Healing the Narcissistic Wound.

Despite the prevelance of Narcissism in our culture, the literature offers little to help us understand how such things have come about.

We have to turn to more ancient, deeper sources of wisdom.

“Myths are a primordial language…  psychic phenomena that reveal the nature of the soul…. healing the conflicts which threaten the child.” CG Jung

So we refer back to myths as a form of public dreaming in order to become reaquainted with our preverbal experience, that within our individuality that likewise seems lost in the mists of time.

”Myths are clues… that have to do with deep inner problems. They carry rich, live, vivifying information [so that] experience will have resonance to our own inmost being and reality.” J Campbell.

A myth that gives us some clues to the problem of Narcissism can be found in the story of Hercules. It describes not only the resolution to psychopathic behaviour but helps us to see how and why it manifests in the first instance.

We will turn to the well known  labours shortly but lets begin with the circumstances of Hercules early life in order to get a sense of the provisional life that besets Narcissism and why it is that creativity and relationships are so problematic.

Hercules’ problems start very young. He is the child of queen Alcmene of Tiryns and the God Zeus. Hera, Zeus’ wife, was none to happy about this. Even though he had been named after her as a gesture of appeasment she vowed revenge….

Alcmene, fearing Hera’s retribution, abandons the child Hercules in a field hoping the gods will take care of him.

The disenfranchisment of the Divine Feminine is sweeping across the known world. Everywhere the goddess is being unseated, cast out and humiliated. A wedge has been driven between women and their sacred counterpart so that mother/infant relations have become unbearably strained.

On the one hand Hercules is ‘special’, the son of Zeus. On the other he is deprived of nurture and care. Alcmene invests all her spiritual longing into her redeemer son. She needs him to fill the gaping hole in her psyche where once her sacred femininity was lodged and with which she is now hopelessly at odds.

Meantime Hercules struggles with being the contradiction of being the future lord of all Greece whilst being left forgotten in the dusty stubble.

By chance, Hera and Athene wander by and see the child. Hera, unaware of his identity, picks him up and suckles him, but he sucks so hard that she  throws him down in anger. Athene, more patiently, takes the child to Tiryns and gives him to Alcmene to be bought up as a foundling. Alcmene, overjoyed, hopes the three drops of milk that Hercules has managed to suck will preserve him from Hera’s ill-will.

Its not to be. Hera finds out what has happened. She’s furious and sends two pythons to kill the baby while he sleeps.

”One suspects that there is often a kernel of truth in paranoid delusion.”       S. Freud

The raging goddess, once the archetypal container of infancy, is now dead set against the child. Her devaluation by Zeus throws her into revolt and overwhelms the maternal instinct to care and protect.

Hercules becomes the proto-type of the deprived child.

As our story indicates, emotional deprivation is not simply the absence of nurture. The emotional vacuum is constued as an aggressive attack the best expression of which is paranoid fantasy. Something, somewhere is trying to get me.

”Maternal failures produce reactions which interrupt going-on-being and [constitute] a threat of annihilation.” D Winnicott.

The snakes symbolise the intrusive, cold-blooded, devouring quality of emotional deprivation lived out on a human scale by the curious detail that Alcmene now raises her son as if he were a foundling. She is a mother playing at being a mother which can only produce a child pretending to be himself.

This pretence is what RD Laing calls ‘elusion’. He quotes an example from Sarte of the waiter in a cafe who is not ‘in’ what he is doing. He is somehow not himself. Not that he is pretending to be someone else, which would be less confusing, but insofar as he is pretending to be himself. He is playing at being a waiter in a cafe and has that touch-me-not quality of Narcissus.

”He is never invested, never completely interested, never “all in”.  From fear and diffidence, he always keeps the essential part of himself out.” K. O’Brian.

I pretend I am not pretending to pretend….

Hera’s snakes are an envious double bind, an attack on both the  burdensome dependence and the dismissive autonomy of the child. Her devalued status makes her cling to him and try to live through the child whose own destiny and unique unfolding gets in the way. Whatever he does he cannot get it right.

In my family this took the form of the contradictory injunctions,

‘If you don’t ask, you don’t want.’


”I want doesn’t get.’

There is no way around such a double-bind. Like the twin snakes it can choke the life, or at least the aliveness out of you. Mother, in urgent need to elude ambivalence and pretend not to be pretending reads the ensuing ..

”extraordinary passivity and listlessness as satiation.” G Miller.

It gets worse. The child, faced with mother going through the motions of being herself must follow suit and tie himself up in the knots of pretending to be a small boy. Such pretense must exclude creative possibility since..

”any striving is construed as malign ingratitude..” ibid

I dreamt I was in a jail, like out of a spaghetti western with bars all down one side against which I was smashing a club, screaming to be let out. Behind me, lying down on a bunk with his hat pulled over his eyes is, ‘the-man-with-no-name’. He says,

”door’s open you know”…

I throw down the club and cower in a corner… terrified at the thought that I could leave at any time..

The dream shocked me. I thought I was mature. I thought I was free and creative, despite my substance abuse at the time and the fact that I had no greater aspiration than to turn admiring heads at the traffic lights with my expensive motorcycle….

I thought I was living the bohemian life..

and so long as the life I was living was not my own I could coast along unchallenged..

secure in the knowledge that family and friends would eternally excuse my narcissistic life style and save me from the real world.

The fact was that all this being let off the hook was not the loving indulgence I took it for but rather the active witholding of Life’s Rule Book in order that I continue to accept the constrictions with which I had been raised.

My abberant lifestyle was not ‘rebellion’ at all, but a profound yet hidden conformity that my own destiny was a taboo for which I was both under-resourced and had no permit.

May as well go and pilfer the drug store..

or start a fight.

There’s nothing else to do.

Hercules does not have to play by the rules. Its his compensation for having his soul hi-jacked. And because no-one will discipline him or be sufficiently involved to teach him the ropes he is effectively caged and feral despite being given ‘every advantage’. One day kills his music teacher Linus for daring to correct his playing and instead of having to face the consequences his family spirit him off to the countryside where he can continue to be symbiotically attached to mother by whom he is..

”worshipped like a god and denigrated like a demon.” D Mathers

Hercules is not allowed to grow up. His psychopathic behaviour increases. He goes mad and kills his children in a fit brought on by the hidden hand of Hera, determined that he should not have his own life or live in his own world.

Fortunately, Hercules now has to pay his dues. He becomes depressed and accepts being sent into the service of Eurystheus, his cousin, who makes him perform many labours, a metaphor for the hard work of the psychotherapeutic process.

He has to become aquainted with all his split off aggression symbolised by the Nemean lion, the Cretan bull, the Styphalian birds, his bullshit symbolised by the filthy stables of Augeus, the Hydra that hides in the swamps of his unlived potential.

He has also to realise his own spiritual gifts, all those aspects of his own soulfullness he’s had to put on one side in order to be a vessel for others. These are represented by his task to fetch the Golden Apples of the Hesperides whose whereabouts are hidden deep in the Unconscious that require a night sea journey in a great cauldron for a boat. The metaphor is one of being slowly cooked, being transformed and being able to be taken in.

But Hercules doesn’t quite make it. Despite his successful labours he is tricked by the centaur Nessus who gives his second wife Deianira a poison tunic to give him should his affections wane, which you could pretty much count on given his habitual lack of relatedness.

The tunic consumes him….

and he throws himself on a pyre begging for death.

Then, as now,  your clothes are statements of identity, embodiments of personae. The poison tunic is an identity not one’s own, that stifles soul and gives rise to self destruction.

”Unlived life does not sit idly on the shelf. It will turn around and bite you” ML von Franz.

The great tragedy for the narcissist is not just the poverty of his early years but that it renders him so hogtied when faced with the enormity of his own potential. The first words I ever said as a client in therapy were, ‘I have more energy than I know what to do with.”

”The possibility that a once great capacity for positive living and other potentialities may have played some part in the development of psychopathy.. is worthy of careful consideration…. in reverse they might deserve the estimate of genius.” H Cleckley.

So the narcissist is doubly burdened, firstly by all the split off rage, confusion and pain at being un-mothered and secondly by the creative tension in him that demands expression.

The bonus is that all the material he has to integrate is already his own authentic Self. The difficulty is that he is at one and the same time much smaller than his puffed up image of himself, yet much bigger inside than he could imagine.

If we can accept that our own labours are noble and redeeming, worth doing for their own sake, that our creativity will both unhinge and restore us, that there is meaning and aliveness in suffering, we might fare better than Hercules who at the very least gave us a template for our own experience.

Narcissism and the Bottomless Pit.

In thirty years of practice as a psychotherapist I never came across an indigenous person with a Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The reason is that native people generally have a way of raising their kids that is  radically different to parents in the ‘civilised’ West.

This does not mean that Western women are bad mothers, but that they have to contend with a split reality endemic in our culture that makes it difficult for baby to cross certain developmental thresholds.

On the one hand the child, as depicted in the majority of psychoanalytic literature, is a voracious power hungry little monster who battles mother for dominance and has to be brought to heel at all costs.

”Babies have become a sort of enemy to be vanquished by mother…on the premise that every effort should be made to force baby to conform when it ’causes’ work and ‘wastes’ time.’ J. Liedloff

On the other hand, and by way of compensation, we have the effusive and liberal face of Dr Spock, whose sales of his book ‘Baby and Childcare’, come second only to the Bible on the best seller list. Spock advocated ‘childcentric’ households which effectively have children ruling the roost. Detractors claim he cultivated Narcissism in millions as the most trusted name in childcare and parenting since 1940 and even hold him personally responsible for the moral decline of  western culture.

”When a society becomes out of control, it is because its members elevate self-indulgence and lack self-control…and [have] come to see gratification as a right.” R. Bradley.
 These radically polarised veiws of parenting presented by Freud and Spock, often operating without reference to one another under the same roof, have something strangely in common. Both the liberal, anti-authoritarian mandate of currying entitlement in children and the cold hearted philosophy of ‘you did it to yourself’ inherent in Freudian theory, marginalised the fact that women have been having babies for seven million years without the input of opinionated men in lab coats.
 Both men’ knew better’ than the feminine soul. To the extent that these theories were imposed upon women’s natural instincts, their innate knowing, their connection to their own mothers and to the Divine Feminine that presided over childbirth and motherhood, so too was their role undermined, ancient wisdom eroded and intrinsic understanding of what was right and proper, subverted and injured.
So whilst it may be true that excessive permissiveness fosters narcissistic tendencies and a sense of entitlement, it is also the case that narcissistic wounds are inevitable when the bond between mother and child is intruded upon by someone who thinks they know better than Nature herself, irrespective of the received ‘wisdom’ under consideration.
You’re probably familiar with the educational maxim ‘would you teach a fish to climb a tree?’ but we forget that its even more undermining to teach a fish to swim.
A centiped was happy, quite!
Until a toad in fun
Said, ‘pray which leg follows which?
This raised her doubts to such a pitch
She fell exhausted in a ditch,
Not knowing how to run.
“If we have learnt certain [things] so that they have sunk below the level of conscious control, then if we try to follow them consciously we very often interfere with them so badly that we stop them”. Carl Popper.
It follows that if mother has it instilled in her that she doesn’t know her job  without instruction from a clipboard wielding MD then baby will be similarly confused and struggle with developmental tasks, understandably preferring the relative safety of remaining partly fused with mother in a state of  ‘symbiotic omnipotence’. (M. Kahn).
This interupts the process of separation and healthy growth, preventing the child from crossing the threshold associated with ‘symbol formation’. This is significant because it is symbol formation that is responsible for the experience of others as persons in their own right, and for the development of values associated with feelings about others having their own purpose and destiny. The child can get eternally caught  in the concrete thinking of symbolic equations where, for instance, worth is measured in terms of money,  loveability in terms of sexual conquest, power in terms of domination of others, all the things we recognise as symptoms of NPD.
‘No-one loves me, because you don’t wipe my chin.’ Liedloff.
The figurative representation of ideas, conflicts or wishes cannot be experienced and so metaphorical notions of honour, faithfullness, duty, empathy and so on remain conceptual ideas rather than lived and experienced realities…
”from which intellectualism is only to ready to emancipate itself.” C.G. Jung
This is most obvious in our relationships because Narcissism does not really experience the Other as such. Their humanity remains conceptual. The notion that others have equal rights is an abstract idea to be rationally concluded without actually being lived.
Racism and sexism are the most common outcome of such a mind set, but the irony is that the Narcissist has equal trouble conceiving of ‘his own’ in fully human terms unless they remain entirely joined at the hip. Humanity is not experienced, it is deduced, much as Socrates ‘worked out’ that one day he would die.
‘Socrates is a man. Men are mortal. Therefor Socrates will die.’
On the basis of such abstract deduction ordinary instinctual care for one another is occluded. One’s own self barely exists in its own right, how shall another fare any better?
The developmental threshold of symbol formation affords not only the recognition of the otherness of the Other, it also affords value and significance to the otherness of oneself, in other words to the fantasies, intuitions and aspirations emerging from the archetypal layers of the psyche that take over the job of feeding the child, as it were, from within.
This leads to a lack of faith, not only in others but towards life itself which cannot be trusted to provide. The child becomes a consumer…
‘clinging to objects and people, investing them with magical powers, ferocious in [the] demand to possess and control.” Liedloff
Asking Narcissism to share is thus experienced as an attack on all that is holy because money and resources have been imbued with a kind of spiritual manna. Losing hegemony over it is tantamount to desecration. The paranoid tendency of the Narcissist  is not simply that someone is out to get him, but that all he holds sacred is under attack.
And so the predominant experience of life is one of being a victim, no matter how much one has, nor how much there is available. It is like being a planet without a sun, or worse, having a black hole to revolve around which threatens to drain and crush at every turn. Without the inner ‘other’, there is nothing to mediate the dark forces of the cosmos.
”Our connection with a sacred centre [gives] a sense of real existence that counters the terror of chaos and nothingness, helps [a person] find their bearings and makes order of the Universe’. Bizint
Since what we cannot integrate is invariably projected it will seem to those who stub their toe on at the threshold of symbol formation that some illegitimate other has stolen the key to happiness. He lives, not only in a state of lack but as if his divine inheritance is being withheld. And because he’s in the bind of having to deny what he needs, his lack and being witheld from is acted out in the world, which perhaps explains the conundrum of how it is possible for the richest and greatest nation in the world to sweep one of its most powerful men to high office on the shirt tails of the  slogan, ‘make America great again’, as though it were a mere dispossesed guttersnipe on the fringes of the stage.

Attack on the Child.

In order to understand the pathological need for wealth, fame and consumption that typifies Western Culture, we need to look further than mere greed. Having the moral high ground is not enough. You might still miss what’s so interesting about wanting more than you need….

The Rule of Intention says that the way things pan out has to do with the intentions of those who are involved.  If children in their millions are starving then someone is witholding the spoon. If thousands have no education then that’s by design. If families are living on the streets someone put them there.

So then what does it mean that we collectively aspire to more than we need? Why is it that we regard excessive consumption differently from obesity? You’d be shocked if a person’s goal was to gain a hundred pounds…

and yet

”We are screwing the planet to make solar powered bathroom thermometers and desktop crazy golfers.” G Monbiot.

Are we then simply diplaying our wealth? Is there some arcane connection between wanton destruction and attractiveness? I think not, but whatever the answer it  lies deeper than our greed or stupidity.

Symptoms of dis-ease are never arbitrary or simply unfortunate. They are the unconscious expression of something yet to be named. There is hidden meaning in desperately pursuing stuff you don’t actually need, stuff whose production enslaves and destroys into the bargain. Calling it addiction doesn’t quite work either, despite the added caveat to greed that there is more at work than mere self indulgence.

Believing we can convert the rhythms of work into cash so that real life might then begin may feel worth the price to be paid by aliveness, but what many of us do in our leisure time is just more of the very same consuming of life from which we most need to a break. In our millions we become even further absorbed…..

”in the electronic reproduction of life, the passive consumption of the twittering screen.” A Watts.

So we save up for our hols, to get away from it all, when proper enjoyment can get under way, only to find that it too is also somehow pasteurised, with boxes to tick and schedules to fill. Been there, done that…  We wait to be amused, wonder what’s  next and if we’ve had our money’s worth.

All of which..

”gives rise to a culture devoted not to survival but to the actual destruction of life.” ibid

So is our devouring of life a form of collective suicide, a Chomskian rushing to the precipice?

No, its scarier than that.

It is an attack, not just upon ourselves, but on our children. The planet that their parents are pillaging is, after all, their inheritance. The spiritual malaise and attendant acting out of the developed world is far greater, far more malicious, than mere apathy, denial or disinterest.

”Once you have excluded the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” Sherlock Holmes.

If we want to understand consumerism and its attended ravaging of the planet we need to ask what it is that people are really hoping for with the must-have item on their bucket list. Irrespective of its concretisation, the new car, the fancy vacation, the latest gadgetry, what people seem to be striving for is a sense of worth, of being safe and held and fed.

Collectively we are seeking the in-arms experience of infancy which, as a culture, we have simply not yet had.

‘When the expected does not take place, corrective or compensatory tendencies make an effort to restore stability.’ J. Liedloff.

Consumerism is a parody of contented infant satiation. We want life dribbling down our chin. We want to be in the ‘lap of luxury’. We want the safety of maternal embrace whose alternative is the poor substitute of being gripped by her dark and compulsive sister, (mater)ialism.

‘The infant (like the guru) lives in the eternal now, in a state of bliss; the infant out of arms is in a state of longing, the bleakness of an empty Universe. Want is all there is..’ ibid

Amassing the unnecessary to the detriment of  life on Earth looks entirely crazy until we consider it in a symbolic light, the unfulfilled need of a culture seeped in denial about what is truly indispensible. Mother.

This denial reaches its acme in psychoanalytic theory with Freud’s Drive Conflict theory which entirely marginalises Mother as relevant to baby’s health or illness.

According to this theory dis-ease is not down to how we are treated, whether we are held and loved, but on dysfunctional ‘object relations’. You did it to yourself, a doctrine of victim blaming that also constitutes the final eradication of Mother’s relevance to life. In thirty years I have never found Freud to use the word ‘mother’ even once.

This denigration of life’s most important role impoverishes our entire culture but it does far more and has consequences you might not have considered.

Not only does the dominant form of spirituality in Western Culture fail to nourish, but our anxious preoccupation with and eternal focus on the future with its promise of salvation…at some point…does have the appeal  that the indiscretions of today may be swept under the carpet, but in the process of ducking conscience we are also bound to be gripped with envious spoiling for those who are able to be in the moment where real life happens, where all bliss, joy, gratitude and celebration are to be found.

Much of the West’s ferocious subjugation of the ‘childlike’ third world has to do with this same improbable truth, that we envy them. Despite their poverty they seem to have something we do not, a living for today where the real riches of life are to be found. And so they are happy. For all our wealth and power in the West we are miserable. Our worrying about tomorrow means we cannot  enjoy our mountain of stuff  today because all enjoyment is Now.

I once asked an African man on a dusty savannah roadside in tropical heat when the bus he was waiting for would arrive. ‘Today”, he answered contentedly.  By contrast and half a world away, commuters on Stuttgart railway station platform follow the digital clock ticking over, . At the exact same moment they all look in disappointed unison at their watches and turn to stare down the track as if they were practicing impatience for a show.

Our collective obsession with time and tommorow means that the aliveness gets sucked out of today.  We become chorus lines to celebrity others whose lives have somehow become more real than our own. The togetherness, the gratitude for simply being alive can’t be entered into and like the uninvited guest, ‘Now’ turns cold, vengeful and wooden.

”Unlived life will not sit idly on the shelf, it will turn round and bite you.” M.L. von Franz.

If a sense of Self that transcends self-interest can’t be embodied it will be projected. The recipients will invariably be the next generation who are as yet untutored in guilt, whose feeling of belonging has yet to be eroded, who have yet to know alienation.

and who are handy…

The child..

‘will arouse certain longings in the adult. . . longings which relate
to the unfulfilled desires and needs of those parts of the personality
which have been blotted out. . .’ C. G. Jung.

Whilst we idealise, cosset and run around endlessly with compensatory gestures of slavish devotion,  so too do we silently envy and spoil. The secret bit about narcissistic brats is that they were made that way by parents who first loaded them down with not only their own unfulfilled expectations but with all the potentialities in today that we can’t shoulder for the sake of insuring ourselves against tommorow.

The horror of growing old and dying without first having properly lived is all too much and become split in our affections.

I will pat you on the head whilst I poison your earth.

My father personally favoured random electrocution as a means to express his envious grievance at my blossoming youth. Bare mains wires ran down the walls both inside and outside my room. They would set window frames and brickwork alive, especially when it rained. You might say that most parents are not so pathological and yet the quest for more than you need means you have to go out and take it off someone else, perpetual warmongering for which youth in their millions are most necessary.

I once spent three days as part of a tiny force of  green berets sitting under a tree waiting for the go ahead to take on 300 defected enemy soldiers who’d changed their mind and taken their new commander hostage as a prelude to melting back into the bush with shiny new G3 semi automatics. We all knew it was a suicide mission should the order finally came through, but the predominant feeling amongst us was one of quiet acceptance, the calm of sacrificial beasts under a stone knife, as though fulfilling some preordained narrative.

Saturn is eating his children.

Behind closed doors it’s usually less flamboyant than electrified bedrooms or going to live in a war zone but after three decades of being a psychotherapist I have to say that everyone who ever came to see me had the same issue. Their true self had been attacked and their destinies subverted by someone they were entitled to trust.

Which is why having more than you need is a form of poison. Its not just greedy. It’s a blow aimed at those who would be better stewards of this earth than ourselves, our children.

this article contains excerpts from my new book ‘Abundant Delicious.. on attaining your heart’s desire’. http://andywhiteblog.com/2016/06/11/abundant-delicio…ot-off-the-press/







Going Mad to Stay Sane. Reprint.

Self destructiveness can be a spring board for a soulful life like no other if we can realise the meaning in the message, if we refrain from putting a lid on it with medication or inveterate ‘fixing’.

The book tells the story of King Midas from Greek mythology who wished that everything he touched be turned to gold. He only realises what a curse he’s bought on himself when he embraces his daughter…..

It also tells the backstory, what kind of parents he had and what the family dynamics were that could foster such a terrible desire. How does he live? How does Midas resolve his issues? How does he now approach Dionysus who granted him his hideous wish.

The story uses  allegory to reveal how we grow through adversity and foolishness. It looks at the deeper significance of self-destructiveness, as a symbol of something meaningful that can be transformative.

The book has a new preface by Dr Dale Mathers who is a Jungian analyst with his own new book on the shelf, ‘Alchemy and Psychotherapy’.

Enjoy the book and find new ways to make sense of old patterns.

Books are signed and cost £12 plus p+p.

How Wasted am I?

I’m chewing through Erich Neumann’s ‘ Origins and History of Consciousness’. Hoo boy. I’m sure its just me but its like being invited to a banquet serving 50 shades of salted cracker.

His argument, that consciousness progresses step by step from a ‘primitive’, maternally based polytheism full of projective identification and totemic identity, to an emerging ego-self axis represented by the crucifiction, by triumphing over the Terrible Mother who symbolises the regressive pull of the unconscious is….

still mashing the cracker then…..

and perhaps culminating in Descartes inflated, ”I think therefor I am”.

Nah, I’ve had enough now, you say sorry to Descartes…

Why, he was a terrible philosopher..

No, you just slaggin everyone off…

You didn’t even give Erich a chance to answer and all the sarcasmic cracker stuff. An’ now your havin’ a go at Descartes. Its not right. Play nicely.

But any two bit lawyer will tell you that coming up with the thought that you exist just because it occured to you is verging on criminally dodgy. Its just like insider trading.

And if Being itself can be subject to thought, then the values which derive from such an arrangement are bound to be the Machiavellian variety and ‘the end justifying the means’.

What Descartes proved was that he was veeeery mentally identified, a state which is..

”only too ready to emancipate (it)self…. from the reality and meaning of symbolic life.” CG Jung (paraphrased from the Psychology of the Transference)

in other words from moral and spiritual considerations.

The ‘new consciousness’, heralded by Uncle Neb, Jacob and David, codified by Constantine, and shipped into your hindbrain at birth, is this deification of Mind. Mind becomes synonymous with Spirit, or at least as divorced from knowing how to behave…  as Yahweh was from Sophia/Hokmah before…

you know..

the Beginning.

Consider the implications: If thinking is fundamental to being, whatever I can think is imbued with this primacy, this symbolic equation with Being itself. Whatever else I might be experiencing is real insofar as it is congruent with thought and it’s heavily invested self-construct.

Oh dear oh dear…

stuff like knowing right from wrong….

or having a gut feeling for something

or compassion for someone.

Or hands.

The problem with the philosophical position of such ‘flowering of consciousness’ is that it also fosters a flowering of depersonalisation and colonialism.

And it seems to me that our supposed consciousness is not worth the candle if it is accompanied by globalised exploitation laughingly termed ‘assisted development,’ where the colonisers have pulled out once the infrastructures of exploitation have been set in place, and manipulate from afar with generous loans the subclauses of which say we run your ship.

I mean, they carn’t govern theselves….

Nah, dun ’em a favour.

Thinking is not enough if I will not talk to me. If there is no reflection, then all that fine thinking is going to wind up in the hands of our darker complexes..

which of course don’t exist and you don’t have to think about..


And since thought and being-able-to-rationalise-what-I-please all come neatly wrapped up in the same box we become like kiddies in a cake factory. A world where wishing should make it so…

Whilst praising ourselves for being so evolved.

I was shocked by many things in Solzhenitsyn’s ‘Gulag Archipelago’, which I read over and over during a rough couple of years to remind myself that things weren’t really so bad. But what got me most was when he began to question the Russian people’s relationship with Stalin.

Did the nation need his regime in some way? Did the suffering he imposed on Russia serve the spiritual life of the People? In any case, nations give themselves the leaders they deserve, seems to be the idea. The same is true for great minds. The victors write the Philosophy of a people as well as their History by supporting those thinkers that reinforce the zietgeist of the time.

Freud too, rose to meteoric success as soon as he revised his theory that parents mess their kids up, (The Aetiology of Hysteria 1896) to mean very nearly the opposite within ten years.

Society like ‘im now.

… give him his job back.

an lotta stuff.

Cocaine and unsupervised access to a massive printing press…..

In his own way, Darwin, too, rode the crest of our collective imagination, with ‘the survival of the fittest’. Though he only used the phrase once in the whole of his ‘Origins of Species’, the social milieu he was in grabbed it with both hands…

poised as they were on the cusp of global colonialisation.

and in need of a slogan.

The neat thing with the survival of the fittest is that it justifies the rules that the fit live by. Our way of being must be right or we wouldn’t be the ones left standing.

This is all on top of the divine sanction placed on thinking.

……….one might just invade India today……..

by Descartes.

This martial, dog eat dog, linear way of looking at evolution is taken up and echoed by Neumann.

but if ontology really does recapitulate phylogony (the evolution of the species follows the pattern of individual development) then you’d expect a more organic regime change from Polytheism. After all children generally grow apart from Mother in their own quiet way.

And she generally doesn’t have her stuff desecrated, or her mates killed off…

by a narcissistically  disordered  demi-urge with psychopathic features……

So Neumann doesn’t do it for me.

Oh, why so angry now..?

Well because… ”if  the emancipation of consciousness from the tyranny of the unconscious has gone far beyond division, and bought about a schism…..giving rise to atomised individualism”…. Neumann.


well that’s not very frikkin evolved is it?


And since when was the Unconscious tyrannical?






Freud’s Ratman.

Freud’s thought can be divided into two utterly distinct phases and the transition from the one to the other has had an impact on our culture that to date has been profoundly underestimated. Up until 1896 Freud believed that psychological disturbance was created by childhood abuse and the repression of the associated memories. His views were rejected.  He  renounced his insight and said instead (in his Drive Conflict Theory) that children became disturbed because of their own inability to handle real life.
One of the most famous of Freud’s cases was called the ‘Ratman’, commonly studied in many psychotherapy trainings. It’s a psychoanalytical room 101. The appeal is Freud’s enthusiasm for this patient who exemplified his substitute ‘Drive Conflict’ theory and the bizarre nature of the case which is bound to titillate the voyeur in us all.
In brief, the poor Ratman was terrified of rats. His particular fear was of rats being strapped to his behind in a cage and left to gnaw their way out through his anus. His fear stemmed from childhood after a nanny had encouraged him to view her genitals.
Freud’s view was that the Ratman’s ‘eroticized’ phobia was a symbolic expression of castration anxiety should his father find out ‘what he had done’ and what Freud felt he wished to do again, a desire which resulted in him suffering from ‘the vicissitudes of sexual curiosity’ (Freud 1991). Students invariably swallow whole the cleverness of modern psychology’s father/king without blurting out the obvious; the Ratboy had been sexually abused.
Imagine the public outrage if someone stood up in a modern court claiming they had ‘allowed’ a prepubescent child to view their genitals? Imagine it then being given as expert opinion that if the child had a bad reaction to this exposure it was simply because the complicit child was afraid of being caught and punished. The court would erupt. Yet this is what Freud suggested. How is this possible? This poor child was betrayed by a carer in ‘loco parentis’. How had the reality of his abuse been denied?
Sexual abuse of children is deeply psychologically damaging. It can destroy the quality of a person’s life. It has a catastrophic impact on a child’s self-esteem, ability to relate and express feelings. It also profoundly affects the capacity to make emotional commitments in later life.
On the 21st April 1896 a young Sigmund Freud stood up before the collective might of the Society for Psychiatry and Neurology in Vienna and read his paper, ’The Aetiology of Hysteria’, a clear formulation of the part parental abuse plays in the disturbance of childhood.. It was met with total silence. In the days that followed Freud wrote to his friend Wilhelm Flies, ‘the word has been given out to abandon me and a void is forming around me.’(Masson1992). What had happened? Why had his paper met with such hostility?
What Freud had so bravely done was to confront polite society with its own shadow. He argued that childhood abuse was at the root of later neuroses. The Society were appalled. Madness was caused by parents. By them.
It did not take long for Freud to realise what he had provoked. ‘I am as isolated as you could wish me to be,’ (ibid) he complained to Flies. In private and amongst his remaining colleagues he began to recant and by 1905 made a public retraction. This, despite an intervening period as an intern at the Paris morgue where he saw evidence at first hand of the brutal rape and murder of children, ‘of which’, he says in private letters, ‘science prefers to take no notice.’ Soon, Freud himself was turning a blind eye until by 1925 he was able to say, ‘I was at last obliged to recognise these scenes of seduction had never taken place. They were only fantasies..’(ibid)
Neuroses were now due to an individual’s inability to resolve inner conflicts. Freud capitalised on children’s tendency to blame themselves for the ills that befall them.
Freud turned his theory around entirely. Any charges of abuse now reflected the child’s failure and were themselves construed as neurotic symptoms. The symbol and pedigree of this utterly revised theory of neurosis was the ‘Oedipal Complex’. The story is twisted to imply Oedipus wanting to sexually possess his mother, the Ratman to sexually possess his childminder and the battered corpses in the Paris morgue to possess their murderers.
Freud stumbled on the threshold of midlife, failing to stand by his convictions and endure the censure of his peers. He succumbed to the self-preservation that would ensure his social standing, his professional career and his income but sacrificed his earlier theoretical framework which supported the reality of child sexual abuse.

Fast forward.
I think what happened was that the Ratman had no-one to mirror back to him the truth of the abuse he had suffered. ‘And so’, to paraphrase Alice Miller (ibid), ‘he lost sight of it himself’. His experiences of intrusion were repressed. They became symbolised in the dramatic set of images characterising his case. They were split off and relegated to a future possibility, preferable to his past reality but still gnawing at him from behind.
We are used to dreams containing symbols representing and poetically expressing the issues with which we struggle. Sometimes these spill over into frightening fantasies, waking dreams which give us clues about the origins of suffering. But why sexually violent rats? Why not locusts or fire ants? There are all kinds of tortures the Ratboy could have fixed upon. Freud doesn’t explore the meaning of the symbol.
The trick with symbols is not to be too clever or to assume, with Freud, that they are intent on concealment. Symbols are a language with a purpose like any other, to communicate as clearly as possible. They are problematic because they occur when consciousness is turning a deaf ear. Both the Ratman and Freud shared the same problem. Neither of them could face how the patient had been sexually molested, aggressively intruded upon by a plump, furry thing that awed and frightened him.
When Freud renounced the theory which had made him so unpopular with the Viennese and substituted one they liked a lot better, he effectively excluded adult influence from the causes of psychological disturbance. The roots of madness were then intra-psychic rather than inter-personal. Issues of madness and sanity were no longer about Relatedness. Parental impact on childhood was reduced to the workings of the ‘super-ego’, which, throughout his writing, always seem beyond reproach. It is ‘’ what is highest in the human mind’’ (Freud 2001). He uses the term interchangeably with ‘ego ideal’. If there is a problem regarding ego formation this is put down to the unruly child.
In his paper ‘The Ego and Superego’, he tantalizes us, ‘’I shall presently bring forward a suggestion about the source of the superego’s power to dominate… the source that is, of it’s compulsive character which manifests itself in the form of a categorical imperative.’’ (ibid p374). When we turn to the designated page reference we find, ‘’as the child was once under the compulsion to obey its parents, so the ego submits to the superego.’’ (ibid) The source of the superego’s power is the child’s compulsion to obey. Parents are ideal. No wonder the Victorians loved him. It was the era of the father/king.
The Ratboy was doubly betrayed, first by his nanny and then by his analyst who, because he had renounced his Trauma theory, couldn’t validate the reality of the boy’s subjective experience or help him through it. His new and much more popular theory suggested if children haven’t wholly imagined the abuse then they must have at least been a party to it. This meant that the adult in the equation could be vindicated whilst the wicked child was left in unacknowledged anguish not unlike poor Oedipus whose father had tortured and abandoned him.
Victorian values.
The Victorian age could be characterised by the denial of sexuality. It was an era when ladies fainted at the sight of a chair leg. This denial was at the level of ordinary, healthy, ‘’normal’’ sexuality. What then of sexuality which strayed from this norm? Male homosexuality was a criminal offence at the time. Female homosexuality in England was not criminalised but only because Queen Victoria refused to believe that there was any such thing as a lesbian. If homosexuality ‘dared not speak its name’, or simply didn’t exist, what of sexuality which was clearly deviant?
Husbands were allowed to rape their wives as their ‘conjugal right’ and could beat them too without fear of prosecution or conscience. Child rape was rarely if ever prosecuted successfully. In Austria at the time it was punishable by one to three months imprisonment. What were the chances of speaking openly and candidly about the abuse of children? Society simply refused to do so, denial reflected in the fact that the age of consent was as low as twelve for many years.
Freud’s wildly successful contribution to science was paradoxical. His ideas were so challenging and revolutionary in daring to talk about sex at all, yet permitted society to continue denying their worst secrets. He made it acceptable for society to talk openly about sex, which must have been a relief; yet denied truths a grateful public could not face, which must also have been a relief.
Freud’s theory is the West’s neurotic solution to its own alienation from the body, its erosion of the Continuum. It opened up sexuality for discussion but only by sexualising children. He managed to dovetail his theories with the otherwise insurmountable contradictions of an age determined to adopt both an attitude of unquestionable moral superiority and a set of thoroughly dehumanising attitudes to children.
As soon as he ‘discovered’ infantile sexuality Freud was immediately and heartily endorsed by fellow physicians. They too were clever enough to see the Emperor’s new clothes. Believing in things because we want to, rather than because they are there, is something rather common. We do this out of the fear of chaos inherent in any change, especially wholesale paradigm shifts and so we resist change accordingly.
People believed the earth was flat for a long time after it was circumnavigated. The belief that the sun revolved around the earth persisted for generations after Galileo proved otherwise and the need to believe in witches lasted for centuries backed up by all kinds of incontrovertible ‘evidence’.
We have all experienced presenting someone with undeniable evidence of something which is rejected when it is at odds with a treasured belief. Once, a Jehovah’s Witness tried to convert me with promises of an assured place amongst the 144,000 chosen in Heaven. I pointed out there were more than that number of Witnesses already and therefore my conversion was no guarantee of a reserved place. He simply wouldn’t accept the logic. He accepted the facts but refused to put them together.
What Freud offered us, persuasive enough to have lasted for over a century, is the opportunity to maintain the belief in our own psychological sophistication whilst being relieved of the burdonsome facts of childhood vulnerability. We lapped up his paradigm as eagerly as our ancestors believed in dragons and ice giants. To let his theory go means to raise once more the spectre of child abuse.
Ironically, Freud himself shed light on this negation of childhood suffering in a paper that he wrote 30 years after his ‘discovery’ of infantile sexuality. Occasionally the reality of the inner world bursts through the mask of the false self in the most unlikely and unusual ways.  And so we findFreud himself produced a succinct little four page article entitled ‘Negation’ (1925), in which he states,
“In our interpretation, we take the liberty of disregarding the negation ….. To negate something in a judgement is at bottom to say ‘this is something which I should prefer to repress’. A negative judgement is the intellectual substitute for repression, its ‘no’ is the hallmark of repression ….. Thus, originally, the mere existence of a presentation was a guarantee of the reality of what was represented.”
Freud could have applied these thoughts directly to his own negation of the reality of childhood suffering and its consequences for adult life. This seems not to have crossed his mind. Perhaps this paper was as close as he could get to admitting what he had done. Perhaps the fact that it has taken so long to come to light is as close as we can get to acknowledging our complicity.

based on an extract from my new book, ‘Abundant Delicious’.

The One Ring.

The genius of Tolkein was not simply that he told a ripping story but that he managed to tap into a rich vein of collective meaning for our time.

A divided, dangerous world in which Power has momentarily eclipsed Love….

Even our spiritual journey can wind up being about ‘gaining’, possessing, wanting the knowledge, rather than the humble journey to return that which is not ours to wield and to make our peace with mystery.

The inheritance of Western Civilisation is an anthology of inflation. We are collectively narcissistic. We crave power and wealth. More than that our society identifies with its God to such an extent that we can impose our freedom on others at the point of a gun without contradiction and subjugate them for their own good.

Doin’ them a favour, innit?

Well, they carn’t govern their frikkin selves, hey?

Moreover we oppress the inner voice of soul because it will not come to heel and refuses to be relegated to the status of an artifact.

And so our aloneness is complete.

The other is ‘nothing but’…

“All modern people feel alone in the world of the psyche because they assume that there is nothing there that they have not made up. This is the very best demonstration of our God-almighty-ness, which simply comes from the fact that we think we have invented everything – that nothing would be done if we did not do it; for that is our basic idea and it is an extraordinary assumption.” CG Jung.

I knew someone who had a terrible rash on her chest and neck that looked like a great burn mark. She scratched at the torment of it endlessly. By and by she spoke of a dragon she dreamt of over and again, some ‘part of her’ she had to ’embrace’. My comment was that trying to integrate a dragon that actually had its own life in the depth of her Psyche would likely result in all kinds of rashes and burns.

Her task was not to ‘integrate’ but to say hello from a safe distance.

The rash improved and she got more humble.

an’ had an inna other….

When a person imagines that the psyche is whatever they know of it and that the Unconscious is ‘nothing but’, then narcissistic strutting and all kinds of symptoms are not far away.

And for as long as the Ring is fought over, for as long as the Unconscious is something we just want to own like jewelery, then love and relatedness suffer. The artery through which love flows will be constricted and the streams of Psyche’s internal dialogue will become clogged.

Despite such cholesterol of the soul we think of ourselves as evolved….

….on the basis that evolution is somehow linear. And so..

we must be the finest and best.

job done.

Darwin and Freud had this in common, they both told Victorian society exactly what it wanted to hear. Not only are people not responsible for messing up their kids, our very existence/survival is proof positive of the right to dominate and exploit.

The price we pay for this delusion is a narrowing of our capacity for relatedness. Either I wear the ring and am narcissistically identified with ‘the power’ and thus pre-occupied and unavailable, or you wear the ring and I become your thrall, romantically enslaved to the other.

This bastardisation of the Principle of Relatedness is very different from the subtle nuances of human affection known, for example, to the ancient Greeks who differentiated almost as many different types of love as the Eskimos have words for snow. Ludus, philia, agape, eros, pragma, philautia…

In our time the predominant models of romantic love and narcissistic love seem to culminate in the culture of ‘Bling’, where persons are both idealised as demi gods and then worshipped from afar. They, ‘have it all’, whilst our preoccupation with what is essentially a projection leaves us depleted and feeling worthless by comparison.

Imagine the folk of ancient times trying to grasp our fascination with bards and mummers!

The Ring and its relationship with Mt Doom is a mystery. Returning it as bearer rather than as owner is a real piece of psychological maturity.  Mainly, Western Civilisation has been about the revelation of mystery, uncovering it for all to see. The last book of the Bible even goes by that name as if to give additional emphasis to its contents. Its not enough to serve a higher principle. Above all we want to know and be shown.

We cannot know.

”Unpalatable as it may be… the idea of mystery forces itself on the mind of the enquirer, not as a cloak for ignorance, but as an admission of.. the inability to translate what s/he knows into the speech of the intellect” CG Jung.

But, we may press on to where Nature refuses to be surmounted by our own efforts.



Moab is my Washpot.

Moab was a large tract of land, a country with its own king just outside Canaan., in which his Fantasticness would deposit his…leavings.

Yahweh dump him shi’ on Moab..

Yeees… a bombardment of shadow.

Moab, in ancient times, had

”become so utterly contemptible as to be likened to a washpot or basin in which men wash their feet. More than this, however, may have been intended—nay, we feel sure was intended by the expression.”

Thankyou, Phil of the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit who, I’m afraid, has no time to answer any questions about the geneology of his family, so that queue will have to disperse.

Moab was the kid in the playground that got dumped on, that Yahweh deposited his imperfections and various bits of nail and hair and mank into.

These days we call it projective identification. It describes the process by which unconscious material can be effectively disowned by one party and claimed by another as if it were their own.

The dominant model that we have of the psyche, which we inherited from Freud, finds this phenomena a little embarrassing and hard to account for because the theories of that paradigm are intrapsychic, you fucked yourself up, rather than interpersonal, whereby one person might well pass on their ‘stuff ‘ to another.

Did you pack this suitcase, Sir? Has it been with anyone else since the time it was packed? Could some low down sonofabitch slip their shi’ in your stuff and make out like it was, you know, your shi’? make you carry it for them…so they can swan through, or by, or over, or around, and let you take da muddafuggin rap?

When Freud, as a young turk, tried to suggest, before the collective might of the Viennesse Psychiatric Society, in his ‘Aetiology of Hysteria’, (1896) that the cause of mental disturbance lay in the way people were treated as children, he was entirely shut down…

Wot do you call a bunch of psychiatrists?

Is this a joke? not now for chrissake,

No, but its interesting.. would it be a ‘dourness’, or maybe a ‘bowtie’, or a

be fucking serious will you

Perfectly serious, serious business, I mean it must have been like the inquisition for poor Sigmund..

Except that he recanted and went back to his, ‘you only imagined it’, theory..

And were his friends, friends with him again?


And did he get his stuff back?


And the badges, and the twizzly bits?

Yes, even the twizzly bits.


So, the notion that projective identification even exists is a social faux pas in certain cirles, marking you out as a believer in the myth that parents burden kids and hits straight on the nerve of how people go crazy.

Projective identification works like this; You depend on me for your life. Don’t forget that. But I don’t have what you need. Do forget that. We’ll have an arrangement, a covenant. Instead of what you need, which you now can’t remember, you will be special, instead.

Good here, innit?

And for this grand prize… of specialness, which is really top notch, you will fufil certain… conditions, expectations, a subclause of which, in tweeeeeeenzy print will be, ‘and carry my shit while I suck out your heart through a straw.’

It doesn’t matter. You just sign it. The ‘Dependence for life’ proviso at the top of the contract renders the rest of it all academic. You sign.

Anyhoo, yes, the grand prize, and our little arrangement…

One of the things that earmarks a narcissistic encounter is the use of projective identification. You get to feel as though someone just crapped inside you. Or made you feel that you deserve no more.

Their avid fortifying and walling off of some prefered, though highly defended self image, is hard work. Its easier to get some other poor bastard to take charge of all the incongruous stuff in life. The hidden painting in an attic solution tends not to work too well. Neither does walling it up. No, give it a host. Someone who’ll just walk away with your shi’ , now gnawing on their innards rather than your own.

Sounds like a plan.

One person passes another a piece of themselves, or a gritty solution of all their…dirt, under the table, without anyone noticing. And if you are unlucky it will be yours forever unless you can palm it off on someone else.

You’re it!

They get to be grateful, need you, miss you. You can be their special little guy. And their whore.

Moab was Yahweh’s bitch.

And so God washes off his pollution onto….people, just across the river, and we, like dutiful lambs, having learned by divine example, have each other.  Oh frabjous day!

And so, oh great and mighty spoon of my heart, whilst you maintain all that fine PR with regular sousing of the people with your leavings your use of Moab as a washpot is so much less evolved than acceptance and dying and renewal. You get that lovely, fluffy bunny, freshly laundered smell that says, ‘mummy loves you’, rather than… ‘washpot’ which is so…frikkin…washpot.


Well, actually, it is, oh great mountain of corpulence, because who is Moab other than me and mine?


We already are oh jewelled heap of my bowels, and its starting to piss me off.