Poustinia Journal: Colors

Aside

(Poustinia Journal, 11/24/2012)

I appreciate the vividness of the Colors of the Creation and the mystical, luminous White Light.  These are the colors of completion.bright-colors-hallway-914113 - CROPPED

I am fascinated by the Gray.  It is the chaos of metamorphosis and transformation; of the disintegration prerequisite for evolution; the yet unformed and forming that will eventually emerge into the vivid Colors of Creation.  Gray is the color of becoming.

I am seduced by the awesome mysteries of the Black.  I fear that in entering its depths, I may be lost forever.  However, it promises me “incomparable light” if I willingly go there — not just for myself, but for others.  Black is the Color of Mystery.

I accept the invitation.

 


This was written in response to the first chapter of Mary K Delirgio’s, Our Journey to the Sky Trafford Publishing, 2005.

MEDIAL PERSONALITY – Part 7: Resources

I am providing information about resources for those interested in learning more about the medial personality or topics related to it.  I have read or viewed most but not all of the material I’ve listed, and I’ve made comments about some of them.  This is hardly a complete list or resources.  I may add to it from time to time.  (In case you are wondering, I am not being paid for sharing any of this information.)

This concludes the series on the Medial Personality.  I won’t rule out the possibility of future articles related to the medial, but I have — at last and at least — completed the task assigned to me three and a half years ago.  


 

Aron, Elaine.  (1997)  The Highly Sensitive Person:  How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You.  New York: Broadway Books.

Aron also has a website:  http://hsperson.com/

Beattie, Melody.  (1987) Codependent No More.  Center City: Hazelden.

Blackstone, Judith.  (2012)  Belonging Here:  A Guide for the Spiritually Sensitive Person.  Boulder: Sounds True.

Blackstone also has a website:  http://www.judithblackstoneblog.com/2012/judiths-new-book-belonging-here-a-guide-for-the-spiritually-sensitive-person/

Corson, Roberta Bassett.  (1998).  Wounds of the Medial Woman in Contemporary Western Culture.  Santa Barbara: Pacifica Graduate Institute.

This dissertation is the very best resource for information about the medial.  ProQuest offers it as a PDF document.  Price is $38.  The website is not easy to navigate, and it is helpful to have the publication number:  9912586. 

If you are serious about understanding this topic, Corson’s work is worth the investment!  For an academic paper, it is an easy read, but feel free to skip sections that don’t seem relevant.  You may want to begin with the five portraits of medial women in Chapter 3 before diving into the background material and the conclusions.  .  It is available at:  http://ProQuest.com

Curtan, Jim.  (Blog posts published 12/2016 – 11/2017)   Finding God In All Thingsjimcurtan.com

Curtan’s essays are inspiring, informational, and entertaining.  From his website:  “Jim Curtan is a motivational speaker, spiritual director, retreat leader.  He has taught extensively with New York Times best-selling author Caroline Myss and has been a faculty member of the Caroline Myss Educational Institute since its inception in 2003.  He has taught at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, The London Centre for Spirituality, The Crossings in Austin, Texas and The Learning Annexes in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.  He has lectured and led workshops throughout the United States, in Canada, Great Britain, the Netherlands and Indonesia.  He has led spiritual retreats and workshops for the Young Adult Ministry of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles and the California Men’s Gathering.”

Dale, Cyndi.  (2009)  The Subtle Body:  An Encyclopedia of Your Energetic Anatomy.  Boulder: Sounds True.

Dale also writes self-help books.  I prefer her more scholarly works.  She also has a website:  https://cyndidale.com/

de Castillejo, Irene Claremont.  (1973).  Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology.  New York: Harper & Row.

This book was my first introduction to the medial even though the medial is covered in only one chapter.  The rest of the book is just as valuable.  Please don’t be put off by the focus on women.  In today’s culture, it applies to any and all genders.

Delattre, Pierre.  (1971).  Tales of a Dalai Lama. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

This is a collection of short stories about a fictional, child dalai lama.  It includes the story, “Ten Conversations at Once” referenced in Medial Personality: Part 4 and Part 5. The book has been reprinted by other publishers and is still available.  You can also read it for free online.  Internet Archive makes it available as a 2-week loan.  https://archive.org/details/talesofdalailama00dela

Doherty, Catherine de Hueck. (1975) Poustinia: Christian Spirituality of the East for Western Man. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press.

This book saved my life!  I was on the verge of committing suicide when I read it.  It gave me a reason for living and provided the loose structure I needed to organize my life.  I still consider myself a poustinik even though I am no longer a practicing Catholic and my approach to the spiritual life has more in common with Taoism than with Christianity.  However, Christian values are deeply ingrained in me.

Dubois, Allison.  Allison DuBois interview with Oprah.  The real life person on which the show Medium was based.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKNbBzz5bdI

The first season of Medium on DVD has among its special features a documentary about Dubois, her husband, and their children.  I was fascinated by how well the family has adjusted to their extraordinary gifts.  They appear to live pretty much ‘normal’ lives.  I could not find another source for that documentary.  This interview with Oprah is the closest I could get.

Eden, Donna.  (1998, 2008)  Energy Medicine:  Balancing Your Body’s Energies for Optimal Health, Joy and Vitality.  New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher.

Eden and her husband, David Feinstein, Ph.D., also give online classes.  YouTube has several videos of her demonstrations.  Her own story is fascinating.

Estes, Clarissa Pinkola.  (1995)  Women who run with the wolves:  Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype.  New York:  Ballantine Books.

There is much about the medial in this book even though it is rarely addressed specifically.  This is another book that applies to all genders even though its title suggests otherwise.  Estes also has a website:  http://www.clarissapinkolaestes.com/

Finley, James.  (1978)  Merton’s Palace of Nowhere:  A Search for God Through Awareness of the True Self.  Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press

I included this book as a way to identify the author.  It has been reprinted many times.  The 40th Anniversary Edition was published in February 2018.  I have not read this book.  However, I have been privileged to participate in one-day retreats presented by the author, and I’ve attended his meditations at St. Monica Parish.  Thomas Merton was Finley’s spiritual director when both were monks at the Abbey of Gethsemani.  Finley leads a group meditation on the first and third Thursdays of each month for his home parish in Santa Monica, California.  More information is on his website:  https://www.contemplativeway.org/

Ford, Michael.  (1999)  Wounded Prophet:  A Portrait of Henri J. M. Nouwen.  New York: Doubleday.

Internet Archive Nonprofit Library.

This Internet Archive is not an easy site to navigate, but it does provide a wealth of material — including some that are on this list.  I watch free movies there!  https://www.archive.org

Merhige, Elias.  Remote Viewing lecture by Elias at the International Remote Viewing Association (IRVA)

I was intrigued by a documentary that was included as a special feature on a DVD of the movie, Suspect Zero.  Merhige had asked for a demonstration of remote viewing, and the ‘demonstration’ was his own directed experience of remote viewing.  I could not find that documentary online.  The closest I found was the video of this lecture.  https://archive.org/details/RemoteViewing#

Myss, Caroline.  (2001)  Sacred Contracts.  New York: Harmony Books.

Myss considers this her most important work.  However, it’s not my favorite.  Her works have had significant influence in my life.  In the beginning, they just sort of presented themselves to me when I most needed them.  My introduction to her was a video I found while browsing a thrift shop.  It was from one of her workshops, “Energetics of Healing.”  I liked her down-to-earth, no nonsense approach and her sense of humor.  Sacred Contracts showed up for me in another thrift store a few years later.  Several of her books have become best sellers.  These are available on her website along with many of her workshops.  https://www.myss.com

Orloff, Judith.  (2017)  The Empath’s Survival Guide:  Life Strategies for Sensitive People.  Boulder: Sounds True.

This book focuses on helping empaths and highly sensitive people manage their sensitivities — especially the effects from others.  Orloff is an empath herself, and she teaches a course for professional health practitioners:  “Becoming an Intuitive Healer.”  Orloff is psychiatrist and a member of the psychiatric clinical faculty at UCLA.  She also has a website:  https://drjudithorloff.com/

Progoff, Ira.  (1975). At a Journal Workshop:  The Basic Text and Guide for Using the Intensive Journal Process.  New York: Dialogue House Library.

The ‘Intensive Journal’ changed my life!  However, Progoff’s book is not the easiest way to learn the process.  His writing is stream-of-consciousness and sometimes circular so that figuring out the sequence of steps in the journal exercises is a challenge.  I spent many hours converting his circular language into linear steps.  It was worth the effort, but I wouldn’t have attempted it if I hadn’t already been introduced to the process through a workshop taught by a therapist who had studied with Progoff.  Sometimes I give informal classes using those linear steps.  However, formal workshops are available.  A schedule of official workshops is posted on the website:  http://intensivejournal.org/index.php

Psychology Today:  “Are You a Highly Sensitive Person? Should You Change? A sensitive person’s brain is different: Research points to some advantages.”  Posted Jul 27, 2017:  https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/neuroscience-in-everyday-life/201707/are-you-highly-sensitive-person-should-you-change

Simon, Tami.  (2009)  Kundalini Rising:  Exploring the Energy of Awakening.  Boulder: Sounds True.

This book is a wonderful resource!  It is a collection of articles written by a variety of authors.  Some are ordinary people who have had extraordinary experiences.  Some are spiritual teachers (Lawrence Edwards, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Sivananda Radha).  Some are transpersonal psychologists (Ken Wilber, David Lukoff, Bonnie Greenwell).  And some are scientific researchers (Andrew Newberg, John Selby, Bruce Greyson).  Simon is the founder of Sounds True. 

Sounds True Publishinghttps://www.soundstrue.com

The Sounds True website has a wealth of publications — print, audio, and video — on spirituality, self-help, psychology, and probably other topics as well.  There is also a lot of free content.  In addition, many of their programs provide CEU’s for mental health professionals through R. Cassidy Seminars .

 

MEDIAL PERSONALITY – Part 6:  The Subtle Medial & the Borderline Personality

- Meme - I live in another dimension - 17760863_1500269446696862_8484280091939456806_o

 

Borderline personality disorder carries more stigma than any other  — especially among mental health professionals.  In graduate school we were taught to pay attention to our initial reactions to clients.  Immediately wanting to go out of your way to take care of a client or feeling unaccountably irritable, resentful, and rejecting were indications that we had a borderline client.

Most literature about borderline personality disorder (BPD) tends to blame the BPD client’s behavior, attitude, and emotional reactivity for causing these initial reactions in others.  However, ‘initial reactions’ occur long before behavior, attitude, and emotional reactivity can be demonstrated.

‘Initial reactions’ occur long before behavior, attitude, and emotional reactivity can be demonstrated.

Initial reactions are not about behavior.  This suggests that a BPD diagnosis based on the therapist’s initial, subjective experience is either:  1) an excuse for the therapist’s countertransference or; 2) there is something about the client’s ‘being’ or physical presence that causes the uncharacteristic reaction in the therapist.

If therapists — who are trained to cope calmly with extreme emotions — have exaggerated reactions to BPD clients, what happens to untrained, ordinary people?  And a more important question, one that is rarely if ever asked is:  What happens to someone who consistently experiences exaggerated reactions from others? 

What happens to someone who consistently experiences exaggerated reactions from others? 

Such people could easily:

  • Have stormy, conflictual relationships
  • Find it difficult to trust
  • Feel misunderstood
  • Experience the help given to them as not what they need
  • Feel isolated, alienated, and abandoned
  • Feel hopeless
  • Initially value someone who appears to understand them, and then reject the person when there is evidence that the understanding is an illusion
  • Fear intimacy as a precursor to rejection (and provoke the rejection to end the fear)
  • Feel intense shame and self-doubt
  • Have difficulty trusting their own judgment and making decisions
  • Develop physical illnesses
  • Become emotionally reactive, frustrated, and rageful
  • Act out to express the rage
  • Use manipulation to get what they want/need
  • Come to believe that there is something wrong with what they are rather than what they do.

The causes of BPD have usually been attributed to perceived wounds from early childhood that were experienced as abandonment and/or double bind messages from a parent/caregiver.  The wounds may have been the result of living in a dysfunctional family; the reaction to a major trauma; or long term physical and/or sexual abuse.

What if there is another cause?  At least for some with BPD.  What if there is the sort of physical component that I described in the section, Fish Scales & Hummingbird Wings (MEDIAL PERSONALITY – Part 5:  Metaphors & Strategies for a Subtle Medial)?  What if those with BPD and those with medial personalities have that same component?

What if there is something about the physical being of a person that from birth sets up some kind of interference in the perceptions or subjective experiences of others?  Others could be drawn to or rejecting of such a person based more on illusion than on reality.  This ‘something’ could be brain waves; aura; pheromones; oscillations in molecular and atomic structures that are out of sync with the world, or something else currently unknown to us.

Perhaps this ‘physical component’ causes the person to be like a mirror or a movie screen that reflects the projections of others — either positive or negative.  Others would treat the projections as if they are real and become frustrated, resentful, and rejecting when the person did not react in accordance with the projection.

There are examples of the reflection of illusion in nature.  The beauty of rainbow trout and hummingbird wings is due to the way the scales and the feathers influence light.  The feathers and scales are themselves colorless.  What if a person has similar properties reflecting something that is illusion rather than reality — or a truth about the observer rather than the observed?

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There is precedent for a change in the attribution of a cause for a mental illness.  In earlier times, schizophrenia was attributed to overprotective mothering which led to the development of family therapy.  Since then, we have learned that schizophrenia is a biologically based mental illness with a genetic component.  The disorder may be triggered by stress — which may or may not have to do with parenting style.  A parent whose child shows symptoms of schizophrenia could reasonably be expected to be protective of that child.

Another mental health professional has used Jungian archetypes in regard to borderline personality disorder.  Lorena Williams, LCSW, addressed this in her workshop, “Of Vampires and Goddesses:  Archetypal Considerations in Borderline Personality Disorder.” 

At the workshop, Ms. Williams told of working with a clinic that specialized in treating clients with BPD.  She was feeling hopeless about treatment for BPD until she began questioning what was happening.  Her questioning led her to explore archetypes and symbolic language and to view BPD in terms of “the journey of the soul of the client” and “the accompanying journey of their practitioners.”  Ms. Williams used the archetypes of ‘vampires’ and ‘goddesses’ to explain the experiences of those diagnosed with BPD and the people involved in treating them. 

(Note:  The quotes attributed to Ms. Williams are from my own transcription of a DVD of her presentation.  One of the participants gave me the DVD because of my interest in alternative theories of borderline personality disorder.  I am responsible for any errors in transcription.)

According to Ms. Williams, the symbolic language of archetypes: 

“…moves us into the collective unconscious in that place where all things are known, and with that we enter the language of the soul.  That goes beyond personality.  It is an entrée to mysticism and the sacred.  And it is very much alive.”

Ms. Williams’ description of ‘vampires’ is very much like the ‘brownouts’ I wrote about in Medial Personality – Part 5.  She suggests that these clients draw forth the therapist’s own shadow so that the therapist experiences his or her own inner darkness — not just that of the client.  The therapist is unaware of this and is under a ‘spell.’

“Our (the therapists’) first spell is that we don’t have a shadow — or much of one.  And our second spell is that the patient is the problem — not me.  And it is only after we have rigorously done the work in spell breaking for ourselves that we are in a position to do spell breaking with these patients.”

She goes to talk about the BPD client’s spell:

“…And here is their spell.  Their spell is that fulfillment is found externally.” 

Then Ms. Williams goes into a lengthy discussion of ‘goddesses’ — especially the dark feminine.

“…The Dark Feminine, the Black Madonna, and Kali, these are goddess energies that speak to us of the very qualities that we are taught to repress and suppress.  These are the very aspects of ourselves that we push aside, hide, deny and bury.  Whatever; just get them out of the way!  Since they are bursting through our collective psyche, it’s time to get them out and parade them around.  And in taking a good look at them, what I have seen is that they are the constellation of qualities attributed to borderlines.

“…Now all of these dark goddesses are also goddesses of primordial gardens.  This is about the ultimate mystery.  This is about things that are forever knowable and that there’s something about going into the darkness that lets us see secrets of the soul that we just cannot see in the light.  It is said that if one of these goddesses is visiting you, that you are truly blessed.  And that when you are in the company of the divine feminine, she represents currents of living that we must have in order to thrive and continue as a species. 

So as such, these borderlines — as representatives of the dark feminine — are agents for our own refinement.  These patients are reflecting back to us the darkness of the collective that we refuse to acknowledge.  And I want to say that again.  These patients are reflecting back to us the darkness of the collective that we refuse to acknowledge.” 

 

These patients are reflecting back to us the darkness of the collective that we refuse to acknowledge.” 

- Meme - Dark Feminine - 18447169_1918375928385044_3451318042121416903_n

I agree with Ms. Williams that a spiritual approach to borderline personality disorder is necessary, and I agree with her assertion that the therapist’s own shadow contributes to the problems involved in treating BPD clients.  I suspect the success of Marsha Linehan’s dialectical behavior therapy is due as much to its spiritual practice of mindfulness as to any of the other interventions involved.  Dialectical behavior therapy has become the standard of treatment for borderline personality disorder.

Many years ago I qualified for the diagnostic label of borderline personality disorder.  I have been careful not to disclose that until now.  The label has such a powerful stigma! When I’ve told others that the label had once applied to me, I’ve seen a veil of suspicion cover their faces while mental wheels reinterpreted every experience they ever had with me.  They no longer trusted their experiences, and I was discredited.

I prefer the medial archetype and the medial personality as explanations for my experiences in life.  I consider the medial archetype as a meta-archetype that incorporates all the other archetypes that are associated with nonordinary reality.  ‘Vampires’ and ‘goddesses’ fit well within the umbrella of the medial archetype.

The medial archetype:  A meta-archetype that incorporates all the other archetypes that are associated with nonordinary reality. 

‘Vampires’ and ‘goddesses’ fit well within the umbrella of the medial archetype.

______________________________________________________

References

Beattie, Melody.  (1987) Codependent No More.  Center City:  Hazelden

Corson, Roberta Bassett.  (1998).  Wounds of the Medial Woman in Contemporary Western Culture.  Santa Barbara:  Pacifica Graduate Institute

de Castillejo, Irene Claremont.  (1973).  Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology.  New York: Harper & Row.

Progoff, Ira.  (1975).  At a Journal Workshop:  The Basic Text and Guide for Using the Intensive Journal Process.  New York:  Dialogue House Library.

Williams, Lorena. (July 30 – August 3. 2007)  Of Vampires and Goddesses:  Archetypal Considerations in Borderline Personality Disorder.  Creativity & Madness Workshop, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

MEDIAL PERSONALITY – Part 5:  Metaphors & Strategies for a Subtle Medial

Mirrors & Projection Screens; Fish Scales & Hummingbird Wings; Power Surges & Brownouts; Automatic Faucetsthese are metaphors I’ve used to explain my own experiences as a subtle medial. 

 

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Mirrors & Projection Screens

When we look at a mirror we see a reflection.  We don’t ‘see’ the mirror.  When I think of a mirror, I usually associate it with my own reflection and checking on my appearance.  But looking into a mirror could just as easily show a reflection of someone or something else.  It depends on where one is standing in relation to the mirror — one’s perspective.  The rear-view mirrors in our cars show us what is behind us while we are driving — both in space and time. 

In our everyday lives we are often ‘mirrors’ for each other.  Our interactions reflect our perceptions of each other.  We generally trust that what we ‘see’ is ‘real’, and we adjust our behavior accordingly.

But what happens if the mirror gives distorted reflections or sometimes operates like a two-way mirror and sometimes becomes a window?  What if what is ‘seen’ is not a true reflection of the other?  What if the mirror becomes a projection screen?

In recent years I’ve described myself as a mirror that is more ‘reflective’ than most — a mirror so reflective that it is almost impossible to ‘see’.  Most of the time this is not a problem.  When I am centered; when I am grounded in my own identity; when I feel the support of Inner Resources, I am able to be authentically myself regardless of how others ‘see’ me.  Like Delattre’s Great Hum, I can usually manage to “wear the mask the world places upon” me. 

“…Assume any mask the world places upon you and wear it with ease. Only then will your own divine countenance shine through…”

I long ago stopped trying to explain myself to others.  It’s more important that others know who they are.  Sometimes I return a mask to the person who ‘placed’ it on me.  I do this when it feels as if the person has given away too much their power to me.  I try to be gentle in my refusal.  I want them to feel empowered not rejected.

Not being ‘seen’ only becomes a problem for me when I am in the role of one being helped.  Casual interactions with store clerks are usually uneventful.  It becomes more troublesome when I need help with home repairs or car problems.  The real difficulty is when I — the real person — need help. 

When I really need help, my helper is rarely able to see me well enough to give me what I need.  The help offered goes to a reflection.  I thank my helper for his effort and explain that it’s not what I need.  I ask again making my request clearer and more specific — at least from my point of view.  My helper tries again from a different perspective but still doesn’t see me, and again the help goes to a reflection.  The cycle repeats until my helper becomes frustrated and gives up:  “I’ve done everything I can for you and it’s not enough!”  Both of us are wounded by the experience. 

Most of the time this kind of mismatch doesn’t progress to the point of frustration.  I don’t let it get that far.  I have learned to accept the caring intent of the help that goes to the reflection.  When I am spiritually and emotionally needy, I go inward and receive what I need from Inner Resources.  I can reach out afterward for validation from flesh and blood humans, and that is extremely valuable. 

As I grow older and my body progresses in the slow decline of aging, being ‘seen’ becomes more of an issue.  Eventually I will need to rely on others for what I can no longer do for myself.  I am concerned about the quality of the medical treatment that will be offered to me, and I am concerned about becoming so much of a burden for my caregivers that they feel intense resentment toward me.


Fish Scales & Hummingbird Wings

I haven’t always interpreted the misperceptions from others in terms of Jungian concepts.  More than fifteen years ago, I wrote about a ‘physical component’. 

What if there is something about the physical being of a person that from birth sets up some kind of interference in the perceptions or subjective experiences of others?  Others could be drawn to or rejecting of such a person based more on illusion than on reality.  This ‘something’ could be brain waves; aura; pheromones; oscillations in molecular and atomic structures that are out of sync with the world, or something else currently unknown to us.

Perhaps this ‘physical component’; causes the person to be like a mirror or a movie screen that reflects the projections of others — either positive or negative.  Others would treat the projections as if they are real and become frustrated, resentful, and rejecting when the person does not react in accordance with the projection.

There are examples of the reflection of illusion in nature.  The beauty of rainbow trout and hummingbird wings is due to the way the scales and the feathers influence light.  The feathers and scales are themselves colorless.  What if a person has similar properties reflecting something that is illusion rather than reality — or a truth about the observer rather than the observed?

The beauty of rainbow trout and hummingbird wings is due to the way the scales and the feathers influence light.  The feathers and scales are themselves colorless. 

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This theory of a physical component does not contradict the Jungian concept of the medial personality.  Both could be different approaches to understanding the same thing.


Brownouts & Power Surges

These same differences of physical constitution and/or medial personality may be responsible for other problems in relationships.  I have found that the quality of my presence influences how others perceive me and how they react to me — especially when I am experiencing intense emotions. 

Maybe I operate on a different type of subtle energy system.  We are all aware of what happens with electricity in our homes.  Some electrical appliances draw more current than others.  Household lights dim when those are turned on.  Overloaded circuits blow fuses and trip breakers.  On the rare occasions when too much electricity flows through power lines, lights initially become brighter and then burn out — along with our computers — unless we have them plugged into surge protectors.  What if some of us have subtle energy systems that affect others in this way? 

Brownouts:  I have noticed that if I go to someone for help when I am emotionally and/or spiritually needy, I draw from that person more than he or she is prepared to give — even if I am careful about personal and professional boundaries and clear in my communications.  This is what I call a brownout’, aka, ‘burnout’.

Power Surges:  Something similar happens when I am euphoric.  My euphoria is contagious and infects the other causing him or her to react in uncharacteristic ways:  making exaggerated compliments; disclosing too much personal information; blurring boundaries; offering intimacy.  When the influence of my euphoria wears off, the other experiences embarrassment and regret.  I call this a ‘power surge.’ 


Automatic Faucets

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All of us at one time or another have had the experience of another’s need drawing a response from us when we didn’t feel that we had anything to give.  Well, maybe we didn’t.  The other’s need drew a response through us the way putting hands beneath an automatic faucet draws forth water.  Subtle medials have an enhanced ability to perform this function.  Others draw through us what they need — even to the extent that our personalities may change in response to that need. 

None of us are tempted to glamorize the function of the automatic faucets we find in public restrooms, but it is not the same when people function that way.  Rather than recognizing the human automatic faucet as just an instrument, we tend to attribute the help received to the human being.  We focus our gratitude, admiration and respect on an instrument and not on its Source.  

When those of us who operate as human automatic faucets are unaware of our function, our egos will accept all of this as our due.  We own what flows through us as our identity rather than our function.  When no one activates the flow, we feel empty — because we are. 

The traditional label for finding one’s identity and validation in helping others is ‘codependence.’  The concept grew out of addiction treatment.  Beginning with Alcoholics Anonymous the term applied to those who ‘enabled’ the alcoholic’s addiction.  Eventually the term was applied to those who sought validation in helping others because their dysfunctional family system did not provide this for them when they were children.

I suspect there are different types of codependence.  Sometimes codependent behavior is caused by growing up in a dysfunctional family — with or without addiction as a contributing factor.  Sometimes it is due to the value a culture places on care giving — especially for women.  Sometimes it is the inherent function of a subtle medial personality.  And sometimes it is from some combination of these sources.

It is important for subtle medials to understand that we have identities separate from and more than what flows through us in response to others’ needs, expectations, and projections.  Otherwise we become possessed by the medial archetype and lose ourselves to our medial functions.

Subtle medials have identities separate from and more than what flows through us in response to others’ needs, expectations, and projections. 


Strategies for Managing My Own Medial Nature

Those of us with subtle medial personalities have a different way of ‘being.’  We need to understand this well enough to function in the world around us.  While medials are defined by the traits we have in common, we are sufficiently different from each other that we each need to develop our own ways of functioning in the world. 

What follows is a strategy I developed for myself.  Again I advise you to listen for the echo of your own lives in what I’ve written.”


Clare’s Strategy for Dealing with the External World of the Consensual Reality

1. I accept that what I am affects my relationships with others as much as — if nor more than — what I do.

2. I assume responsibility in relationships.  I accept that others will not ‘see’ me, and I make an effort to respond to misperceptions with tact and compassion.  I am careful to establish and maintain clear boundaries.  I set limits on other’s efforts to help me because they may not know when they have reached theirs.

3. I work at compensating for my effect on others.  I attempt to use good communication skills and to evaluate what is appropriate behavior for various situations.

4. The misperceptions I attract cause difficulties in conflict resolution.  To compensate, I try to contain my emotional reactions.  If possible, I leave a volatile situation to calm and to evaluate what happened.  I may write about it in a letter to the person before discussing it with them.  This gives the other time to reflect before responding.  It also removes the influence of my physical presence.  Sometimes I just write the letter to process what happened and never deliver it.  If I feel that more is needed, I will follow the letter — delivered or not — with a face-to-face discussion.  I may invite a neutral witness to assist with this.

5. Because I, too, misperceive others, I need to do reality checks with people whose judgment I can trust.

6. I need frequent time alone without outside influences to be myself and think my own thoughts.

7. I attend to my inner life and rely on Inner Sources for support and guidance. When I experience intense emotions, I go there for help. I wait until the intensity has dissipated before reaching out for validation from flesh and blood humans.


Clare’s Strategy or Dealing with the Inner World of the Other Consciousness

1. I practice maintaining a moment-to-moment awareness of this inner world.  I pay attention to thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations.  I have inner conversations with the concepts that have become my companions and guides.

2. I evaluate those inner experiences using both intellect and intuition to discern if, when, and how to translate those to the external world.  I’ve learned that I need to question whether the intense emotions I feel are mine or some else’s or both. When it’s ‘both,’ separating mine from another’s is more difficult.  I also question impulses to action.  Is this genuine intuitional guidance or some totally personal response?  How could my actions affect others?  Would they be harmed if I acted on the impulse?  Can I cope with the consequences if things don’t go well? 

3. I manage boundaries in the inner world.  I ask for guidance within and from that place. How do I help this person or this situation?  Is it necessary that I take action in the external world?  Do I reach out from my interior place to theirs?  Do I boundary myself in my own depths and ‘hold space’ for the other in doing so?  Most often I’m directed to boundary myself.  My boundaried presence there facilitates others’ access to the depths within themselves.  Reaching out from my space to theirs could interfere with their process.

4. I pay attention to my body.  My body is an instrument for discernment.  Are muscles relaxed or tense?  Butterflies in my stomach?  Tightness in my throat?  Dryness in my mouth?  Tunneled vision or panoramic view?  Sometimes my body signals a shift in my state of consciousness.  I may feel subtle energy flowing through me.  My body may convulse around my abdomen.  This often occurs when I’m directed to ‘go deep’ or told to ‘loosen the connections.’  ‘Going deep’ is entering my own depths and being boundaried there.  ‘Loosening the connections’ is making my inner boundaries permeable so that material from the depths flows through me.  I experience ‘going deep’ and ‘loosening the connections’ as slightly differing states of inner consciousness that I also feel in my physical body.

5. I continue to learn from and about this inner world and how I operate there.

 


Resources

Corson, Roberta Bassett. (1998). Wounds of the Medial Woman in Contemporary Western Culture. Santa Barbara: Pacifica Graduate Institute

de Castillejo, Irene Claremont. (1973). Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology. New York: Harper & Row.

Delattre, Pierre. (1971). Tales of a Dalai Lama. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Progoff, Ira. (1975). At a Journal Workshop: The Basic Text and Guide for Using the Intensive Journal Process. New York: Dialogue House Library.

A Conversation with Suicide

Preface

This post is in response to news stories about suicide.  The following quote is from an article posted by Medscape, June 7, 2018.  (The article, U.S.  Suicides Increasing at ‘Alarming Rate,’ Says CDC, was written by Deborah Brauser.)  

“Suicide rates continue to rise dramatically for adults in the United States, according to a report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released today.

Between 1999 and 2016, the time of the latest estimates, half of the states saw at least a 30% increase in suicide rates. And all states except Nevada increased by at least 6%. Overall, there were almost 45,000 total deaths by suicide in 2016 alone.

“And, unfortunately, our data show that the problem is getting worse,” Anne Schuchat, MD, principal deputy director of the CDC, said at a press briefing.

Suicide rates from 1999 to 2016 increased in all age groups younger that 75 years, with the greatest increase shown in “middle-aged adults” aged 45 to 64 years.  (Link to article, https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/897804?nlid=123049_3901)

Various news sources reported on the suicide of fashion designer, Kate Spade, earlier this week.  On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, Ms. Spade was found dead in her Manhattan apartment.  Her death was ruled a suicide by hanging.  She was age 55.

I know several people who have lost family members to suicide.  Each of them had some understanding of the difficulties that drove their loved ones to end their lives.  Even so death by suicide wounded them more than death by some other cause.  Second-guessing about what they should have done or not done intensified their grief. This is different from the suicides of those facing terminal illnesses and choosing to die with dignity.

When life is difficult, anticipation of a long, restful sleep makes death seductive.  I have felt the pull of that seduction nearly every day of my life.  I made three serious suicide attempts.  The first was at age 12; the last was at age 23 — almost 50 years ago.  I have vowed not to end my life with suicide.  I’m an old woman, and I’m no longer anyone’s priority.  My death by natural causes would cause only momentary sadness in those who know me.  My suicide, however, would wound many.  I choose not to do that.

Many years ago, I explored the concept of suicide using the Intensive Journal.  It turned out to be a valuable experience.  I’m sharing the results of that exploration in story form.


 

A Conversation with Suicide

(This story is a revision of entries in my Poustinia Journal for July 1988.)

Once upon a time, I asked Suicide to talk with me.  Suicide had long been a seductive presence in my life, and I wanted to confront this.  The conversation did not go as I expected.  Mr. Suicide introduced himself with words before he showed himself as an image.  Here is his introduction:

Mr. Suicide Introduces Himself

I began with your distant ancestors.

I was passed on to you by your grandparents and parents.

I had my beginnings for you in the accident of your conception.

I grew in each rejection you experienced no matter how subtle.

I grew also in each of your successes and the jealousies and rejections they caused.

I grew in your confusion about life and its meaning or lack of it.

I grew in your misbelief that you were ‘different’ and a ‘misfit.’

I was the attempt to make real the illusion that you should never have been.

I was to have been done in secret, sparing others’ feelings as much as possible.

I was an attempt to undo the wrong of your existence.

Frustration:  I was the solution of ‘last resort.’

I am a lie.

I have always failed.

 

 

Ghost of Christmas Future - enlargedAt first Suicide was only a presence:  cool, silent, empty, seductive.  This was death with control — the ultimate control of life.  When Suicide eventually materialized, it appeared as the Ghost of Christmas Future from the Alistair Sims’ version of A Christmas Carol.

Suicide sat in an overstuffed armchair across from mine. We were in a living room where the lights had been dimmed so that we were only visible to each other.  The rest of the room was in shadow.

I began, “Suicide, I want to speak with you.”

The response was a sibilant, “Yeeesss?”

Slightly exasperated and trying not to let it show, I continued, “You’ve been a part of my life on several occasions.  Actually, in a mild form you are always present.  The depression is a nonlethal form of self-murder — like living in a coma.  Not quite as final as physical death, but often as effective.  You’ve whispered your seductions like a siren.  You’ve spoken aloud only seldom.  Will you speak with me out loud — now?”

Continuing with the sibilant whisper, the speech slow and languid, “If I must.  I’m quiet by nature.  What would you have me say?  What can I tell you that you do not already know about me?”

I went on, “I only want you to come out of hiding, to reveal yourself as something more solid so that I can understand you better, and therefore understand part of my life.  Who are you?”

Suicide answered, “I’m the ultimate in control over your life.  I am the final solution.  A solution of last resort.”  

“I’m the ultimate in control over your life.  I am the final solution.  A solution of last resort.”  

At this point the conversation was interrupted.


When we met again several hours later, I felt a lot of resistance in my body:  convulsive movements around my abdomen, head arching back, mouth opening to form a silent scream.  Then Suicide appeared as a robed and hooded figure, a dark shadow instead of a face.  Only hands were showing, no indication of male or female, the voice a sibilant whisper.  We were again sitting in armchairs in the darkened living room.

I began, “Suicide, I want to try talking with you again.  I seem to have more things to say to you about you than questions to ask.  I’m afraid this will become a monologue, and I really want you to speak, too.  Why have you been such a large part of my life?  You’ve been seductive and compelling at times.  Most often you’ve been a constantly repeated litany or mantra of ‘I want to die’.

Suicide began in the familiar sibilant voice which almost imperceptibly shifted to normal, masculine speech.  (He had become ‘Mr. Suicide.’)  “I’m your way of gaining control over your life when all else has failed.  When you can do nothing more, you can always choose to die.  But if you’re successful, it’s a choice you can make only once.  I can be a final triumph of control.  Remember how pleased you were when you finally dived from that runaway horse so you’d have an excuse to freeze to death.  ‘I did it!  I did it!’ you said.”

I responded, “Yes, I remember.  But I didn’t die.  Twenty degree temperature was too warm to freeze to death quickly enough.  I was afraid I’d only be crippled.  I wanted to be either wholly alive or wholly dead — nothing in between.  But I remember chuckling to myself when the doctor said my skull might be cracked.  Thinking maybe I’d succeeded after all, and hoping I had.”

Mr. Suicide replied, “But you’ve always failed, you know.  I don’t think you’ve really wanted me.  You’ve only wanted to stop hurting and to take control of your life by choosing when and how to die.  It really wasn’t much of a choice, you know.  Death was as much of an unknown to you as were the solutions to your problems.  It’s an unknown that you are required to experience.  It’s the unknown involved in resolving your problems that’s a real choice.  There are lots more alternatives there even though it may not feel like it.  There are always options.  But you may need help to see them.

“You’ve only wanted to stop hurting and to take control of your life by choosing when and how to die.”

“…Death was as much of an unknown to you as were the solutions to your problems.  It’s an unknown that you are required to experience.”

“…It’s the unknown involved in resolving your problems that’s a real choice.”

I agreed, “You’re right, of course.  I know what you’re saying is true.  It’s the pain and frustration I feel that makes death attractive.  I get so tired of fighting.  Sometimes I’m absolutely exhausted and want so much just to rest, to be free from the struggle.”

“There are times when you should rest,” Mr. Suicide advised.  “But you should not try to find it through me.  Rest in God instead.  Give Him your struggles for a while.  Rest in other people if they are available.  Know that the final rest will come eventually.  It’s not in death, but through it.  New life is on the other side.”

“There are times when you should rest, but you should not try to find it through me.

Rest in God instead.  Give Him your struggles for a while.  Rest in other people if they are available.”

Know that the final rest will come eventually. 

It’s not in death, but through it. 

New life is on the other side.”

I’m surprised at what I’m hearing, “Why are you being so pro life?  I expected you to seduce me to use you.”

Mr. Suicide explained, “I am in the image of the Ghost of Christmas Future because like it, I am a prophet and a signpost of things that can be changed.  It is only your ego, your small self that makes me appear seductive.  It is what longs for control.  I represent your true Self — what you can become.  If you must explore the unknown, examine the unknowns of your life.  You will experience the unknown of death all too soon as it is.”

I am in the image of the Ghost of Christmas Future because like it, I am a prophet and a signpost of things that can be changed. 

…I represent your true Self — what you can become.  If you must explore the unknown, examine the unknowns of your life.  You will experience the unknown of death all too soon as it is.”

Somewhat in awe at this I reply, “Thank you for your advice.  Perhaps we’ll talk again another time.”


 

Five days later we spoke again.  Mr. Suicide was again a robed and hooded figure, a dark shadow instead of a face with only his hands showing.  Once again we were in the darkened living room.

I began, “Mr. Suicide, I have another question to ask you.”

“Yeeesss?” the usual sibilant whisper.

“Please don’t whisper at me!” I demand crossly.  “I need you to speak out loud again!”

He responds in a calm, normal voice, “Well, all right.  What do you want to know?”

I’m indignant with his behavior, “I think that you’re a ham and that you enjoy high drama!  But that’s not what I had in mind to talk about.”

Slouching in his armchair with one leg hooked over the armrest, an obvious overreaction to my comment about high drama, but still hamming it up, “Okay.  Shoot.”

Still exasperated, I exclaim, “From one extreme to the other!  Will you please just be real!  You gave me good answers the last time we talked and a lot of positive advice.  That’s what I want of you now, too.  Will you help me?”

Mr. Suicide now sitting straight but relaxed in the chair, “Yes, of course I will.  But you were being a bit heavy yourself, you know.  Your mood needed to be lightened.  Don’t you feel a bit lighter now?”

Smiling in response, “You’re right.  I do feel better.  I’ve been depressed about being depressed.  I want to feel better all the time, or at least enough of the time that I can trust myself to complete the projects I start.  You’re quite a character, you know.  Despite your morbid name and your ominous appearance, you’re a pretty good person to talk to.”

Lightly and with a touch of humor, he replies, “Well, thanks for the compliment.  What do you have on your mind?”

Turning serious I say, “I’ve been wondering about sleep.  Is the way I use sleep a form of suicide?”

Mr. Suicide answers, “Yes and no.  Sometimes it’s been a safe substitute for me.  At other times, it’s been for the genuinely needed rest from the struggles that you spoke of last time we talked.  It can also be a way of solving problems.  You dream a lot and sometimes you find answers there.  More often your dreams prod you with questions and indications of problems to work on while you are awake.”

I ask a related question, “Should I try not to sleep so much?”

Mr. Suicide answers, “Right now I wouldn’t worry about that.  You’re fighting hard to grow, and you do need a lot of rest.  But there should be a balance between rest and exercise.  You’re not really getting enough of either.  More exercise would improve the quality of your rest.”

It’s not the answer I want so I complain, “But it’s so hot I don’t feel like doing anything!”

Mr. Suicide doesn’t relent, “Try to get some exercise anyway.  Go for a walk at sunset.  It’s cooler then.  I know how you hate to get up in the morning.”

I give in, “I don’t really want to, but I’ll try.  Thanks.”

He responds with a casual, “Anytime.”


The formal, written conversations with Mr. Suicide ended here.  But we still talk!  Mr. Suicide has become one of my most trusted companions and inner guides. 

Eventually I understood that Mr. Suicide was more about Self-Preservation than Death.  However, I’d gotten so used to his name as ‘Mr. Suicide’ that I still address him that way.

 

 

MEDIAL PERSONALITY – Part 4: Narrowing the Focus – The Subtle Medial’s Effects on Others

Preface

“Life insists on being lived, and anything that belongs to one’s life which is allowed to lie dormant has to be lived by someone else.” 

The above quote is from Knowing Woman by Irene Claremont de Castillejo.

My lack of academic education and clinical experience in Jungian psychology suggests that I am a “someone else” living out what others have “allowed to lie dormant”.  Most of what has been written about the medial personality is in the form of academic papers hidden away in the libraries of Jungian institutions.  It shouldn’t be.  The world has need of it.  My writing is a poor substitute for that expertise.  Yet it is “the little I can do”, and I would regret not doing it.

I have been tormented by this project for the last three and a half years.  I feel intense pressure to complete it.  Perhaps I can manage that it just one more article.  I want to be done with this!  It has been an extraordinarily painful process. 

Because my only expertise is my own life, I am continuing to use material from my journal and from personal correspondence revised for clarity and confidentiality.  And I will continue to reiterate what I wrote in the first article of this series:

“Listen for the echo of your own lives in what I’ve written. That is what is most important! Each of us knows more than we realize. Our ‘knowing’ is not something anyone can teach us. It is something we already have; it is ours to discover or rediscover.”

 


Rationale for Narrowing the Focus

By our very nature those of us with medial personalities make available to others material from the collective unconscious.  We need to know about this function.  We need to know that we are doing this.  Then we need to understand as much as possible how it is happening and how it is affecting others.  Otherwise we may cause unintentional wounding.  We will hurt people because of who we are.  And we will be wounded in turn by their reactions to us.

There are schools for vivid medials — those with obvious gifts who would qualify for training as psychics and mediums.  Shamanism addresses walking between worlds and has its own traditions of training and initiation.  Managing how these gifts affect others would be covered in such training.

Self-help books for ‘empaths’ and ‘highly sensitive people’ come the closest to addressing issues faced by subtle medials.  However, these are usually written from the perspective of traditional mental health practices, and they focus on managing the effects from others.  Little is written about managing the effects on others.

I suspect that many — if not most — subtle medials have little difficulty in learning to manage the transmission of material from the collective unconscious.  It is experienced as a gift that is beneficial for themselves and for the people around them.  Learning to manage this medial function may have come so easily, that they were hardly aware of having done so at all.

I’m not one of those.  Throughout my life, my medial nature has caused many difficulties for me and for those around me.  It has taken a lifetime to understand this.  Along the way I sought help from therapists and from spiritual directors.  I learned what I could from each of them, but they usually fell victim to unintentional wounding caused by my medial nature.  And I was wounded in turn by their reactions to me.

It has taken most of my life — I’m 72 — for me to become healthy enough to realize that if I go to someone for help when I am emotionally and/or spiritually needy, I draw from that person more than he or she is prepared to give — even if I am careful about personal and professional boundaries and clear in my communications.  I no longer put others at that risk.  Inner sources provide for my immediate needs, and I can reach out for human support afterward.

In the 1970’s Catherine Doherty’s book, Poustinia, gave my life sufficient meaning and purpose for me to continue living, and it provided the loose structure I needed to organize my life.  The following decade, Irene Claremont de Castillejo’s book, Knowing Woman, helped me understand much of what I was going through, and Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journal gave me a way to confront and learn about my medial qualities.  And of course, I’m still learning.  But there is a completeness to my life now and more wholeness than I ever imagined possible.

 


 

- - - - The more things change - meme

From ‘Psychic Typhoid Mary’ to ‘The Great Hum:

I’ve been through a lot of therapy!  Much of my work there has been about overcoming shame.  In my earlier years, I labeled myself a ‘Psychic Typhoid Mary’.  I was a carrier of something that hurt others even though it was never my intention.  I didn’t know what it was, but I felt intense shame because of it.  Therapists taught me that my shame was based on a false idea that influenced my behavior, and therefore, it was my behavior and not my ‘being’ that caused the difficulties in relationships.

I did a lot of intensive work on healing shame and changing my behavior, but it didn’t help all that much.  Learning about ‘undifferentiated’ medials gave me another way to approach the problem.  Below is an entry from my Poustinia Journal for June 1989.

My image of myself as undifferentiated medial:  It’s as if I were wearing all sorts of little windows and mirrors all over me and not knowing they were there. The various perspectives of the people around me would cause them to see many different things. Each person would be seeing lots of windows and mirrors, but not everyone would see the same things.  The multiple images would cause a variety of unpleasant symptoms — burning eyes, headaches, nausea, and confusion.  Few would be able to look past the visual barrage and see me.  I would either be invisible to them or associated with the unpleasantness of the assault on the senses.

I’ve known that people were uncomfortable around me and tried to change everything about myself — except my clothes.  I brushed my teeth and used mouthwash, showered and used underarm deodorant.  I worked at improving my manners and conversational skills.  None of these things helped.

What I needed to do was to cover and label each little window and mirror.  Then people would have been able to see me.  And if they wanted to look at a mirror or through a window, they could choose where to look and could lift one cover at a time and really be able to see something and make use of it.

I have never managed to “cover and label each little window and mirror”, but I have developed strategies for managing others’ reactions.  That is a subject for another time.

A few years ago a wonderful story by Pierre Delattre gave me a more helpful image — one that taught me to accept the reactions of others with compassion.  The title of the story is Ten Conversations at Once, and it tells of a young (fictional) Dalai Lama who seeks help from a more advanced lama who can carry on ten simultaneous conversations.  The simultaneous conversations sound like humming, and so that lama is nicknamed the ‘Great Hum’.

In the story, the young Dalai Lama was troubled by others’ reactions to his appearance rather than his reality.  He sought advice from the Great Hum who responded in part:

“Once you’re free from bondage to your face, you’ll be able to take on as many faces as you like — not just two or three but a thousand. The more faces you assume, the more your expressions will remain the same. Eventually, when you try to resemble me, as you are doing now, you will find that I have come to resemble you instead. But you have much to learn before then. You are faced with contradictory feelings about your role and will remain so until you can assume any mask the world places upon you and wear it with ease. Only then will your own divine countenance shine through…”

Since then I’ve aspired to be more like the Great Hum and to accept with compassion misperceptions and projections from others — while also working to acknowledge my own failings in perception and the projections of my own shadow.  It is always a work in progress.

- - - - Assume any mask -Delattre meme

 


References

Corson, Roberta Bassett. (1998). Wounds of the Medial Woman in Contemporary Western Culture. Santa Barbara: Pacifica Graduate Institute

de Castillejo, Irene Claremont. (1973). Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology. New York: Harper & Row.

Delattre, Pierre. (1971). Tales of a Dalai Lama. Boston: Houghton Mifflin

Doherty, Catherine de Hueck. (1975) Poustinia: Christian Spirituality of the East for Western Man. Notre Dame: Ave Maria Press.

Progoff, Ira. (1975). At a Journal Workshop: The Basic Text and Guide for Using the Intensive Journal Process. New York: Dialogue House Library.