I like paradoxes.  When I was in college, freshman year, a professor gave us an assignment of creating our own psychological model.  We were studying theorists that followed Freud.

Disappearing into the assignment, I came out the other side with a theory of psychology based on a succession of paradoxes.  I would later read Viktor Frankl’s work that would share several features of the model I’d put together.  The premise I was working with was that healing was located somewhere in the neighborhood of those things which don’t seem capable of being understood.  Embracing that which we can’t seem to understand, we can relieve ourselves of the burden of feeling compelled to find an answer.  My theory listed several paradoxes as examples.

Over the last few years, I’ve drifted in an opposite direction.  The theory emerging in this blog suggests a psychological model, particularly as it explores the nature and causes of autism, yet it is a model with both biological and transpersonal roots.  It is a model deeply influenced by the work of Milton H. Erickson, the hypnotherapist, as his work was interpreted by Richard Bandler and John Grinder.  Ken Wilber’s integration of human developmental states, personality disorders and Habermas’s principle regarding societal stages has also been integral to my understanding of human psychology.  Wilber’s view feels closely connected to Freud’s four-fold parallelism as interpreted by Stephen J. Gould.  How Gregory Bateson interpreted Freud’s description of primary process has also been instrumental to my understanding of human psychology.  And last, my psychology model has to do with, of course, the rate and timing of maturation.

So, who we are has to do with the nature of consciousness, human conventional split-consciousness, ontogenetic influences and an understanding of who we are as humans as a direct reflection and integration of who we are at other scales of evolution.  Our growth as individuals is directly related to how we evolve at other scales of experience, be it social, biological or beyond.  The self is informed by the Self.  There is no separating ourselves individually from our grounding context.

This does not feel paradoxical to me.  Still, some things remain so.

I believed, back in college, that maturation or healing was about the abandonment of that which feels burdensome.  I was convinced that if I could just free myself of what tormented me, I would then be healed.  I was not aware that I retained a particular paradigm for healing.  I often felt out of control of my emotions.  I often felt depressed, angry, frustrated and helpless.  In this paradigm, I was convinced “happiness” entailed being relieved of those experiences, having them removed.

One thing that has changed since my paradox model of 40 years ago is now I have an understanding that my growth psychologically is characterized by my embracing of that which I felt/feel tormented by.  Perhaps that in itself is paradoxical.  I now know that there is no growth without a grasping or cradling of that which is perceived to have caused and/or experienced the wound.  I don’t think this is about forgiveness, though the experience of forgiveness results from this experience.  What this is about is attention.  Offering compassionate attention to that which pursues us (often characterized by a particular kind of internal dialog), turning pursuer into partner, is central to healing.  It’s not about making anything go away.

It is perhaps paradoxical that to relieve ourselves of that which seems to cause anguish or hurt we instead deliberately make it central to our lives.

Having done so, paradoxically, that hurt and anguish is always with us.  So, we embrace this.

Often I awaken in the mornings, sit down at my computer and begin to write.  What I am then accompanied by is often sadness, grief and a deep alone.  At the same time I accompany myself with the sadness.  I am present.  My presence then produces the words I type.

Life is paradoxical.  Yet, it’s not.  Offering attention seems to be the bridge between the two.


This entry was posted on Wednesday, October 21st, 2009 at 7:20 am and is filed under Auto-Biography, Unconscious. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
2 Comments so far

  1. Mark Stairwalt on October 22, 2009 2:06 am

    “The gods have become diseases,” Jung said. The coin of their realm, not by accident something which we “pay,” is attention. Get it they will, by means of complexes and afflictions if other bridges are closed. Lorca wrote “… the duende wounds. In the healing wound, which never closes, lies the strange, invented qualities of a man’s work.” Making fetishes of growth and healing — “treating” dis-ease medically, taking it literally, as if Psyche were a girl with an infection rather than a girl with a complicated love life — not only impoverishes us as a species; it ensures perpetual full employment for a mental health profession which promotes those fetishes.

  2. Andrew on October 22, 2009 3:52 pm

    Fetish is a great word, an aboriginal confusing the map and the territory in a religious context, expanded to mean a contemporary that obsesses on a thing. Religious behavior without religion.

    These days, we find obsession encouraged if it translates into a professional’s intervention. What if obsession has religious roots, and that religion, spiritual experience, was integral to our evolution.

    Strange to consider we behave more worship filled than over, except without the words of fear and praise.

Name (required)

Email (required)


Share your wisdom