January 23rd, 1995, Serial No. 00107

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So, we happily welcome back Brother B. and his other presentation we found very rewarding
and we asked if he could spell that out a bit and he's kindly offered to do that so
we're glad he can be here for the whole week and I don't think we have to go on and on
about his many qualifications and he's going right up there I think in the spiral on the
left there with competence but if some of you would listen very carefully when he talks
about counterproductive behaviors but we're glad to have you back.
So we'll be taping the first part as he's speaking at a certain point he'll turn it
off and then we can have free questions, comments, discussion, that won't be on the tape.
Off the record.
Off the record.
And this Monday through Friday.
Thank you.
Well, I'm real glad to have a chance to be back here again and to spend some time talking
about this and also just to spend some time up here, it's a very beautiful place.
The title is Self and Others in Community Life and I want to use that polarity of self
and others as the starting point and refer back to that throughout my week-long presentations
because I think that this is the ground from which we operate at least as psychological
human beings, ways in which we're trying to find and solidify and enhance a sense of
who we are as a person and also simultaneously maintaining and developing and enhancing
our relationships with other people.
This is a complicated and difficult process that begins really at birth and doesn't
finish until death.
We are always moving back and forth between issues around separateness and oneness, about
a desire for independence versus a need and wish to be dependent on others, between a
desire for solitude and a need for community.
Herman Hesse has a nice quote in his book, The Glass Bead Game, says that the human condition
is always a continuous struggle for position and a search for love, and I think that we're
always going back and forth between those.
Today I want to give you a little bit of background.
I'll talk about psychological development and adult developmental theory and spend a
little time with some notions of self and identity to provide some groundwork for where
we'll go from here in the remaining sessions.
Tomorrow I'm going to be talking about defenses, defense mechanisms, and P.D. has graciously
let me use him and all of his personal experiences as an example for this, so thank you very
much.
We'll also be discussing the role of sexuality in a celibate monastic community.
Then we'll look at friendship and their role in our ongoing development, the role of friendships.
Community and fraternity, and finally spend some time on Friday on monastic friendships
and on the role of compassion in the development and maintenance of authentic community life.
So those are the topics for today.
We have multiple births in our life.
Of course there is the physical birth, but the one that I want to spend a little time
talking with you has to do with our psychological birth.
And there are some stages in that process.
We aren't born a full psychological human being, and in fact we need the assistance and
help of others if we're going to develop to be our own self.
It's almost a paradox that without others in our lives, we cannot have and maintain
a self.
The end result of this process should be the capacity to say I and mean it.
That's what we're working toward with the whole process of psychological development.
The first stage is when the infant is in kind of a sense of a psychological shell, and the
infant needs other people at that time just to exist.
All aspects of life sustenance are required from another person during this stage.
The next stage is the beginnings of an awareness that there is something beyond oneself, even
though there isn't a self to begin with.
There's a growing awareness.
And here other people are needed in order to help inculcate within the person a sense
of order and predictability.
The young child needs the parent to be very responsive to his or her needs.
When this works well, the mother determines just what the cry means for the baby.
Does that mean hunger or change or just need to be held?
When that's done often enough, correctly enough, not perfectly, but good enough, the child
learns to develop a sense of relationship and knows that some needs can be met by other
people and is able to contain himself.
And that's an important element that we need later on in our life, our ability to contain
ourselves.
But at that stage, there's a fluid unity between the mother and the child.
Finally, in the longest stage that begins next is this whole process of separation and
individuation.
This is where we rely on other people to help us validate and support a sense of who we
are.
And there's an ongoing separation that takes place.
You see it in the initial stages as the young infant, when the infant learns to crawl and
eventually to walk away, they engage in practicing behaviors.
If you think of some nieces and nephews that you might have when they're in the two and
three year stage, you see them around their parents, especially around their mother.
You'll notice a stage where they want to be held all the time.
And then they move from that to where they want to crawl up in their mom's lap.
And as soon as mom has the kid settled, what does the kid do?
Runs away.
He gets out of the lap again.
But we repeat that quite often.
And then instead of just having to get in mom's lap or get in mom's face, just has to
come up and kind of touch mom.
Grab her leg.
Hold on for a few seconds and run away again.
And finally can move to the point where just to kind of see mom is enough.
So the kid might be playing in the corner and just realize that he isn't looking at
mom and then looks at her, sees her, senses a connection and can go back to play.
And finally reaches a stage where mom and other people are internalized, that one can
think about mom and all of the good aspects that are associated with her come to mind,
a sense of being reassured.
That's when things go well.
And that's how it goes for most of us, though we do tend to have a little difficulty with
that at some time or another in our lives.
And I want to highlight how some of these things might go wrong, especially in terms
of relationships.
Remember, we're thinking of the notion of being and loving, and these are both important
to us, but there can be extreme reactions to that.
Some people who are so desirous of maintaining their sense of self and so fearful of losing
it, their extreme is to reject all relationships with other people.
And so in order to preserve the self, they exist alone and in isolation.
This is not authentic solitude, which I'll talk more about towards the end of the week,
but this is a real splitting off, cutting off of oneself and the opportunity for further
growth to hold on to that little piece of self they have.
The other extreme is when people are so needy for connectedness that they sacrifice anything
about themselves to maintain a relationship.
You can imagine this leads to some difficulties, and let me talk about a few of those.
The first example of this is the belief that I need you to convince me that I exist, so
other people in my life here serve the purpose of mirroring my existence.
A person, for example, at work who always makes it a point to wave and say hi to everybody
perhaps doesn't get a wave back from someone, or someone here might be walking down one
of the paths and might nod and smile to someone and for whatever reason doesn't get a response.
People who have concerns at this stage, this isn't just a minor irritation for them,
this is a major blow and it stirs up all sorts of strong feelings because their very sense
of self is shaken by the fact that that one person didn't kind of wave back to them.
It speaks to how important other people are in their lives to help remind them that they exist.
So they tend to get very angry and often hold a sense of smoldering anger around this.
From our perspective, if we were parents, it would be our responsibility to organize
and confirm a child's existence.
But when we get a little older, we don't expect to have to do that, and when we're
called upon to do that, we get a little upset with that ourselves.
So that leads to a lot of struggles, and the individual who needs others this way tends
to nurse a great deal of anger.
The second stage, or our second level here, would be the need for others.
I need you to tell me who I am.
Not so much that I exist, but to tell me who I am.
And these folks tend to be involved pretty much in assuming and maintaining a fixed role,
not having the capacity for assuming multiple roles, which is part of human life, but holding
on to a fixed role.
Now, in my work with clergy and religious, what I tend to see where this goes wrong most
is when people get involved in identifying solely in their role as minister or being
involved in ministry.
There is something very secure and predictable about having one and only one role.
However, it is a way of squelching and preventing a real genuine life existence, from my perspective.
When we have one and only one role, then everyone else has to be certain characters in the play
in which we're living.
So if I'm a helping person, and that's the only way in which I can operate, then everyone
else that I have a relationship with has to what?
Has to need help.
So not only my patients need help, but everybody that I interact with, my family, my friends,
my dog, I'm always helping everybody.
And the times when people need help, that works well.
But imagine what happens in relationships when you're the other person, and you're tired
of being helped all the time, or you don't need help, or you're wanting something else.
That's going to upset the balance of the relationship.
You're likely to want to change or want out, and that will lead to a great deal of discomfort
and anxiety in me if that's what my key need is.
We need other people to be there for us in that role.
The third one is, I need you to keep me from feeling lost.
So here, it's a sense that I know who I exist and what I'm supposed to do, but if I don't
have some anchor points, I'm going to feel lost.
I'm not going to, I'm going to have a general sense of anxiety, malaise about me.
We all need some anchor points, and we all normally experience some anxiety when those
anchor points disappear.
Major shifts, for example, leaving home, entering religious community, moving from one community
to another.
We should all expect to feel some normal anxiety around that.
But usually, we have enough internal resources so that we can weather that and understand
it and get over it and build new anchor points where we are.
For those folks who don't have those inner resources, those inner reserves, and have
a great need to really depend on others and to have them around to maintain their sense
of organization, there's a lot of anxiety in their lives.
They have a hard time ending relationships when they need to be ended.
They'll cling to old relationships, and rather than try and form new ones or new kinds of
relationships that reflect growth, they tend to form those same old ones all over again.
They're caught in a rigid pattern.
The next one is, I need you to make me perfect.
This is the struggle that we have when we haven't reached the ability to accept the
strengths and weaknesses within us, that we are caught only believing that we're really,
really good.
So therefore, I'm going to be really good.
I need to have other people around to hate, to hold off the badness from me, and that's
what the role that other people play for these folks.
I'm good because everyone else is bad or everyone else is troubled, and this then, if I see
the trouble elsewhere, I know it's not in me, and then I have to be okay, and then I
get some relief from that.
Troubled relationships, obviously, associated with that.
The next one is, I need you to make me feel good about being me.
So I need you in order to increase and bolster my own sense of self-esteem.
People who get caught in this trap are usually good at psyching other people out, so they
think they will tell you, yeah, I'm very good at reading what other folks want and
giving it to them, but what they're really very good at is reading in other people what
they want.
So they have a limited repertoire.
They are not accurate readers, necessarily, of others, but instead, they put into every
relationship, and they see what they want in the relationship, and then they go after
getting that.
They have extreme concerns about pleasing other people because if others are upset with
them, that decreases their own sense of self-esteem.
One of the things that I've noticed with people who tend to be caught at this level
is that they have not thought through and owned a set of values for themselves.
They either are kind of at sea with that or have taken on whole cloth values of their
parents or some institution or religious group without even thinking about it, without
having internalized it and owned it.
The last one is the sense of I need you to measure me against.
This is associated with power issues, one up and one down.
I know I'm okay if I'm in the one up position and everyone else is in the one down
position.
These relationships are characterized by a great deal of hostility and competitiveness,
so everything tends to be done better.
I'm better at this sort of thing than this person.
I can pray longer.
I can meditate more deeply.
I can do more weddings.
I have better funeral homilies.
It doesn't matter what it is.
There's always a way of kind of measuring against, and so people are needed in order
to do that.
Now, you might say, well, this must get awfully troubling.
Well, in fact, it does.
But fighting is one way to maintain a sense of connectedness with other people while at
the same time maintaining a sense of independence.
And that's why if we look at our lives, we'll see that we all engage to some degree or another
in some of these at some times because we're not all saints yet.
So we have to see which of these tend to be more troublesome patterns for us.
Are there certain ones that we tend to fall into and work towards understanding those
more carefully?
In these patterns I'm describing, I'm not talking about real loving here.
I'm talking about needing people, and needing is not the same thing as loving people.
When you need someone, it's because you're using them to fulfill a part of yourself that
is yet incomplete.
So you can't accept them as whole human beings themselves.
They have to be what you need them to be.
That is limiting, and that thwarts their ability to be, and it eventually thwarts our ability
to be as well.
When we continue to act on these patterns as I've described, and we all have the potential
to do that, it will usually lead to the death of relationships and even an annihilation
of our sense of ourself.
We have to recognize and value both ourselves with our strengths and weaknesses, and other
people with their strengths and weaknesses.
That then allows for mature loving, and then the capacity to be.
So then we have the experience of being and loving.
So that's really the task that we're about, and that's a psychological process that
continues, and we're always struggling with issues around being and loving in our life.
Let's look briefly at adult development.
Very briefly, because I want to move kind of quickly.
It used to be that folks thought development was a linear process.
Usually went pretty well.
That is, you went to school, you started off in a career, you got a job, you made money,
life went well, you retired, you were happy, and then you died.
And it was very predictable and expectable.
Well, if it ever was that way, and I'm not sure that it was, it certainly isn't that
way anymore.
Rather than thinking of life as a linear process, I think it makes more sense to look at it
as something cyclical.
And that means that we have to move or shift our view of thinking from making progress
towards some very specific achievable goal toward being involved in a process of living,
that we have to move away from thinking that we can acquire or own a sense of happiness,
whatever that may mean, that's defined in many different ways for people, towards understanding
and being at peace with the process of change in our lives.
And it also helps us move away from a sense of looking at old age as a sense of kind of
over the hill and then kind of going down to nothingness, to a greater sense of positive
valuing of elderhood, of the older and aged people in our lives and ourselves, too.
Now, there are normal, expectable, adult developmental sequences that we can all go
through, and most of us will.
Daniel Levinson has written about that specifically from a men's perspective in his book,
Seasons of a Man's Life.
There's a book by Gould called Transformations that outlines those same processes.
Gail Sheehy, I'm blocking on the title of her book now, Passages, does the same thing,
though Gould says that she basically kind of stole his thunder, that he had the research
done, but she got to press sooner than he did, and his book hasn't gotten as much press.
And that's actually true, but his book is a good book if you can ever find it.
It's worth reading.
I'm not going to review those except to say that they're often like decades where people
are working on different tasks.
Now, why do I want to highlight that?
Well, if you look around the room here, you're going to see people in different decades of
their life.
And so the tasks that they're facing are going to be different depending on where they
are in their life course.
Now, that seems self-evident, but since we all tend to be a little bit narcissistic, we
don't stop and think that other people might be less attuned to our needs, and we're often
less attuned to their needs.
So step one is to be aware that people are going to be in different places on a developmental
process, and that if we look at life as more of a cyclical process, that people are going
to be involved in various processes of change no matter where they are as well.
So you're going to have a developmental sequence, and you're going to be involved in this
process of change differently.
And I just want to highlight those four change processes, and you can see how that's affected
you in your life.
The first is a sense of kind of feeling in alignment.
You've made a decision.
You're someplace, and things seem to be going pretty well for yourself, pretty happy.
For a moment, you think life's on track, stable, going well.
Then you'll start noticing a sense of being out of sync.
That's the second stage.
Some things are not quite as comfortable as they used to be.
You're starting to know some shifts.
The plans that you had set for yourself, the goals, maybe you're going to need some
readjustment.
That calls then for the third stage, which is a sense of disengagement.
This usually requires some pulling back, some reassessment, and this can either be a minor
fix-up, like going in for a tune-up, taking your car in for a tune-up, oil change, getting
the spark plugs fixed, and then getting back on track.
Or in some cases in your life, it's going to be a major overhaul.
They're going to have to bore out the, whatever they bore out in engines and do a lot of...
Cylinders, that's right, thank you.
And do some major replacement work.
Maybe the transmission's gone, or the brakes are shot.
Major work has to be done.
Anyway, disengagement is a process where that takes place, and that's then followed by a
sense of reintegration, where things come together and you begin the process again,
and you're again at the state of alignment.
This happens over and over and over again in our lives, if we're sensitive to it.
Men tend to be less aware of rhythmic cycles in their lives.
I'm going to try and comment throughout my talks about men's issues in particular.
Some writer has said that men suffer from chronic arrhythmicity, that we just are not
so aware of cycles in our bodies and in our lives, and that we would be better off to be
paying more attention to that.
And I think that's an important point that I wanted to comment on.
Now, how does that all come together?
It comes together in these Kansas tornadoes I have over here on the board.
I have a developmental spiral here on the left.
When we make good decisions more often than not, not always, but more often than not, and
that leads to positive behavior, both that we recognize and that others recognize as
positive, it increases our sense of self-competence and our sense of self-esteem, and then we
keep on moving upward, continuing good decisions, broadening our exposure, our interactions
with others, and feeling quite good.
That's a positive developmental spiral.
When things go wrong here, when people make a sidetrack, it's pretty easy for them, either
on their own or with the help of a friend or a colleague or maybe a therapist for a short
while, to get back on track again.
Not too much difficulty.
We all get off track.
We all get back on track again.
However, when people have real difficulties, then they start entering a whole different
area called the pathological spiral, and this is this downward course here.
They're making time and time again bad decisions, decisions that work against them, and this
leads to counterproductive behavior, behaviors that don't help them.
They're often unable to see what's happening here, or they might change it if they could.
They're blind to it for some reason.
This leads to a sense of increased incompetence and lowered self-esteem, and then who cares
kind of decisions.
Then they start feeling more and more worthless about themselves, and they continue a downward
spiral.
This is actually indicative of more kind of severe difficulties.
When people are caught in this, they usually need assistance from someone outside of them
to help interrupt that cycle and get them moving.
They are often usually blind to some key elements in their life, and it's usually related to
some kind of major disruption in their sense of themselves and their ability to relate
to others.
So some kind of major disturbance in being and loving is what is going to contribute
to this.
All right.
And the last thing that I wanted to touch on this morning in terms of some basic elements
here was this notion of self and identity.
You've already gotten the idea that it's a complex process, this kind of forming and
maintaining and growing in our self-identity.
You're right.
And we are always caught between two opposing forces within ourselves.
That is the sense of wanting to move forward and grow and tackle new challenges.
That's one side.
And the other side is, hey, this is fine.
Let's keep things the same.
It's comfortable here.
Trying to maintain the status quo.
We're caught in that sort of a battle between ourselves.
Is there a way in which we can make ourselves better?
But that involves greater risk, and so on.
Let's not take that risk.
Things are okay the way they are.
We really could have life a little bit better.
We might be able to, but think of the risk in doing that.
These are the struggles that are within us at all times.
We, generally speaking, deal with the anxiety associated with leaving the comfortable things
behind us if we are more involved in this developmental spiral.
Because we've learned that we can take some chances, take some risk, experience anxiety
for a while, and that we will get some good results from that.
Now, the last thing I wanted to comment on that I think has a particular importance
to understanding human beings and their relationships with each other is some relatively new work
by an analyst, kind of an anthropologist as well, named Alan Rowland.
And he did some studies of culture in India and Japan.
And I think some of his findings, and he alludes to this in a footnote in his book, have some
special significance for us as religious.
He points out that in the Western tradition, we are very much focused on the individual
self and individuation.
And in fact, one of those psychological birth stages is called the process of separation
and individuation.
That's what is worked toward.
And he says that this kind of a model of life works very well for self, works very well
for mobile, individualistic, autonomous folks.
And these people are granted, if not forced into, increasing senses of autonomy.
Now, he contrasts this with what he calls the familial self.
And this is a self-organization that allows for better functioning within stable, long-term
groups, read, religious communities, I think.
He doesn't go this far with it, but this is how I would apply it.
It provides a way of understanding, developing, and maintaining important, intimate group
relationships, and places a value on that versus the more egalitarian, contractual
relationships that tend to be more consistent with an individualized sense or a Western
sense of self.
The familial sense of self has a we-self.
The person thinks more often than not about we, the group, the family.
And that is contrasted with the sense of I, I-ness, in the individual self.
Rather than the separation and individuation, the kind of becoming more and more apart,
in the familial self, it's a continued process of developing reciprocity with other people.
It's always a very clear emphasis on self in relationship with other.
Not that that wouldn't be so true for the individual self, but it is paramount to
self-definition.
We are who we are because we are in certain kinds of relationships with other people.
And that's at the foremost of their thinking about themselves.
They have, people who have this kind of more familial self, tend to have a more blurred
sense of self than others.
So if you look at their writings, as I did, they'll use the word we more often.
When I asked religious groups to talk about people from religious communities to write
about themselves, rather than using I so much, they tended to use we a lot more.
Now, I think this is particularly important, it has a real value to understanding religious
communities, because I think in the past, psychology has altogether too much overvalued
independence.
And when we would look at studies of people who were joining religious communities in
the past, we would find out that on psychological measures, these folks tended to be immature.
And why were they immature?
They were immature because they had greater dependency needs.
And in Western culture, there's not too much, there's not much worse, if you're a man in
particular, than to have too much dependency needs.
This is kind of built into us from the get-go.
We're taught to be alone, we're taught to be heroes, we're taught to be involved in
solitary quests in our lives.
And so to need other people is somehow anathema.
I'm saying that the sense of familial self, which has its Eastern roots, is still evident
in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and is still held, I believe, to a stronger degree in monastic
communities, and in those who hold value orientations that are more different, separate, and
connected with their past than current religious communities, more active orders, for example.
Now, another element that he brought forth was the notion of a spiritual self.
Now, unless you're real involved with psychoanalysis, you won't know that this guy's taking a real
risk.
Freud didn't have much to say about religion, except that it was a universal neurosis and
reflected some unresolved early symbiotic relationships with the mother figure.
You know, we can always analyze Freud and say, well, we're his issues, and there have
been books written on that, as a matter of fact.
There's one called Freud's Christian Unconscious.
It goes a little far, but it's an interesting read if you wanted to hear more about that.
Anyway, he makes the point that in these Eastern traditions, the sense of the spiritual
self is much more prevalent in the day-to-day experiences of these folks.
There is an assumption that most people make that there is a process of self-transformation
that they could be involved in if they wanted to, even if they choose not to.
Many choose to be involved in it, but even if they don't, they acknowledge the existence
of that.
And he contrasts that with not seeing that very much in Western culture.
And again, I would say that's true, except for those who make that part of their life
goal.
And that here, again, would not just only be members of religious communities or what
I call religious professionals, but others who are involved in the seeking process.
And you have to notice that in the Western culture, this is assumed to be a natural part
of folks' lives.
Here in the Western culture, it's not characterized that way too much.
People look askance at that, you know, New Age rocks and stones or strange meditative
techniques.
The Western culture tends to view that and think that there's something wrong with it.
That makes for a little bit of uncomfortableness for those of us who are more in touch with
this sense of ourselves.
Why do I bring all of this up in particular here?
Because I think it helps us understand and put a different twist on what our psychological
development needs to be.
It doesn't, I think, need to be a movement towards continuous separation from other people
to build more of an emphasis on a single person separate from other people, but with some
connection to them, which might be an ideal Western view.
But I would argue for more solid community life will be fostered when there is the implicit
and perhaps explicit understanding of this kind of notion of familial and spiritual selves,
active and involved within us, that is bringing us towards ways of being healthy interdependence
and connectedness with each other, rather than a sense of separateness that is more
common with more adult developmental thinking.
He provides an interesting musical analogy.
He says in the Western culture, the individual self tends to be the dominant note, and you'll
find a few background chords of the familial self, and only the tiniest muted notes of
the spiritual self.
But he says there are exceptions.
He says there are loud echoes in some groups, and he mentions monastic groups in particular
as being one example of that.
So I'm saying let's put the emphasis not just on having a few echoes here and there,
but kind of turning the tables a little bit and making the familial self and the spiritual
self and the ways in which we can help each other develop those more fully at the forefront
of the music.
Okay, I think that'll kind of summarize the initial presentation.
We can take some questions from here.
I talked yesterday about development in general, highlighting the process of psychological
birth, and then outlining a general sequence of events for adult development, and how we
as human beings struggle back and forth between issues of being and loving.
And I suspect that all of you saw yourself in at least one of the examples I was giving.
Really, it wouldn't be surprising for each of us to find that sometime or another in
our lives, we do some of the things I talked about or have those sorts of feelings.
It's part of the human condition, actually.
That it becomes a real problem only when people get locked in or stuck in a particular way
of being or attempting to love that works against them and causes trouble in relationships
that some additional help would be needed.
I wanted to talk today more specifically about sexual development in men and highlight
that a little bit.
It's an area that often that is a large part of our lives, but frequently is not discussed
or talked much about.
When I discuss these sorts of things in classes, when I would teach undergraduates, men and
women, we would talk about this a little bit.
There are some real gender differences that are seen in classes, men in general and women
in general.
And that is women are much more comfortable in sharing all sorts of things with each other
than men are.
Neither good nor bad, it's just the way that it is.
And in particular, women talk quite a bit with their close intimate female friends
about their own sexual feelings and if they're married, about their sexual relationship with
their husbands, how it goes well, how it doesn't go well.
And in fact, most men would be shocked to know that the wives of their spouses or lovers
know just a tremendous amount about their sexual activities.
And when men hear that, when I make that comment in class, the men start getting very anxious
about that.
So, it reflects a lack of opportunity, I suspect, and some cultural pressures against discussing
sexuality.
I'm going to use a model developed by a man named John Money, who is a sexologist, quite
old now.
I don't think he's dead yet, but wouldn't be surprised if he doesn't die soon.
He's been around a very long time.
Currently, or last working at Johns Hopkins University, and he has a number of books out,
but the concept that I want to use to describe this whole process is to look at his notion
of love maps.
Because it provides one, not only, but one way of looking at how one's sexual orientation
develops and also it provides a way of explaining how love maps can become vandalized, to use
his word, and ways in which sexual problem behaviors, technically called paraphilias,
develop.
So, I will just talk a little bit about that.
But first, let me just go through some definitions here, under terms, so that we can have those
down.
Because often these words are misused and misunderstood.
First, core gender identity.
That is a sense of whether one is a male or a female.
This comes from three sources, our biological forces that determine this, the assigned label
that we're given, boy or girl at birth, and body image and anatomy.
Now, for most of us, that's going to be fairly straightforward.
It becomes more complicated with individuals who have some congenital deformation due to
genetic disruption, most often, where it's always not so clear whether someone's male
or female, and where doctors sometimes have to almost flip a coin and say, well, we're
going to call this child male or we're going to call this child female.
But that's not an issue for most people.
So, the sense of being male or female is the core gender identity.
Secondly, gender role.
This is the social sex role that one adopts or develops over time.
And that's the sense of being masculine or feminine, different from being male or female.
Because what passes from masculine and feminine behavior changes over time.
That's cultural and social definitional quality to it.
Sexual orientation is the person's erotic response tendency that's noted not only in
overt sexual behavior, but also in sexual dreams and sexual fantasies.
So, an individual could have a heterosexual orientation, but never have had genital sex.
The person would still be considered heterosexual.
Or a person could, again, have never engaged in genital sex, but have homosexual fantasies
or dreams, and would be then considered homosexual.
The word here is purposely used, orientation, rather than preference.
Because, simply put, none of us chose our sexual orientation.
It wasn't something that, when you turn 13, you sit down with your family and the school
guidance counselor and, okay, here are your choices, homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual,
what's it going to be?
No, it doesn't work that way.
So, we don't use the word preference in order to highlight the fact that it is not a choice.
Preferred sexual partner is the sex of the person with whom, if you were to have
sex, you would like to have sex with.
And then, finally, there's the self-labeled sexual identity.
Again, that's being gay, straight, in between.
And that may differ from one's sexual orientation depending on how comfortable one is in expressing
one's sexual identity.
Okay, we'll keep those in mind.
Let's talk about love maps.
This is an interesting concept, and I like it a lot for its explanatory value.
It is, from John Money's standpoint, very much like a map, in that there are many ways
to get to different places.
And for us, the place that we're getting to is a developed pattern of sexual arousal
for us.
So, there are complex routes that people go through throughout life, and their early life
in particular.
And there are multiple intersections where people can take different roads.
Always there are some options, but these roads are all leading to different places.
There is no one single turn in one's life that will determine one's final love map
outcome.
You can't go back and say, aha, it was this one experience when I was four months old
that you're recalling as you're lying on your analyst's couch that did the trick.
No, it's not like that.
Much too complicated.
But as you start making turns and choices, that automatically starts excluding some pathways
on the love map.
And finally, by early adolescence, the love map itself is fairly well defined.
So, what's the end result?
The end result is a particular pattern of requirements for, one, your sexual arousal,
your preferred partner, and the modes of expressing genital contact with your preferred partner.
This tends to be extremely specific for people when they talk about, well, I like people
with blonde hair, or I like tall women.
It's a line from the MMPIs they used to use all the time.
They don't anymore.
Some of you may remember that.
Or I like short, stocky men.
It doesn't matter.
These things develop over time, and we don't know exactly why or how it works this way.
So, that's one of the reasons I like this model.
It makes an attempt to say that something's happening, but it also points out that we
don't know exactly why it happens the way that it happens.
Is there likely a genetic and prenatal biological influence to this whole process?
Yes.
Is there likely to be an environmental, early socialization process, something that happens
within the first few years of life?
Remember that psychological birth takes place, and that's an important part.
The answer is yes.
Is either one of those alone enough to explain the development of one's sexual orientation
and love map?
No.
Do we have the final answer on this?
No.
Are people still doing research and trying to understand this more carefully?
Yes.
But it's really going to be a long time coming.
There is a recent article, I think in the New England Journal of Medicine, I have a
copy of it somewhere here, that reviewed, for example, reviewed the whole area of homosexuality,
did a nice job of kind of bringing together all the research so far, and in a few pages
summarized it quite well, where the empirical evidence stands for that.
Okay, so that's how love maps work.
John Money says that the love map can include either a heterophilic or a homophilic direction,
either sexual attraction towards the opposite sex or sexual attraction towards the same
sex.
He makes the point that there is nothing inherently deformed about homophilic attraction.
He does not categorize that under a vandalized love map.
These tend to be loaded issues for people for a number of reasons, one of which is because
of a sense of homophobia that is current in most societies and in many individuals.
And it's important to note that the homophobia is present not only in heterosexuals but also
in homosexuals.
It's not at all uncommon to find some component of lack of acceptance or homophobia in individuals
who are homosexual.
Part of their coming to terms with their sexual identity means needing to look and see, if
any, and how much of that is present and working through that.
That's just the nature of how it needs to be.
These are cultural problems and they affect men's relationship with each other because
there is a confusion between warm and tender feelings that men may have for each other
and erotic feelings that men may have for each other.
Then it's also confused with thinking that feminine characteristics in a man are equal
to a homosexual orientation.
It's not.
Could be.
You could have someone who has a heterosexual and a feminine gender role, tends to have
feminine characteristics but still heterosexual.
You could have homosexual with very masculine or feminine traits.
But men in general tend to get afraid of that.
And part of that is because of men's limited repertoire of emotional feeling states.
Men have basically two emotions, off and on.
Again, generally speaking, not true for all men, but it makes for a good starting point,
men often either feel aroused or they don't feel aroused.
And arousal for men, which often includes some sexual component, means so many more
things than sexual interest or attraction.
Men get aroused sexually when they're sad, when they're angry, when they're excited,
when they're lonely, and the list goes on.
So it has something to do with sexual attraction sometimes, and it often has very little to
do with sexual attraction at other times.
When we talk more about friendships tomorrow, we'll spend a little bit more time on that
as well.
Just some comments about homosexuals.
It used to be believed that to be homosexual was a psychiatric disorder.
The American Psychiatric Association used to have a category for homosexuality and then
ego-dystonic homosexuality.
The current big book, the DSM-IV, that lists all the things that can go wrong with people,
doesn't.
It doesn't have a listing for that, and it's been gone for a number of years.
There is some research to support the fact that there is no clear empirical evidence
that heterosexuals have a greater incidence of any sort of psychopathology than do homosexuals.
Homosexuals do not have any greater incidence of psychopathology than do heterosexuals.
Homosexuals are capable of maintaining committed relationships.
Homosexuals are able to engage in a celibate lifestyle and lead that very fully.
The other point I want to make is that this notion of sexual orientation is not really
just one or the other.
Many individuals talk about a kind of range where people can place themselves.
Kinsey, who was the noted sexual researcher, came up with the seven-point scale, where
there's individuals who are exclusively heterosexual and individuals who are exclusively
homosexual, and then there's a range in between.
Most researchers accept that fact.
That is the case.
But in general, there does seem to be a preponderance.
People are going to be defining themselves more as one than the other.
I suspect, well, actually, I don't think.
I don't think there is such a thing as just a pure bisexual that's right at the, you
know, half the time I'm attracted to men, half the time I'm attracted to women.
I don't think so.
I think that there is more of a preponderance one way or the other.
But clearly, there are people in that middle range.
Now, just briefly, this notion of vandalized love maps.
This is when things go rather terribly wrong, and it's always not clear why that happened,
though early, extraordinarily repressive sexual experiences as children seems to have some
connection with this.
Children who are very severely punished for the ordinary natural sex play that is a part
of the growth of a young child also seem to be more likely to have a vandalized love
map, and also individuals who end up, because of their early experiences, having to split
off and separate love and erotic feelings.
It's what's sometimes called the Madonna Whore Syndrome.
So, they can only have this kind of pure love for a man or a woman that has nothing to do
with any sexual feelings, or they can engage in, you know, kind of dirty, terrible sex,
and they do that with people that they don't think much about.
So, they really kind of split off their life in those areas.
Pedophiles are a classic example of that.
Pedophilia is not the same thing as homosexuality.
Pedophilia is attraction to prepubescent children.
Heterosexuals, as well as homosexuals, can have vandalized love maps and be attracted
to that.
That's the one, of course, that gets the biggest press these days in the Catholic Church,
and in other denominations as well, though the press usually doesn't pick it up as much,
but our experience at the Menninger Clinic is that it's not limited to just Catholic.
It's not a Catholic priest disorder.
It's much broader than that.
It's seen in other religious denominations.
It's seen in other professional groups as well.
In fact, some recent research I read indicated that there's really not a higher preponderance
of it in the Catholic Church as compared to other professional groups like lawyers and
dentists and doctors, that sort of thing.
Okay, nevertheless, the whole area of sexuality does tend to stir up strong feelings in people,
and it tends to be the one that gets repressed or mishandled in many ways.
So let's look over here at my artwork and give you one example of a way of thinking
about some of Freud's ideas, and then some adaptation I'm going to make on that.
He never thought of it this way, but it's a way of thinking about the id, ego, and super-ego.
If you have at the bottom of this steam boiler here a layer of red-hot id-colds, these are
the seething sexual and aggressive impulses that Freud posits are within us and are boiling
away, and then that manifests itself as sexual heat.
Okay, and that leads to steam being produced.
And then in a well-functioning boiler, the steam gets produced and spins around and then
gets put out a pipe somewhere, and this would be the appropriate sublimated energy.
So the sexual energy is transformed, sublimated into creative activities, energy, life, vitality
that kind of motivates us and keeps us going.
However, most of us don't really have a brand new boiler, and we often have kind of little
weak holes in the boiler, so little things seem to kind of slip out every once in a while.
Not all of the energy gets sublimated or channeled.
And there's all sorts of ways in which displaced sexual energy can come out in hysterical symptoms,
clearly in dreams, sexual dreams, feelings of depression, psychosomatic symptoms, physical
illnesses that don't really have a physical cause, self-defeating behaviors.
That's a way in which we punish ourselves unconsciously, perhaps for having sexual feelings.
This is done outside of awareness.
Obsessive-compulsive symptoms, but some of those are good, since I tend to have a lot
of those myself, so if you're going to have some, that's an okay hole to have.
Inappropriate behaviors, things that slip out, things that you do that you or others
would say, gee, that's not really like you, or you'd say, gee, I wonder why I did that.
That's because something slipped out there.
Little slips of the tongue or parapraxis.
Accidents.
Freud usually believed that most accidents really weren't accidents, and so the people
who have a lifelong pattern of having accidents are really, that's an example of self-defeating
behavior, so they're trying to get at themselves.
So that's one way of understanding it.
It really gives, I think, altogether too much power to this notion of the id, and that here
in this case, the steam boiler would be considered the ego, kind of weak and not very adaptable.
So this would be an interesting but incomplete model.
Excuse me.
I think looking at defenses as an adaptation to life is a better way of understanding it.
And there are a couple of ways, four ways, in which we have needs to adapt.
The ego is the one that has to handle pressures from four lodestones, each of which can contribute
to conflict in our areas.
The first one would be desire, and this might be considered the id.
When our emotions and our drives and our wishes become very strong, the ego has to do something
to work with that.
The second one is the conscience, or the superego, as therapists talk about it.
So the superego is more than just the, don't do that, things that your parents taught you
that you developed and inculcated within you around the age of five.
It really has to do also with this other neglected part, which is called our ego ideal.
This is the image that we have developed for ourselves of the way that we want to be.
Some people have a very good ego ideal, and they work towards that.
That's an image that they keep doing.
Others have something that's too far beyond them, and they find themselves always feeling
like they can never measure up.
Then there are people.
Let's not forget people.
People, you can live with them, you can't live with them, and you can't live without
them, right?
We have a lot of conflicts around people, and the important thing here is that it says
that some of our adapting to life doesn't have to do only just with issues within us,
but with our relationship with others, which includes issues with us, but also issues with
them.
And finally, reality.
Life sucks sometimes.
Life does terrible things to people through no fault of anyone, except that that's very
hard for people to understand and explain.
There was an interesting study done with mothers of children who developed leukemia.
You know, there's no one to blame for that.
There's nothing that the mother did that she could have done differently that would
have prevented that from happening.
There's nothing the doctor could have done differently that would have prevented that
from happening.
It's very difficult for mothers to deal with that.
They can't accept that.
There's too much of a loss of control associated with that, so they distort reality.
They use defensive functioning to adapt, because the belief that something can be that terrible
and so much out of one's control is too much to handle.
So the reason why we use defense mechanisms is to help us adapt until we're ready and
able to deal both with the ideas and the feelings associated with the problem.
I'm going to just run down a real quick list of an example of how people use defense
mechanisms.
Let's say, in a hypothetical situation, there is a young man who has a father as his
boss, who he liked a great deal and had a great deal of respect for, and finds out that
his father has been embezzling, and now the company is just about bankrupt, and the son
is left trying to pick up the pieces here.
If the son is in touch with both his ideas and feelings about it, not needing to use
any defenses, he can say, think, and feel, I hate my father for what he's done to me
by this.
So, there's no defenses.
If an individual uses the most primitive form of defenses, then he will have a psychotic
break and will tell his doctor, I don't have a father, I was born without one.
Psychotic denial that the father even exists, that's one way of handling it.
Or, you can use less mature defenses.
You can project the anger that you feel.
So, it's not so much that I hate my father, but my father hates me, my father's out to
get me.
So, let's take in the feeling that we have and putting it in someone else, in the father
this time.
Or, there can be passive aggression, where a person might attempt suicide, so the anger
is directed toward the self.
Or, there could simply be acting out.
The person could go to a police station and just start punching police officers.
This is acting out with authority figures like the father and displacing, this is not
even displacement, but this is acting out the aggression that he'd like to give to
the father to the police officers.
Or, you can engage in fantasy, dreaming and fantasizing of killing giants.
It's another kind of slight displacement of the anger towards the father.
Or, more kind of neurotic ways of handling it would be telling jokes to your father,
sharp-edged jokes, little jibes that get to your father.
Or, you really could displace it and kick your father's dog, hate your father's dog.
You could have isolation.
This is a very common defense mechanism that we see, and that is people who say, I really
don't approve of what my father did.
They can hold the idea in their head, but you can tell by the way they're talking that
they're not at all in touch with the anger.
And in fact, if you're working with someone or visiting with someone, they might be sitting
like this and say, I just really don't like what my father did.
And then you say, do you notice how your hands are clenched so hard that there's blood coming
out of your palms?
Oh no, I wonder what that's about.
So they're aware of the fact that the feeling is there.
They've kind of isolated affect from feeling.
Those of us who tend to use obsessive compulsive defenses have a tendency in that area.
We're very good in therapy because once we get treatment and get released from that,
then we're in touch with our murderous rage and we're much happier.
I'm not quite understanding how this model that you're expecting right now fits it in
this team.
It doesn't, it expands it, it expands it.
This is a limited viewpoint.
The whole model, and then some, or just the channel for this team?
This here really only says that problems come because of desire, Freud's earliest model.
I'm saying problems come from all of these areas, and we develop means of handling it.
But we're thinking mostly of desire because we're talking about one's sexual development
and the conflicted feelings we have in dealing and accepting our sexual selves.
That's the point, okay?
Then another way to react is to just totally repress it and just be anxious.
Gee, doctor, I'm just very anxious.
Anything going on in your life?
Yeah, well, our business has gone to crap.
Why?
Well, my father did this.
Oh, but I'm just anxious.
I don't know why.
So no ability to have the ideas or feelings there.
Reaction formation is to deny the anger completely and love father.
And finally, the more mature defense is one that we'd like to think that we all use, and
we can, and do sometimes.
We can use suppression.
We can acknowledge that we're cross at our father, but we're not going to tell him, okay?
So we acknowledge both the idea and some of the feeling, but not all of it.
We sublimate it by beating our father repeatedly at racquetball or tennis or golf or anything
and feeling better.
Or we can turn it around and respond altruistically and start a support group for father haters.
So those are the ways in which we can respond to this.
Now, I'd like to tell you that we have some choice in this matter, but actually the notion
of a defense mechanism is that it's an unconscious process.
And we kind of do what we do.
And these can be shifted over time, either through therapy or through the normal process
of growing up and developing.
And especially it's helpful when you're involved in good peer relationships and can develop
strong identifications with other people.
That helps us grow and mature in this process here of developing ourselves more fully and
using more advanced or mature defenses.
We can choose sometimes to use suppression.
We can kind of tell ourselves, all right, I'm not going to think about this now, or I'm
not going to deal with this now.
I'm going to do something else.
But the fact is that there are some times when we should do that, and we find that we don't.
We repress.
So it's not as though we can always use it.
But every once in a while we can.
We have to depend on our friends to help point out to us when we're using some of the
more less effective defenses.
And we tend to be repressing.
The reason I do like to think of the steam boiler method is because if there's too much
repression going on, that's like putting some sort of a valve here and then kind of turning
it off because of fear, what we're talking about here, kind of sexual heat, you shut
everything down.
And individuals who tend to be repressed in one area of their life tend to have that repression
manifested in many areas of their life.
There's a mistaken assumption, and you can see this in kind of old movies of Going My
Way, Gene Kelly, Big Crosby, all those kind of old priest movies.
How priests have tended to be portrayed are these kind of gaunt, ascetic, sometimes silly
minded, but usually asexual people.
And what they're more likely doing is demonstrating kind of a cutoff from one's feelings.
And that's given as a model of spiritual detachment, when in fact it's likely to be
just a cutoff of one's connections with one's desire of self.
And the task is to remove these repressive barriers, to kind of open the gauge up here,
and to let the feelings come out, and to help remove the distortion and being able to accept
both ideas and feelings about all aspects of ourselves, including our understanding
of our sexual selves and our desires.
Because, this is my one sentence that will start with part one, then I'm going to stop
for questions.
In order to have authentic celibate living, one has to be very much in touch with one's
desires, in all areas, with one's kind of id, our sexual heat, our broad range of desires.
Not cut off from that, but in touch with that.
Since that really is, our sexual self is part of us, and we need to grow and develop and
understand in that area too.
So, let me stop here, and see what kind of questions or comments that you have, or things
you'd like me to comment more on.
Yes?
Can anything good come of that?
Yes, I think it can, because, for example, I think one of the difficulties that some
marital couples have is the difficulty in establishing a genital intimacy, and a
understanding and respect for each other's bodies, and men have a very hard time with,
some men have a very hard time with that.
So, to be able to talk to another man about some of those same kinds of issues can allow
him to get some feedback about that, and hopefully increases loving, mutual relationship
with his wife.
Which survey are you talking about that came out this summer?
There's a popular one that was shown in both time and music, maybe, I don't recall the
name, but it was supposed to come after this big Masters and Johnsons thing that came out
25 years earlier.
Well, there was a JANA study that came out.
Was there a particular question you had about that?
Okay.
I think that what's useful about that is that it's trying to get some empirical evidence
for what people talk about, or brag about, or lie about.
I'm in favor of having clear information about this myself.
People are wanting to know, well, people are always interested in kind of trying to measure
up and see where we fit.
Now, there are always some psychological issues around whether we need to do that or not,
but most of us kind of wonder, where are we within this range?
And it certainly is helpful to have some sense of that for those people who tend to work
with individuals who are experiencing some sexual difficulties.
One of the things I would say, as that might apply to religious life, for example, my own
experience in working with religious who have some sexual concerns, is that so often
they don't talk to anybody.
They don't think anyone else is having any trouble at all except them, and somehow they're
so terribly alone in this, and no one else has ever thought like this or done these
sorts of things.
And it helps them feel less alone, and it gives them some strength for being able to
work on these issues.
So I see some benefit for that.
I've done a business about how very helpful it is for the soul of life to know one's
desires.
I was just reading a psychologist who was underlying that.
He said at one point, John of the Cross was asked, what's the most valuable thing?
You read the same article, I think.
That's from the Paraclete magazine, isn't it?
Yeah, yeah.
What's the most valuable thing you've learned from your asceticism experience is to know
my desires.
He said there might be parts of that that we don't like to acknowledge or we feel tremendously
scared about, as Roman Catholics have done.
But just to know that they're there to acknowledge and to start to work with that is extremely
helpful.
But it's when we spiritualize ourselves that things can get very helpful.
When we hide things from ourselves and when we hide things from others, they can exert
great power over us.
So the ability to own our own desires and acknowledge them, and ideally to have someone
with whom you can talk to about these sorts of things, really tends to reduce the power
and control that these feelings can have.
The more that they're kept in secret, the more difficult it is.
That's especially true for those folks with vandalized love maps.
There's a small minority.
What's this organization called?
Man Boy Love.
These folks have very severe cognitive distortions.
They operate under the principle that someday society will acknowledge that this really
is okay and that people can do that.
But for most people, when that comes out of the closet and when they start having to talk
about that, that reduces the power that these impulses have over them.
So knowing one's desires, acknowledging them and being able to talk about them in a healthy
relationship with someone else, as a way of integrating that, is good and important.
Questioner 2 I have seven parts to this question.
Questioner 1 Okay, I'm ready for you.
Questioner 2 Is there such a thing as, well, first of all,
the difference between repression and suppression?
Questioner 1 Repression is an unconscious process where
things are kept from even coming into consciousness.
So with this person, in that example I gave you, the person was never even aware that
they were angry with their father, that they wanted to chop their father up or whatever.
Suppression is more of a conscious act that works towards inhibiting or redirecting the
impulses.
And in order to be able to use suppression, you have to have some capacity to delay gratification.
Suppression works in many different ways.
When you're studying for an exam and all of a sudden you get hungry for pizza, part of
suppression is saying, I'm not going to think about my hunger now, I'm going to get through
this chapter.
Questioner 2 Is there such a thing as unhealthy suppression,
and does that eventually become repression?
Questioner 1 Let me think how I want to answer that.
Can people kind of misuse suppression?
Questioner 2 Deny their feelings?
Questioner 1 Yes, push down, push down.
Questioner 2 They just become repressed, right?
That can happen?
And the other part of that, it's actually the last part of it, not to just keep rhyming
words here or anything, but can that oppression also be something that leads to obsession?
I'm thinking that repression and suppression and oppression, any of those things eventually
lead a person to obsession, which then triggers out inappropriate behavior.
Questioner 1 Yes.
Questioner 2 But I'm saying, for example, kids growing up
who can't talk about their sexual feelings, now eventually they become repressed to the
point where they obsess, and then they turn into some kind of sexual monster because
they're unable to get in touch with them.
Yes, you can think of our ability to handle our sexuality as being roughly on a bell-shaped
curve, and that most of us are the middle one, plus or minus one standard deviation
are doing pretty good.
Some of us tend to avoid, and some of us have some problems with acting on it.
And finally, at the far end here are the people who are either anorexic or asexual,
deny it so completely, are those who are seriously addicted, the notion of having
a sexual addiction.
There are different ways of understanding that, but people are so engaged in acting
out sexual behavior, it's beyond their control.
These are just two opposite sides of the same coin.
Now, the notion of oppression and the role that that plays in one's sexual development
has to do with this low star here.
That's a very important one.
People who don't grow up, who grow up in a sexually oppressive society or family or
environment, even if it was meant for the best of reasons, that's going to cause great
difficulties.
And it's like a rubber ball.
What happens the harder you throw it down?
The higher it bounces.
So, yes, all of these things can lead to eruptions.
Actually, what it can lead to is that the hole here, instead of becoming a little hole,
becomes a big hole.
It's a huge blow up.
And you can have really inappropriate acting out.
You can have, these individuals who have kind of worked to repress this, huge eruptions
of unbelievably strong sexual feelings because they've not been in touch with their desires
for so long.
It can be just overwhelming to them.
Which can be translated to violence or not necessarily something that would appear sexual
at all.
But it can, it can.
You can find someone who considers himself having had kind of a very virtuous life and
then all of a sudden it just erupts and they're blindsided by it.
And that's very hard to handle for them.
I think, to me, this is what such a, we were, our culture has been so sex-crazed in the
60s and 70s because there was such a lid put on any kind of talking about it.
You know, I mean, not being able to say anything.
And so the oppression, the repression, led to this obsession that had a verge for it.
And I was thinking too, this is the same problem, kids growing up who are homosexuals cannot
talk about it.
That's right.
They have, it's hard to...
And so they become so oppressed that at some point they become obsessed and then burst
out completely inappropriate.
Society is simultaneously obsessed and repressed about sexuality.
Simultaneously.
The same people who are arguing for free sex and free love have their own deeply repressed
issues around that.
So it's a simultaneous process.
You bring up the notion of young gay men.
It's a very difficult time for them.
They suffer from many additional burdens that they have to work through that heterosexual
young men don't, including...
Women as well.
Yeah, yeah.
And women as well.
The difficulties of having to experience, because of the culture, some homophobia, which
they've already internalized, to think that there's something kind of wrong with them,
something abnormal, just complicates their life.
There was a study that the period of time between where a young man became clear of
what his sexual orientation was and the first time he told someone about it averaged at least
four years.
So it was a long time before they could bring themselves to talk about that.
Anthony, you had a question?
Yeah.
I wanted to ask about ego in the sense that we use a lot of language against ego, especially
in spiritual education.
Okay.
And then in psychology, ego is an alternative.
Can you call this a bit of that?
Because I think sometimes we might even be involved in activity that might not be appropriate
because of what we mean by ego is...
Right.
When I use the term ego from a psychological standpoint, I'm talking about that psychological
construct whose main purpose is to mediate, here, these four areas that impinge upon our
experience of ourselves in the world.
The task of the ego is to balance pressures from desire, conscience, people, and reality.
It's the part of us that...
How is this described sometimes?
Like the executive who has to kind of balance all of these areas here.
I think in some spiritual writers, when they talk about the need to reduce ego, they're
talking about, and correct me if you have a different understanding, more of a self-centeredness,
a narcissism, an inflated ego, a sense of putting oneself high above other people, above
God, idolatry of oneself.
And that's not really what we're talking about here.
Psychologists, in their use of ego, don't really mean that.
A healthy ego allows for a balanced, realistic understanding and acceptance of oneself and
others around us.
And I think that spiritual writers would say that's a good thing, too.
So when they're talking about lessening the ego, it's reducing this overweening self-love
that we develop, sometimes as a defensive maneuver, actually, to protect ourselves from
feeling and experiencing our own really fragile, brittle emptiness inside.
So that's kind of balanced for us at that time.
Is the ego doing that?
It's an adaptation for you, right.
Right.
Yeah, right.
Yeah, it might be doing that, but that would be just one, that would be one defensive maneuver
of the ego, not the whole.
The whole ego itself is not something you want to produce, you know.
You want to get a balance with it.
You have to recognize and respect defenses or adaptations.
People use them for reasons.
It's because they couldn't handle the truth.
So you don't want to be too quick to kind of knock these things down, because we use
defenses for a reason.
And sometimes for a while, and then we can let go of them.
I noticed you used the title self in The Over-Earth, and I was wondering what's the
relation between self and ego?
Okay.
I don't think that they're the same thing, but I'm not quite sure what I think about
how to tease that out.
I think the self is more than just the ego.
Let me put it that way.
I think it's a larger, overarching concept that includes our id, includes conscience,
includes our perceptions of other people, and our understanding of reality.
So I see it as a broader issue.
Kind of, I mean, a broader construct.
Yes.
You're saying that we deal with our desire.
Suppression is not a good way of doing it.
And it can lead to kind of obsession or outbursts.
But repression is...