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 .

 

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.

MEDIAL PERSONALITY – Part 3: Living in Two Worlds

Preface

Publishing this series on the medial personality is difficult for me.  I am not an expert on anything except my own life and even there I’m still learning.  My anticipation of others’ reactions threatens to derail the project.  I am tempted to write for potential critics when I’m not on the verge of giving up altogether.

Concepts about the medial are complex and explaining them requires personal disclosure.  It’s not easy to find the right balance of telling enough about myself to illustrate the concepts without making myself the focus.  To counter that, I’m using material from my journal and from personal correspondence — revised only for clarity and for confidentiality.  That writing is as unself-conscious and as honest as I get!

I want to reiterate something 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.”


Living in Two Worlds

- - - - unicorn meme - cropped

While I can smile at the humor of this unicorn meme, it actually rings true for me.  Events in the everyday world are disorienting.  It is only in the depths of my inner world — a world where unicorns may be found — that I feel validated.

I was born living in two worlds.  I think all of us are.  As children we lived in the inner world of our imaginations as much as we did external reality of everyday consciousness.  As we grew toward adulthood, this changed.  The world of our imaginations was almost imperceptibly replaced by the consensual reality of everyday life.  Some of us never stopped living in two worlds.  It took many of us a long time to recognize this and some of us never will.  It took me decades! 

NOTE:  I need to explain the words I use.  Elsewhere I’ve written that the medial was born living in two worlds:  “the outward world that is considered ‘reality’ by consensus and an inner world of the collective unconscious.”  I interpret Jung’s term, ‘collective unconscious’ as an umbrella for other concepts that I associate with that realm:  creativity, imagination, dreams, daydreams, fantasy, insights, intuitions, gut feelings, mystical experiences, altered states of consciousness, nonordinary experiences, etc.  And so, I could also say that all of us were born living in the inner world of the collective unconscious and the outer world of the consensual reality.

I feel the unreality of ‘reality’.  With a foot in each world, I can’t maintain my balance for very long.  I fall to one side or the other.  When I spend too much time in the consensual reality, I begin to believe in the separations that define it.  Then I suffer.  In the past I feared that complete immersion in the inner world would risk insanity.  I don’t anymore.

I’m not sure when I began feeling drawn to this inner world.  It had an eerie, seductive quality, and I called it the ‘Other Consciousness.’  It frightened me.  I was afraid that I would get lost there and not be able to find my way back.  And there was another fear, too:

“The fear that I’ll look foolish — that my body will be in one world and my consciousness in another, and I will act out in my body things appropriate to the other world but inappropriate to where it is.”  (Poustinia Journal, July 1989)

Back then, I used Ira Progoff’s Intensive Journal to confront this Other Consciousness and my fear of it.  The Intensive Journal provides a method for personifying concepts so that they can be explored in written dialogues — essentially inner conversations.  Progoff called these conversations Dialogues with Events.  It has always been my favorite part of the Intensive Journal.

After many dialogues over a period of several months, the Other Consciousness revealed itself as a trinity of concepts with one of them eventually shifting identities to that of my medial nature, ‘Medie’.  That was in 1989.

In those dialogues, the Other Consciousness told me:

It is imperative that you learn to perform your role as medium (medial) correctly.  There is much good that you could do.  The dangers from a knowing misuse of that role are not nearly as great as its misuse from ignorance.  And not much good can come from allowing it to happen — from allowing the ignorance to continue.

It would really help if you understood as much as possible about how the mediating works.  You don’t have to deliberately use it.  You already know some things about the process.  At the very least, review and organize the knowledge you do have.

It would help if you could distinguish your own emotions from those belonging to someone else.  It would also help if you could distinguish between responses that are genuinely to you from those that are to material that’s been mediated.

Being centered is a prerequisite to being able to make those distinctions, but you need to be more than just centered.  Once you are centered, what you need to do will become clearer.

Despite my intention to immediately comply with this guidance, my inner work went into hiatus shortly after that.  For the next twenty years or so my attention was drawn to the external world of school and work.  Occasionally some personal distress would send me back to the Other Consciousness for assistance.

During the past decade, I’ve learned that when I have both feet firmly planted in the inner world, I can function well in both worlds — maintaining an awareness of oneness in the illusion of separation.  It is not easy to do this, and far too frequently I fail.  It is only in cooperating with Grace that I am able to do anything at all.  It has taken most of my life to understand this.  (Below is a quote from my Poustinia Journal from 2008)

Try walking with two ‘right’ feet. It’s easier than having a right foot and a left foot going in different directions. 


Excerpts from my Poustinia Journal:

Sunday, October 22, 1989:  (Reflecting on events surrounding my move from Iowa City to Los Angeles in 1973, a spiritual quest common to that time)  That whole period in my life was lived at the point of convergence on my Map of Consciousness.  I frequently lived in that Other Consciousness and my actions were determined by events there.  But I also lived in the ordinary world and kept track of everyday reality and accepted responsibility for myself and the consequences of my actions in that everyday reality.

I remember, too, the confusion about which world to live in.  The Other Consciousness usually felt more authentically ‘me.’  But sometimes it would seem too ‘far out,’ and I would switch back to everyday, practical reality where education, job, security and opportunities of advancement, conformity, etc., felt more appropriate.  The ‘right’ thing to do.   Acceptable.  But I always knew which consciousness I was in.  The confusion was about which to choose.  The confusion over choice extends back before the period I wrote about — at least a year or two before that.  And more likely all the way back to my childhood.

…I remember how the role of medial seemed to explain a lot of things that puzzled me about my problems with relationships.  Recently while reading Codependent No More, I found in that whole syndrome (of codependence) a more complete and acceptable (reasonable, rational, normal) explanation of those same problems.  Now this role of medial, psychic stuff comes up again.  I suspect that they are both the same thing, but from different perspectives.  Having weak boundaries is part of codependence, and I’ve also heard weak boundaries used as an explanation for psychic experiences.

I’m not sure where I am now on my Map of Consciousness, but I suspect I’ve been living more in ordinary reality, and my plans for school, career, marriage, etc. are in the ordinary reality.  I wonder if they will continue to be so.  Medie (My Role of Medial) and Other Consciousness both kept insisting on their importance in my life — “central to it” — no matter how much I argued against them.  I hope the whole thing manages to be resolved, integrated, and made wholesome.


Earlier entries:

Sunday, May 29, 1988:  I feel as if I live at the point of convergence of different ‘realities.’  I work hard at staying in the everyday, Ego reality, but occasionally drift toward Madness.  It’s a weird, crazy sort of feeling that I try to avoid and push away.  Depression, loneliness, unhappiness and anger aren’t a part of Madness.  They are very much a part of the everyday, Ego reality.  I want to live out of the Self, and I’ve been there enough to know what it’s like and that it’s possible to do that.

Self has a weird sort of feeling, too — weightless, free-fall.  The initial experience of it is so much like Madness that I automatically push it away, too.  The boundary between the Self and Madness is easily crossed and I’m afraid of moving toward the Self and finding myself in Madness instead.


Wednesday, April 26, 1989:  I don’t have my ‘Map’ with me.  But I feel as if I’m living out of my Self while trying to heal parts of Ego and Madness and having to fight the pull of each.  If I can manage to do this — more or less by choice — maybe I will be able to handle ‘bad things’ happening without becoming severely depressed.

Ego reactions this morning.  Feeling a little depressed.  Insecurity about my ability to have loving relationships.  Loneliness — wanting loving relationships.  Reminded myself that living out of Self gives me all I need for me and for others.  That is possible, and I can choose to do so.

Tonight feeling lonely and insecure — ‘different.’  Not like those who are people-oriented and with lots of people resources.  Not as lovable as they.  My most significant, human other is a professional relationship.

I’ve got to remember that feelings like this come from Ego.  I’m not really needy or inadequate.  I have it all within me.  And I’ve been living out of that space for most of the last four months.  That’s what I have to remember.  Growth — and maybe eventual involvement with people — will come from that place within.

Let’s face it, I am different.  Not eccentric or crazy, but ‘complex’ and ‘different’ and surprisingly simple, too.


Tuesday, June 27, 1989:  After reading Chapter IV, Role of Woman as Mediator, in Irene Claremont de Castillejo’s, Knowing Woman, it’s obvious that the role of mediator (medial) is strongest in me.  It explains a lot of things:

Needing to be alone so that I can sort out my own thoughts and emotions and distinguish them from the influences of others.

Being able to put on another’s skin and speak for him as I did so often in the various forms of group therapy — and for friends.

Why various people found my giving and caring to be threatening.  G’s saying, “I was afraid you could see through me.”  Maybe I saw too clearly.  I was certainly experienced as being too intense.

The times I’ve misunderstood another but didn’t realize it until some time afterward.  My delay in experiencing reactions to various events, feeling angry or insulted and discovering what I really wanted to say too long after the event to say it.  Are these all part of being a medium, too?  Having my identity so overshadowed by the person I’m with that I cannot respond as my Self until I am away from them, until I’m alone.

My Map of Consciousness.  Feeling that I was at the convergence of Ego, Self, and Madness.  The confusion of moving from one to another and feeling ‘crazy,’ or of being in two at once.

The poustinia is an appropriate vocation for a medial.  But is it still mine?  Can I achieve the greatest wholeness there?  Or is marriage a better path for me?  I would choose marriage if I could become whole enough to be a positive medial.  Otherwise the quarantine of the poustinia would provide for the mutual protection of myself and the world around me.  And maybe only in the solitude can I be positive enough to benefit both myself and the rest of the world.


Wednesday, June 28, 1989:  I feel unlovable.  Too different.  Too uncomfortable.  Too much the negative medial.  When useful as a medial, too invisible.  I pour myself out and there is nothing to fill me.  In a marathon group therapy I did role playing for so many.  Wanting someone to do that for me.  No one did.  No one could?

Anger (someone else’s not directed at me) – resistance to it makes me hard like a tuning fork.  Opening to it makes me soft, and I let it flow through me and dampen its effect.  So much material coming out.  I feel overwhelmed by it at times.  Drowning.  I want a break from it.  But afraid to stop the flow or try to slow it down.


Friday, June 30, 1989:  How do I do that?  How do I learn to control the mediating?  Exploring the whole area of being a medial and an intuitive is a terrible temptation to pride and superiority.  Every person I’ve known who has claimed to be psychic has been unbalanced and used the gift destructively.  I would rather deny it than do that, but Irene Claremont de Castillejo says that it will just have to be dealt with by a later generation when other business would be more appropriate for them.  I guess I’ll just have to wrestle with it as best I can.

There seems to be something very strong in me that will not allow the essential part of me to be lost or overshadowed for long.  Self-preservation is a powerful force in me.  My spiritual director has commented that I’ve continued to be my individual self even when it was confusing and uncomfortable to do so.

I really want to understand this medial role in myself.  I want to see it for what it really is without all the prideful, ego inflating things getting in the way.  I want to be able to distinguish events in the past when I operated as an undifferentiated medial from those that were something else entirely.

I honestly don’t think I’m a strong psychic.  But something in me definitely appears to have acted as an undifferentiated medial.  I have had difficulty sorting out my own thoughts and feelings from those of the people around me.  ‘Impressionable’ I’ve called it.  I am not as ‘impressionable’ as I used to be.  Or am I?  I’m not as ‘nice’ to unattractive people as I used to be.  I’m most comfortable and at peace when I’m alone.  But I’ve had lots of bad experiences with people since I was a child.  Maybe this is all because I learned to be a people pleaser rather than being intuitive.  Or do the two go together?


 

Map of Consciousness

- Meme - People with think you're crazy

These journal entries mention my Map of ConsciousnessI chose to write about it last because it just sounds ‘crazy’!

I did a lot of work before I understood my reliance on the inner world.  I experienced shifts that appeared to have more to do with different states of consciousness than with emotions.  To sort this out, I created a map that divided consciousness into three, overlapping states:  Madness, Sanctity, and Ego.

According to my Map of Consciousness:

Ego is everyday reality where things are:

  • ordinary,
  • controlled, and
  • known. 

Madness and Sanctity share qualities of being: 

  • extraordinary,
  • out of control, and
  • unknown. 

They differ in that Madness is:

  • insane
  • unwholesome, and
  • sick. 
  • Perhaps evil?

While Sanctity is:

  • wholesome,
  • holy, and 
  • the true Self. 

There is a fine line between Madness and Sanctity and a point of convergence where the three states meet.

I created my Map of Consciousness before I learned about the medial (aka ‘mediumistic woman’), and found validation for it when I did.  Plotting my experiences on the map, I often found that I was at or near the point of convergence.  Below are two versions of my Map of Consciousness:  a photo of the original and a recreation for clarity. 

- - - - Map of Consciousness - photo of original
Original Map of Consciousness probably created in early 1988 or before.
- - - - Map of Consciousness typed scan

Map of Consciousness recreated for clarity.

 


 

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.