Anxiety and Depression.

What are anxiety and depression?

They are how life seems in response to trauma. We regress to where it’s safe, to Mother, even if it costs us our wings.

But what if the trauma itself is loss of Mother? And what if this loss has been eroding human contentment for millenia?

Loss of the Divine Feminine, stripping motherhood of sacred context, is going to damage baby and is bound to give rise to compensatory, narcissistic defences to bulwark raging inner emptiness.

Sincs we can’t (daren’t) blame God for this we blame the Enemy, the rival predatory suckling, the dark brother, a phantasy demon born of deprivation who holds, who must hold, the good stuff.

Our spiritual emptiness is then ameliorated by riteous hate of the rival whom we can then blame for all our ills.

But there is a problem with this. In order to cover over our anxiety and depression we have to be at war. With ourselves and one another.

We go to war so as to afford ourselves the means to smooth an eternal path of prejudice and depersonalisation over our neighbour, the hated rival, whom we must experience as inferior as well as unduly favoured.

This means that prejudice and paranoia are intrinsic to monotheistic culture. It begins with mockery and ends with napalm.

Reducing the divine feminine to a whore riding her beast in Revelations, paraded up and down like a condemned prisoner prior to execution, has resulted in the collective depletion of the Western psyche. It has had consequences that have washed down through the centuries, culminating in alienation, compulsive aggression, instant gratification and the analyst’s couch.

The narcissistic schism this creates in families is not simply that parents are preoccupied with themselves and the nagging sense of their own incompletness. The absence of the Principle of Relatedness means that they struggle to find value in their kids or pleasure in their company.

The ‘me, me, me,’ is a default position resulting from a de facto failure to attribute sufficient significance to one another or to derive real nurture from our relationships.

Without value inherently invested in the Other we become isolated and shut off, compelled to revisit the underlying and unacknowledged horror of Mother’s loss in any number of substitute situations whilst vainly keeping our heads above water by the power that riteous indignation and eternal sabre rattling has to keep the fragmenting psyche together.

Freud observed that people lose their neuroses during times of war. Why? Because, win or lose, they feel vindicated, can band together and have something other than the condition they were born into to feel anxious and depressed about.

I have been to war so I know about this stuff. We were always so upbeat about everything, even when we knew we were losing. Why? Because the issue of an outer victory was a secondary consideration next to the inner need to have others carry our inferior feelings….

even though they won….

yep, just goes to show how non-rational such things really are. The losers can still de-value the victors and collectively identify with one another in lieu of relatedness.

Or just go and start another war…

Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Iraq.

And its not for oil, or political ideology. Its the need to aggressively ramp up the projection of the Dark Brother so that the fractured template of our spiritual paradigm can be knit back together just that little bit more than it might if peace broke out.

Our Collective Narcissism is caught in a trap. To get out we have to afford the other with value, or at least validity. All the feelings of deadness and loss then wing their way home across the nomansland that formerly separated us from those fragments of soul which give testament to our inner poverty.

What this means is that the resolution to narcissim is by way of anxiety and depression.

Our only health is the disease,

If we obey the dying nurse-

Whose constant care is not to please,

but to remind of our and Adam’s curse

That to be restored

Our sickness must grow worse. T.S. Eliot   East Coker.

Rather than fixing them or using behavioural techniques of suppression we are challenged to live with our affliction, find meaning in them, to acknowledge that there really is something going on to be anxious and depressed about.

‘We become enlightened, not by imagining beings of light, but by going down into the dark’. Carl Jung

Anxiety and Depression are dirty words for the most part. We spend billions annually combating them, little realising that it is our defensive attitude that exacerbates and causes the very condition we are wanting to diminish.

If we would heal our divided self it is by way of embracing the loss of relatedness and mutuality that our superior, holier-than-thou attitudes have bought us. Being ‘positive’ won’t cut it. We have to find a way of relieving what we consider to be ‘negative’ of the stigma we are so determined to attach to it. Only then will we find the humility and compassion to live peacefully with ourselves and with one another.

Healing the Anxious Heart.

We live in what W.H. Auden calls, ‘the Age of Anxiety.’
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“We would rather be ruined than changed
We would rather die in our dread
Than climb the cross of the moment
And let our illusions die.”  W.H. Auden.
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Like no other, our era is suffused with a nameless trepidation that trawls our inner landscapes…
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”like droves of cattle, like soldiers marching, or big flakes of foam on a flooded river pushing on through the brain.” P. Kennedy.
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It is also true that never has so much time and effort been spared to counteract anxiety. We spend billions on therapy and medication to little avail. In fact our efforts seem so fruitless that one cannot help but ponder at the possibility that our remedies are part of the problem.
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The fact is that…
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”nothing goes away until it teaches us what we need to know.” Pema Chodron.
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Do we have something to learn from anxiety?
Could it be there for a reason?
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Our age is also one, as never before, that is rooted in material values and aspirations. We pursue comfort and security as if it were the Holy Grail. Our collective goals are not betterment or growth or being part of something, but relaxation, having the kind of life that has as the index of its success being able to lie by the pool.
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We work, not to contribute or to rise to a challenge, but so that we can be protected from tomorrow. Our hopes and dreams are circumscribed by palm trees, white sand and secure investments.
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We veiw pain and suffering as a malevolent force to be defended against at all costs, almost as if it were a sacred duty.
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This polarisation of life restricts us…
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”Consciousness must involve both pleasure and pain. The more we struggle for pleasure (only) the more we are actually killing what we love.” A. Watts.
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Because we can’t or won’t find meaning in anxiety, opting rather for the search and destroy scenario, so to are we compelled to eradicate the pleasures of life and fail to be replenished by them.
Wanting only half the pie we get none of it.
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The Western cult of consciousness leads us to believe that we really can have one without the other. We then suppress and project our anxiety onto unfortunate others, raising razor wire between our successful selves and those who seem to have lost their protective amulets. Like any projection, this exerts a fascination over us and so we sit compulsively glued to the endless newscasts depicting their misery.
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But anxiety is part of life. Material ruin, environmental disaster and the machinations of evil regimes are but a few of Anxiety’s playing fields.
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One of Nobel Prize winner A. Solzhenitsyn’s great insights is that blows of fate are not to be avoided or eschewed as meaningless. He refers to his own imprisonment as ‘concentrated living.’
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”It is extremely important to recognise that the uncontrollable caprice of fate await everyone. Illness, catastrophe, accidents and death are only another form of arrest, trial, prison and punishment camp.” A. Weatherall.
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The more we try to avoid it the worse it gets.
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”The desire for security and the feeling of insecurity are the same thing.” A.Watts.
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Despite our antipathies Anxiety’s roots are given considerable room to spread from the very start of life in Western culture. The suppression of the Divine Feminine does more than undermine the inner life of women. It undermines us all.
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”In emotional development, the precursor of the mirror is the Mother’s face. What a child sees (there) is…. themselves. What she looks like is what baby takes itself for.” Whitmont
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Regardless of mother’s devotion to her baby, the deprivation of access to the sacred mysteries of her sex, the lived experience of the Great Mother, is bound to leave her inner life anxiously uprooted. These cracks in life’s mirror..
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”interrupt (baby’s) going-on-being and give rise to threats of annihilation.” D Winnicott.
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So we have more than our fair share of anxiety from the start. Yet even this is an Ariadne’s thread to return us to the truth of Christendom’s inner impoverishment and longing that is the legacy of the lost Goddess.
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Moreover, life really is short, nasty and brutish. Our fragility, impermanence and mortality is something to be anxious about. Those who are not anxious in the face of such ontological givens are either sages or psychopaths. The former are liberated only by the paradox of accepting anxiety for what it is and the latter are hardly role models.
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Our issue is not simply that we are suffused with anxiety and continuously at war with it but that..
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”we have forgotten how to be anxious about the right thing.” S Kierkegaard.
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After all,  there is a sense in which the unconscious holds us in the palm of its hand.
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”Something unknown is doing I don’t know what.” E. Ramirez.
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The cult of consciousness dismisses these archetypal stratae of the psyche at its anxious peril. Rather we ought…
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”to experience these forces anew and not wait for our moods, nervous states and delusions to make it clear in the most painful way that we are not masters of our own houses.” C.G. Jung
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Our situation is not unlike the protagonist in ‘the life of Pi’, who finds himself on a small boat with a tiger, except that in our case we never quite get around to really acknowledging the fact and only ever concede to catching the swish of its tail out of the corner of our eye, giving rise to nameless apprehension rather than awe and cautious wonder.
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”Heart, alone in the night, beat.
Beat for all you are worth.
Be the night’s pulse,
Be the blackbird about to sing.
Somewhere under the earth the waters break.” J. Moat