Narcissism, Compulsion and the Soul.

There were once two psychiatrists. The one invites the other for dinner. The guest arrives, asks to use the bathroom and disappears for an hour. Eventually he emerges with a knowing look.

”You have a serious obsessive compulsion,’ he says to his collegue, ”there are 542 bars of soap in your bathroom. I know, I counted every last one.”

Of course psychological conditions are bound to overlap but Narcissism and OCD seem to have a special relationship.

Why?

I was watching a Ted Talk, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of ‘ Eat, Pray, Love’. She made the point that people who became very successful had a tendency to go mad and top themselves because they confuse themselves with the ‘Genius Loci’ who served as their muse.

The solution, she said, is to remember that ‘genius’, is its own thing. Not-me.

Very Interesting, but what is your point?

The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate. That is to say, when the individual remains undivided and does not become conscious of his inner opposite, the world must perforce act out the conflict and be torn into opposing halves. ~Carl Jung.

Narcissism notoriously lives out only one corner of (an idealised) life. Both the dark Brother, the less than salubrious aspects of himself, and the unlived potential, The Self, have to be projected…

and then come banging at the castle gates again and again.

And because the contents projected are always the same…

the banging is also the same…

and so interpersonal scenarios are endlessly repeated..

as are ritualised patterns of behaviour behind closed doors.

We live in a time of relative spiritual malaise. We also live in a time of marked obsessiveness and compulsive behaviour.

Could there be a connection?

Its curious that the definition and symptoms listed by DSM5 for a diagnosis of OCD (which includes praying!) sound distinctly like the ritual contents of religious ceremony. These include,

”repetitive behaviours, according to rules that must be rigidly applied.”DSM5

like a church service….

Precisely. Sacramental acts are also, ‘aimed at preventing or reducing distress or preventing some dread event.’

What’s the connection with Narcissism?

Waaal, Narcissism is particularily prone to OCD not just because the dark brother is eternally projected, but because the ego is identified with the Self. This means that there is no real spiritual life.

I don’t get it.

Spiritual life necessitates a relationship with God..

yeees…

but if you are identified with God then there is no relationship. Instead of having a religion, the religion has you…

By the scruff…

And marches its children off to war….

or down to the supermarket for a dozen bottles of bleach and a pack of toothbrushes so you can purify the pelmets of your appartment at 4 in the morning…

or out in the rain to buy cigarretes while every bone in your body is screaming, ‘DON’T DO IT!!’.

or muttering shameful babble to appease the fates whilst not realising that the person next to you on the bus is lookin’ at you strangely…

or washing endlessly in lieu of a genuine cleansing.

”It is not a matter of indifference if one calls something a ‘mania’ or a ‘god’. To serve a mania is detestable and undignified. But to serve a god is full of meaning and promise.” CG Jung

Narcissism won’t share, has no story, nothing to be a part off…

because there is no relatedness or participation in that which transcends it.

And for the want of partness in the greater whole we have compulsive patterning instead.

Like a stuck gramaphone record doing the same thing over and over. Round and round. Instead of meaningful sacrament we have chaotic excrement.

Instead of being drawn we are driven.

The fantasy that we are the captains of our own ships beckons the raven’s claw.

”Whoever sets himself up as judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.” A Einstein.

For want of having a story to belong in we are caught eternally on the same page.

And more than that, for want of the Principle of Relatedness that gifts us with both belonging and the internal flexibility of a conversation between I and me, we are robbed not just of meaningful context but of our own humanity..

which is perhaps why the DSM5 definition of OCD uses the language of automation, describing the phenomenon as ‘the brain’s junk mail.” Though it significantly acknowledges that OCD is responsible for, ”communication errors among different parts of the brain.” Ie. there’s a problem with internal dialogue.

meaning…?

That without the capacity for self-reflection we are driven along like leaves in the wind.

The legacy of Western Civilisation is effectively the deification of consciousness. Having cast out the divine feminine, the principle that mediates between Logos and ego, the two are bound to get confused…

like when you don’t have a soap dish and so you leave the soap in the bath and it gets all mushy and your mum yells at you?

Exactly, ego gets ‘god-almighty’, which is all very well for a bit…

until the mush begins..

and soon starts behaving as though there were no limits and as if nothing mattered save itself.

The psyche responds with a big fat neurosis to bring about some sense of proportion in lieu of actual awareness. Instead of the cleansing renewal he was hoping for the bath room hero finds himself compulsively feeling about the teensy yet glorified space into which he’s soaped himself.

…pretty sure he’s in there somewhere.

Published by

andywhite

Psychotherapist/writer/artist/ author of, ‘Going Mad to Stay Sane’, a psychology of self-destructiveness, about to come into its third edition.

Soon to be printed for the first time, ‘Abundant Delicious.. the Secret and the Mystery’, described by activist Satish Kumar as, ‘ A Tao of the Soul’. This book documents the archetypal country through which the process of individuation occurs and looks at the trials and tribulations we might expect on the way.

In the meantime…..
Narcissisim is the issue of our age.
This blog looks at how it operates, how it can damage and how we may still fruit despite it.

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