Not so long ago, I spoke with someone who told me ‘’ I’ve been in therapy for 25 years’’. Why so long? I asked. ‘’Without it, I’ll go insane’’ he said. I thought: The therapy is obviously not working. Unless the goal is to go around in circles, never finding the cure to the issue(s)? (Which is insane in itself). It made me ponder psychoanalysis and what modern psychology offers to those seeking help. What does it offer?
Image above: Old man of sorrow by Vincent Van Gogh
In the beginning, psychoanalysis may help you become aware of certain patterns of thought, repressed emotions, unhealthy beliefs about yourself, etc…A psychiatrist may offer medications that manipulate the mind’s functions and processes, which with all their side effects is a double-edged sword. They may also offer certain kinds of therapies, the most common being talking therapy, etc.
Ultimately it tries to cure the problem with the problem: Mind’s primitive impulses. I am reminded of a Dion Fortune quote: ‘’Psychotherapy may begin with the primitive, but it must end with the divine, for both are integral factors in the human mind.’’
What it really offers is analysis without synthesis. It lacks the medicine for the problem of the mind. In other words, because modern psychology has very little understanding of the Soul/Spirit it can do nothing more than merely adjust the mind’s chaos into a less chaotic state, yet the chaos still remains ready to erupt like a dormant volcano. The individual may have solved one problem then more problems arise from the depths of the unconscious.
He or she have become more anxious because they have become aware of things, they were not previously aware of. The individual may have had certain insights, but only insights into the layers of the mind and nothing beyond it. One has delved deeper into the layers of the mind: conscious, subconscious, unconscious, and found only the mind’s primitive egocentric nature.
The nature of the ego is in itself sick because it is never satisfied and will never find it in itself.
Image left: Henry Miller, in 1940. courtesy of Wikipedia
It is as Henry Miller stated ‘’ In our world, the blind lead the blind, and the sick go to the sick to be cured. We are making constant progress, but it is a progress which leads to the operating table, to the poor house, to the insane asylum, to the trenches. We have no healers—we have only butchers whose knowledge of anatomy entitles them to a diploma which in turn entitles them to carve out or amputate our illnesses so that we may carry on in crippled fashion until such time as we are fit for the slaughterhouse.’’
In other words, our health is superficial. Modern psychology has no answers to the problems, only adjustments, remaining on the same plane of existence. There is no transformation. There are mostly only adjustments of perception of the same dimensions, but very rarely any transformation beyond the layers of the mind. Transformation comes through transcendence.
Image right: by Norman Lindsay, Pinterest
It is as Roberto Assagioli stated in his book Transpersonal Development: The Dimension Beyond Psychosynthesis “The Spirit is that element of transcendence, superiority, permanence, power, liberty, inner reality, creativity, harmony and synthesis in every manifestation, both individual and social. In people, therefore, the term ‘spiritual’ (to varying degrees) can be attributed to everything that compels them to transcend their selfish exclusiveness, fears, inertia, and love of pleasure; everything that urges them to discipline, control, and directs those untamed forces, instincts, and emotions that seethe within; everything that induces the recognition of a greater, superior reality, social or ideal in nature, and to become one with it, extending the limits of the personality.”
Modern psychology speaks very intellectually yet that is nothing more than the cleverness of the mind, knowing some of how the mechanisms of the mind work but having no idea how to truly transform oneself spiritually. It is nothing more than remaining in the mind to cure the mind. It is a futile exercise. It is equivalent to priests giving advice about God. What they know is based on the layers of the mind; not that which is beyond its illusions.
In the past, the priests held dominance, they were the ones people came to for advice in relation to the mind and its problems. Nowadays, priests have lost their enthrallment. Now, psychiatrists have taken their place but just like the priests they base their authority on illusions of the mind and speak nothing of a real evolution of perception.
It is as Sri Aurobindo tells us “As in all infant sciences, the universal habit of the human mind – to take a partial or local truth, generalise it unduly and try to explain a whole field of nature in its narrow terms – runs riot here (in psychoanalysis).’’
Image left: Sri Aurobindo in 1900. courtesy of Wikipedia
What we are dealing with are the narrow perceptions of so-called authorities whom people give their anxieties over to be diagnosed and healed: As mentioned before ‘’…a world where the sick go to the sick to be cured.’’ Psychiatrists deal with egocentric understanding, not transcendental understanding.
Image above: ‘Some Roses and their Phantoms’, Dorothea Tanning, Wiki Art.
Descartes in his famous quote said ‘’I think, therefore I am.’’ (Cogito ergo sum) which is egocentric ‘thinking’’. In fact, ‘’I do not think, therefore I am’’ is closer to the truth because when one gives up the ghost of thinking, one comes to the realisation of one’s true being.
Image right: Rene Descartes, by Frans Hals. courtesy of Wikipedia
Being comes before thinking. Thinking is secondary. First, you are silent, whole, and pure, then you think, and if one is unaware, the illusions of thinking become problematic. The saying should be ‘’I am, therefore I think.’’ Yet, there are many more dimensions to it. ‘’I am, therefore I X…’’ I am, (Being) comes before everything else.
Psychiatrists put ‘thinking’ first and foremost and it is ‘thinking’’ that causes so much suffering with all its entanglements and knots. They are unaware that ‘thinking’’ can be dropped and the ‘’I am’’ still exists. Thinking is not essential to Being. It is in fact, secondary. Therefore, the deeper one goes into Being, the less the need for psychoanalysis.
Roberto Assagioli said ‘’ We are dominated by everything with which our self is identified. We can dominate and control everything from which we disidentify ourselves. The normal mistake we all make is to identify ourselves with some content of consciousness rather than with consciousness itself. Some people get their identity from their feelings, others from their thoughts, others from their social roles. But this identification with a part of the personality destroys the freedom which comes from the experience of the pure “I”.
Pure Being, pure-space, the pure ‘’I’’ is essential to the understanding of the mind. Modern psychology neglects the ‘’spiritual’’ dimension of human life, is confined to the mind, and denies anything beyond and, because it is confined to the mind, we are nothing beyond matter, so it cannot help individuals grow to their highest potential and into the realms of the Spirit, which is the medicine to the mind’s disharmony. By neglecting the medicine, it does nothing but keep us going around in circles. The only way to cure the problems of the mind is to go out of the mind and shift the attention toward the Spirit, pure-space. We must be reminded; all psychologies are of the mind and are secondary and from this modern psychology puts two before one and is essentially facing the wrong way.
I now come back to the person who told me they have ‘’been in therapy for 25 years’’ and ‘’without it, they will go insane’’ I say, with it, they will stay insane. Because, when one puts two before one, there is nowhere to go but the absurdity and insanity of the mind. All analytical methods of modern psychology are fragmental, only ever helping to a certain extent but always leaving one in the limbo of no-mans-land.
Analysis is good at the beginning but it is only the beginning. The problem is: most go no further than the beginning and become stuck in the loophole of secondary perception. When humanity evolves, psychoanalysis will become obsolete, because when humanity evolves, they will come to know that first comes before second.
Danny Metcalfe is a writer residing in the North-East of England. He has had poems, short stories and essays published in various magazines.
His first poetry collection Aionios Charis was praised for being ahead of its time. He is currently writing his first novel about working-class life.