Negative Introject (from Chapter 18 in "Trapped in the Mirror)

fabric

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Hi,

I was going through a couple of threads on The Work (Castaneda's concepts and RE: The first victory, Depression.... The intellectual centre) and a few things stood out for me and wanted to share them.

I have just finished reading Trapped in the Mirror by Elan Golomb and found some interesting parallels between some of the concepts expressed in the above threads. In fact...

Irini (from the 1st thread) said:
Actually if you read Trapped in the Mirror by Elan Golomb, her concept of the Negative introject resembles what Castaneda meant with Predator's mind in a down to earth way, of what i understand. [...]
...which was also what I thought - cool. So anyway, I drift over to the next thread and see the topic is about negative thoughts and emotions. Although the topic seemed geared more towards an external influence (as the cause of these negative emotions), I couldn't help but think of the internal ones too, you know, when you doubt yourself and call yourself stupid for doing something (ie, prematurely posting something) and completely convince yourself that EVERYONE is gonna think you're an Idiot. That's right. With a capital "I". Or maybe doing something "wrong" and then being called a useless no-good-doer. Or those times you hear this voice constantly telling you.... what if you fail? You probably will fail and then others will laugh at your stupidity! Then you go into these feeling bad programs and feel sorry for yourself. Or maybe just never try to do anything cuz that way, you'll never fail <- that's a good one ;)

So here we have Craig's reply to Thomas:

Craig (from the 2nd thead) said:
Energy from the higher emotional centre brings self-consciousness, and a taste of objective love. [...] the truth about your machine, is all that matters; and it requires long sincere practice with self-remembering, self-observation, and non-identification.

What about negative thoughts? These thoughts that we recognise that make us think, "why am I thinking such a thing? Thats terrible". Well, if I think to myself "that thought is terrible" is that my Emotional Centre usurping that Energy? We may also exhibit physical symptoms of these negative thoughts. Like compulsive acts and so forth.
It's a step forward, but true self-observation has to be non-critical and impartial. Maybe you could say it's aligning the instrument to a frequency that the Real Self functions on.
Now, its hard to be 'non-critical and impartial' when you're beating yourself up, but that is also the time when practicing the former can probably be really beneficial to your aim. Asking yourself why, is a good thing when it comes to the self, however trying to define it by good/bad might be tricky since we don't want to become identified with it. And if the negative thoughts runs away with you, it probably can manifest itself in a physical way, through sickness or compulsiveness. It does need an outlet, and perhaps felt as well, but it doesn't need to control your actions and thought. Oh how little control of the horse we have. We can get better with practice and help though...

And then Thomas' summation:

Thomas C said:
[...] All we can do is observe ourselves, remember ourselves. This work, if done effectively and with understanding helps us to identify the jobs of the different centres. These centres use energy for their work, but because in our present day and age, we no nothing about the subject, the centre's work in an inefficient way, and drain energy from each other and waste energy themselves.

But, if our observations of the functions of the centres lead us to understand their malfunctions then we have a chance of them beggining function in an efficient way, eventually producing not a lack, but an abundance of energy. This left over energy, after time, begins to form the magnetic centre (philosophers stone?), which acts as the bridge to the higher centres. [...]
I wouldn't say we know nothing of the subject, the basics are probably more down to earth and tangible I think. Work on the self starts with understanding HOW our machine works and then WHY. Reading up on material about psychology and narcissism is a good starting point. What I want to quote in particular, deals with the all too common 'negative voice', that contradictory and morose tone, the narcissistic parent that tells you what to think and be. I found the chapter below very insightful and reminded me of the above parts and how her approach can be useful in helping ourselves be more objective and strive to realize the real self. How to be more non-critical and impartial in order understand our malfunctions get them to function efficiently. It all starts in our head...

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Elan Golomb (Trapped in the Mirror) said:
[...] The negative introject is partly the voice of your attacking and restrictive narcissistic parent whose thinking took up residence in your mind. It is not rightly a part of your self but a hostile foreigner that watches you with a critical eye. Little escapes its quest for control. It criticizes you with such comments as "You're a failure" and "Why try?" Your feelings of depression strengthen its force. It makes you discard appreciation and distrust affection. Its punitive demands and paralyzing arguments stop you from trying to change. [...]

[...] My negative introject said, "You'll never finish the writing and will be humiliated, marked as a failure, a tragedy, a landmark of shame." I felt pummeled by this. It seemed to make sense. My hopeless mood was evidence of my worthlessness. With a note of triumph, my introject said, "That is you." Later, while brushing my teeth, despondency drew me to memories of childhood. I felt asthmatic shortness of breath and wheezing, something I had not suffered since that era at times when I was emotionally abandoned, stressed, and pressured. Being unable to breathe was the physical aspect of my emotional horror. It was amazing to have an attack on the day I heard about selling my book about children of narcissists.

The negative introject squashed my feelings of success and raised fears of humiliation. Achieving and then losing again can be more painful than not achieving at all, which is why many children of narcissists do so little. Barely functioning defends us from loss. We were taught to feel responsible for fate rather than to do what we can and let results fall as they may. [...]

[...] After a period of emotional hassle, I laughingly resisted the introject's attack on my commitment and returned to work. When we measure the achievement of a person, we need to know her past, the place from where she has come.

I heard my introject's call to failure. It said that I would not be paid for my work, which part of me believed while the rest of me pushed on. I heard my healthy side saying, "The gods can have their way after you have finished." I am happy to have written this. It represents the triumph of my self. [...]

[...] In repeatedly silencing my introject I learned more about the struggle. Eradication takes deliberate thought and effort. You need to identify the introject as foreign to your self. As long as we think of it as ours, we are at a disadvantage. If we see it as a non-self, an identification that drives us to unacceptable roles, feelings, and behaviors, we can work on it. [...]

[...] Do negative thoughts lurk at the back of your mind like uninvited guests? Such ideas can be so habitual that you do not think them strange. In freeing yourself, it helps to be funny. "You here again?" humor cuts the power of oppressive ideas. Laughing, you can see that you don't believe in everything you think. It is good to tell your self-demolishing messages to those who have similar problems or who can enjoy a good joke.

Sometimes you listen too long before acting. the introjects gets hold of your mood and outwits your common sense and humor. If you can't politely back off, continue on your way despite inner criticism. Reason and will can keep you going till you get support. [...]

[...] The introject is ruthless. At varying times, you will have to battle its self-suppressive force. The introject will activate to knock you back and down. Your assigned position is what the narcissistic parent wants. [...]

[...] If you want to change your thinking to feel less pain but run from the pain introduced by the negative introject, your pain will increase. It is like a helpless child's response to an attacking parent. "I must get away from this. It is too horrible to bear." Pain grows in proportion to the magnitude of your fear. Instead note, "I am giving myself hurtful messages but I know my tendency to think the worst and shall first assess the difficulty." Objectivity reduces your introject's power. If you find a problem in your behavior, it is not equivalent to the worth of your self. A narcissist confuses his behavior and self, which renders him defensively incapable of seeing his difficulties.

Your negative introject can haunt you with tragic fantasies about yourself. To heal, say, "Tell me all and let me see it in a clear light." Fears grow in the shadows. Phobic people are haunted by fear. The more they avoid what they fear, the worse the phobia. Phobia spreads to new objects that are connected with the old. Contamination spreads through flight. Avoidance is a poor response.
[...]

[...] We give ourselves a lower rating than others do. Like all people, we make mistakes. These do not merit condemnations to wear upon our breasts but are to learn from. Humor and courage make good partners. Seeing your difficulties and your tendency to exaggerate blame, humor makes it easier to change. [...]
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So maybe it is a good thing to try to have the attitude of a warrior... controlled folly perhaps?

"In order to practice controlled folly, since it is not a way to fool or chastise people or feel superior to them, one has to be capable of laughing at oneself. One of the results of a detailed recapitulation is genuine laughter upon coming face to face with the boring repetition of one's self-esteem, which is at the core of all human interactions. "

--Don Juan The Eagle's Gift

Or more simply put: "One of the greatest strengths a warrior develops is their ability to laugh, to laugh at the absurdity of life, to laugh at themselves."

The world is no joke. But controlled folly lets us laugh :) Or so I think.

Anyway, I hope this all made sense. That voice is still telling me I'm talking crap.

- be quiet you *shakes fist at self*
 

Laura

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Yes indeed! Modern work in psychology with the addition of new terminology gives Gurdjieff's work (and Castaneda's) a great deal of validity. It also helps us to study these issues in a more comprehensive and exacting way. When you have these tools to work with, which is what we teach in QFS, your "self observation" and "recapitulation" can be quite effective.

There are a couple other threads that touch on these matters so I want to include that information here as well.

In this thread:
http://www.cassiopaea.org/forum/index.php?topic=5743

I wrote:

It seems quite obvious that any individual who wishes to pursue esoteric studies ought to have a clean and fully functional and most of all HEALTHY psyche before he goes wandering off into unknown realms. After all, if your psychological state is such that you cannot deal effectively with your everyday life, how can you possibly trust such a psychological state not to mislead you in studies where you have fewer solid landmarks or feedback mechanisms to guide you?

And so, the very FIRST order of business in any esoteric work is to get psychologically healthy. That's basically what the Gurdjieff "self-remembering" and Mouravieff "introspection" and Castaneda "recapitulation" is all about.

Sure, it can be referred to in nebulous ways such as "the work of sorcerers" and "recapturing energy" and so on, but it can also be talked about in very practical, scientific, modern terminology with definite examples and techniques for accomplishing this important work of knowing your machine, cleaning and adjusting it so that it works properly, and preparing oneself for more "interesting" esoteric work.
I think that, after reading the above quotes from "Trapped In The Mirror," you can get a better idea of exactly what I mean.

We must also keep in mind that there is a great deal more going on in our minds in addition to the "negative introject" that Goulomb describes. As we continue to grow and develop, there are additional programs added based on our need to please our peers, teachers, society at large. All of these are like internal voices that tell us what to think and believe.

"Recapitulation" as formulated by Castaneda was, I think, a take-off on Gurdjieff's "self-remembering." Boris Mouravieff states the matter in a rather practical way:

Mouravieff said:
Homo Sapiens lives immersed in his everyday life to a point where he forgets himself and forgets where he is going; yet, without feeling it, he knows that death cuts off everything.

How can we explain that the intellectual who has made marvelous discoveries and the technocrat who has exploited them have left outside the field of their investigations the ending of our lives? How can we explain that a science which attempts everything and claims everything nevertheless remains indifferent to the enigma revealed by the question of death? How can we explain why Science, instead of uniting its efforts with its older sister Religion to resolve the problem of Being -which is also the problem of death - has in fact opposed her?

Whether a man dies in bed or aboard an interplanetary ship, the human condition has not changed in the slightest.

Happiness? But we are taught that happiness lasts only as long as the Illusion lasts... and what is this Illusion? Nobody knows. But it submerges us.

If we only knew what Illusion is, we would then know the opposite: what Truth is. This Truth would liberate us from slavery.

As a psychological phenomenon, has Illusion ever been subjected to critical analysis based on the most recent discoveries of science? It does not seem to be so, and yet one cannot say that man is lazy and does not search. He is a passionate searcher ... but he misses the essential; he bypasses it in his search.

What strikes us from the very beginning is that man confuses moral progress with technical progress, so that the development of science continues in dangerous isolation.

The brilliant progress that has come from technology has changed nothing essential in the human condition, and will change nothing, because it operates only in the field of everyday events. For this reason it touches the inner life of man only superficially. Yet from very ancient times it has been known that the essential is found within man, not outside him. [...]

Esoteric philosophy concerns man as he is: the investigator is the object of his own studies. Starting from the constatation that man is unknown, his target is to make himself known to himself - as he is, and as he might become under certain conditions. [...]
Gurdjieff had his methods. Mouravieff wrote about these methods in a slightly different way. Castaneda either "borrowed" many of these ideas and re-framed them in a "Southwestern shamanic context" with his own "spin", or actually found traces of the same ideas there. I tend toward the former supposition based on the timing and discussion with someone who knew him.

Our own approach is more strictly along the lines of Gurdjieff and Mouravieff and a bit of Castaneda with a kick. Gurdjieff and Mouravieff and Castaneda all talk about a man needing to know himself, to know his "machine," to observe it, to engage in "introspection" or "recapitulation" or "self-observation" and so on and so forth. We have taken this to the next logical step and utilize the terminology of modern psychology. In our searching for validation of these ideas, we have found that there are actually studies and books written about various aspects of human psychology that service these very ancient traditions remarkably.

Gurdjieff talked about "buffers" and how they are created. It's clear that Castaneda's "recapitulation" was supposed to be a means of dealing with buffers though Castaneda's presentation of many things was sorely lacking in clarity. He tended to "mystify" the whole thing. That is unfortunate. A lot of people follow after the Castaneda "way" because of this very "mystification." It sounds so - well - "esoteric" and they don't want to accept the simple fact that the first order of business is to deal with your own psychology in a very basic and practical way.

Have a look at what Gurdjieff had to say about "buffers" and keep in mind that he is talking about the many "programs" or thought loops that become inculcated into us from childhood due to our experiences and familial and social "conditioning." These programs, or thought loops, are the same thing that Castaneda refers to as the "Predator's Mind." I wrote about this sort of thing extensively in The Wave in more modern psychological parlance.
And, with the above quote from "Trapped In The Mirror," you can have another "take" on the matter that shows you exactly what you have to deal with. Now, here's what Gurdjieff said about it:

Gurdjieff said:
"You often think in a very naive way," he said. "You already think you can do. To get rid of this conviction is more difficult than anything else for a man. You do not understand all the complexity of your organization and you do not realize that every effort, in addition to the results desired, even if it gives these, gives thousands of unexpected and often undesirable results, and the chief thing that you forget is that you are not beginning from the beginning with a nice clean, new machine.

There stand behind you many years of a wrong and stupid life, of indulgence in every kind of weakness, of shutting your eyes to your own errors, of striving to avoid all unpleasant truths, of constant lying to yourselves, of self-justification, of blaming others, and so on, and so on.

All this cannot help affecting the machine. The machine is dirty, in places it is rusty, and in some places artificial appliances have been formed, the necessity for which has been created by its own wrong way of working.

"These artificial appliances will now interfere very much with all your good intentions.

"They are called 'buffers.'

" 'Buffer' is a term which requires special explanation. We know what buffers on railway carriages are. They are the contrivances which lessen the shock when carriages or trucks strike one another. If there were no buffers the shock of one carriage against another would be very unpleasant and dangerous. Buffers soften the results of these shocks and render them unnoticeable and imperceptible.

"Exactly the same appliances are to be found within man. They are created, not by nature but by man himself, although involuntarily.

The cause of their appearance is the existence in man of many contradictions; contradictions of opinions, feelings, sympathies, words, and actions. If a man throughout the whole of his life were to feel all the contradictions that are within him he could not live and act as calmly as he lives and acts now. He would have constant friction, constant unrest.

We fail to see how contradictory and hostile the different I's of our personality are to one another. If a man were to feel all these contradictions he would feel what he really is. He would feel that he is mad. It is not pleasant to anyone to feel that he is mad. Moreover, a thought such as this deprives a man of self-confidence, weakens his energy, deprives him of 'self-respect.' Somehow or other he must master this thought or banish it. He must either destroy contradictions or cease to see and to feel them. A man cannot destroy contradictions. But if 'buffers' are created in him he can cease to feel them and he will not feel the impact from the clash of contradictory views, contradictory emotions, contradictory words.

"'Buffers' are created slowly and gradually. Very many 'buffers' are created artificially through 'education.' Others are created under the hypnotic influence of all surrounding life. A man is surrounded by people who live, speak, think, and feel by means of 'buffers.' Imitating them in their opinions, actions, and words, a man involuntarily creates similar 'buffers' in himself.

'Buffers' make a man's life more easy. It is very hard to live without 'buffers.' But they keep man from the possibility of inner development because 'buffers' are made to lessen shocks and it is only shocks that can lead a man out of the state in which he lives, that is, waken him. 'Buffers' lull a man to sleep, give him the agreeable and peaceful sensation that all will be well, that no contradictions exist and that he can sleep in peace. 'Buffers' are appliances by means of which a man can always be in the right. 'Buffers' help a man not to feel his conscience.
We have found that dealing with the issues of Narcissism and psychopatholgy in our world is the clearest and most direct path to dealing with programs, buffers or the "predator's mind" in man. Most human beings in the world are narcissistic and most of us are raised by narcissists. The world itself - society, culture, science, religion, etc - is heavily influenced by psychopathic influences and these influences are one of the reasons that most potentially healthy people become narcissistic - it is a defense - a system of buffers.

And so, as we are raised in a psychopathic/narcissistic world, we also grow these buffers that separate us from our true self, and that force our machine to use up vast quantities of soul energy just to keep running at all.

And so, we approach the problem in a very pragmatic and practical way. A person can do nothing until they are psychologically healthy and this means removing buffers, mentally going over the machine in a careful and thorough way, cleaning it, re-wiring it and most of all, having new experiences that help with this re-wiring process in an environment where this is possible.

We begin by assigning reading tasks. You have to have the information, data, the understanding of your machine before you can even observe yourself and have a clue what you are observing. There are a number of contemporary works that serve this purpose beautifully - much better than reading dusty, archaic tomes with uncertain terminology, or "mystified" popularizations that are designed to attract followers more than they are designed to really help the individual in a practical way. The "Big Four" books that must be read in this order are:

1) Trapped in The Mirror by Elan Goulomb
2) Unholy Hungers by Barbara Hort
3) The Myth of Sanity by Martha Stout
4) The Narcissistic Family by Stephanie Donaldson-Pressman and Robert M. Pressman

This will give a person a good working knowledge of their buffers and what to be looking for when "self-remembering", "introspecting" or "recapitulating". Without the information in these books, you are basically just wandering around in the dark trying to figure out what this or that "esoteric term" might mean.

Then, of course, you need to really understand how the world got to be the way it is so that you have all these issues, and that involves the study of psychopathy. Studying psychopathy is useful for another very good reason: when you finally clearly see the traits of the psychopath "writ large," it helps you to identify traces of such influences in your own make-up. Psychopaths are like caricatures that help you recognize something by its most pronounced features, just like the drawing known as a caricature.

So, in short, if you wish to "recapitulate," you need to begin with the books listed above. That way you will have a much better idea of what you are doing, what you are looking for, and WHY it is important, not to mention why doing so actually "frees up energy."
Now, going back to one particular thing that Gurdjieff said above that is powerfully related to the issue:

"'Buffers' are created slowly and gradually. Very many 'buffers' are created artificially through 'education.' Others are created under the hypnotic influence of all surrounding life. A man is surrounded by people who live, speak, think, and feel by means of 'buffers.' Imitating them in their opinions, actions, and words, a man involuntarily creates similar 'buffers' in himself.
What often happens in an individual who has a strong negative introject as described by Goulomb above, is that he/she cannot bear this constant "self-criticism" because it is too painful. So, he creates his own buffers/programs against it which generally are very narcissistic and "self-important." Because the person is not aware that what is going on inside is, actually, a "negative introject," because these thoughts and ideas are in the person's head, they think that they "belong" to them, that they are a part of their own thinking process. So, they don't get a healthy view of them; instead, they counter them and seek to bury them in self-aggrandizing beliefs about the self.

The way this happens is described in Martha Stout's book, "The Myth of Sanity." It is called "dissociation." When the negative introject comes in, the individual dissociates into fantasy about the self being strong and powerful, capable, able to outsmart everyone else, getting even, being a misunderstood messiah, and so on.

When the negative introject is particularly strong, there can also be more than usual dissociation, and the more you dissociate, the more habitual and automatic it becomes. You don't even realize you are doing it.

What then happens is that, when you are grown up, you have all these automatic ways of thinking about yourself that are absolutely contradictory, and you spend most of your time shifting from the negative introject to any one of many dissociated states that deny the introject and provide a "saving fantasy" all of which precludes your being able to deal with what is here, now.

If your partner or boss or a clerk in a store, says or does something that sounds a bit like something your mother or father or an old schoolteacher, or your priest said that became part of your negative introject, you will immediately shift into the dissociated narcissistic self as a defense mechanism. It won't matter that who you are dealing with now is not saying or doing anything that has anything to do with the past event. Just a series of words that remind you of the "old days" is enough to trigger the automatic running of the program.

Quite often, the narcissistic programs include a lot of negative thoughts about other people which are designed to put them down, to diminish them, to cast them in a bad light because that is how the narcissistic program works: anything that starts the negative introject MUST be destroyed! The instant the negative half of the emotional center starts to vibrate, that energy can be usurped by the intellectual center, and all kinds of thoughts that have no basis in reality begin to run through the mind. Mouravieff describes it this way:

Mouravieff said:
Among the lower centres, the emotional centre is worst off. In our civilization- as we have already observed- it generally receives neither rational education nor systematic training. Its formation and development are now left to chance, since religious education today has been largely intellectualized and rationalized. All sorts of considerations dictated by worldly wisdom and mundane vanity; the habitual practice of lying - especially to ourselves -and hypocrisy, from which no one is totally exempt, imprint dangerous distortions on the emotional centre. Frequently struck by a feeling of inferiority and by the need for compensation, its usual motivation; accustomed as it is to judge and to criticize everybody and everything; surrendering itself to a strangely voluptuous enjoyment of negative emotions; this centre becomes unrecognizable. It degenerates to the point where it becomes the instrument of destruction of our being, which it accelerates on its way towards ageing and death. [...]

In order to be better aware of the true state of the Personality of the contemporary cultured man, we shall recapitulate what we know about all this. Let us observe that generally even if the positive part of the emotional centre is in an almost uninterrupted state of lethargy, if not actually paralysed, its negative part acts frequently. It reacts particularly to disagreeable shocks either from the outside or from within. These are the negative emotions we have already mentioned, remarking on their destructive effects . In that respect, man largely follows the habits of animals: at the least unpleasantness the machinery of negative emotions begins to act. In general, the effect of this negative reaction greatly exceeds the importance of its cause. [...]

ecause the positive part of the emotional centre is practically paralysed, the negative part cannot exercise its positive role. The only thing left to it is to make the centre vibrate with negative activity in the form of negative emotions. But negative emotions of this composite nature take coarse forms, ruled by sensations and passions that belong to the motor centre. [...]

When the emotional centre is deprived of its normal functions, the number of links between centres is reduced ... The chords which correspond to the finest and most subtle components of human morale are eliminated. This is due to the changes that occur in the structure of both the intellectual and motor centres; changes that lead to the impoverishment of both as the emotional sectors of these two centres practically disappear, due to the disappearance of their source since the emotional centre is in a state of lethargy. [...]

When man of this psychological type feels the need for relaxation-which is legitimate in itself -he falls under sway of his bodily instincts. His 'I of the body then takes the place of the 'I' of the unbalanced Personality. However, the 'I' of the body only has the use of the motor centre, which is equally mutilated. Since this ... too is deprived of a compass. Man then turns towards 'small pleasures' or 'grand passions' in which he satisfies all his senses, driven by an inventive intellectual imagination while the two centres, motor and intellectual, are fed by energy stolen from the sexual centre. ...

[T]he phenomenon [this discussion] reveals is much more frequent than one would believe. ....

To put a final point to this, we have only to answer the question that confronts those who wish to pass from words to acts: how can we awaken the emotional centre and then develop it? The answer is simple: by mastering negative emotions and transmuting them into positive emotions.
But this does not consist of simply "willing" the mastery of negative emotions, suppressing or repressing them. The machine must be cleaned, re-wired, circuits changed, etc. Mastering negative emotions consists, mostly, in awakening them and then, while the emotion is in full play, to illuminate the emotional program that is running with knowledge and awareness.

This is not as easy as it sounds, as many members of QFS can attest. Mouravieff comments:

Mouravieff said:
We often think that it is sufficient for us to gather theoretical esoteric knowledge, and that this will then produce its effect on us - like a healing medicine: that no other effort will be necessary on our part. This is a common error of conception. In reality, esoteric work requires continuous efforts of analysis and synthesis in order to create and consolidate each 'grain' of success that we gather in our march towards and on the Way. The influences to which life - that great way-constantly exposes us, are mixed, and contain corruption.

To choose between them, we possess certain resources, a certain liberty of action, and a force which makes it possible for us to accomplish this work of selection. This force is attention. Attention is the sole capital we possess. But we can use it in either a good or a bad way. Often, we cannot even say that we use it at all: we leave it to disperse. Yet attention is indispensable to us, especially for the control of negative emotions, which impoverish us and provoke in us losses, sometimes considerable, of forces we have accumulated at the price of sustained effort. In certain cases this can go so far as to provoke true collapse within us. A watchful attention allows us to stop these negative emotions the moment they are born. Afterwards, on ground which has been purified in this way, we will be able to let positive emotions flow freely, so as to enrich us and permit us to accumulate the force necessary to continue our esoteric work.
Now, perhaps, Gurdjieff's words in the following excerpts will make more sense:

Gurdjieff said:
"When a man comes to realize the necessity not only for self-study and self¬observation but also for work on himself with the object of changing himself, the character of his self-observation must change. He has so far studied the details of the work of the centers, trying only to register this or that phenomenon, to be an impartial witness. He has studied the work of the machine. Now he must begin to see himself, that is to say, to see, not separate details, not the work of small wheels and levers, but to see everything taken together as a whole—the whole of himself such as others see him.

"For this purpose a man must learn to take, so to speak, 'mental photographs' of himself at different moments of his life and in different emotional states: and not photographs of details, but photographs of the whole as he saw it. In other words these photographs must contain simultaneously everything that a man can see in himself at a given moment. Emotions, moods, thoughts, sensations, postures, movements, tones of voice, facial expressions, and so on.

If a man succeeds in seizing interesting moments for these photographs he will very soon collect a whole album of pictures of himself which, taken together, will show him quite clearly what he is. But it is not so easy to learn how to take these photographs at the most interesting and characteristic moments, how to catch characteristic postures, characteristic facial expressions, characteristic emotions, and characteristic thoughts. If the photographs are taken successfully and if there is a sufficient number of them, a man will see that his usual conception of himself, with which he has lived from year to year, is very far from reality.

"Instead of the man he had supposed himself to be he will see quite another man. This 'other' man is himself and at the same time not himself. It is he as other people know him, as he imagines himself and as he appears in his actions, words, and so on; but not altogether such as he actually is. For a man himself knows that there is a great deal that is unreal, invented, and artificial in this other man whom other people know and whom he knows himself.

You must learn to divide the real from the invented. And to begin self-observation and self-study it is necessary to divide oneself. A man must realize that he indeed consists of two men.

"One is the man he calls 'I' and whom others call 'Ouspensky,' 'Zakharov' or 'Petrov.' The other is the real he, the real I, which appears in his life only for very short moments and which can become firm and permanent only after a very lengthy period of work.

"But when a man understands his helplessness in the face of 'Ouspensky' his attitude towards himself and towards 'Ouspensky' in him ceases to be either indifferent or unconcerned.

"Self-observation becomes observation of 'Ouspensky' A man understands that he is not 'Ouspensky,' that 'Ouspensky' is nothing but the mask he wears, the part that he unconsciously plays and which unfortunately he cannot stop playing, a part which rules him and makes him do and say thousands of stupid things, thousands of things which he would never do or say himself.

"If he is sincere with himself he feels that he is in the power of 'Ouspensky' and at the same time he feels that he is not 'Ouspensky.'

"He begins to be afraid of 'Ouspensky,' begins to feel that he is his 'enemy.' No matter what he would like to do, everything is intercepted and altered by 'Ouspensky.' 'Ouspensky' is his 'enemy.' 'Ouspensky's' desires, tastes, sympathies, antipathies, thoughts, opinions, are either opposed to his own views, feelings, and moods, or they have nothing in common with them. And, at the same time, 'Ouspensky' is his master. He is the slave. He has no will of his own. He has no means of expressing his desires because whatever he would like to do or say would be done for him by 'Ouspensky.'

"On this level of self-observation a man must understand that his whole aim is to free himself from 'Ouspensky.' And since he cannot in fact free himself from 'Ouspensky,' because he is himself, he must therefore master 'Ouspensky' and make him do, not what the 'Ouspensky' of the given moment wants, but what he himself wants to do. From being the master, 'Ouspensky' must become the servant.

"The first stage of work on oneself consists in separating oneself from 'Ouspensky' mentally, in being separated from him in actual fact, in keeping apart from him. But the fact must be borne in mind that the whole attention must be concentrated upon 'Ouspensky' for a man is unable to explain what he himself really is. But he can explain 'Ouspensky' to himself and with this he must begin, remembering at the same time that he is not 'Ouspensky.'

"The most dangerous thing in this case is to rely on one's own judgment. If a man is lucky he may at this time have someone near him who can tell him where he is and where 'Ouspensky' is. But he must moreover trust this person, because he will undoubtedly think that he understands everything himself and that he knows where he is and where 'Ouspensky' is. And not only in relation to himself but in relation also to other people will he think that he knows and sees their 'Ouspenskys.' All this is of course self-deception.

At this stage a man can see nothing either in relation to himself or to others. The more convinced he is that he can, the more he is mistaken.

But if he can be even to a slight extent sincere with himself and really wants to know the truth, then he can find an exact and infallible basis for judging rightly first about himself and then about other people.

But the whole point lies in being sincere with oneself. And this is by no means easy.

People do not understand that sincerity must be learned. They imagine that to be sincere or not to be sincere depends upon their desire or decision. But how can a man be sincere with himself when in actual fact he sincerely does not see what he ought to see in himself?

Someone has to show it to him. And his attitude towards the person who shows him must be a right one, that is, such as will help him to see what is shown him and not, as often happens, hinder him if he begins to think that he already knows better.

"This is a very serious moment in the work. A man who loses his direction at this moment will never find it again afterwards.

It must be remembered that man such as he is does not possess the means of distinguishing 'I' and 'Ouspensky' in himself. Even if he tries to, he will lie to himself and invent things, and he will never see himself as he really is. It must be understood that without outside help a man can never see himself.
[...]

This transmutation of the emotions will then help the transmutation of si 12 in the human organism. No serious growth, that is, no growth of higher bodies within the organism, is possible without this transmutation.

The idea of this transmutation was known to many ancient teachings as well as to some comparatively recent ones, such as the alchemy of the Middle Ages. But the alchemists spoke of this transmutation in the allegorical forms of the transformation of base metals into precious ones. In reality, however, they meant the transformation of coarse 'hydrogens' into finer ones in the human organism, chiefly of the transformation of mi 12.

If this transformation is attained, a man can be said to have 'achieved what he was striving for, and it can also be said that, until this transformation is attained, all results attained by a man can be lost because they are not fixed in him in any way; moreover, they are attained only in the spheres of thought and emotion. Real, objective results can be obtained only after the transmutation of mi 12 has begun.

"Alchemists who spoke of this transmutation began directly with it. They knew nothing, or at least they said nothing, about the nature of the first volitional 'shock.' It is upon this, however, that the whole thing depends. The second volitional 'shock' and transmutation become physically possible only after long practice on the first volitional 'shock,' which consists in self-remembering, and in observing the impressions received. [...]

"The transition of matter si 12 into emanations and the gradual saturation of the whole organism by it is what alchemy calls 'transmutation' or transformation. It is first this transformation of the physical body into the astral that alchemy called the transformation of the 'coarse' into the 'fine' or the transformation of base metals into gold.

"Completed transmutation, that is to say, the formation of the 'astral body,' is possible only in a healthy, normally functioning organism. In a sick, or a perverted, or a crippled organism, no transmutation is possible."
There is, of course, that tricky issue of actually being able to see the self. We do not realize how attached we are to this seeing of ourself a certain way that has been created in reaction to the negative introject. Quite often we find support for this self-perception in our choice of social contacts, in literature and movies and so on. We tend to exclude those people and things that might upset our narcissistic self-perception. That, of course, helps us to deny the truth when we come to that point where we must be sincere at the deepest level. We can always find some social or literary source, or a circle of friends, who will tell us that "oh, no... you really ARE perfect and wonderful and whoever said you have an issue with (________) is just not understanding YOU!" Or whatever. As Gurdjieff noted, this is a crucial point in the work.

Gurdjieff said:
Someone has to show it to him. And his attitude towards the person who shows him must be a right one, that is, such as will help him to see what is shown him and not, as often happens, hinder him if he begins to think that he already knows better.

"This is a very serious moment in the work. A man who loses his direction at this moment will never find it again afterwards.
If someone who is trying to show you something about yourself is perceived as part of the "negative introject," this will be very difficult because you will automatically begin to cast that person in all kinds of negative lights.

Mouravieff said:
"When it comes to the other centres, the misuse of the negative parts takes much more insidious forms, which entail more serious consequences for our minds as well as our bodies. That is how the negative part of the intellectual centre nourishes jealousy, afterthoughts, hypocrisy, suspicion, treachery, etc.

The negative part of the emotional centre receives all the disagreeable impressions and serves as a vehicle for negative emotions, for which the keyboard is very large, ranging from melancholy to hate. We shall have occasion to go deeper into the problem of negative emotions. [Such emotion] represents one of the major obstacles to esoteric evolution."
But do not think that it is not important to have "negative emotions." That is NOT the point here. The point is that they must accurately represent the reality HERE and NOW, and not be a PROGRAM or a BUFFER.

Mouravieff said:
Human nature itself is mixed; it faithfully reflects the content of the Mixtus Orbis of which it is a product and a part, Thus the complex structure of the personality - with the centres of the psyche subdivided into positive and negative parts - reflects the mixed nature of the outer and inner worlds of terrestrial man and enables him to perceive them in all their parts, a possibility which would be denied him without this. ....

If, as we have seen, the atrophy of the negative part of the intellectual centre prevents man from having any doubts, it also partially blinds his intelligence and takes away his capacity for appreciation, criticism and comparison, etc.

The same may be said for the emotional centre. Its negative semicircle is necessary to ensure its complete functioning: while the positive part responds to agreeable impressions coming from the outside or the inside, the negative part responds in the same way to disagreeable impressions. This is the normal role of the negative semicircle, which might be called its positive role. If the awakened and pure emotional centre were deprived of its negative part, the affective life would be impoverished and disoriented. This situation could be compared to one in which we would be able to feel heat without being able to feel cold, or see light without being able to distinguish shadows. When it is awake and functioning normally, the negative part of the emotional centre is an organ in the psychological structure of the Personality which is just as indispensable as the positive part.
The problems arise when the individual's emotional center runs on automatic programs. In this next excerpt, Mouravieff describes dissociation. To understand this more thoroughly, it is necessary to read Martha Stout's "The Myth of Sanity."

Mouravieff said:
When the emotional centre is plunged into deep sleep... it dreams. It dreams in the daytime, in the midst of activity, as well as at night. The emotional centre conceives dreams by using its innate capacity for creating images. By elaborating these while inspired by ideas from the intellectual centre, it can create images of grandeur to compensate for the failures or half-failures of life.

If inspired by impulses from the motor centre, it imagines itself moving on the ground, on the seas or in the air.

Under the influence of innate elements rising from [past lives] it can relive these [lives] in fragments.

With the aid of impulses proceeding from the sexual centre via the motor centre, the emotional centre has erotic dreams which can seem entirely true. [...]

These few indications give a brief glimpse of the work of the lower emotional centre while it is still under-developed -but which the unbalanced contemporary life of man can no longer anaesthetize or degrade, particularly when, as a faithful, he climbs the steps of the Staircase.
And that is quite enough to consider at any one time.
 

Zadius Sky

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Much appreciation to kkrush for bringing forth this thread. Understanding about Golomb's Negative Introject is certainly helpful, and most surely will add to our studies of our 'machines.'

kkrush said:
Although the topic seemed geared more towards an external influence (as the cause of these negative emotions), I couldn't help but think of the internal ones too, you know, when you doubt yourself and call yourself stupid for doing something (ie, prematurely posting something) and completely convince yourself that EVERYONE is gonna think you're an Idiot.
Doubting yourself or thinking 'too much' about what other people think of you are certainly 'not good', per se. I've learned that from my experiences in the past years, either in myself or in other people. It's considered to be a part of 'self-pity' program. That much I know. Doubting yourself or thinking you might be called 'stupid' by other people is one of negative introjects in everyone. It's when we've learned since childhood, and our fears are certainly learned.

I think, in my case, that I may have absence of that 'specific' negative introject where I would post before knowing what my motivations are (as evident in my "Blog" thread), and it would be pointed out to me (from mod.) of 'why' did I do such a thing or do I 'know' of the outcome to which my post would bring. Oddly enough, at the time, I didn't have a voice telling me that 'people probably will think that you're stupid for posting this.' It more of a sense of fear. But, once it was pointed out to me in that thread, I then had a strong urge to figure out why I did such thing and I would know better about my actions and learn from them. I didn't have a voice was telling me the negative words as regards to this.

I may be wrong, but I think I have learned to not to give in or be identified with one or more of my negative introjects (or programs). You know what I just said? "I may be wrong" is what I have just chosen to input because I am not identifying with the negative word "wrong" which might bring about 'bringing oneself down', but I am admitting that I am willing to learn.

kkrush said:
Work on the self starts with understanding HOW our machine works and then WHY. Reading up on material about psychology and narcissism is a good starting point.
That is very important point to be made. Some people want to start somewhere else (away from the self), but working on self will surely help you or protect you in a long run. It'll take a enormous courage to learn about oneself...to face yourself in the mirror.

Laura said:
We must also keep in mind that there is a great deal more going on in our minds in addition to the "negative introject" that Goulomb describes. As we continue to grow and develop, there are additional programs added based on our need to please our peers, teachers, society at large. All of these are like internal voices that tell us what to think and believe.
We sure do have alot of programs in ourselves. It is on-going lesson when 'reading' our programs and trying to deal with them when working on self. Starting with those four books, as pointed out by Laura, will surely put one on the path to a better understanding of oneself.

I don't think we will ever be 'completely' free of these 'negative introjects' or 'programs', and we may be never be free of them. But we can choose not to be a slave to them or choose not to be identified with them.

No one is exempt.

For what it's worth.
 

fabric

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Zadius Sky said:
Oddly enough, at the time, I didn't have a voice telling me that 'people probably will think that you're stupid for posting this.' It more of a sense of fear. But, once it was pointed out to me in that thread, I then had a strong urge to figure out why I did such thing and I would know better about my actions and learn from them. I didn't have a voice was telling me the negative words as regards to this.

I may be wrong, but I think I have learned to not to give in or be identified with one or more of my negative introjects (or programs). You know what I just said? "I may be wrong" is what I have just chosen to input because I am not identifying with the negative word "wrong" which might bring about 'bringing oneself down', but I am admitting that I am willing to learn. [...]
Hi Zadius,

I don't always have that "voice" telling silly things either but it doesn't have to necessarily be a voice per se, but could be feeling as well. Sort of like that sense of fear you mentioned. Perhaps its the fear of the predator not wanting to be exposed. Different sides of the same coin and all that.

Zadius Sky said:
Laura said:
We must also keep in mind that there is a great deal more going on in our minds in addition to the "negative introject" that Goulomb describes. As we continue to grow and develop, there are additional programs added based on our need to please our peers, teachers, society at large. All of these are like internal voices that tell us what to think and believe.
We sure do have alot of programs in ourselves. It is on-going lesson when 'reading' our programs and trying to deal with them when working on self. Starting with those four books, as pointed out by Laura, will surely put one on the path to a better understanding of oneself. [...]

I don't think we will ever be 'completely' free of these 'negative introjects' or 'programs', and we may be never be free of them. But we can choose not to be a slave to them or choose not to be identified with them.
Right, and here we come to what I think is the crux of the matter. "There is a great deal more" and we can "choose not to be identified with them."

I guess one way to think about it is to imagine doing a home renovation project. You wanna redo your bathroom and you are not sure where to start. There are many different methods and tools and supplies you can use. So we start by getting some basics down and learn that we have a hammer and a drill and some screw driver bits. These tools may get the whole job done but perhaps not as quickly and efficiently as you hope. As you do more projects, and increase the size of your tool box, you pick up more tools and methods to get the job done better and efficiently.

So by having different views (ie, Castenada's Predator, Gurdjieff's Buffers/Programs, Negative Introject, Dissociative States etc) of what we could say, on similar conditions of the human/machine mind, are like "tools" in the tool box of the tradesman. Except the trade we're doing our apprenticeship on is that of the "mind/body/soul renovation." The more we are able to effectively use these tools, the better we can be able to have the ability to choose to not be identified with these programs and buffers. The deep rooted ones, the ones we can't clearly see ourselves, are where I guess practice and experience start to come into play (and help from others.... remember, "Rome wasn't built one day" and neither was it by one person) and we can begin to get into the subtleties of the mind and begin to grow ourselves a soul.

Anyway, this forum is definately a great place where we can at the very least, make an attempt ;) ... osit
 

Zadius Sky

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kkrush said:
I don't always have that "voice" telling silly things either but it doesn't have to necessarily be a voice per se, but could be feeling as well. Sort of like that sense of fear you mentioned. Perhaps its the fear of the predator not wanting to be exposed. Different sides of the same coin and all that.
Ah! Thanks for clearing that up. I think I am on the 'feeling' side of the coin. It might be my hearing loss that is preventing me to hear as often as other people do. My feeling part might be at that level as other people's hearing 'voices.' I just don't hear it often, just the feelings. So, hearing the negative voices and feeling the negative emotions (e.g. fear) are part of Negative Introject.

kkrush said:
So by having different views (ie, Castenada's Predator, Gurdjieff's Buffers/Programs, Negative Introject, Dissociative States etc) of what we could say, on similar conditions of the human/machine mind, are like "tools" in the tool box of the tradesman. Except the trade we're doing our apprenticeship on is that of the "mind/body/soul renovation." The more we are able to effectively use these tools, the better we can be able to have the ability to choose to not be identified with these programs and buffers. The deep rooted ones, the ones we can't clearly see ourselves, are where I guess practice and experience start to come into play (and help from others.... remember, "Rome wasn't built one day" and neither was it by one person) and we can begin to get into the subtleties of the mind and begin to grow ourselves a soul.
You summed it up rather nicely. It is best to look at all aspects of ourselves by using these tools (hopefully more tools will appear in the future), and here is certainly where we would learn these tools and use them.

Thanks kkrush. :)
 

vinny

The Living Force
great thread! Here is some of my understanding/experience of it:

In all this 'self examination', it starts off with one's OWN examinations of the self, which to a certain extent are ....okay. they can be 'acceptable' enough in one's mind, to be taken as a 'work in progress' data that is fit for consideration. because, after all YOU put them forward, so they MUST have some validity, right? - we greatly value our OWN opinions and 'original thoughts' on things!

But then, as Gurdjieff talks about, there comes an essential point at which one (if consciously pursuing this work) will receive EXTERNAL observations on oneself. And THIS point in the process is where the 'pedal hits the metal' , because at this point, you have to sit there and accept as 'true', things which you are absolutely convinced are NOT true (or at least highly disagreeable), about yourself! And this is where the predator goes into flat-out overdrive to avoid considering these external 'disagreeable' messages, because in my experience, this will hit you square in the stomach over your particular weakness (or 'chief feature' as Gurdjieff referred to it) - in which the consequences of even considering this external observations as ooohh even maybe valid entails some seriously painful ramifications for one's predator programs, eg: squarely facing one's deepest psychological fears of abandonment or rejection or whatever, that stems most probably from one's deepest, most ingrained narcissistic programs from childhood and beyond. And this can only be done, I think, if one understands where these deepest insecurities come from. And the beauty of the modern psychology material that Laura cited (such as 'trapped in the mirror') is that it GIVES us the tools to unlock these deepest insecurites and YES! to understand why they exist, and to unravel them.

This means that starting with the framework of the 4th way as described by Gurdjieff, then fleshed-out with details from the ingredients of the modern psychological models, THEN in combination with a true 'working group' such as the QFS in which one can give and receive sincere feedback within a 'controlled environment', makes an extremely potent combination.
 

nf3

Padawan Learner
The negative introject for me has always manifested as "shyness" in the general sense. That is, an inability to interact with others in an open and considerate manner due to social anxiety while simultaneously letting predatory people walk all over me out of fear of defending my own boundaries.

This "shyness" was always a matter-of-fact kind of knowing that other people knew I was a terrible person and I best just keep my mouth shut to avoid proving them right. Why and how I 'knew' these things was something I never even considered. If I was thinking it it must be true, right? Even after reading Castaneda I thought that the predator's mind he was describing must be some obviously intrusive voice that could be easily identified and ignored.

But the truth of the matter is that, until we've created and fused our magnetic center, ALL of our thoughts and feelings are suspect because they are all the result of faulty wiring in our brains. Here in 3D STS it is almost never a matter of "this is me and that is the predator and I can choose to ignore the predator." In the beginning everything is the predator. The underlying moods that led to the self-defeating thoughts, any feelings in response to those thoughts, all of it the work of faulty wiring in the brain.

After a period of networking in a forum such as this one and receiving some shocks to the emotional center--those moments when the gap between our subjective views and the objective reality are brought into full relief--we can at least regain some control over of our inner territory. But even then we can only assign probabilities as to the objectivity of a thought or a feeling based on feedback from third party observers and analysis of previous results from acting on similar thoughts and feelings. Then there is the specific situation in any given moment. A thought or feeling which may be perfectly objective in one situation may be the exact opposite in another.

For example, when interacting with pathological individuals, the normal human responses of emotional openness and sharing are completely wrong. These responses only work with other normal people who will be open and will respect your boundaries because they have a healthy sense of their own.

But the predator, our own and others, wants to feed. If we realize that we give in to the manipulations of others because some part of us expects to be fed in return, then it will change strategies and focus on the noble aspects of 'giving' in these situations.(1) If we see the change in strategy it will change again. And when all else fails it inundates us with terror in order to convince us that we need it. It draws the emotional power to do these things from an underlying sense of the universe being a threatening place to exist in, coupled with a sense of unworthiness and the need to protect oneself at all costs. It's like a ponerogenic infection that normal people receive from pathological types and then continue to pass along amongst themselves. The predators really did give us their mind.

Mammalian brains are wired with a threat response system in order to survive real, objective threats in nature. If the threat is distant the animal will freeze to avoid detection. If detected they will run and if caught they will react with aggression in a last ditch effort to escape.(2)

In a healthy, properly wired brain, this response system can spring into action when needed and completely shut off once it is no longer needed. The amygdala alerts the hypothalamus, which tells the rest of the body to prepare for action. The hippocampus, via the hypothalamus, then tells the body to calm back down once the danger has passed. However, if stress is placed on the system for prolonged periods, say, for an entire childhood, the system loses its ability to shut down completely. The dendrites on the hippocampus burn out and atrophy, making it less responsive, while the dendrites on the amygdala actually grow denser, making it hypersensitive to perceived threat.(3)

So not only is there a decrease in the brain's ability to completely turn off stress and responses to threats--to return the body to a complete resting state--it also loses the ability to properly distinguish between real and imagined threat. We begin to associate danger with any number of internal and external stimuli that may not be threatening at all. As Laura pointed out, this system can be triggered by something that so much as indirectly reminds us of a threatening situation from the past. I think it was Castaneda who used the analogy of a guard dog turning on its master and needing to be redomesticated. A perfect description of this threat response system, which normally would protect us from external threat but has instead been used to make us slaves to an inner tyrant.

When you apply this knowledge to the human brain, with its intellectual center (prefrontal cortex) that can produce all sorts of rationalizations for this dysfunction, the range of potential subjective dream worlds to lose oneself in are endless. Something sets off our hair-trigger defenses, we can't cope with it and we dissociate. Throw in Laura's research on Transmarginal Inhibition and it becomes obvious that to trust one's own mind without objective, third party review is suicidally reckless at best.

However, the prefrontal cortex can also inhibit this system directly if it is properly educated and trained(4,5). It is during this training process, explained in complete detail in Laura's post above, that these automatic responses along with their intellectual and emotional associations definitely begin to look like a foreign installation. We can begin to see them as something separate from our essential selves, as a natural defense mechanism set into overdrive and turned against us. They may also never go away, contrary to Castaneda's suggestion that eventually the predator's mind flees for good, since the damage to the hippocampus can be permanent in some cases.(6) This is a frightening thought, even more so if you consider environmental insults to the brain from mercury, fluoride, etc., but I think there is hope in the idea that once the prefrontal cortex has proper control over the other areas of the brain, we can at the very least finally be able to say "this is me and that is the predator and I can choose to ignore the predator."

Sources:
(1) Hort, Barbara. Unholy Hungers
(2) Blair, James et al. The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain
(3) Ibid.
(4) Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence
(5) Dabrowski, Kazimierz. Psychoneurosis is Not an Illness
(6) Blair, James et al. The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain

[Edit note: This post previously stated that the hypothalamus is damaged by prolonged stress. Although both the hypothalamus and hippocampus are directly affected by increased levels of stress chemicals, only the hippocampus is actually damaged by prolonged exposure.]
 

vinny

The Living Force
nf3 said:
The negative introject for me has always manifested as "shyness" in the general sense. That is, an inability to interact with others in an open and considerate manner due to social anxiety while simultaneously letting predatory people walk all over me out of fear of defending my own boundaries.
me too, a bit, and for a while. A rather shocking (and very useful) thing for me to consider was when this concept of 'shyness' was described to me as being 'selfish'! in the sense that it is an over- preoccupation with what others think of me, ie it is excessive internal considering, and a complete lack of external considering. It was worded better than that (ie: more hard hitting and scathing), but that was the gist, and it certainly gave me something to think about. It was shocking because my prior attitude was "well, I can't help it - it's not my fault - it is overpowering and I have no control of it". yet - it turns out the observation was right, it WAS completely selfish, and I had refused to admit this to myself. This is a good example of one of the 'external observations' that could probably NOT have originated within me. For what it is worth, I have much less of a problem with shyness these days, since I've allowed myself a reason to take responsibility for it.
 

nf3

Padawan Learner
sleepyvinny said:
yet - it turns out the observation was right, it WAS completely selfish, and I had refused to admit this to myself. This is a good example of one of the 'external observations' that could probably NOT have originated within me. For what it is worth, I have much less of a problem with shyness these days, since I've allowed myself a reason to take responsibility for it.
Same thing here. It was pointed out to me that my 'shyness' was extreme inner considering and total lack of external considering. I had all the same responses, "it's not my fault, that's just the way I am" etc. But it was also pointed out to me that once I loved others more than I love myself then I could move forward--take responsibility as you said. And it is SO important to note that observations like this, the ones that really hit the core beliefs that the predator relies on for survival, cannot come from within. The way our brains are wired precludes any spontaneous, self-contained awakening to our own lies.
 

Zadius Sky

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nf3 said:
The negative introject for me has always manifested as "shyness" in the general sense. That is, an inability to interact with others in an open and considerate manner due to social anxiety while simultaneously letting predatory people walk all over me out of fear of defending my own boundaries.
It is very surprising to me that 'shyness' is considered to be part of the negative introject. And, how sleepyvinney said it is considered to be selfish. I have never even considered that. I was shy during my past years, and just wanted spent time to myself (maybe too much time) and never felt the need to 'hang out' with my fellow peers. They would say, "oh he's shy, let him be." I have never knew that by being shy, I was being selfish.

nf3 said:
It was pointed out to me that my 'shyness' was extreme inner considering and total lack of external considering. I had all the same responses, "it's not my fault, that's just the way I am" etc.
Same here about the responses ('the way I am'). But, during the recent times, I was becoming more social. However, that shyness part of me is always going to be there. And, if I want to go back to 'being shy,' it is no stranger to me. I actually can feel a need for it, and that is the greatest danger. It is basically means going back to sleep.
 

CarpeDiem

Jedi Council Member
nf3 said:
The negative introject for me has always manifested as "shyness" in the general sense. That is, an inability to interact with others in an open and considerate manner due to social anxiety while simultaneously letting predatory people walk all over me out of fear of defending my own boundaries.
Heck, shyness is a Maiden role model in russian folklore! If you read these russian fairy tales, it's always the shy sister, who is obedient to the will of her father, or some fairy witch she encounters in a deep well, or in the forest; who gets then married to her prince (or to a honest youth) and returns home with dowry presents. That's quite a shock!
 

Raintree

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[...]
Laura said:
Quite often, the narcissistic programs include a lot of negative thoughts about other people which are designed to put them down, to diminish them, to cast them in a bad light because that is how the narcissistic program works: anything that starts the negative introject MUST be destroyed! The instant the negative half of the emotional center starts to vibrate, that energy can be usurped by the intellectual center, and all kinds of thoughts that have no basis in reality begin to run through the mind. Mouravieff describes it this way:

Mouravieff said:
Among the lower centres, the emotional centre is worst off. In our civilization- as we have already observed- it generally receives neither rational education nor systematic training. Its formation and development are now left to chance, since religious education today has been largely intellectualized and rationalized. All sorts of considerations dictated by worldly wisdom and mundane vanity; the habitual practice of lying - especially to ourselves -and hypocrisy, from which no one is totally exempt, imprint dangerous distortions on the emotional centre. Frequently struck by a feeling of inferiority and by the need for compensation, its usual motivation; accustomed as it is to judge and to criticize everybody and everything; surrendering itself to a strangely voluptuous enjoyment of negative emotions; this centre becomes unrecognizable. It degenerates to the point where it becomes the instrument of destruction of our being, which it accelerates on its way towards ageing and death. [...]

In order to be better aware of the true state of the Personality of the contemporary cultured man, we shall recapitulate what we know about all this. Let us observe that generally even if the positive part of the emotional centre is in an almost uninterrupted state of lethargy, if not actually paralysed, its negative part acts frequently. It reacts particularly to disagreeable shocks either from the outside or from within. These are the negative emotions we have already mentioned, remarking on their destructive effects . In that respect, man largely follows the habits of animals: at the least unpleasantness the machinery of negative emotions begins to act. In general, the effect of this negative reaction greatly exceeds the importance of its cause. [...]

ecause the positive part of the emotional centre is practically paralysed, the negative part cannot exercise its positive role. The only thing left to it is to make the centre vibrate with negative activity in the form of negative emotions. But negative emotions of this composite nature take coarse forms, ruled by sensations and passions that belong to the motor centre. [...]

When the emotional centre is deprived of its normal functions, the number of links between centres is reduced ... The chords which correspond to the finest and most subtle components of human morale are eliminated. This is due to the changes that occur in the structure of both the intellectual and motor centres; changes that lead to the impoverishment of both as the emotional sectors of these two centres practically disappear, due to the disappearance of their source since the emotional centre is in a state of lethargy. [...]

When man of this psychological type feels the need for relaxation-which is legitimate in itself -he falls under sway of his bodily instincts. His 'I of the body then takes the place of the 'I' of the unbalanced Personality. However, the 'I' of the body only has the use of the motor centre, which is equally mutilated. Since this ... too is deprived of a compass. Man then turns towards 'small pleasures' or 'grand passions' in which he satisfies all his senses, driven by an inventive intellectual imagination while the two centres, motor and intellectual, are fed by energy stolen from the sexual centre. ...

[T]he phenomenon [this discussion] reveals is much more frequent than one would believe. ....

To put a final point to this, we have only to answer the question that confronts those who wish to pass from words to acts: how can we awaken the emotional centre and then develop it? The answer is simple: by mastering negative emotions and transmuting them into positive emotions.

But this does not consist of simply "willing" the mastery of negative emotions, suppressing or repressing them. The machine must be cleaned, re-wired, circuits changed, etc. Mastering negative emotions consists, mostly, in awakening them and then, while the emotion is in full play, to illuminate the emotional program that is running with knowledge and awareness.

This is not as easy as it sounds, as many members of QFS can attest. Mouravieff comments:

Mouravieff said:
We often think that it is sufficient for us to gather theoretical esoteric knowledge, and that this will then produce its effect on us - like a healing medicine: that no other effort will be necessary on our part. This is a common error of conception. In reality, esoteric work requires continuous efforts of analysis and synthesis in order to create and consolidate each 'grain' of success that we gather in our march towards and on the Way. The influences to which life - that great way-constantly exposes us, are mixed, and contain corruption.

To choose between them, we possess certain resources, a certain liberty of action, and a force which makes it possible for us to accomplish this work of selection. This force is attention. Attention is the sole capital we possess. But we can use it in either a good or a bad way. Often, we cannot even say that we use it at all: we leave it to disperse. Yet attention is indispensable to us, especially for the control of negative emotions, which impoverish us and provoke in us losses, sometimes considerable, of forces we have accumulated at the price of sustained effort. In certain cases this can go so far as to provoke true collapse within us. A watchful attention allows us to stop these negative emotions the moment they are born. Afterwards, on ground which has been purified in this way, we will be able to let positive emotions flow freely, so as to enrich us and permit us to accumulate the force necessary to continue our esoteric work.
Now, perhaps, Gurdjieff's words in the following excerpts will make more sense:

Gurdjieff said:
"When a man comes to realize the necessity not only for self-study and self¬observation but also for work on himself with the object of changing himself, the character of his self-observation must change. He has so far studied the details of the work of the centers, trying only to register this or that phenomenon, to be an impartial witness. He has studied the work of the machine. Now he must begin to see himself, that is to say, to see, not separate details, not the work of small wheels and levers, but to see everything taken together as a whole—the whole of himself such as others see him.

"For this purpose a man must learn to take, so to speak, 'mental photographs' of himself at different moments of his life and in different emotional states: and not photographs of details, but photographs of the whole as he saw it. In other words these photographs must contain simultaneously everything that a man can see in himself at a given moment. Emotions, moods, thoughts, sensations, postures, movements, tones of voice, facial expressions, and so on.

If a man succeeds in seizing interesting moments for these photographs he will very soon collect a whole album of pictures of himself which, taken together, will show him quite clearly what he is. But it is not so easy to learn how to take these photographs at the most interesting and characteristic moments, how to catch characteristic postures, characteristic facial expressions, characteristic emotions, and characteristic thoughts. If the photographs are taken successfully and if there is a sufficient number of them, a man will see that his usual conception of himself, with which he has lived from year to year, is very far from reality.

"Instead of the man he had supposed himself to be he will see quite another man. This 'other' man is himself and at the same time not himself. It is he as other people know him, as he imagines himself and as he appears in his actions, words, and so on; but not altogether such as he actually is. For a man himself knows that there is a great deal that is unreal, invented, and artificial in this other man whom other people know and whom he knows himself.

You must learn to divide the real from the invented. And to begin self-observation and self-study it is necessary to divide oneself. A man must realize that he indeed consists of two men.

"One is the man he calls 'I' and whom others call 'Ouspensky,' 'Zakharov' or 'Petrov.' The other is the real he, the real I, which appears in his life only for very short moments and which can become firm and permanent only after a very lengthy period of work.

"But when a man understands his helplessness in the face of 'Ouspensky' his attitude towards himself and towards 'Ouspensky' in him ceases to be either indifferent or unconcerned.

"Self-observation becomes observation of 'Ouspensky' A man understands that he is not 'Ouspensky,' that 'Ouspensky' is nothing but the mask he wears, the part that he unconsciously plays and which unfortunately he cannot stop playing, a part which rules him and makes him do and say thousands of stupid things, thousands of things which he would never do or say himself.

"If he is sincere with himself he feels that he is in the power of 'Ouspensky' and at the same time he feels that he is not 'Ouspensky.'

"He begins to be afraid of 'Ouspensky,' begins to feel that he is his 'enemy.' No matter what he would like to do, everything is intercepted and altered by 'Ouspensky.' 'Ouspensky' is his 'enemy.' 'Ouspensky's' desires, tastes, sympathies, antipathies, thoughts, opinions, are either opposed to his own views, feelings, and moods, or they have nothing in common with them. And, at the same time, 'Ouspensky' is his master. He is the slave. He has no will of his own. He has no means of expressing his desires because whatever he would like to do or say would be done for him by 'Ouspensky.'

"On this level of self-observation a man must understand that his whole aim is to free himself from 'Ouspensky.' And since he cannot in fact free himself from 'Ouspensky,' because he is himself, he must therefore master 'Ouspensky' and make him do, not what the 'Ouspensky' of the given moment wants, but what he himself wants to do. From being the master, 'Ouspensky' must become the servant.

"The first stage of work on oneself consists in separating oneself from 'Ouspensky' mentally, in being separated from him in actual fact, in keeping apart from him. But the fact must be borne in mind that the whole attention must be concentrated upon 'Ouspensky' for a man is unable to explain what he himself really is. But he can explain 'Ouspensky' to himself and with this he must begin, remembering at the same time that he is not 'Ouspensky.'

"The most dangerous thing in this case is to rely on one's own judgment. If a man is lucky he may at this time have someone near him who can tell him where he is and where 'Ouspensky' is. But he must moreover trust this person, because he will undoubtedly think that he understands everything himself and that he knows where he is and where 'Ouspensky' is. And not only in relation to himself but in relation also to other people will he think that he knows and sees their 'Ouspenskys.' All this is of course self-deception.

At this stage a man can see nothing either in relation to himself or to others. The more convinced he is that he can, the more he is mistaken.

But if he can be even to a slight extent sincere with himself and really wants to know the truth, then he can find an exact and infallible basis for judging rightly first about himself and then about other people.

But the whole point lies in being sincere with oneself. And this is by no means easy.

People do not understand that sincerity must be learned. They imagine that to be sincere or not to be sincere depends upon their desire or decision. But how can a man be sincere with himself when in actual fact he sincerely does not see what he ought to see in himself?

Someone has to show it to him. And his attitude towards the person who shows him must be a right one, that is, such as will help him to see what is shown him and not, as often happens, hinder him if he begins to think that he already knows better.

"This is a very serious moment in the work. A man who loses his direction at this moment will never find it again afterwards.

It must be remembered that man such as he is does not possess the means of distinguishing 'I' and 'Ouspensky' in himself. Even if he tries to, he will lie to himself and invent things, and he will never see himself as he really is. It must be understood that without outside help a man can never see himself.
[...]


[...]

The above hits the mark in many ways in regards to 'Saman'/IT and the "another instant 'attack'?" thread. It goes to show exactly why everything I had attempted was useless. Thank you from the "heart". I was going to write a much longer post but I see that it is again useless to do so in my chaotically confluent state. One minute I am sure I am observing IT, then I am not sure if I am the "observing side" or the "observed side". So the next question is how narcistic is 'Saman'? Does it matter that I know this right now? I've asked this question of myself but it is useless for me to try to answer it. There is too many self justifying thoughts. Thoughts like but "you were telling me that I don't know anything nor do I understand anything about what love is when it was because of what I visioned love to be that I have not quit my 'aim' to strive to be a STO candidate". There are other thoughts such as "from all things where I could be silent about in that situation, why was it that it had to be the one thing that has kept me going through all the suffering I've endured and why did it have to be when Ark had joined the discussion with such interesting notion that I resonated so strongly with, and yet was given mixed messages that on one hand told me to keep silent, and so I was, but on the other that it was okay to continue the dicussion, and then I was removed when I thought it would be okay if I share what I had posted in private to two other members when i was only trying to be externally considerate to others who didn't want to read my posts, since that was what I thought they wanted". These are the thoughts that I cannot divide into two sides with clarity because of constant identification. Does this mean that it is not I who is writing right now but 'Saman'/IT?
 

Raintree

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
[...]
Laura said:
Now, perhaps, Gurdjieff's words in the following excerpts will make more sense:
[...]
Gurdjieff said:
"The most dangerous thing in this case is to rely on one's own judgment. If a man is lucky he may at this time have someone near him who can tell him where he is and where 'Ouspensky' is. But he must moreover trust this person, because he will undoubtedly think that he understands everything himself and that he knows where he is and where 'Ouspensky' is. And not only in relation to himself but in relation also to other people will he think that he knows and sees their 'Ouspenskys.' All this is of course self-deception.

At this stage a man can see nothing either in relation to himself or to others. The more convinced he is that he can, the more he is mistaken.

But if he can be even to a slight extent sincere with himself and really wants to know the truth, then he can find an exact and infallible basis for judging rightly first about himself and then about other people.

But the whole point lies in being sincere with oneself. And this is by no means easy.

People do not understand that sincerity must be learned. They imagine that to be sincere or not to be sincere depends upon their desire or decision. But how can a man be sincere with himself when in actual fact he sincerely does not see what he ought to see in himself?

Someone has to show it to him. And his attitude towards the person who shows him must be a right one, that is, such as will help him to see what is shown him and not, as often happens, hinder him if he begins to think that he already knows better.
[...]

saman said:
[...]
I've asked this question of myself but it is useless for me to try to answer it. There is too many self justifying thoughts. [...] These are the thoughts that I cannot divide into two sides with clarity because of constant identification. Does this mean that it is not I who is writing right now but 'Saman'/IT?
The above excerpt shared by Laura from Gurdjieff hits the mark precisely as to why "Saman", for the lack of a better reference, could not divide himself from 'Saman' due to constant identification with his justifying thoughts. 'Saman' thinks he knows about love already better then Laura, Ark, and others. This is false. He does not know better. If he did, the "proof would had been in the putting" through examplary choices and actions observed both in his inner and outer life. There is no "putting" to verify that he does. All there is 'Saman' falling into "one way streets" repeatedly. Probably due to his unconscious childhood upbringing. Hence what 'Saman' knows about love, is a lie. The thought that "it is because of love that I have not quite my 'aim' of striving to become a STO candidate" is a clever twist by 'Saman' to confuse the issue and make it more difficult to not identify. This twist no longer has an affect.
 

nf3

Padawan Learner
CarpeDiem said:
Heck, shyness is a Maiden role model in russian folklore! If you read these russian fairy tales, it's always the shy sister, who is obedient to the will of her father, or some fairy witch she encounters in a deep well, or in the forest; who gets then married to her prince (or to a honest youth) and returns home with dowry presents. That's quite a shock!
So obedience earns her material rewards? What, if anything, does she do for others? Sounds like an interesting bit of social programming if I'm understanding you correctly: just suffer without making a fuss and everything will work itself out.

Shyness is just one of many psychoneuroses that a person can develop in response to a traumatic event. Modern culture tends to look upon psychoneurosis as a diseased state of mind, but authors like William James, Martha Stout and Kazimierz Dabrowski have pointed out that people who are capable of experiencing these states also tend to have a much greater depth of thought and feeling than those who just roll with the punches and don't seem to notice the darker sides of life on this planet.

Laura quoting William James in The Wave said:
At our last meeting, we considered the healthy-minded temperament, the temperament which has a constitutional incapacity for prolonged suffering, and in which the tendency to see things optimistically is like a water of crystallization in which the individual's character is set. We saw how this temperament may become the basis for a peculiar type of religion, a religion in which good, even the good of this world's life, is regarded as the essential thing for a rational being to attend to. This religion directs him to settle his scores with the more evil aspects of the universe by systematically declining to lay them to heart or make much of them, by ignoring them in his reflective calculations, or even, on occasion, by denying them outright. Evil is a disease and worry about evil is a disease in itself. Even repentance and remorse.. may be but sickly impulses.

Let us now... turn towards those persons who cannot so swiftly throw off the burden of the consciousness of evil, but are congenitally fated to suffer from its presence. ...there are different levels of the morbid mind... there are people for whom evil means only a maladjustment with things, a wrong correspondence of one's life with the environment. Such evil as this is curable... by either modifying the self or the things or both at once. There are others for whom evil is... a wrongness or vice in [their] essential structure, which no alteration in the environment, or any superficial rearrangement of the inner self, can cure, and which requires a supernatural remedy. On the whole, the Latin races have leaned more towards the former way of looking upon evil, ...while the Germanic races have tended rather to think of Sin in the singular, and with a capital S, as of something ineradicably ingrained in our natural subjectivity, and never to be removed by any superficial piecemeal operations.

...we speak of the threshold of a man's consciousness in general, to indicate the amount of noise, pressure, or other outer stimulus which it takes to arouse his attention at all. One with a high threshold will doze through an amount of racket by which one with a low threshold would be immediately waked. Similarly, when one is sensitive to small differences in any order of sensation, we say he has a low 'difference threshold.' His mind easily steps over it into the consciousness of the differences in question. And just so we might speak of a 'pain threshold' a 'fear threshold,' a 'misery threshold,' and find it quickly overpassed by the consciousness of some individuals, but lying too high in others to be reached by their consciousness.

Goethe [expressed] 'I will say nothing against the course of my existence. But at the bottom it has been nothing but pain and burden, and I can affirm that during the whole of my 75 years, I have not had four weeks of genuine well-being. It is but the perpetual rolling of a rock that must be raised up again forever.'

And Martin Luther said: 'I am utterly weary of life. I pray the Lord will come forthwith and carry me hence... rather than live forty years more, I would give up my chance of Paradise.'

The only relief that 'healthy mindedness' can give is: 'Stuff and nonsense! Get out into the open air! Cheer up, you'll be all right if you will only drop your morbidness!' But, to ascribe spiritual value to mere happy-go-lucky contentment is but the very consecration of forgetfulness and superficiality. Our troubles are that we CAN die, that we CAN be ill, that we ... need a life not correlated with death, a health not laible to illness, a good that will not perish... said a friend: 'The trouble with me is that I believe too much in happiness and goodness and nothing can console me for their transiency.'

[And so those who experience] a little cooling down of animal excitability and instinct, a little loss of animal toughness, a little descent of the pain threshold, brings the worm at the core of all our usual springs of delight into full view, and turns us into melancholy metaphysicians.

Conceive yourself, if possible, suddenly stripped of all the emotion with which your world now inspires you and try to imagine it as it exists, purely by itself, without your favorable, hopeful or apprehensive comment. It will be almost impossible for you to realize such a condition of negativity and deadness. Whatever of value, interest, or meaning our world may appear endued with are pure gifts of the spectator's mind. [For example] love transforms the creature loved as utterly as the sunrise transforms Mont Blanc from a corpse-like gray to a rosy enchantment. [So with our emotions] if they are there, life changes. [This alone should tell us how easily our emotions can be used to control or hypnotize us!]

In Tolstoy's case the sense that life had any meaning whatever was for a time wholly withdrawn. The result was a transformation in the whole expression of reality. When we study the phenomenon of regeneration, we shall see that a not infrequent consequence of the change is a transfiguration of the face of nature in his eyes. ...An urgent wondering and questioning is set up, a poring theoretic activity, and in the desperate effort to get into right relation with the matter, the sufferer is often led to a solution...

Tolstoy writes: '...I was neither insane nor ill. On the contrary, I possessed a physical and mental strength which I have rarely met in persons of my age. I could mow as well as the peasants, I could work with my brain eight hours uninterruptedly and feel no bad effects. And yet I could give no reasonable meaning to any actions of my life. And I was surprised that I had not understood this from the very beginning. My state of mind was as if some wicked and stupid jest was being played upon me by someone. One can live only so long as one is intoxicated, drunk with life but when one grows sober one cannot fail to see that it is all a stupid cheat. What is truest about it is that there is nothing even funny or silly in it; it is cruel and stupid, purely and simply. But perhaps, I said to myself, there may be something I have failed to notice or to comprehend. it is not possible that this condition of despair should be natural to mankind. And I sought for an explanaton in all the branches of knowledge acquired by men. I questioned painfully and protractedly and with no idle curiosity. I sought, not with indolence, but laboriously and obstinately for days and nights on end. I sought like a man who is lost and seeks to save himself - and I found nothing. I became convinced, moreover, that all those who before me had sought for an answer in the sciences have also found nothing. And not only this, but that they have recognized that the very thing which was leading me to despair - the meaningless absurdity of life - is the only incontestable knowledge accessible to man.'

The only thing that need interest us now is the phenomenon of this absolute disenchantment with ordinary life... when disillusionment has gone as far as this, when one has tasted of the fruit of the tree, and the happiness of Eden never comes again... the only happiness that then can come is something vastly more complex, including natural evil as one of its elements. The sufferer is born again as a deeper kind of conscious being than he could be before.

Having arrived at this point, we can see the antagonism that must arise between the 'healthy-minded' optimist and the morbid-minded who take the experience of viewing evil as essential. To the latter, 'healthy-mindedness' seems unspeakably blind and shallow. To the former, the latter seems seems unmanly and diseased. They believe that there is something almost obscene about these children of wrath and cravers of a second birth. And, if religious intolerance, hanging and burning at the stake, were still in vogue, there is little doubt that the 'healthy-minded' would advocate the destruction of the morbid minded rather than the other way around.

The method of averting one's attention from evil, and living simply in the light of good is splendid as long as it will work. ...yet there is no doubt that 'healthy-mindedness is inadequate as a philosophical doctrine, because the evil facts which it refuses positively to account for are a genuine portion of reality; and these evil facts may be, after all, the best key to life's significance, and possibly the only openers of our eyes to the deepest levels of truth.

The lunatic's visions of horror are all drawn from the material of daily fact. Our civilization is founded on the shambles and every individual existence goes out in a lonely spasm of helpless agony. To believe in the carnivorous reptiles of geologic times is hard for our imagination - they seem too much like museum specimens. Yet there is no tooth in any one of those museum skulls that did not daily hold fast to the body struggling in despair of some fated living victim. Forms of horror just as dreadful to the victims fill the world about us today. Here, on our very hearths, the infernal cat plays with the panting mouse or holds the hot bird fluttering in her jaws. Crocodiles, pythons and rattlesnakes are vessels of life as real as we are; and whenever they or other wild beasts clutch their living prey, the deadly horror which the morbid minded feels is the literally right reaction to the situation.

...Since the evil facts are as genuine parts of nature as the good ones, and our philosophic presumption should be that they have some rational significance, then systematic failure to accord these things active attention is less complete than those systems that attempt to include these elements in their scope. The 'healthy-minded optimists only need to be born once, but the 'sick souls' need to be born twice to be happy.

[Laura's note: The result is two different conceptions of the universe: subjective and objective.]

In the once born, the world is a one-storied affair... whose parts have just the values which they appear to have... [to the twice born] the world is a double-storied mystery. Natural good is not simply insufficient in amount and transient, there lurks a falsity in its very being. It keeps us from our real good and renunciation and despair of it are our first step in the direction of the truth. There are two lives, the natural and the spiritual and we must lose the one before we can participate in the other.
Martha Stout describes a similar division between two fundamental types of people in The Myth of Sanity.

Martha Stout said:
As a therapist, I see trauma survivors, and in the course of my profession I have heard the life stories of dozens and hundreds of people who have survived childhood and adult circumstances of unrelenting horror. The vague whisper I heard through knowing my grandmother, that life was not always so gentle as my childhood, has become a frank cacophony of excruciating human histories.

And now it is my trauma patients who seem the oldest souls in the world, though some of them are quite young people. They are proud human spirits who seem ancient and ageless at the same time. Over the years, I have seen brighter passions in their eyes than in the eyes of any priest or guru. I have heard more wisdom from their mouths than I have read in any book. And, ironically I suppose, I have at times experienced a more profound and centered stillness in their presence than in the company of people whose histories and memories have been far less scarred.

My patients come from both genders, and all walks of life. Some are simple. Others possess intellects as brilliant and faceted as diamonds. Most are somewhere in between. They come to my office bearing a wide variety of diagnoses currently in medical vogue: depression, manic-depressive disorder, panic disorder, anorexia nervosa, alcoholism, borderline personality disorder, paranoia. Their stories are seemingly diverse. Some have survived earthquakes. One, when she was two years old, watched from inside the basket someone had hidden her in, as her Cambodian parents and nine sisters and brothers were shot to death by invading soldiers. Many others have survived chronic childhood incest. And still others are adult survivors of other kinds of childhood-long abuse, physical and psychological.

But I have learned that they all have one thing in common. Underlying the various forms of heartrending pain and diverse complaints with which they come to therapy is the same fundamental question--Shall I choose to die, or shall I choose to live? They come to therapy to help themselves answer that question, and I will get nowhere if I try to answer the question for them, or even delay its consideration. The rest of therapy never begins for a survivor of trauma until that ruthlessly basic question has been answered.

...The survivors I see in my practice have known undistilled fear, have seen how nakedly terrifying life can be, and in many cases have seen how starkly ugly their fellow human beings can be. Listening to their stories, no one at all could be surprised that they consider the possibility of not going on. In a struggle with the power of their past experiences, even the biological imperative to survive is puny.

No. Their choosing to die would not be surprising. What is so extraordinary about these people is that they choose to live-not just to not die, not just to survive, but to live.

Why this choice gets made, and how it gets put into practice, are two of the most interesting personal, psychological, and philosophical questions I can conceive of. And one of the greatest privileges of my life has been to know the people who are my patients, to be able to sit with them, to be a part of their lives for a while, and with grateful and undisguised self-interest, to listen. For I have become convinced that these courageous people, in winning their struggles, must learn things about genuine living, and about genuine sanity, that the rest of us have never even imagined.
The above, I think, is very important because it gives another perspective on what Gurdjieff said about the need to awaken to the mechanical nature of life. To realize the aimlessness of it all and ones part in it so that one can be ready to go through the process of death and rebirth and learn about "genuine living" and "genuine sanity" that most people have never even imagined. But again there seems to be a divide in the human population between those who experience certain events as traumatic and those who seem to have a much higher tolerance.

Which brings us to Dabrowski's Psychoneurosis is Not an Illness.

Dabrowski said:
The majority of psychopathological conditions, such as nervousness, neuroses and psychoneuroses, are -- from the standpoint of the theory of positive disintegration -- behavioral patterns of inner, mental changes of a positive character. By “positive” we imply here changes that lead from a lower to a higher (i.e. broader, more controlled and more conscious) level of mental functioning. The process of change may involve mental disharmony, loosening of functions or even mental disorder. Such phenomena as disquietude, astonishment, anxiety, or dissatisfaction with oneself, feelings of inferiority regarding oneself, fear, guilt, certain obsessive or ecstatic conditions, exaggerated control of oneself, strong introvertive tendencies, etc., are processes which often indicate positive changes in building a new inner psychic milieu.

The so-called disturbances of inner feeling and...disturbances of the autonomic nervous system...may constitute certain primitive requirements giving rise to those conditions which are conducive to self-observation and result in a change of attitude towards oneself.

A profound knowledge of oneself and a deep level of emotional experience, as well as a more meaningful contact with the environment seems to be impossible without going through conflicts, disharmony, intensified sensitivity, and even organis or mental illness. While it is true that certain internal somatic or neurological disturbances exhibit symptoms similar to psychoneurotic symptoms, there are as yet no sufficient grounds for deducing a somatic etiology in psychoneurosis in general. In our opinion the latter view is an erroneous oversimplification. The tendency to treat psychoneuroses as being symptomatic of the first phase of a more serious mental disease...can no longer be maintained.
Dabrowski describes people who are prone to experiencing these inner conflicts as 'overexcitable,' and very similar to James' "sick souls." He even divides these overexcitabilities into categories that I think may correspond very closely to Gurdjieff's 5 centers:

Psychomotor: Moving center
Sensual/sensory: Instinctive center
Affective: Emotional center
Imaginational: 'Sexual' center
Mental: Intellectual center

Now by 'overexcitability' in any of these areas he meant a heightened sensitivity. A broader and deeper range of experience. Overexcitability in the areas of affect, imagination and intellect are, in his theory, assosciated with an increased potential for development. That is, only heightened sensitivity of emotion, thought and imagination can lead a person into the depth of experiencing necessary for a death of the false personality and a rebirth of the underlying essence. Though Dabrowski describes it as an ongoing process of disintegration of lower, more automatic behaviors which are then reintegrated as more conscious behaviors.

So we are then left with the question of the difference between those who use psychoneurosis as a stepping stone and those who seem to see it as an ends in itself, taking it to the extreme of true mental illness or simply returning to 'normal' life with the other 'healthy-minded.'

Stout and Dabrowski both touch on this difference.

Dabrowski said:
Psychoneuroses -- especially those of a higher level -- provide an opportunity to "take one's life in one's own hands." They are expressive of a drive for psychic autonomy, especially moral autonomy, through transformation of a more or less primitively integrated structure. This is a process in which the individual himself becomes an active agent in his disintegration, and even breakdown. Thus the person finds a "cure" for himself, not in the sense of a rehabilitation but rather in the sense of reaching a higher level than the one at which he was prior to disintegration. This occurs through a process of an education of oneself and of an inner psychic transformation. One of the main mechanisms of this process is a continual sense of looking into oneself as if from outside, followed by a conscious affirmation or negation of conditions and values in both the internal and external environments. Through this constant creation of himself, through the development of the inner psychic milieu, and development of discriminating power with respect to both the inner and outer milieus -- an individual goes through ever higher levels of "neuroses" and at the same time through ever higher levels of universal development of his personality.

[...]
Negative developmental potential.

In a significant number of cases of isolated forms of sensual or psychomotor overexcitability (i.e. when there is no admixture of other forms of overexcitability), in cases when the nuclei of the inner psychic milieu, wider interests and abilities, and sharp awareness of one's own developmental path are lacking, we are dealing with a negative potential which is not helped by the influence of the environment, but on the contrary, is harmed by it.

It is difficult to speak of a negative psychoneurotic potential because a negative developmental potential covers the borderline of psychoneurotic nuclei, psychopathy, psychosis and even mental retardation. When enhanced psychomotor and sensual overexcitability is combined with strong ambitions, tendencies to showing off and lying, it constitutes a nucleus of psychopathy with some neuropathic components. This is a potential for the development of characteropathy, or, better, of hysterical psychopathy.

Tendencies toward disintegration with very limited or quite absent activity of the developmental instinct, and with a greater strength and number of disintegrating dynamisms over the integrating ones, are found in the potential on the borderline of psychoneurosis and psychosis. On the borderline of mental retardation and psychoneurosis (or, rather, neurosis) the developmental dynamisms appear weak pointing to a very limited developmental potential.

These forms of the developmental potential -- insufficient for positive development -- may be called abiotrophic to denote the absence or degeneration of the normal functions of the organism, in this case as applied to mental development.

...Developmental potential which is not universal and of weak tension may lead either to positive development through nervousness and psychoneuroses, or to negative disintegration, psychosis or suicide. The environmental influence is to a very great degree responsible for the path which will be taken.

...The establishment of the inner psychic milieu on a higher level and of an increasingly more human attitude towards the external environment requires the stimulation of higher functions and the inhibition of lower functions. This involves many kinds of sensitivity and excitability, numerous inner conflicts, emergence of multilevel inner forces...

[...]
Tendency towards more of internal conflict and less of external conflict.

Affirming and denying certain influences from the environment and certain tendencies of the inner milieu often serves as a nucleus of discriminating activity in the making of conscious choices. A patient said: "I do not agree with myself, I condemn myself, I am ashamed of myself. I will not allow my "lower self" to choke my "higher self." Some say that to have conflicts with oneself is bad. Nonsense. They make me grow, they make me understand others, thanks to them I am less in conflict with others."

In case 1 [referring to previous case studies too long to include here] we see that the patient reacted very strongly to external situations and that she frequently transferred the enter of gravity of her reactions onto herself (as a relation to herself). For instance in her fear of the possible coming of fear, in her fear of seeing in her own face in the mirror the signs of mental illness, she shows the transition from external conflict to an internal conflict.

In case 2 the patient became indifferent to external events, with the exception of the most brutal forms of behaviour around her, but transferred all her conflicts to her inner psychic milieu. They then became internal conflicts between the ordinary reality of life and the world of moral and transcendental reality. In case 3 we also observe that all conflicts take place in the world of inner life. They are invariably related to feelings of inferiority in relation to the patient himself, with a feeling of guilt, with a sense of an inner hierarchy of values, (yet universal) and a feeling of not having realized it to a sufficient degree. In case 4 we observe almost exclusively external conflicts. In response to these conflicts there are phobias and obsessions. The incapacity to make the transition to developmental inner conflicts is directly related to the absence of hierarchical elements.

Case 4...is an example of a low level of psychoneurotic anxiety, where the fears and obsessions concern only external events. There is no inner psychic transformation, instead strong manifestation of concern with survival (low level of the self-preservation instinct), obsessions with magical contents (repeating numbers, avoiding situations that brought her “bad luck”). These reactions are not subject to attempts to control and alter them by reasoning that the situations that brought them about are part of life and happen to others too. There is also no attempt to step outside of her egocentric sensations which are more related to her body than to an awareness of herself as a person. That is why we can say that there are no signs of inner psychic transformation.
So in Dabrowski's theory we see the difference as an inner sense of 'higher and lower' and a tendency towards inner conflict rather than outer conflict. A sense of responsibility towards others and a desire to fulfill that responsibility even it requires strong conflict within oneself.

Stout said:
Given the work I do, I naturally ponder whether there are any organizing systems of meaning arid value-"good" ones or "bad" ones-that correlate with successful recovery from dissociative disorders, or any that militate against such an outcome. Are there souls, so to speak, for whom the prognosis is better than for others? And when I consider all my patients, over all the years, the answer is yes: there is in fact an astonishingly robust correlation between an individual's successful recovery on the one hand, and on the other hand, a person's preexisting conviction that she and she alone is responsible for something. This something could be an endeavor or a specific person, or is quite likely to be the conduct of her life in general. People who are compelled and organized by a sense of responsibility for their actions tend to recover.

And conversely, sadly, people whose directive meaning systems do not include such a conviction tend not to recover, tend to remain dissociatively fragmented and lost.

This distinction is other than that of perceived locus of control-Who has the power, I or the universe?-which is an understandably double-edged issue for nearly all survivors of trauma. Rather, the difference is that of tenaciously assuming personal responsibility for one's own actions, and therefore taking on personal risk, versus placing the highest valuation upon personal safety, both physical and emotional, which often precludes the acknowledgment of responsibility. (If I acknowledge responsibility toward my child-or my friend or my ideas or my community-then I may be compelled to stick my neck out. I may have to do or feel something that will make me more vulnerable.) Here, the psychology of trauma comes full circle, in that the original function of dissociation is to buffer and protect; and so by rights, patients who value self-protection above all else should be candidates for treatment failure, even though they may experience, in addition, an ambivalent wish to be rid of their devitalizing dissociative reactions.

A self-protective system of mind may express itself behaviorally in many ways. Three of the most common ways can be characterized as action-avoidant dependency upon another person or upon a confining set of rules, a preoccupation with reassigning blame, and actions and complaints that indicate a lack of perspective on one's own problems relative to the problems of others.

...A survivor of trauma is a victim, certainly; but "victim" does not comprise the totality of her, or anyone else's, identity. Helpers must support the healing process in both of its phases: the survivor must endure the discovery that she is a victim, and then she must take responsibility for being that no longer. Both parts are equally important, and in neither phase can self-protection be the primary goal. Enabling someone's long­term identity as a victim robs her of an important human right, that of being responsible for her own life.

Also, whether or not a particular person is willing, after a time, to relinquish the status of victim is important information for a helper, because it tends to predict who will and who will not recover. In this regard, I sometimes gently point out to a patient that if she will reflect for a moment, she will probably realize that extreme victim identification and self-pity were, truth to tell, prominent characteristics of her abuser. And is this really how she wants to live her whole life, too?

...In many ways, close study of dissociative behavior supports an old truth, that we cannot simultaneously protect ourselves and experience life fully. These two desires preclude each other proportionately. To the extent that we try to protect ourselves, we cannot truly live; and to the extent that we truly live, we cannot place our highest value upon protecting ourselves. This lesson, is not new, but it is interesting that the theme reiterates itself right down to our neurological blueprints. Maybe there is no salvation for any of us outside of the meaning system provided by personal responsibility, despite all the daunting risks. Perhaps this is why we so doggedly look for examples of accountability in our role models, our parents, our leaders.
Unfortunately, most of those roles we look to for examples of accountability are filled by psychopaths and characteropaths. Stout says that if we take this self protective attitude, we cannot live life fully. This is true, but more in line with the work we do here, if we take this self-protective attitude we cannot help others.
 

CarpeDiem

Jedi Council Member
Hell, you are right!! Shyness is overhelming internal considering, it does not help others a thing to see reality objectively, it denies reality - it relies on illusion if you don't make a fuss about it, just shut up about it - everything will readjust itself fine - It's a denial of responsibility and self-calming.
 
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