask the universe to tell him who he is, and stop telling the universe who he is. Simply ask: who am I? I want to know and send that earnest question into the universe, without answering it by your own cognitive and conceptual means.
If in addition to practicing mediation for about one hour every day, you also love and forgive those around you, hence feel in harmony with the world, you could one day find your mind emptied of all thoughts and you feel empty, literally. You feel like you are a literal void. This state is very confusing. One no longer knows what is true or false, and no longer knows who one is or is not. This state is akin to psychotic decompensation, the feeling of depersonalization, derealization and disorientation. St John of the Cross-called this process, the Dark Night of the soul. It is the most terrifying experience a human being can go through, permit his self-concept and concepts for other people and the world to die, so that he may learn of his True self, a non-conceptual, unified self.
All mystics must go through this ego death before they learn their true identity. Jesus, a mystic, permitted his ego self concept, his prior conception of who people are, and what the world means, to die, so that he became aware of his true self, the Christ self, the Holy Son of God, who is one with all his brothers and with his father.
This is what is meant by death and resurrection; it means the metaphoric death of the separated ego-self, and the remembering of the true self as the unified self. One lets the self one made, the ego, to die, and one reawakens in the self-God created one as, the Christ self. (We are deliberately employing Christian metaphors here. If you like, you can replace Christian terms with Hindu or Buddhist terms, such as Krishna self and Buddha self for Christ self. A non-sectarian term for the same state, our preferred term, is unified self.)
The ego is a replacement self; a self we use to substitute for the self-God created us as. This is what is meant by Jesus died and Christ is reborn. It is also what is meant by Christ overcame the world. It is also the meaning of the second coming of Christ.
Christ first came into being when God created him as his unified Son. Christ died when he separated from God to live as the ego, in our world. The ego, what Jesus called the son of man, died and the Son of God, Christ, is resurrected in one.
Where this happy event has taken place, Christ has come a second time into one's life, and into one's world. Christ does not come into the world at the same time for all of us; it comes into our individual lives when we accept our Christhood, when we are born again in Christ, when we voluntarily let our old self, the separated self to die and replace it with a new self, the self that is as God created it, a unified self, Christ, the anointed Son of God.
This is also what is meant by the last judgment. This means that the individual has passed a last judgment on the ego, and its ego-separation-based world, and rejected it, repented for the mistake of once accepting a false self and its world as real, and is baptized in Christ and his Holy Spirit, that is, his sins are washed away by his acceptance of the Holy Spirit, the spirit of union. The last judgment does not happen at the same time for all people, it happens to each of us one at a time, when we relinquish the old ego and accept the Christ.
Christ does not come into the world from the sky, as the metaphor of the Bible suggests, but comes into the individual's life when he thinks and behaves like Christ, when he loves all people, and forgives all people their mistake in believing in separation, in our material world, and the hurtful things we do to one another while we are in this illusory, dream world.
The born again Son of God, in Oriental terms, the illuminated and enlightened person, no longer lives in our world, but now lives in a remade version of our world, New Jerusalem, New Israel what Helen called real world or heaven's gate and Dante, in Divine Comedy, called purgatory. He lives in the middle world, between heaven and earth, waiting for those of us still living on earth, to change our thinking, and our minds about our identity, and accept our unified nature. When we all do, which may be in the next four billion years, we all enter heaven. We all left heaven at the same time, and will return to it at the same time.
No Son of God stays in heaven while his brothers suffer on earth. The enlightened ones like Buddha, Jesus, Bahaulla, Ramakrishna return to heaven only momentarily and immediately come back to the mid world, purgatory, heaven's gate, and from there, work to enable those on earth to get to where they are.
Call on the names of these illuminated persons, the saviors of the world, and if you are sincere and mean it, and are a loving and forgiving person, you would see them. And if it would scare you, disrupt your worldview, shatter the belief that separation is real; these people would not show themselves to you. They would put their ideas of union into your mind. We, the teachers in the temporal world, are doing the same thing, putting the idea of union into your consciousness.
You will be saved in a manner you can accept. God and his Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit's teachers, cannot force you to be saved in a manner you cannot accept. Real Self Therapy is a form of Jnani Yoga meant to yoke you back to union, to the full realization that you are unified with all selves as part of unified life. As a Jnani yoga, it is suitable for thoughtful, not emotional, Bhakti, persons.
It is really amazing that people believe in Jesus Christ and to not see him. Jesus Christ is in fact in front of them, in back of them and in both sides of them. He has his hands raised akimbo, beckoning them to come to him, to return home in unified state. We are like the biblical prodigal son, who left his father, and brothers, and went on a journey without a distance. God, being total freedom, could not prevent his sons from doing whatever they want to do, so he permits us to dream that we are away from him. But sooner or later, we must tire of dreaming and awaken, and return home to our waiting father and brothers.
One does not have to be a so-called Christian to be saved by Jesus. This writer, if one can call him a religionist, then an African religionist, though he preferred to be agnostic, tried meditation, love and forgiveness, and …well we shall not go into what he experienced, for you may not be ready for that kind of talk.
If while meditating you attain an empty state of mind, and you do not rush in with your own ideas of who you are, whom other people are and what the world is or means, you could proceed to a point where you escape from the world, as we know it, and enter what Hinduism calls Samadhi, Buddhism calls Nirvana and Zen calls Satori.
That world is not a conceptual world and cannot be described in human language. As Lao Tze said: the Tao cannot be talked about, and he who talks about the Tao has not experienced it. (See William James, Varieties of Religious Experience, Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism and Maurice Bach, Cosmic Consciousness.) Any one, who is, in fact, enlightened to the unified light that is our true nature, does not talk about it. For one thing, he cannot talk about it. It is ineffable. All he knows is that at that level of being, all things are in light, not the physical light studied by physics, but indescribable soothing light, are unified and are eternal. In it, one feels all knowing. This is not the understanding of material world that science does. Spirit does not know about matter. In the unified world there is no you and I, no seer and seen, no subject and object, all are literally one self yet are infinite selves. (Please do not try to understand how infinite selves are one self. The ego, your present identity, cannot understand oneness.)
When illuminated, life on earth is seen as a joke, and one develops a good sense of humor, and does not take any thing too seriously. One laughs and smiles a lot. One's body is peaceful and one's mind is happy. One does not proffer idle opinions on things, but tries to keep quiet most of the time. In so far that opinions are called for, one tries to offer only scientific opinions, to state what physics, chemistry and biology understands matter to be, without juxtaposing idle opinions about them, opinions that other people may disagree with, and that may lead to conflict and wars. One keeps quiet and lets other people have their opinions, knowing that they are all false opinion. Life becomes a peaceful and happy affair.
One goes about one's work, whatever line of work one is in, all work is necessary for our adaptation to this world, calmly, knowing that there is a better world outside this world. One does not escape from this world. One lives fully in this world, on its terms, and crosses the bridge to other worlds when one gets to them.
The enlightened person still goes about doing his work, chopping wood and fetching water. Food does not suddenly fall from the sky for him. He still has to earn his daily bread, as people on earth do, by working for it. He is not a parasite, religions' ministers, who have other people go work and support him. He works to support himself. But he is different from the other workers around him: he does his work calmly, and he is friendly towards every person around him.
If one is in a meditative mood, one recognizes that one's worldly self, the ego, real or ideal, is not one's true identity. One's
true identity is unified spirit, what we might roughly call the Christ self. In meditative state, one observes the events of this world, but knows that they are not real, and is not disturbed by them. One sees one's ego self, real or ideal, doing things on earth, but knows that it is like doing things in a dream, and not take them seriously. One remains calm and peaceful despite the turmoil going on all around one.
Real Self Therapy encourages people to live life as if they are in a meditative state. That is, they must be part of this world and take part in its events, but see them as passing, transitory events.
RST teaches people that they have a different self than the self they see with their physical eyes. In the meantime, people must be part of the world and try to live as scientists do: that is, objectively appraise the world on its own terms, and not have foolish opinions about who people, and what things in general are.
When one sees other people, one recognizes that they are more than what one sees them do, and not permit what they seem to be and what they do (exploit each other) to disturb one's peace. One becomes less judgmental and simply lets what is on earth to be. If one does so, one lives in peace and joy most of the time.
You are not your pretended ideal, superior self. Therefore, lose it, now. Quit trying to be who you are not, and could never be, and need not be, a false self that gives you emotional upsets, and mental disorders. Give up trying to be a needless false, ideal self, and become peaceful and happy. Quit making yourself unhappy by trying to be who you are not, defending a false, ideal self, and not realizing that it is you who made you unhappy.
Identify with the real self and experience what the Iranian mystic, Bahaulla called the lesser peace (what Schucman called happy dream, real world, and heaven's gate…all metaphors). Here, one still has a separated self, but a self that accepts its oneness with all selves, and cares for all selves, hence, is in harmony with all selves and, as such, feels some peace and happiness, but not what Bahaulla called the greater peace of total union with God. In God, heaven, one gives up all sense of having a separated self, and returns to the shared self of God and his sons, the unified self and unified mind. In this spiritual state only perfect peace and joy reigns, what Hinduism calls bliss, absolute bliss.
RST is interested in the lesser peace of a loving world. That is attainable. The greater peace of God and his heaven is beyond the scope of those in a separated, conceptual world to talk about. Live out of your real self, and experience some peace, not perfect peace. RST thinks that for now, the lesser peace of God, purgatory, is worth working for.
FOR FURTHER READING
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Ozodi Osuji Weekly Series on Psychology 2006, #52 of 52:: An Introduction to Real Self-Therapy
Osuji, a Management Consultant, can be reached at email@example.com