Philosophy of the Waywith Inn
Have you ever had a nightmare? Have you ever had a deeply disturbing dream? Then you remember the vulnerable feeling of waking, relieved it was just a dream.
After such a dream I wrote the following:
The unconscious has the capacity to confront you with your deepest, naked self. 'It' knows you-never forgets you-disturbs you. It remembers your soul or is it your soul? It troubles you with the deepest heartfelt connections and memories once it has lain bare your defenses, your pretences, and your life’s everyday clutter. It cleanses you down to a point where you are prone, vulnerable and painful, yet grateful that you are restored to all that you have ever been, even with the faintest, saddest far away reaches of memory, sentiment, values, loves and cherished innermost self. It troubles you as a traveller returning from a far away land where you were once a resident and tried to forget your basic nationality and culture. It is best it does this, lest we forget. I am remembered.
I believe all of our waking life lives within a world that has forgotten its basic nationality and culture. I mean this symbolically of course. In fact those two concepts are probably more usually a pest than a help to us. We are 'remembered' when a loved one dies. When we stand at the graveside and then feel the chill as we walk away alone wondering about what this is all about. We scuttle back to work or to some other activity. Perhaps you are remembered when you are at church or in some solemn moment that makes you stop and wonder. Truly wonder.
As a psychologist I have these 'graveside moments' often as I struggle with a client who is trying to work out what this is all about. I wonder what it is for them when they are stripped bare by life. Are they happy for me to just help with a few thoughts and feelings? A bit of counselling? A few 'wise words'? A behavioural experiment?
Because they are lost in their culture they probably do accept it, but I don't. I struggle for them to wonder why they should have this happen to them. Who are they really to themselves in their deepest loneliest moments in life? What does their soul cry out to tell them? Who have they forgotten? Will they die and never remember?
As such I have searched high and low in my life to find the truth of what this is about: For myself of course but for others too. You can't find out the truth and not share that with someone else. Of course I'm still searching but some thoughts have come to me:
- Life is much deeper than most people credit or usually accept. We forget this daily, and on a moment-to-moment basis.
- There is some comfort in forgetting and a disturbance in remembering.
- Most disturbances in life are opportunities to search this depth. Many may well be prompting these depths to be searched.
- One in 3 of my clients (and I believe-people in the world) have had significant 'unexplainable events'. (In order of frequency: Deja Vu, premonitions, saw a ghost, out of body experiences, near death experiences.)
- People have accepted a kind of mythology of life. (I use the word mythology in a cynical sense not the useful and real use of mythology that Joseph Campbell (1988) suggests.) This includes from a young age: That finding the right person, getting the right job, having the right values, doing the thing that most people do, fitting in with the majority and believing only that which can be seen and proven, is the rightful, saneful approach to life. When these are disturbed they look for answers as to why the mythology has cheated them and usually look for someone to convince them that some other version of the same mythology is the answer!
- Many psychological symptoms, including depression, marriage break-up, job meaningless; ennui, anxiety and so on, are disturbances to the mythology.
- Psychology as it is, tries to fix the symptoms and 'get the person back on the horse' and - the horse is crazy!
- Psychology in its current state of knowledge must reject all notions that suggest we have a deeper self or that there is another world of reality and is bound to what many people call the egoic world. The egoic world fits into the mythology.
- We presume that priests and ministers should only be ones who look into such murky things as souls and 'spiritual' concepts. Yet the wholeness or psyche of a person is in fact their entire being just as I outlined in the dream extract above. Clergy are surrounded by their own mythology and then there is the whole 'religious' problem to encounter. None of this is about religion.
- The notions mentioned are just words that fail a psychologist because we have so few notions in the English language that cover ineffable aspects of deeper functioning. Look how badly modern psychology has dealt with dreams mostly seeing them as simply irrelevant or as neurological pastimes. This is categorically sheer ignorance.
- Psychology is mixed with personality types that emphasize the conscious and the measurable, rational and practical (Myers Briggs types of S-sensation, practical, T-thinking logical.), versus the psychotherapy types who have a tolerance for the unseen, unconscious, immeasurable and intuitive. (Myers Briggs types of F-feeling and N-Intuitive). The former group as with society at large seek and find positions of power and administration, and control the profession. Much of the evidence base is really a matter of evidence bias and belief! It is more a case of if it can't be measured or proven according to current laboratory instruments it is wrong and inadmissible by those who run the lab! Society believes that science has all the answers, or it must be bogus. None of the above is truly scientific!
- Modern psychology has ignored even the unconscious! Jung (1964) pointed this out and also grappled with the objective psyche finding that the deeper aspects of a person had been badly neglected by both priest and psychologist alike.
- I was once challenged with "would you offer caviar to a person when they came asking for meat?" My answer was "would you be interested to try caviar as well as meat?" I have found that many clients are quite interested to look into deeper aspects of being when offered an opportunity to do so. The one who is not interested will make it very clear they aren't. We then just solve the problems and fix the symptoms. This is not about ignoring the client's basic wishes but it is about seeking out the real meaning behind their problems.
- The psyche is very prevalent to using metaphor and symbol to express itself. The surface is understood better when you think symbolically. The hand washer wants to cleanse childhood guilt; the checker is insecure and can’t trust their basic sense of self. The person with agoraphobia isn't afraid of open spaces but is afraid of the space of life and its responsibilities. The tooth grinder doesn't need a mouth guard they need to face what's making them tense, the depressed are really repressed and so on.
- Hence we inhabit a psyche that speaks in dreams as it does in life via the symbolic and to ignore this and offer a simplistic 'meat-style' answer is possibly unethical in this discussion or least, naïve.
I soar in an age that doesn’t believe in flight.
I fly tomorrow’s truth across the dark skies of today.
Enjoy the flight, may you encounter blues skies and great discoveries in your new lands!