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An Introduction to Dąbrowski and his Theory of Positive Disintegration.

A brief course presented over six weeks, October 2000.

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This brief course will present an introduction to Dr. Kazimierz Dąbrowski and his Theory. Six three hour sessions (with a 20 minute break) are planned to cover this material with time for questions and discussion (one session per week) .

Outline of Sessions:


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Handout for the first Dąbrowski session:

These handouts were assembled during the first Dąbrowski course and cover names and references mentioned in the sessions: they do not follow the outline point by point. This is not meant to be a comprehensive bibliography, for a complete bibliography see the Dąbrowski webpage at: https://www.positivedisintegration.com/ There is some redundancy in the materials but I have tried to include articles that are thought provoking and/or useful. My comments appear in [ ]. I have not activated each link as it takes too long. I have updated the links as of 2003. If a link is dead, usually enough information can be obtained by doing a Google search of the topic.

Names that came up in the first session

A neuropsychology lineage:

Charcot, Sherrington, Janet, Jackson, Dąbrowski, McLean, Bailey, Ledoux, Edelman

"Being Saint Francis."

This is based upon an article in the August 2000 Atlantic Monthly magazine by Valerie Martin called "Being Saint Francis."

[The preamble is Francesco's trip to Rome. He has a horse and fine clothing, not a nobleman, but certainly not a poor young man either. On his return, he meets three downtrodden beggars. They sit together and Francesco exchanges his clothing for theirs, becoming a beggar for the day. That evening they shared the meagre food they had received and all converse together.

I now pick up Martin's story (quoting):] "After they had eaten, he changed back into his own clothes and laughed with them over the miracle of his transformation. Yet he felt an aching, premonitory sadness as the crisp linen settled across his shoulders; it was as though he were putting on a costume that would deceive only a fool, for a wise man would see at once that it did not suit him, that it must belong to some other man, an elegant, stylish young man, and that Francesco was an imposter in his own clothes. He folded his cloak and laid it in Giuseppe's lap, accepting his enthusiastic blessing and the boisterous farewells of the others, who promised him their hospitality whenever he should return. Then, bowing and waving as they repeatedly called his name, he wandered out into the dark streets alone.

Now he is himself again, but not himself; something has changed, and the world looks different because of it. He has acquired, among other novelties, a memory he will not share. His horse carries him back over the same road he travelled before. His senses are open; he is prey to sudden and conflicting emotions. He sees himself from the outside, and he is not entirely gratified by what he sees."

[Bill: Further up the road, Francesco comes across a leper on the road. His horse has jolted to a stop and he is confronted by the deformed man in front of him. He gets off his horse and walks over to give the leper a coin.]

[Again quoting Martin's text:] "Carefully, Francesco places his coin in the open palm, where it glitters, hot and white. For a moment he tries to form some simple speech, some pleasantry that will restore him to the ordinary world, but even as he struggles, he understands that this world is gone from him now, that there is no turning back, It was only so much smoke, blinding and confusing him, but he has come through it somehow; he has found the source of it, and now, at last, he is standing in the fire. Tenderly he takes the leper's hand, tenderly he brings it to his lips. At once his mouth is flooded with an unearthly sweetness that pours over his tongue, burning his throat and bringing sudden tears to his eyes. These tears moisten the corrupted hand he presses to his mouth. His ears are filled with the sound of wind, and he can feel the wind chilling his face, a cold harsh wind blowing toward him from the future, blowing away everything that has come before this moment -- this moment he has longed for and dreaded, as if he thought he might not live through it.

He reaches up, clinging to the leper's tunic, for the wind is so strong and cold that he fears he cannot stand against it. Behind him the horse lifts its head from grazing and lets out a long, impatient whinny, but Francesco does not hear it. He is there in the road, rising to his feet, and the leper assists him, holding him by the shoulders. Then the two men clutch each other, their faces pressed close together, their arms entwined. The sun beats down and the air is hot and still, yet they appear to be caught in a whirlwind. Their cloths whip about; their hair stands on end; they hold on to each other for dear life."

A brief glossary of psychological and psychiatric terms.

Kagan, J. (1999). Born to be shy? In R. Conlan (Ed.), States of mind (pp. 29-51). New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Harvard's Kagan to give 'temperamental' talk

Emory Report, January 31, 2000 Volume 52, No. 19

By Michael Terrazas

Harvard psychologist Jerome Kagan will speak at a Feb. 2 event honoring the appointment of Emory's new distinguished chairholders. "In Celebration of Scholarship" will be held in the Cox Hall ballroom at 4 p.m. with a reception to follow.

It is quite fitting that we have a scholar of Dr. Kagan's stature to honor University faculty named to distinguished chairs in the last year," said Susan Frost, vice provost for institutional planning and research. "We hope for celebrations like this to be a regular part of life at Emory.

Kagan is the Daniel and Amy Starch Professor of Psychology at Harvard and for the past 20 years has studied the temperamental dispositions inherited by infants. His lecture, "Galen's Prophecy: The Origins of Melancholic and Sanguine Profiles," will focus on a 10-year study of temperamental traits and brain physiology in young children. The study began with a sample of some 500 infants Kagan used to test for brain differences and how they are related to the subjects' personalities, first as infants, then as 5-year-olds and now as 10-year-olds.

Kagan said the children's brain chemistry is directly tied to two general behavioral patterns: first is the "reactive" group, whose members demonstrate a low threshold for response to social stimuli. These children tended to be more shy, introverted and took longer to socialize. The other, "relaxed" group proved more resilient when handling social stimuli and demonstrated less tension and easier sociability.

"We're talking about pure introverts and pure extroverts here," Kagan said. "For example, an example of an introvert would be T.S. Eliot, and an extrovert would be someone like Ernest Hemingway."

Kagan said he accounted for differences in family environments by selecting children from white, middle-class families whose upbringing is largely free of major, "traumatic" events that might influence development. From the original sample of 500, about 200 will be surveyed in this latest, 10-year round of observation.

But the idea that basic traits such as introversion and extroversion can be traced to physiological difference dates back a lot longer than a decade. Both Kagan's lecture and his book Galen's Prophecy are named for Galen of Pergamon, an ancient Greek philosopher who questioned the degree to which anyone could be expected to control his or her deepest emotions.

"The ancients said these things; it goes back 2,500 years," Kagan said. "Hippo-crates said there are melancholic people and there are sanguine people, and he thought they each had a special body fluid or chemistry. It turns out that that guess was pretty good."

As far as the study's subjects and their families, Kagan said he has told curious parents into which temperament group their children fall. And the kids themselves seem more than willing to have electrodes attached to their heads in the name of science.

"Their reaction is, 'Wow, that's pretty interesting,'" Kagan said. "There's a healthy inquisitiveness, maybe a feeling of specialness. I think it makes them feel important to be participating in something that symbolically has some significance."

Kagan said another book will follow once the study concludes its 10-year observations.


Jerome Kagan is a Daniel and Amy Starch Professor of Psychology at Harvard University

Professor Kagan's research, on the cognitive and emotional development of a child during the first decade of life, focuses on the origins of temperament. He has tracked the development of inhibited and uninhibited children from infancy to adolescence. Kagan's research indicates that shyness and other temperamental differences in adults and children have both environmental and genetic influences. A shy adult is more likely to have been high-reactive (fearful) in infancy and childhood than their bold and sociable counterparts, who were most likely low-reactive.

Professor Kagan is the director of the Mind/Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative. He has served on the National Institute of Mental Health and on the National Research Council. His books include Galen's Prophecy: Temperament in Human Nature and Three Seductive Ideas.

Abraham Maslow

Abraham H. Maslow was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1908. He studied primate behavior at the University of Wisconsin, where he received his doctorate in psychology in 1934.

Early in his career, Maslow was drawn to the study of human motivation and personality. His work in this area upset strict behaviorists, whose explanations of motivation and personality failed to account for what Maslow called the whole person. His theory of the hierarchy of needs, which leads to the "self-actualized" individual, was a strong catalyst for the founding of humanistic psychology. Maslow successfully bridged motivation and personality in his theories of needs, self-actualizing persons, and peak experiences.

Maslow is considered an important figure in contemporary psychology. His career was a formidable one. For 14 years he taught at Brooklyn College, and then went to Brandeis University as chairman of the Psychology Department. In 1968 he was elected president of the American Psychological Association. In 1969 he went to the Laughlin Foundation in Menlo Park, California. He wrote two important books: Toward a Psychology of Being (1968) and Motivation and Personality (1970). Abraham Maslow died of a heart attack in 1970.

Characteristics of Self-actualized people:

Core of Personality

I. Core Tendencies:

A. Push for physical and psychological survival

B. Push toward the actualization of inherent potentialities - called self-actualization (SA)

II. Core Characteristics: Hierarchy of Needs

A. Physiological Needs: Needs for air, water, food, etc.

B. Safety Needs: Crucial for infants.

C. Love and Belongingness Needs: People live in groups.

D. Esteem needs: First comes from others (respect), then is internalized (self-respect).

These needs kick in when the person is "comfortably situated"

F. Need to Know and Understand: similar to Erikson's concept of wisdom.

G. Aesthetic Needs: Need for beauty, order, symmetry - in art, music & literature. One of these days you might even find loud rock music to be annoying.


Not much specification, but Maslow is in basic agreement with Rogers. If the survival tendency is not blocked by society, the actualization tendency can be vigorously expressed. Blockage leads to defensive behavior.

Maslow studied self-actualizers (48 in all). Freud was on the list, but was not one of the list of "probable self-actualizers" that included Lincoln, Schweitzer, Einstein, Jefferson, and Eleanor Roosevelt.

I. Characteristics of Self-Actualizers:

A. List of 12 Characteristics shared by people who are self-actualized. Note: not all self-actualized persons show all these characteristics.

B. Other Characteristics of SAs - from different writings

C. Metaneeds and metapathologies. Metaneeds (or B-values) are goals toward which SAs evolve. Failing to satisfy these goals produce a metapathology. A list of four metaneeds with their corresponding metapathologies is parentheses is presented below.

II. Why people fail to become self-actualized.

A. Must meed D- Needs. Have good environment.

B. Culture stifles. Must be able to "overcome culture".

C. Must choose growth over safety.

D. Jonah Complex. The most important reason - many people are afraid of their own destiny and fear that maximizing their potentialities will lead to situations where they will be unable to cope.

III. How to become self-actualized:

Maslow says that SA does not happen overnight. Just like you must do finger exercises before becoming a great pianist, here are some behavioral exercises you might want to try.

A. Pay attention to the world around you. Can you close your eyes and describe the campus?

B. Make risky choices. Try to expand your world, learn from failures.

C. Trust yourself more. Similar to Roger's organismic trusting.

D. When in doubt, tell the truth. This will simplify your life.

E. Recognize the need for discipline. Get the requirements of life out of the way quickly.

F. Cultivate peak experiences (non-chemical variety). Best way to do this is to pay attention of the world and your feelings.

G. Give up your highly-valued pathologies. Experiencing a lot of pain is not sensitivity - it is dumb. Get rid of psychological garbage.


Clifford W. Beers Biography

"In telling the story of my life, I must relate the history of another self – a self which was dominant for my twenty-fourth to my twenty-sixth year. During that period I was unlike what I had been, or what I have been since. The biographical part of my autobiography might be called the history of the mental civil war, which I fought single-handed on a battlefield that lay within the compass of my skull. An Army of Unreason. . . attacked by bewildered consciousness and cruel persistency. . . " With these words Clifford W. Beers opened his stunning autobiography A Mind That Found Itself in 1908.

In the early 1900's this bold and brilliant young man, after graduation from Yale and a brief business career, suffered a severe depression, failed in a suicide attempt, was hospitalized and remained completely mute for 798 days. He then went almost instantly from depression into a manic phase, during which he was transferred from a private hospital to a state hospital. Of his treatment there he later wrote, "Few if any prisons in this country contain worse holes than this cell proved to be: the walls and the floors were bare and there was no furniture. A patient confined here must lie on the floor with no substitute for a bed but one or two felt rugs. For over a month I was kept in a half starved condition. Worst of all winter was approaching and my quarters were without heat. To be half frozen day in and day out for a long period was exquisite torture. Of all the suffering I endured, that occasioned by my confinement in cold cells seems to have made the most lasting impression. . . though I gave repeated expression of the benumbed messages of my tortured nerves, the doctor refused to return my clothes. . . "

Beers' vivid account of his brutal beatings, chokings, kickings, and verbal assaults were to become the impetus for his crusade to found a national movement to revolutionize the care and treatment of the mentally ill. He became a sophisticated organizer and reformer through the National Committee for Mental Hygiene and the American Foundation for Mental Hygiene, the precursors of today's National Mental Health Association.

Later Beers wrote, "How unobtrusively history writes itself. The crucial moments are not the loud triumphs or the catastrophes, but moments like these, quiet and undramatic, when a light is struck in the minds of men and women and a purpose is set on its way."

Clifford Beers seized his moment and set his purpose on its way. A Mind That Found Itself has been re-printed forty-one times since its original publication in 1908. He must be counted as one of the mighty social reformers of the twentieth century. This book and lifetime devoted to the development of community support for improved treatment and care, and for preventive services as well, have changed the course of our history. After 98 years more than 325 Mental Health Associations nationally continue his battle to bring dignity and humane treatment to people with mental illnesses.

"Cast from the shackles which bound them, this bell shall ring out hope for the mentally ill and victory over mental illness."

During the early days of mental health treatment, asylums often restrained persons with mental illnesses by iron chains and shackles around their ankles and wrists. With better understanding and treatment, this cruel practice eventually stopped.

In the early 1950's, the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) issued a call to asylums across the country for their discarded chains and shackles. On April 13, 1953, at the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore, Maryland, NMHA melted down these inhumane bindings and recast them into a sign of hope: The Mental Health Bell.

Now the symbol of NMHA, the 300-pound bell serves as a powerful reminder that the invisible chains of misunderstanding and discrimination continue to bind people with mental illnesses. Today, the Mental Health Bell rings out hope for improving mental health and achieving victory over mental illnesses.

Over the years, national mental health leaders and other prominent individuals have rung the bell to mark the continued progress in the fight for victory over mental illnesses.

Anthroposophy, Rudolf Steiner and Waldorf Schools

Robert Todd Carroll

The Austrian-born Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was the head of the German Theosophical Society from 1902 until 1912, at which time he broke away and formed his Anthroposophical Society. He may have abandoned the divine wisdom for human wisdom, but one of his main motives for leaving the theosophists was that they did not treat Jesus or Christianity as special. Steiner had no problem, however, in accepting such Hindu notions as karma and reincarnation. By 1922 Steiner had established what he called the Christian Community, with its own liturgy and rituals for Anthroposophists. Both the Anthroposophical Society and the Christian Community still exist, though they are separate entities.

It wasn't until Steiner was nearly forty and the 19th century was about to end that he became deeply interested in the occult. Steiner was a true polymath, with interests in agriculture, architecture, art, chemistry, drama, literature, math, medicine, philosophy, physics and religion, among other subjects. His doctoral dissertation at the University of Rostock was on Fichte's theory of knowledge. He was the author of many books and lectures, many with titles like The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity (1894), Occult Science: An Outline (1913), Investigations in Occultism (1920) and How to Know Higher Worlds. He was also much attracted to Goethe's mystical ideas and worked as an editor of Goethe's works for several years. Much of what Steiner wrote seems like a rehash of Hegel. He thought Marx had it wrong, that it really is the spiritual that drives history. Steiner even speaks of the tension between the search for community and the experience of individuality, which, he believed, are not really contradictions but represent polarities rooted in human nature.

His interests were wide and many but by the turn of the century his main interests were esoteric, mystical, and occult literature. Theosophists were sympathetic to occult and mystical beliefs. Steiner was especially attracted to two theosophical notions: (1) there is a special spiritual consciousness that provides direct access to higher spiritual truths; and (2) spiritual evolution is hindered by being mired in the material world.

Steiner may have broken away from the Theosophical Society but he did not abandon the eclectic mysticism of the theosophists. Steiner thought of his Anthroposophy as a "spiritual science." Convinced that reality is essentially spiritual, he wanted to train people to overcome the material world and learn to comprehend the spiritual world by the higher, spiritual, self. He taught that there is a kind of spiritual perception that works independently of the body and the bodily senses. Apparently, it was this special spiritual sense which provided him with information about the occult.

(Quote) According to Steiner, people existed on Earth since the creation of the planet. Humans, he taught, began as spirit forms and progressed through various stages to reach today's form. Humanity, Steiner said, is currently living in the Post-Atlantis Period, which began with the gradual sinking of Atlantis in 7227 BC ... The Post-Atlantis Period is divided into seven epochs, the current one being the European-American Epoch, which will last until the year 3573. After that, humans will regain the clairvoyant powers they allegedly possessed prior to the time of the ancient Greeks (Boston).

Steiner's most lasting and significant influence, however, has been in the field of education. In 1913 at Dornach, near Basel, Switzerland, Steiner built his Goetheanum, a "school of spiritual science." This would be a forerunner of the Steiner or Waldorf schools. The term "Waldorf" schools comes from the school Steiner was asked to open for the children of workers at the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919. The owner of the factory had invited Steiner to give a series of lectures to his factory workers and apparently was so impressed he asked Steiner to set up the school. The first U.S. Waldorf school opened in New York City in 1928. Today, the Steinerians claim that there are more than 600 Waldorf schools in over 32 countries with approximately 120,000 students. About 125 Waldorf schools are said to be currently operating in North America. There is even a non-accredited Rudolf Steiner College offering degrees in Anthroposophical Studies or in Waldorf Education.

Steiner designed the curriculum of his schools around notions that he apparently got by special spiritual insight into the nature of Nature and the nature of children. He believed we are each comprised of body, spirit and soul. He believed that children pass through three seven-year stages and that education should be appropriate to the spirit for each stage. Birth to age 7, he claimed, is a period for the spirit to adjust to being in the material world. At this stage, children best learn through imitation, he said. (So did Aristotle, by the way.) Academic content is held to a minimum during these years. Children are told fairy tales, but do no reading until about the second grade. They learn about the alphabet and writing in first grade.

According to Steiner, the second stage of growth is characterized by imagination and fantasy. Children learn best from ages 7 to 14 by acceptance and emulation of authority. The children have a single teacher during this period and the school becomes a "family" with the teacher as the authoritative "parent".

The third stage, from 14 to 21, is when the astral body is drawn into the physical body, causing puberty. These anthroposophical ideas are not part of the standard Waldorf school curriculum, but apparently are believed by those in charge of the curriculum. Waldorf schools leave religious training to parents, but they tend to be spiritually oriented and are based on a generally Christian perspective.

Even so, because they are not taught fundamentalist Christianity from the Bible, Waldorf schools are often attacked for encouraging paganism or even Satanism. This may be because they emphasize the relation of human beings to Nature and natural rhythms, including an emphasis on festivals, myths, ancient cultures and various celebrations. The Sacramento Unified School District abandoned its plan to turn Oak Ridge Elementary into a Waldorf magnet school after many of the parents complained about it and at least one teacher complained of Satanism. The School District put the Waldorf program in a new location and is now being sued in federal court for violation of separation of church and state by PLANS, Inc., a group of Waldorf School Critics.

Some of the ideas of the Waldorf School are not Steiner's, but try to harmonize with the master's spiritual insights. For example, television viewing is discouraged because of its typical content and because it discourages the growth of the imagination. This idea is undoubtedly attractive to parents since it is very difficult to find anything of positive value for young children on television. When children are very young they should be socializing, speaking, listening, interacting with nature and people, not sitting in a catatonic trance before the boob tube. I don't know what the Waldorf teachers think of video games, but I would be very surprised if they didn't discourage them for their dehumanizing depictions of violent behavior as well as for their stifling of the imagination.

Waldorf schools also discourage computer use by young children. The benefits of computer use by children has yet to be demonstrated, though it seems to be widely believed and accepted by educators who spend billions each year on the latest computer equipment for students who often can barely read or think critically, and have minimal social and oral skills. Waldorf schools, on the other hand, may be as daffy over the arts as public schools are over technology. What the public school consider frills, Waldorf schools consider essential, e.g., weaving, knitting, playing a musical instrument, woodcarving, painting, etc

One of the more unusual parts of the curriculum involves something Steiner called "eurythmy," an art of movement that tries to make visible what he believed were the inner forms and gestures of language and music. According to the Waldorf FAQ, "it often puzzles parents new to Waldorf education, [but] children respond to its simple rhythms and exercises which help them strengthen and harmonize their body and their life forces; later, the older students work out elaborate eurythmic representations of poetry, drama and music, thereby gaining a deeper perception of the compositions and writings. Eurythmy enhances coordination and strengthens the ability to listen. When children experience themselves like an orchestra and have to keep a clear relationship in space with each other, a social strengthening also results."

Perhaps the most interesting consequence of Steiner's spiritual views was his attempt to instruct the mentally and physically handicapped. Steiner believed that it is the spirit that comprehends knowledge and the spirit is the same in all of us, regardless of our mental or physical differences.

Most critics of Steiner find him to have been a truly remarkable man, most decent and admirable. Unlike many other "spiritual" gurus, Steiner seems to have been a truly moral man who didn't try to seduce his followers and who remained faithful to his wife. There is no question that he made contributions in many fields, but as a philosopher, scientist and artist he rarely rises above mediocrity and is singularly unoriginal. His spiritual ideas seem less than credible and are certainly not scientific. Some of his ideas on education, however, are worth considering. He was correct to note that there is a grave danger in developing the imagination and understanding of young people if schools are dependent upon government. State funded education will likely lead to emphasis on a curriculum that serves the State, i.e., one mainly driven by economic and social policies. Education is driven not by the needs of children, but by the economic needs of society. The competition that drives most of public education may benefit society, but it probably does not benefit most individuals. An education where cooperation and love, rather than competition and resentment, marked the essential relationship among students might be more beneficial to the students' intellectual, moral and creative well-being.

On the other hand, it is likely that some of anthroposophy's weirder notions about astral bodies, Atlantis, etc., will get passed on in a Waldorf education, even if Steiner's philosophical theories are not part of the curriculum for children. Is it that hard to defend love and cooperation without having to ground them in some cosmic mist? Why does one have to leap into the realm of murky mysticism in order to defend criticizing the harm done to the individual by a life spent in pursuit of material possessions with little concern for what is being done to other human beings or to the planet? Why does one have to blame lack of spirituality for the evil around us? One might as well blame too much spirituality for our problems: the spiritual people think so little of this material world that they don't do enough to make it a better place. Why can't people tell stories, dance and sing, play music, create works of art and study chemistry, biology and physics to learn about the natural world, without the whole process being seen either as a means to job security and material wealth or as harmonizing one's soul with cosmic spirituality?

Children should be burdened with neither spirituality nor materialism. They should be loved and be taught to love. They should be allowed to grow in an atmosphere of cooperation. They should be introduced to the best we have to offer in nature, art and science in such a way that they do not have to connect everything either to their souls or to their future jobs. Unfortunately, most children have parents and their parents would not stand for such an education.

Reference: Rob Boston, “Anthroposophy: Rudolf Steiner’s ‘Spiritual Science’”, CHURCH AND STATE, April 1996.

Gurdjieff: The Man and the Literature by James Moore.

Gurdjieff International Review


"I have very good leather to sell to those who want to make themselves shoes." G. I. Gurdjieff

Who was George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff? Writer? Choreographer? Psychiatrist? Musician? Doctor? Master Cook? He defies categorisation: though it is clear that he re-united segments of 'acroamatic' knowledge gleaned during a twenty year search in Asia; and brought to the West a methodology for the possible evolution of consciousness, within a cosmology of awe-inspiring scale. His call was radical. Awake! Awake from your unsuspected hypnotic sleep, to consciousness and conscience.

More than a hundred years ago Gurdjieff was a poor boy in the obscure town of Kars, on the Russo-Turkish frontier: today his name is becoming a modish verbal token, which (like Darwin, Marx, Freud, Einstein) is absurdly conceived to be self-explicatory. Those who would now narrowly appropriate him as 'the inspirer of the ecology movement' or 'the initiator of contemporary eupsychian therapies' — though doubtless they glimpse aspects — comprehend neither his scale nor the trajectory of the religious traditions.

For a truer perspective on Gurdjieff we must turn to his circle of devoted followers, who paid for their insights by effort. These were men and women magnetised not by a system of self-supportive notional abstractions but by a human being of Rabelaisian stature; by the fine energies at his disposition; by his compassion; and by his ability to transmit a pratique. Their journals and autobiographies constitute a rich and singular literature: Gurdjieff is assigned his inescapable historicity, yet somehow struggles free, emerging with the cohesion and the presence of a myth.

Encounters with Gurdjieff

No definitive biography of Gurdjieff exists or is remotely in prospect. (1) He was born in Alexandropol c.1866, and first appears on a well-lit stage in 1912 in Moscow. To encounter him was always a test: the first meeting — certainly for those who became his disciples — was the axis on which a whole life turned; then in succeeding years, a human being with all his inherent frailty would answer, more or less truly, to Gurdjieff's insistent demand. There lay the drama. As for us, we can only live here and now; and yet to the degree that we enter into the pupils' experience by an inner act of compassion, their memoirs hold a value above the purely historical.

The composer Thomas de Hartmann (1886–1956) and his wife Olga were Gurdjieff's intimate disciples and companions for twelve years, and it is thanks to him that Gurdjieff's music has reached us. In Our Life with Mr. Gurdjieff they share with us the journey they shared with him: from Petrograd, seized by crisis in 1917, across the Caucasus mountains to Tiflis, finally reaching Paris in 1922. Simplicity sometimes approaching naïveté, characterises their writing, but the impression of Gurdjieff is only the more striking. We find him moving impartially, almost invisibly, through scenes of confusion and fratricidal turmoil; welcoming each difficulty and danger as a new opportunity for practical teaching.

In October 1922 Gurdjieff took the Prieuré at Fontainebleau-Avon, a chateau in the grounds of 200 acres; here he rapidly created conditions for self-study, unprecedented in Europe. Gurdjieff had a special rapport with his pupils' children, caring for their education in the word's real sense. Sometimes he challenged them; sometimes he lead them with great delicacy towards a vital insight; always his teaching had an element of surprise and the hallmark of practicality. From eleven to fifteen Fritz Peters (1913–1980) lived at the Prieuré, and in Boyhood with Gurdjieff his fresh and at times uproariously funny memoir, he relives that special experience.

In spring 1924, Gurdjieff visited the USA with prepared pupils, to give public demonstrations of his sacred dances; and their influence upon key intellectuals was far-reaching. The dances also spoke categorically to the young Englishman Stanley Nott (1887–1978) who had a different, simpler background: who had travelled the world working hard at many trades, and whose feelings had been enervated by his sufferings in the trenches. 'Here,' wrote Nott, 'is what I went to the ends of the earth to find.' His allegiance to Gurdjieff proved life-long and undivided; he spent many summers at the Prieuré, and in Teachings of Gurdjieff conveys both his inner and outer experience with Boswellian vigor. He incorporates in full the penetrating (though not definitive) commentary on Gurdjieff's book Beelzebub by his friend A. R. Orage.

The decade 1925 to 1935 Gurdjieff devoted to his writing, achieved in the distracting conditions of the Café de Paix. Here, in spring 1932, he was encountered by the American authoress Kathryn Hulme (1900–1981) later to attain fame with her novel The Nun's Story; she hungered to become his personal pupil, but nearly four years passed before her persistence was rewarded. Her autobiography Undiscovered Country richly evokes her experience in a special group of four women (all sophisticated, avant-garde and single — and some frankly Lesbian) which met daily in Gurdjieff's flat in Rue Labie. At its worst the style is cloying: at its best vibrant. Gurdjieff's humanity and capacity to work with diverse types is strongly conveyed, as is the group's emotional commitment to each other and their teacher. They named their small company 'The Rope' in order never to forget their interdependence in ascent.

Urged to flee Paris before the Germans entered in 1940, Gurdjieff chose to remain in his modest flat at 6 Rue des Colonels-Rénard. Though well into his seventies, he was unsparing of his energies: giving individual counselling; teaching a new series of dances or Movements at the Salle Pleyel; and somehow maintaining in those sparse times the patriarchal hospitality of his audacious feasts. French interest in Gurdjieff — formerly slight — now burgeoned, drawing many intellectuals to him, among them René Zuber (1902–1979) the film director. His slim volume Who Are You Monsieur Gurdjieff? is a calm and fastidious meditation: confronted with the enigma of Gurdjieff and deeply concerned to situate him in relation to Christianity, Zuber is repeatedly brought back to question himself.

Fifteen months before Gurdjieff's death, J. G. Bennett (1897–1974) who had briefly met him in the 1920s, established a more serious — though necessarily intermittent — contact.(2) Elizabeth Mayall (1918–1991) later to become Bennett's wife, was free to live in Paris from January 1949, and thus shared more fully in the unique world of Rue des Colonels-Rénard. Here at Gurdjieff's last suppers, his mysterious ritual the 'Toast of the Idiots' served as the vehicle of a final and intensely individual teaching. Idiots in Paris, the Bennetts' raw unedited diaries, captures with almost painful honesty and immediacy the last hundred days of Gurdjieff's life, and his pupils' poignant struggle for understanding. Gurdjieff died at Neuilly on 29 October 1949.

The Teaching

Then what precisely was Gurdjieff's Teaching? Although the question seems to promise clarification, it is spoilt by its very rigour: time deadens authorised versions like hemlock, and Gurdjieff never issued one. 'I teach,' he said gnomically, 'that when it rains, the pavements get wet.' The vivifying power of his ideas entails the moment, the circumstance, the type and state of the pupil. His one constant demand is Know thyself, to which he adduces a metaphysic, a metapsychology and a metachemistry which absolutely defy précis; a human typology, a phenomenology of consciousness, and a quasi-mathematical scale linking macrocosm and microcosm. This complex apparatus is illuminated by one master-idea: that Man is called to strive for self-perfection, in service to our sacred living Universe.

Can we catch echoes of Pythagoras or Plato, Christ or Milarepa; see certain limited parallels with moderns like Mendeleev, Sheldon, Vernadsky, Watson? It is easy to lose oneself and one's search in a labyrinth of comparisons, and in the phylogeny of ideas. Gurdjieff himself was not content with words; his Movements and sacred dances were at once a glyph of universal laws and a field for individual search. When, approaching sixty, he turned to writing, his productions were heuristic rather than expository, and their form totally unexpected: first a cosmological epic of a special kind, then an autobiography of a special kind.

Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson is Gurdjieff's masterpiece and no other book brings us closer to him. Readers who can rise to the double challenge of its profundity and its quite deliberate stylistic difficulty; who can summon again and again the necessary fine attention — will find encoded here all Gurdjieff's psychological and cosmological ideas, and a fundamental critique.

On a long journey by spaceship, Beelzebub good-humouredly conveys his understanding of 'All and Everything' to his grandson Hassein. Through his impartial compassionate eyes we see life on earth as from a great distance, with microscopic clarity. Down millenia and across continents, we see Man deeply asleep, blindly and aimlessly struggling and suffering, torn by war and passion, fouling everything he touches; and yet, through a strange flaw in his nature, clinging ingeniously to the very instruments which wound, the patterns which betray.

A stark picture? Undeniably. And in other hands than Gurdjieff's it might have been cruelly nihilistic; but Gurdjieff is calling us to life. It is his genius to float an objective hope, like an Ark on these dark waters. He bequeaths us the great figure of Beelzebub, whose presence indicates man as he might be: aware with gratitude of the divine spark within him, and striving by conscious labours towards the fulfilment of his true place in the cosmic scheme.

In his next book Meetings with Remarkable Men Gurdjieff evokes the first and least known period of his own life; his boyhood in Kars under the benign influence of his father and his first tutor Dean Borsh; then his early manhood dedicated, in many guises, to an unremitting search for a real and universal knowledge. His language is spare and vivid, unrolling the lands of Transcaucasia and Central Asia before us, even while he hints at a parallel geography of Man's psyche, and the route he followed to penetrate it.

We journey to the interior in company with the friends of Gurdjieff's youth — princes, engineers, doctors, priests — men remarkable not from their surface arrangements but by their resourcefulness, self-restraint and compassion. We see them as though face to face; their words are lodged in us as though spoken directly in a moment of intimate quietness.

So Gurdjieff, having swept the ground clear with the awesome critique Beelzebub, offers us now his material for a new creation — nothing other than our hard diurnal life, but thrust into question and placed at the service of an aim, which, by its intelligence and elevation, is truly human.

Between the years 1915 and 1918, Gurdjieff liberally gave to his Russian groups an astonishing body of exact data, which had cost twenty years to search out. Prominent among his pupils at this time was Piotr Demianovich Ouspensky (1878–1947) journalist, mathematician and intellectual; already famous for his book Tertium Organum. The very epoch, with its mass destruction and savage contradictions, sharpened Ouspensky's lifelong hunger for values and knowledge of a different order. In Search of the Miraculous was published posthumously; it consists, for three parts out of four, of Gurdjieff's own words, preserved from those days and brilliantly arranged. Endorsed by Gurdjieff himself, this work undoubtedly offers the most accessible account of his psychological and cosmological ideas, while carrying us as near as any book alone can, to the special conditions of a group. The overwhelming sense of shock, excitement and revelation which fired Ouspensky in 1915, will be transmitted through these sentences and diagrams to people of every generation, who (whatever the external conditions with which they must blend) are secretly in search.

Jeanne de Salzmann became Gurdjieff's pupil in Tiflis in 1919, and through thirty years participated in each succeeding dispensation of his Work, even carrying responsibility for his groups during the last ten years of his life. In Views from the Real World she has collated more than forty important talks given by Gurdjieff between 1917 and 1930. We owe their very preservation to the educated memories of his followers, who were forbidden to take verbatim notes. If these are not Gurdjieff's words in every syllable, it is clearly his authentic voice, issuing his unmistakable challenge.

Approaches to Gurdjieff

No-one — whether he responds to Gurdjieff or reacts against him — can measure the voltage of his intellect without receiving a certain shock. His is one of those few effectual voices, which, 'passing through a great diversity of echoes, keeps its own resonance and its power of action'. (3) Then let us briefly hear some precis, 'approaches', thematic and lyrical restatements — recognising them for reverberations, yet acknowledging their profound legitimacy in a living tradition, confided to living men.

After four years as one of Gurdjieff's close pupils, P. D. Ouspensky expounded his ideas in England and America for a quarter of a century. In The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution, he distils from Gurdjieff's integrated Teaching its psychological essence, presenting it without flavour or aroma in only 92 pages. This formulation, based on Ouspensky's lecture notes, is so lucid and balanced that it bids to remain forever unmatched as an introduction and an aide-memoire.

The feeling of a pupil's actual experience — palpably missing from Ouspensky's summary of theory — is supplied in Venture with Ideas by Kenneth Walker (1882–1966). This warm human memoir lightly sketches Gurdjieff's psychological and cosmological teaching, within the biographical context of the author's twenty four years study with Ouspensky in England. Walker's scientific background (he was three times Hunterian Professor of Surgery at the Royal College of Surgeons) adds interest to his reception of esoteric ideas.

Men are tragically divided, but all who wish may share the primordial existential questions: who am I, and what is the significance and aim of human life? The great edifice of Gurdjieff's Teaching rests on the unshakable foundation of this innocent interrogation. The theme is calmly developed in Toward Awakening by Jean Vaysse (1917–1975) a pioneer of open-heart surgery and transplantation, and a close pupil of Gurdjieff in Paris. His final chapter outlines for the first time, Gurdjieffian exercises linking attention with bodily sensation.

The mountain, rooted in the earth, its summit reaching towards heaven, is an ancient symbol of man's aspirations and strivings. René Daumal (1908–1944) who studied under Gurdjieff in Paris during the war, wrote his subtle and humorous allegory Mount Analogue in the language of a poet and mountaineer, to remind us of the strange inner ascent to which we are called. Although he died young, his own work sustains its impact on modern French literature.

Coming years must inevitably heighten scholarly interest in Gurdjieff. Because his Teaching is experiential; because there is danger of confusing levels; because an academic with a fundamental misapprehension or even bias, can embroider it so prettily — the prospect is not wholly welcome. (4) And yet some auguries are good; Michel Waldberg in Gurdjieff: An Approach to His Ideas draws intelligently on all major texts, contriving a work of popular synthesis and commentary which sets a real standard.

And Now?

Gurdjieff preferred Today over Yesterday; he did not invite us either to anatomise him or to idolise him, but to search for ourselves. Returning again and again to Beelzebub, we seem to catch the author's rich human voice projected toward his 'Grandsons' — pupils of the New Age; rising generations who could not meet him, but who bear the seeds of his ideas into the unknown future. And yet no pilgrimage of reading is sufficient: no book, not even a sacred book, can furnish that unfathomable moment when, in the actual presence of his teacher, the pupil's understanding is amplified and deepened.

Then where to look today? All a man's flair, discrimination and downright commonsense are solicited here, for there are many siren voices and self-advertisements. And yet it was not for nothing that Gurdjieff prepared pupils; not for nothing that he gave indications for the future. And after his death, it was not for nothing that the cherished Movements have been progressed through decades; and a responsible nucleus painfully formed, to maintain the current that had been created.

Where then? (5) For those whose approach to Gurdjieff is practical, this is the question which must prevail. There is first an outer contact to be found: then an inner contact to be renewed and deepened.

Gurdjieff; a select bibliography (6)

The Teaching

Approaches to Gurdjieff

Encounters with Gurdjieff


1. Attention is however invited to James Moore's subsequent biography Gurdjieff: the Anatomy of a Myth (Element Books Ltd., 1991).

2. One cannot know how much J. G. Bennett received from Gurdjieff; but the prolixity of his authorship contrasts wryly with the brevity of his actual contact. Nor does the breathtaking catholicity of his subsequent eclecticism suggest a particular or persevering commitment to Gurdjieff's Teaching.

3. Jeanne de Salzmann Foreword (p. viii) to Views from the Real World.

4. A knowledge of Whitall N. Perry's intellectual affiliations with the school of Frithjof Schuon and René Guenon is helpful in situating his 1978 critique Gurdjieff in the Light of Tradition: the unrepresentative quotations, plucked from context and orchestrated with curious animus, mark it as polemical. James Webb undertook fundamental research, largely neglected by Perry, but his vast and more balanced work The Harmonious Circle (1980) is marred by indulgent speculation.

5. James Moore is personally prepared to advise readers seeking a suitable group in England (but wishes to emphasise that he cannot help with American or other international enquiries). Mr. Moore's e-mail address is: gsg@mistral.co.uk

6. Scholars embarked on in-depth Gurdjieff studies are wholeheartedly referred to Gurdjieff: an annotated bibliography by J. Walter Driscoll and the Gurdjieff Foundation of California (New York: Garland Publishing, 1985). James Moore is founder of the Gurdjieff Studies Group, a small London (UK) centred group practising Gurdjieff's teaching on traditional lines.

Copyright © 1983 Resurgence

Featured: Fall 1998 Issue, Vol. II (1) Revision: October 1, 1999

P. D. Ouspensky (1878–1947) by John Pentland


Gurdjieff International Review

Petr Dem'ianovich Uspenskii; Russian author, thinker, and mystic.

Ouspensky's Tertium Organum, written in 1911, was published in New York in 1922 and within a few years became a best-seller in America and made him a world-wide reputation. Intended to supplement the Organon of Aristotle and the Novum Organum of Francis Bacon, Tertium Organum is based on the author's personal experiments in changing consciousness; it proposes a new level of thought about the fundamental questions of human existence and a way to liberate man's thinking from it's habitual patterns. A New Model of the Universe, a collection of essays published earlier in Russia, was published in London in 1930. But Ouspensky will be chiefly remembered for In Search of the Miraculous, published posthumously in 1949 and later in several foreign languages under the title Fragments of an Unknown Teaching. This work is by far the most lucid account yet available of the teaching of G. I. Gurdjieff, and it has been a principal cause of the growing influence of Gurdjieff's ideas.

Ouspensky was born in Moscow and spent his childhood there. His mother was a painter. His father, who died early, had a good position as a railroad surveyor; he was fond of music, in which Ouspensky showed no interest. Of precocious intelligence, Ouspensky left school early with a decision not to take the academic degrees for which he was qualified and began to travel and write. Through his reading and journalistic work, first in Moscow and then, from 1909 on, in Saint Petersburg, he "knew everyone." His early writings can be regarded as a final flowering of the great Russian literary tradition of the late nineteenth century. But, although influenced by such movements as the Theosophy of H. P. Blavatsky (whom he never met), he distrusted and disliked the "absurdities" of contemporary life and kept apart from the secret revolutionary politics with which almost all Russian intelligentsia of the period sympathized.

In 1915, returning to Russia from India to find that war had broken out in Europe, he gave lectures on his "search for the miraculous" and attracted large audiences in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Among his listeners was Sof'ia Grigor'evna Maksimenko, who became his wife. They had no children.

In the same year, he was sought out by the pupils of Gurdjieff and reluctantly agreed to meet him. The meeting was a turning point in Ouspensky's life. He recognized at once the value of the ideas that Gurdjieff had discovered in the East and that he himself had looked for in vain. "I realized," he wrote, "that I had met with a completely new system of thought, surpassing all I knew before. This system threw a new light on psychology and explained what I could not understand before in esoteric ideas." He began to collect people and to arrange meetings at which Gurdjieff developed his message, and from that moment the study and practice of these new ideas constituted Ouspensky's principal aim.

In June 1917, after four months' service in the army, from which he was honorably discharged on account of poor eyesight, the impending revolution caused Ouspensky to consider leaving Russia to continue his work in London. But he delayed his departure to spend nearly a year in difficult political conditions with Gurdjieff and a few of his pupils at Essentuki in the northern Caucasus.

As early as 1918, however, Ouspensky began to feel that a break with Gurdjieff was inevitable, that "he had to go"—to seek another teacher or to work independently. The break between the two men, teacher and pupil, each of whom had received much from the other, has never been satisfactorily explained. They met for the last time in Paris in 1930.

In 1919 Ouspensky and his family remained in very harsh conditions in the hands of the Bolsheviks in Essentuki (see Letters from Russia, 1978). He assembled some students there but in 1920, when Essentuki was freed by the White Army, moved to Constantinople. In August 1921 he was able to leave for London, and in November, with the help of Lady Rothermere, A. R. Orage, and other influential people, he started private meetings and lectures there. These continued until 1940, after the outbreak of World War II, when he moved his family to the United States and, with a few London pupils, began his lectures again in New York. Early in 1947 he returned to resume his work in London, where he died in October of the same year.

A characteristic of every one of Ouspensky's meetings, which he attended until a few months before his death, was their remarkable intensity. He made demands for the utmost honesty not only on himself but on his pupils as well. His method was to invite "new people" to listen to five or six written lectures read aloud by one of the men close to him. (These lectures were published in 1950 as The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution.) Further understanding of the ideas had to be extracted from him directly by question and answer. Irrelevant questions were treated summarily. Simple rules, which to some appeared arbitrary, but which Ouspensky considered essential to self-training, were introduced—and explained at rare intervals. Pupils who wished further application of the training were invited to his country house in New Jersey, where practical work was organized by Madame Ouspensky. Transcripts of all the meetings are preserved in the P. D. Ouspensky Memorial Collection at the Yale University Library


All of Ouspensky's principal works are available in English, translated and/or edited by various hands and issued by various publishers in London and New York. Among them are:

Letters from Russia ([1919] 1978), Tertium Organum: The Third Canon of Thought; A Key to the Enigmas of the World, 2nd ed., rev. ([1922] 1981), A New Model of the Universe: Principles of the Psychological Method in Its Application to Problems of Science, Religion and Art ([1930] 1971), Strange Life of Ivan Osokin (1947), In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching ([1949] 1965), The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution ([1950] 1973), Talks with a Devil (1972), Conscience: the Search for Truth (1979), A selection of transcripts of Ouspensky's meetings with his pupils were published as: The Fourth Way: A Record of Talks and Answers to Questions Based on the Teachings of G. I. Gurdjieff, edited by J. G. Bennett and translated by Katya Petroff (1957).

[Gary Zukav] Featured: Winter 1998/1999 Issue, Vol. II (2) Revision: January 1, 1999


[Gary Zukav] My life is dedicated to the birth of a new humanity. That birth is now in progress. We are all involved in it. The new humanity is being born inside us. We are awakening to new perceptions and new values. These are leading us to new goals.

Our new perceptions are that the Universe is alive, wise, and compassionate. It is a friendly place, not the violent, merciless place that we have often made our small part of it. Our new values are the values of the soul -- harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life. Our new goals are authentic power - the alignment of the personality with the soul -- and a planet without conflict.

Your soul is much more than your personality. It is the essence of who you are. It existed before you were born, and it will exist after you die. We are beginning to understand that all that we choose, create, and experience is part of a learning process. That process serves the evolution of our souls. This is the heart of the new perception that is transforming the human experience. This is multisensory perception, the ability to see and experience far beyond the limitations of the five senses. Our species is becoming multisensory very fast.

This site serves the needs of the emerging multisensory humanity - the thirst for harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life. Current social structures cannot meet these needs, and so, they are dissolving. We are creating their replacements - seven billion of us, together.

In other words, this web site is dedicated to spiritual growth and social transformation. It is to help us connect and share. A team of heart-connected volunteers worked hard to put this first version of it online in time for Oprah Winfrey's shows featuring these ideas, and me, Gary Zukav. Much more is coming. Gatherings and conferences will be listed here. Innovative ways to access information and each other are being planned. In time, online interactions will be hosted here. Please make yourself at home, take what you need, and -- as we become equipped for it -- share what you have.

We have much to do together.

Let us do it in wisdom, joy, and love.

Let us make this the human experience.


The Triune Brain

The neurologist Paul MacLean has proposed that our skull holds not one brain, but three, each representing a distinct evolutionary stratum that has formed upon the older layer before it, like an archaeological site :He calls it the "triune brain." MacLean, now the director of the Laboratory of Brain Evolution and Behaviour in Poolesville, Maryland, says that three brains operate like "three interconnected biological computers, [each] with its own special intelligence, its own subjectivity, its own sense of time and space and its own memory". He refers to these three brains as the neocortex or neo-mammalian brain, the limbic or paleo-mammalian system, and the reptilian brain, the brainstem and cerebellum. Each of the three brains is connected by nerves to the other two, but each seems to operate as its own brain system with distinct capacities.

This hypothesis has become a very influential paradigm, which has forced a rethink of how the brain functions. It had previously been assumed that the highest level of the brain, the neocortex, dominates the other, lower levels. MacLean has shown that this is not the case, and that the physically lower limbic system, which rules emotions, can hijack the higher mental functions when it needs to.

It is interesting that many esoteric spiritual traditions taught the same idea of three planes of consciousness and even three different brains. Gurdjieff for example referred to Man as a "three-brained being". There was one brain for the spirit, one for the soul, and one for the body. Similar ideas can be found in Kabbalah, in Platonism, and elsewhere, with the association spirit - head (the actual brain), soul - heart, and body in the belly. Here we enter also upon the chakra paradigm - the idea that points along the body or the spine correspond to nodes of consciousness, related in an ascending manner, from gross to subtle.

The Reptilian Brain. The archipallium or primitive (reptilian) brain, or "Basal Brian", called by MacLean the "R-complex", includes the brain stem and the cerebellum, is the oldest brain. It consists of the structures of the brain stem - medulla, pons, cerebellum, mesencephalon, the oldest basal nuclei - the globus pallidus and the olfactory bulbs. In animals such as reptiles, the brain stem and cerebellum dominate. For this reason it is commonly referred to as the "reptilian brain". It has the same type of archaic behavioural programs as snakes and lizards. It is rigid, obsessive, compulsive, ritualistic and paranoid, it is "filled with ancestral memories". It keeps repeating the same behaviours over and over again, never learning from past mistakes (corresponding to what Sri Aurobindo calls the mechanical Mind). This brain controls muscles, balance and autonomic functions, such as breathing and heartbeat. This part of the brain is active, even in deep sleep.

The Limbic System (Paleomammalian brain). In 1952 MacLean first coined the name "limbic system" for the middle part of the brain. It can also be termed the paleopallium or intermediate (old mammalian) brain. It corresponds to the brain of the most mammals, and especially the earlier ones. The old mammalian brain residing in the limbic system is concerned with emotions and instincts, feeding, fighting, fleeing, and sexual behaviour. As MacLean observes, everything in this emotional system is either "agreeable or disagreeable". Survival depends on avoidance of pain and repetition of pleasure.

When this part of the brain is stimulated with a mild electrical current various emotions (fear, joy, rage, pleasure and pain etc) are produced. No emotion has been found to reside in one place for very long. But the Limbic system as a whole appears to be the primary seat of emotion, attention, and affective (emotion-charged) memories. Physiologically, it includes the hypothalamus, hippocampus, and amygdala. It helps determine valence (e.g., whether you feel positive or negative toward something, in Buddhism referred to as vedena - "feeling") and salience (e.g., what gets your attention); unpredictability, and creative behaviour. It has vast interconnections with the neocortex, so that brain functions are not either purely limbic or purely cortical but a mixture of both.

MacLean claims to have found in the Limbic system a physical basis for the dogmatic and paranoid tendency, the biological basis for the tendency of thinking to be subordinate feeling, to rationalize desires. He sees a great danger in all this limbic system power. As he understands it, this lowly mammalian brain of the limbic system tends to be the seat of our value judgements, instead of the more advanced neocortex. It decides whether our higher brain has a "good" idea or not, whether it feels true and right.

Neocortex, cerebrum, the cortex , or an alternative term, neopallium, also known as the superior or rational (neomammalian) brain, comprises almost the whole of the hemispheres (made up of a more recent type of cortex, called neocortex) and some subcortical neuronal groups. It corresponds to the brain of the primate mammals and, consequently, the human species. The higher cognitive functions which distinguish Man from the animals are in the cortex. MacLean refers to the cortex as "the mother of invention and father of abstract thought". In Man the neocortex takes up two thirds of the total brain mass. Although all animals also have a neocortex, it is relatively small, with few or no folds (indicating surface area and complexity and development). A mouse without a cortex can act in fairly normal way (at least to superficial appearance), whereas a human without a cortex is a vegetable.

The cortex is divided into left and right hemispheres, the famous left and right brain. The left half of the cortex controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain the left side of the body. Also, the right brain is more spatial, abstract, musical and artistic, while the left brain more linear, rational, and verbal.

Triune Brain - Understanding Emotional Memory

The human brain appears to exist on three levels. We inherited a primal brain from the reptiles, an emotional brain from the early mammals, and a rational brain which is unique to higher mammals and which came with the development of the neocortex. What is of particular interest here is that in the course of human evolution, the brain was not transformed into a single integrated new unit, as fins in fish became limbs in man. Rather, nature superimposed each new unit upon the other, so that we function with three interrelated but distinct brain systems, each with its own unique patterns and needs.

Dr. Paul MacLean's theory provides interesting insights into the complexities of human behavior. He postulates that by analogy "it's as if in the course of evolution, the brain has acquired three drivers, all seated up front and all of different minds!" In other words, it's as if an alligator, a gorilla, and a computer were driving the human system! What is of further interest is that we now know that under stress or in a state of anticipated danger, the more primitive levels of the brain take precedence or control over the higher portions by distorting the input of information.

According to MacLean, the primitive needs dictated by the Reptilian Brain include a sense of safety, survival and territoriality, and corresponds with the human need for order, routine and regularity as a home base from which to explore. To the extent that these primary needs are denied, so can they become more insistent. Reptiles are cold-blooded. They do not nurture their young and are controlled by instinct. Reptilian instincts preserve a perfect memory for what their ancestors learned over millions of years, but the reptilian brain is poorly equipped for learning to cope with new situations.

MacLean postulates that without a basic sense of security, man is unlikely to extend his learnings or his potential for change beyond the survival or reptilian level. (It is possible that some of the people we now label dumb or slow or stubborn are simply still trying to determine if they are safe!)

It is in the next level, the early mammalian brain, the Limbic System, that we find the beginning of social groups, mating, breeding, flocking and migration formation. Behavior associated with the limbic system has to do with the experience of bearing dependent young, which requires maternal bonding and nurturing and allows for a period of play and exploration before getting down to the more serious business of survival and procreation of the species. Here then lie the roots of family structures and the differentiated sex roles that make possible the lengthy period of child rearing typical of higher mammals. We also find here communication through sound. The most primitive sound known is the wail of the nursling for its mother.

In terms of location, the limbic system surrounds the brain stem like a collar and is found in the brains of all mammals. Through the hypothalamus, it has a much more direct influence than the neo-cortex on the body's visceral and glandular functions. It wraps around the hypothalamus, where certain pleasure and pain centers are located and thus pain in the limbic system is conveyed to the pituitary gland, which is the master gland of the body that orchestrates body chemistry through the release of hormones. Thus, sustained emotional stress often produces hormonal imbalances that not only affect bodily functions, but can also suppress the body's immune system. Thus, emotionally caused suppression of the immune system is now viewed as a significant factor in the development of a number of diseases. This is called the study of Psychoneuroimmunology. Many psychologists have come to believe that cognition cannot be dealt with separately from emotions, as energy repressed in the emotional part of the brain will seek exits through other parts of the body and can result in disease. In other words, if emotions are not brought into conscious awareness and fully expressed through words or sounds, the energy tied up in them will seek other channels for expression, including illness, depression, or acting-out behaviors

Clinical and experimental findings over the past forty years indicate that the limbic brain evaluates sensory information in terms of emotions that guide behavior required for preservation of the individual and the species. In responding to information about pain and pleasure, the limbic brain is primarily involved in the experience, the memory, and the expression of emotion.

MacLean comments: "When we think of how we evaluate the importance of things, nothing could be more fundamental than the realization that the limbic system has the capacity to generate strong feelings of conviction that we attach to our beliefs, regardless of whether they are true or false."

MacLean theorizes that signals from the outside world made it difficult for the organism to make clearly reasoned decisions for survival. Nature remedied this situation by introducing the third lobe of the brain, the NEO-CORTEX, or RATIONAL MIND. This newcomer to the human brain system is viewed as the mother of invention and preservation of ideas. Receiving signals primarily from the eyes, ears, and body wall, the neo-cortex focuses on material objects outside the organism and functions somewhat like a coldly reasoning, heartless computer. It asks "Is it reasonable? Is it logical?"

In laboratory experiments with rats and hamsters, co-workers found that when the neo-cortex was damaged, animals were still able to mate, breed and rear young, and were almost indistinguishable from normal animals in a variety of psychological tests. In experiments with other animals, when basal ganglia and the limbic system were destroyed, although the neo-cortex was left intact, almost everything typical of animal behavior ceased. These experiments, together with certain findings on patients with brain disease, indicate that the "neural substrata for the basic personality and the organized expression of behavior" is provided by the reptilian brain and the limbic system, and not by the rational thinking brain!

The structure of the human brain is such that no information reaches the neo-cortex without first passing through the limbic system, where the emotions originate. Emotions color that information and determine how much attention will be paid to it. In this way, emotional needs deeply influence thinking and behavior.

In addition, emotions have been found to be deeply implicated in the operation of long term memory. We remember what we feel. When our emotions are sufficiently aroused, we shut out the cerebral cortex and are caught in their grip, fanatic in our insistence on the rightness and logic of our thinking even though what is happening may be similar but not the same as what happened in the past.

Sherrington, Sir Charles Scott b. Nov. 27, 1857, London, Eng. d. March 4, 1952, Eastbourne, Sussex

English physiologist whose 50 years of experimentation laid the foundations for an understanding of integrated nervous function in higher animals and brought him (with Edgar Adrian) the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1932.

Sherrington was educated at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge (B.A., 1883); at St. Thomas' Hospital Medical School, where he qualified in medicine in 1885; and at the University of Berlin, where he worked with Rudolf Virchow and Robert Koch. After serving as a lecturer at St. Thomas' Hospital, he was successively a professor at the universities of London (1891-95), Liverpool (1895-1913), and Oxford (1913-35). He was made a fellow of the Royal Society in 1893 and served as its president from 1920 to 1925. He was knighted in 1922.

Working with cats, dogs, monkeys, and apes that had been deprived of their cerebral hemispheres, Sherrington found that reflexes must be regarded as integrated activities of the total organism, not as the result of the activities of isolated "reflex arcs," a notion that was currently accepted. The first major piece of evidence supporting "total integration" was his demonstration (1895-98) of the "reciprocal innervation" of muscles, also known as Sherrington's law: when one set of muscles is stimulated, muscles opposing the action of the first are simultaneously inhibited.

In his classic work, The Integrative Action of the Nervous System (1906), he distinguished three main groups of sense organs: exteroceptive, such as those that detect light, sound, odour, and tactile stimuli; interoceptive, exemplified by taste receptors; and proprioceptive, or those receptors that detect events occurring in the interior of the organism. He found--especially in his study of the maintenance of posture as a reflex activity--that the muscles' proprioceptors and their nerve trunks play an important role in reflex action, maintaining the animal's upright stance against the force of gravity, despite the removal of the cerebrum and the severing of the tactile sensory nerves of the skin.

His investigations of nearly every aspect of mammalian nervous function have directly influenced the development of brain surgery and the treatment of such nervous disorders as paralysis and atrophy. Sherrington also coined the terms neuron and synapse to denote the nerve cell and the point at which the nervous impulse is transmitted from one nerve cell to another, respectively. His books include The Reflex Activity of the Spinal Cord (1932). Also wrote Man on His Nature.

Jean Martin Charcot (1825-1893)




The leading neurologist of his time and Head of the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris.

Professor of pathological anatomy (1878)

Made the Saltpetriere the first postgraduate center for psychiatric


"Nouvelles Recherches sur la Pathogenie de L'hemorrhagie Cerebrale"- Charcot & Bouchard "Du Cerveau ou de la Moelle Epiniere" - Charcot

Major Contributions

Charcot created neurology as a firm discipline. As a teacher of neurology, instructed students who became "greats" in the field. He also contributed knowledge to medical ailments such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, Poliomyelitis, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, and Nuiliary Aneurysms.

Charcot believed, like his contemporaries, that the "various forms of psychopathology are caused by degenerative changes in the brain. It was his interest in examining hypnotic phenomena and in studying cases of hysteria, however, that attracted the greatest attention." He believed that hypnosis was a physiological phenomena, and that certain forms of hysteria could be treated effectively through hypnosis. "Charcot's interest in hypnosis and hysteria was important in stimulating further work on the neuroses and in focusing attention on nonhospitalized individuals who are not insane.

One of the first researchers to distinguish between Tourette's Syndrome and Sydenham's Chorea.

Jean Piaget (ca. 1896-1980) Swiss Child Psychologist


University of Neuchatel, Doctorate in Biology


Major Contribution

Four Stages of Mental Growth in Children

Ideas and Interests

Although criticized in the United States for making abrupt assumptions (i.e., there are age zones where changes suddenly occur), Jean Piaget has had an influential impact on the education of children. From his studies of the development of cognitive abilities, Piaget distinguished four stages to the mental growth of children. In the sensorimotor stage, occurring from birth to age 2, the child is concerned with gaining motor control and learning about physical objects. In the preoperational stage, from ages 2 to 7, the child is preoccupied with verbal skills. At this point the child can name objects and reason intuitively. In the concrete operational stage, from ages 7 to 12, the child begins to deal with abstract concepts such as numbers and relationships. Finally, in the formal operational stage, ages 12 to 15, the child begins to reason logically and systematically.

"The child can grasp a certain operation only if he is capable, at the same time, of correlating operations by modifying them in different well-determined ways for instance, by inverting them." Piaget (Pictorial History of Psychology and Psychiatry, 1969)

Key Publications

Pierre Janet:

In 1875, the renowned French physiologist, Charles Richet, published an article on artificial somnambulism in the highly respected Journal de l'anatomie et de la physiologie.325 The effect of this article was to repatriate the clinical study of hypnosis in France, retrieving it from the realm of popular pseudoscience into which it had fallen during the first half of the 19th century. From the early 1880s, a steady stream of publications reporting the use of hypnosis in the exploration of the unconscious emerged from the laboratories of Charcot and his collaborators at the Salptrire in Paris 326 and Bernheim and his coworkers at Nancy. 327 By 1889, when Hericourt summarized the work to date, 328 he could claim that the existence of unconscious mental activity had been proven beyond reasonable doubt.

In this same year, Pierre Janet, a student of Charcot, published L'Automatisme psychologique, 329 his doctoral dissertation and the first of a series of treatises on manifestations of the unconscious that were to establish his reputation as the founder of modern dynamic psychology. Janet was the first to articulate a theory of the unconscious mind aimed at replacing the unsystematic, prescientific and largely metaphysical theories that characterized 19th century Mesmerism; and he was the first to systematize careful, detailed clinical descriptions of various manifestations of the unconscious. As Ellenberger put it in Discovery of the Unconscious, 'Janet stands at the threshold of all modern dynamic psychiatry. His ideas have become so widely known that their true origin is often unrecognized and attributed to others.'330

This is especially true of the ideas promulgated in Janet's second major work, tat mental des hystriques. 331 Translated into English in 1901 as The Mental State of Hystericals, 332 the tat mental originally appeared in French in two installments. The first, published in 1892, dealt with symptomatology that Janet termed 'mental stigmata.' Mental stigmata were symptoms essential to the hysterical condition, lasting about as long as the disease lasted, and opaque to patients, who were unaware of the exact source of their discomfort. The mental stigmata included anesthesias, amnesias, abulias, motor disturbances, and modifications of character.

The second installment, published in 1894, was devoted to 'mental accidents.' Mental accidents were symptoms that were not necessarily characteristic of hysteria. They were relatively transient, accessible to patients who were well aware of the nature (although not the source) of their discomfort, and included subconscious acts, fixed ideas, emotional attacks, tics, ecstasies, somnambulisms, and deliriums.

The Mental State of Hystericals was a masterpiece of clinical description. Some of Janet's most famous patients, Bertha, Celestine, Isabelle, Justine, Lonie, Lucie, Marcelle, Margaret, and Maria, appeared throughout the text, their symptoms described in exquisite detail. The fundamentally descriptive nature of the book was in line with the strong positivistic spirit of the French science of Janet's day. Indeed, Janet took great pains to eschew anything that might be construed as metaphysical analysis.

Nonetheless, this was also a work known for its theoretical contributions. The most important of these was a general theory of hysteria that incorporated a view of the relationship between conscious and subconscious mind. Janet's theory derived in part from his response to the perennial problem of accounting for the transformation of sensation into perception. How were sensations, existing below the level of awareness and fragmented both within and between sensory modalities, synthesized into a unified, personal consciousness?

In answer to this question Janet offered a theory which was both physiological and psychodynamic. 'First, there is produced in the mind, in the cortical cells of the brain...a very large number of small, elementary, psychological phenomena, the results of...innumerable external excitations...(these are) subconscious phenomena...Secondly, there takes place a reunion, a synthesis of all these elementary phenomena, which are combined among themselves...(and then assimilated) to the vast and prior notion of personality...(to yield) a clearer and more complex consciousness.'333 Sensations entered the field of consciousness, in other words, through the dual processes of cortical synthesis and active assimilation to that 'enormous mass of thoughts already constituted into a system 334 which was the personality.

But not all sensations entered consciousness. As Janet put it, even 'with the best-constituted man there must exist a crowd of elementary sensations ...(that) remain what they are-namely, subconscious sensations, real, without doubt, and able to play a considerable role in the psychological life of the individual; but...not transformed into personal perceptions...'335 The degree to which subconscious sensations came to awareness was termed by Janet, the 'extent of the field of consciousness;'336 and the extent of the field of consciousness was widely variable both between individuals and within a given individual over time.

In hysteria, the field of consciousness was subject to a pathological degree of contraction. This contraction of the field of consciousness 'prevents those subject to it from connecting certain sensations with their personality.'337 In anaesthesia, for example, the patient lost the ability to assimilate certain tactile and muscular sensations to personal consciousness; in amnesia, forgotten events could not be brought to consciousness even though they were available under hypnosis or through automatic writing.

Indeed, pathological contraction of the field of consciousness could leave the mind subject to the vagaries of a multitude of subconscious processes (e.g., suggestions, fixed ideas) that engaged the mind without being assimilated to the personality, that influenced perception, in other words, without themselves being perceived. Here was a powerful new conception of mind, mind as a psychodynamic system in which consciousness reflected the workings of subconscious process. This was, needless to say, a construction of mind that was to influence many later theorists, including both William James 338 and Sigmund Freud. 339


William James: The Principles of Psychology (1890)

William James's The Principles of Psychology305 is widely considered to be the most important text in the history of modern psychology. Twelve years in the writing,306 The Principles was, and in many ways still is, a document unique in the history of human thought. It's author was not only completely conversant with the psychological literature in English, but with that in French, German, and Italian; and, as a result, The Principles presented the discipline for the first time as a truly international endeavor. James was also an artist, with the artist's eye for shading and detail, and one of the English language's truly great prose stylists.307 In The Principles these characteristics combined to yield some of the richest descriptions of human experience, human behavior, and human nature ever to appear in a work of non-fiction.

As a psychologist, James was as interested in and knowledgeable about the phenomena of psychopathology and exceptional mental states as he was in those of normal consciousness; and in the Principles he drew constantly from this material to enrich his analyses. Trained as a biologist and a physician, James felt compelled to ground his psychology wherever possible in the facts of nervous physiology; but he was also at heart a philosopher concerned with issues such as the problem of other minds, the relationship of mind to body, the continuity of self, the mechanism of objective reference, and the nature of necessary truths. In the Principles, both of these orientations were manifest, as James moved effortlessly back and forth from one level of analysis to another.

More important than any of these characteristics for the claim of James's text to uniqueness and for its extraordinary and continuing influence was the exceptionally innovative way in which the subject matter of psychology was approached. The more traditional topics (e.g., the functions of the nervous system, sensation, the perception of time, space, objects, and reality, imagination, conception, reasoning, memory, association, attention, emotions, and will) were rarely dealt with in a traditional manner; and a whole series of non-traditional topics (e.g., habit, the stream of thought, consciousness of self, discrimination and comparison, the production of movement, instinct, and hypnotism) were introduced in ways that forever changed the discipline.

Not surprisingly The Principles can still be read in its entirety with great profit.308 Of all James's contributions, however, there are three for which he has been especially famous in the history of psychology: his analysis of the stream of thought, his characterization of the self, and his theory of emotion. Each of these will be briefly described; but it should be kept in mind that, with James, there is no substitute for reading the original.

James's analysis of the stream of thought was first published in an article in Mind, entitled 'On some omissions of introspective psychology.'309 As it appeared in edited form in The Principles, it consisted of a number of components. Three of these, all of which flowed directly from James's recognition that psychology had traditionally attributed to thought a characteristic true only of the objects of thought.(viz., analyzability into discrete elements), will be addressed here.

The first of these components was an attack on the idea that sensations constituted the fundamental elements of consciousness. Sensation, James argued, was an abstraction from not a fact of experience. 'No one,' he wrote, 'ever had a simple sensation by itself. Consciousness, from our natal day, is of a teeming multiplicity of objects and relations, and what we call simple sensations are results of discriminative attention, pushed often to a very high degree.'310

The two remaining components emphasized change and continuity in thought. For James, thought contained no constant elements of any kind, be they sensations or ideas. Every perception was relative and contextualized, every thought occurred in a mind modified by every previous thought. States of mind were never repeated. Objects might be constant and discrete, but thought was constantly changing and sensibly continuous. 'Consciousness,' he wrote, '...does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such words as 'chain' or 'train' do not describe it fitly as it presents itself in the first instance. It is nothing jointed; it flows. A 'river' or 'stream' are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described.' 311

James's chapter on the self introduced numerous self-related concepts and distinctions into psychology.312 The phenomenal self (the experienced self, the 'me' self, the self as known) was distinguished from the self thought (the I-self, the self as knower). 'Personality,' he wrote, 'implies the incessant presence of two elements, an objective person, known by a passing subjective Thought and recognized as continuing in time. Hereafter let us use the words ME and I for the empirical person and the judging Thought.' 313

In discussing the me-self, James wrote of three different but interrelated aspects of self: the material self (all those aspects of material existence in which we feel a strong sense of ownership, our bodies, our families, our possessions), the social self (our felt social relations), and the spiritual self (our feelings of our own subjectivity). These aspects were then treated in terms of relevant feelings of self-worth and self-seeking actions; and in the course of this analysis, James made three major contributions to self theory. He articulated the principle of multiplicity of social selves ('a man has as many social selves as there are individuals who recognize him and carry an image of him in their mind'314 ), defined self-esteem in terms of the ratio of successes to pretensions, arguing that self-esteem can be as easily increased by lowering aspirations as by increasing successes, and distinguished ideal selves from real selves ('In each kind of self, material, social, and spiritual men distinguish between the immediate and actual, and the remote and potential...'315 ).

In addressing the I-self, James turned first to the feeling of self identity, the experience that 'I am the same self that I was yesterday,'316 pointing out that 'the sense of our own personal identity...is exactly like any one of our other perceptions of sameness among phenomena.'317 He then proceeded to review the classical (spiritualist, associationist, and transcendentalist) theories of personal identity and concluded with an extremely important discussion of the phenomena and implications of multiple personality. In this last especially, we see James in his element, struggling with the nature of the most complex manifestations of the self.

Finally, James's chapter on the emotions, revised from an 1884 paper,318 presented his famous theory of emotion. The chapter began with a clear recognition of the close relationship between action and the expressive and physiological concomitants of emotion 'Objects of rage, love, fear, etc.,' he wrote, 'not only prompt a man to outward deeds, but provoke characteristic alterations in his attitude and visage, and affect his breathing, circulation, and other organic functions in specific ways.'319 Here James also made it clear that emotion could be as easily triggered by memory or imagination as by direct perception of an emotion producing event. As he phrased it, 'One may get angrier in thinking over one's insult than at the moment of receiving it.' 320

In what was to become known as the James-Lange theory of emotion,321 James then went on the argue that emotion consists of our experience of these bodily changes. As he put it, 'My theory...is that the bodily changes follow directly the perception of the exciting fact, and that our feeling of the same changes as they occur is the emotion...we feel sorry because we cry, angry because we strike, afraid because we tremble, and not that we cry, strike, or tremble, because we are sorry, angry, or fearful, as the case may be.'322 Although James may have been a bit overstrong in equating emotion with experience of bodily change (and in other sections of the chapter made claims in relation to the neural basis of emotion that have not been supported),323 his description of the nature of emotion anticipated much of what is commonly held by modern theorists to be characteristic of emotion: the presence of an external or internal precipitating event, physiological change, express ve movement, and a characteristic affective experience.

It is impossible in brief to summarize the many ways in which James's Principles, read and assimilated by those coming to academic maturity in the decades following its publication, altered the course of development of the newly emerging scientific psychology. James's views, especially those on the stream of consciousness, played a major role in shifting psychology away from elementalism toward a functional, process oriented account of mind (and eventually behavior). James's concern with emotion, motivation, and the nature of the self, the social self, and self-esteem, not only lay the groundwork for dynamic psychology, but for a dynamic psychology that recognized the importance of social factors in personality. And James's deep and abiding concern with exceptional mental states helped legitimize an emerging, indigenous American psychotherapy and pave the way for the eventual acceptance of psychoanalysis within psychology.324


John Hughlings Jackson: Evolution and Dissolution of the Nervous System

In 1824, Marie-Jean-Pierre Flourens provided the first experimental demonstration of localization of function in the brain: a motor center in the medulla oblongata and stability and motor coordination in the cerebellum. By 1842, he had articulated a clear distinction between sensation and perception and localized sensory function in several related sub-cortical structures. For a combination of empirical and philosophical reasons, however, Flourens was firmly opposed to cortical localization of function and committed to a view of the cortex as the unitary, undiffer-entiated seat of higher mental processes. 154 This was a position that was widely shared.

It was not until the 1870s that views concerning the nature of cortical function began to change. For this change to occur, the intellectual ground had to be prepared. This involved the abandonment of a fixed faculty approach to mind in favor of a balanced sensori-motor, evolutionary associationism. These advances came through the respective contributions of Alexander Bain and Herbert Spencer. 155 Prior to Bain, associationism's commitment to experience as the source of knowledge led to the neglect of movement in favor of the analysis of sensation. Drawing heavily on the work of physiologists such as Johannes Müller, 156 Bain brought the new physiology of movement into conjunction with an associationist account of mind. "Action," he wrote, "is a more intimate and inseparable property of our constitution than any of our sensations, and in fact enters as a component part into every one of the senses, giving them the character of compounds…." 157

Herbert Spencer offered students of the brain an evolutionary view to which sensori-motor and hierarchical organization in the brain as a whole were simple corollaries. For Spencer, evolution consisted of gradual and continuous change from homogeneity to heterogeneity, from relative unity and indivisibility to differentiation and complexity, from relative rigidity of organization to relative flexibility. Nowhere in the process of evolution were there radical discontinuities; principles describing lower levels of an evolving system were also characteristic of higher levels. And just as evolution was an increase in differentiation, complexity, and flexibility, dissolution involved return to relative lack of differentiation, simplicity, and stereotypy.

The broad implications of these evolutionary conceptions for the theory of brain function were clear. The brain was the most highly developed physical system known and the cortex the most developed level of the brain. As such, it must be heterogeneous, differentiated, complex, and flexibly organized. Furthermore, if the cortex was a continuous evolutionary development from sub-cortical structures, the sensori-motor principles that governed sub-cortical localization must hold for the cortex as well. Finally, if higher mental processes were the end product of a continuous process of development, pathology in higher brain centers could lead to dissolution of function.

In the late 1870s and 1880s, these implications were elaborated in striking fashion in a series of papers published by John Hughlings Jackson.158 The most famous of these, including Jackson's Croonian Lectures on Evolution and Dissolution of the Nervous System, appeared between 1881 and 1887 and were collected together for the first time in 1932 in the second volume of Jackson's Selected Writings. 159

As Jackson put it in the introduction to the first of these papers, he had "long thought that Herbert Spencer's hypothesis of dissolution…( would) enable us to develop a science of disease of the nervous system." 160 His goal, therefore, was to illustrate "Spencer's doctrines of nervous evolution, by the reverse process of nervous dissolution, as this is effected by pathological processes…." 161

And for Jackson, "pathology" was very broadly construed to include exceptional mental states of any kind, "not only cases specially described by alienists, but delirium in acute non-cerebral disease, degrees of drunkenness, and even sleep with dreaming." 162 Indeed, it was a hallmark of Jackson's work that his general theory of the functional architecture of brain systems could be used to elucidate not only exceptional mental states of the sort just listed but even the effects of nervous diseases as varied as muscular atrophy, hemiplegia, paralysis agitans, epilepsy, chorea, and aphasia.

Unfortunately, Jackson never published a systematic account of his theory. The historian of psychology who goes in search of Jackson's views will find bits and pieces of the theory scattered about among his writings. For the sake of exposition, the major principles will be laid out here with some systematicity; but this was not characteristic of Jackson's own work.

The first principle of Jackson's theory was continuity of sensori-motor function at all levels of the nervous system. As Jackson put it, "the cerebral centres are, like all lower centres, ‘reflex.' The more recent doctrines of evolution of necessity imply that all nervous centres, even the highest—the substrata of consciousness—are (also) sensori-motor." 163

The second principle was that of the evolution and dissolution of brain systems. One of the best statements of this principle appeared in Jackson's Croonian Lectures: "Evolution," he wrote, "is a passage from the most to the least organised; that is to say, from the lowest, well organised, centres up to the highest, least organised, centres…from centres comparatively well organised at birth…to those…which are continually organising through life…Evolution is a passage from the most simple to the most complex…a passage from the most automatic to the most voluntary…the highest centres…are the least organised, the most complex, and the most voluntary…Dissolution…is a process of undevelopment…from the least organised, from the most complex and most voluntary, towards the most organised, most simple, and most automatic." 164

According to the third principle, "the nervous system is a representing system."165 Parts of the body were represented by different centers. In keeping with the sensori-motor hypothesis, Jackson argued that "Even the centres ‘for mind' represent parts of the body…The whole nervous system is a sensori-motor mechanism, a coordinating system from top to bottom." 166

The fourth principle, which followed directly from the second and third, was that of the hierarchy of cerebral centers, divided into "lowest, middle, and highest…to indicate different evolu-tionary levels." 167 "A lowest centre," in Jackson's view, "is one which represents some limited part of the body most nearly directly…A middle centre represents over again in…more complex…combinations what many or all of the lowest have represented in comparatively simple combinations…The middle centres are re-representative…The highest centres…represent over again in more complex…combinations, the parts which all the middle centres have re-represented, and thus they represent the whole organism; they are re-re-representative." 168 A corollary of this principle was that the depth of dissolution in pathology would reflect the hierarchical level of the affected center.

How this effect was manifested, however, would depend not only on depth of dissolution (severity of the pathology) but on whether the symptomatology was viewed in terms of its negative or positive aspect. And here we have the last of Jackson's major principles, that of the fundamental duality of all pathological states. Each such state, in Jackson's view, was characterized by both negative and positive symptoms. Negative symptoms were those directly caused by the pathological condition as it worked its effect in higher centers; positive symptoms were those indirectly caused by "removal of the influence of the higher centres." 169

The source of this duality, of course, was the nature of patho-logical dissolution itself. When the influence of higher brain centers was removed (through disease, injury, exhaustion, temporary inhibition), the activity of the next lower centers, normally under the control of the higher centers, was liberated. This led, in Jackson's phrase, to a "reduction to a more automatic condition" 170 frequently characterized by overactivity of the lower centers.

Jackson's most famous application of his evolutionary theory of brain systems was to the analysis of the post-seizure disorders of epilepsy; and for the purpose of illustrating his theory, this application will be briefly described. For Jackson, the epileptic discharge ("a sudden and excessive discharge of certain nervous arrangements, the cells of which are abnormally highly unstable" 171 ) led to temporary exhaustion of associated nerve fibers in the highest centers of the brain. Depending on the strength and rapidity of the epileptic discharge and the consequent "exhaustion" of the relevant higher centers, three degrees of depth of nervous dissolution might be observed.

In the least severe condition, the positive symptom was epileptic ideation, a somewhat dream-like state of reverie. The negative symptom, attending the ideation, was a certain mental confusion and removal of consciousness from reality. The patient as Jackson put it, "tells us that he ‘becomes dim to his surroundings'" 172 . In moderately severe dissolution, the positive symptom was action "of different kinds and of different degrees of elaborateness;" 173 the negative symptom was loss of consciousness. The patient in this condition exhibited a behavior pattern somewhat akin to somnambulism. Finally, in the most severe cases of dissolution, the patient continued to exhibit the operation of vital processes such as respiration and circulation (the positive symptom) but persisted in a coma (the negative symptom). While the patho-logical discharge of epilepsy directly produced the negative symptoms, it had, as Jackson wrote, "done nothing to the nervous arrangements concerned in the positive state, except in the indirect way of removing control…by exhausting their higher, or ‘controlling,' nervous arrangements." 174

While Jackson's specific contributions to our understanding of the etiology, course, and treatment of neurological disorders such as epilepsy were of great importance, it was his evolutionary, hierarchical, systemic, sensori-motor conception of cerebral function that was of greatest interest. How influential it was in its day is somewhat difficult to say. In his discussion of perception in The Principles of Psychology, William James, always alive to evolutionary, systemic thinking, referred to Jackson's theory as "masterly" and as involving "principles exactly like those which I am bringing forward here;" 175 but for most late 19th century psychologists, still burdened with a mechanistic metaphor for both the nervous system and consciousness, Jackson's views may well have been hard to fathom.

Steve Dinan's Consciousness Timeline


Steve Dinan's Consciousness Timeline, which comes to Enlightenment.Com under Special Arrangement, is a marvel of brevity and depth. While any such timeline could be expanded, and while some will quibble with things that are included or excluded, there is no doubt that it is a superb resource for those interested in consciousness, transformation, and spirituality.

Steve directs and helped to create the Esalen Institute's Center for Theory & Research, a think tank where leading scholars, researchers, and teachers can explore the frontiers of human potential. He graduated from Stanford University, holds a master's degree in East-West Psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies, and has studied Hinduism, Buddhism, Sufism, Christian, and Jewish mysticism, as well as transpersonal psychology. He is currently selling an edited anthology called the Spirit of Gen X and polishing a travel memoir entitled In Kali's Garden, as well as developing a work of fiction.

The following timeline is by necessity somewhat arbitrary and quite partial. The point is not to chart the minutiae of events constituting what I am loosely calling the "consciousness movement," but to give a sense for a few prominent milestones. The last hundred years have witnessed the gradual creation of a new world philosophy, one that sees human beings engaged in an evolutionary process to access a deeper, richer, more playful consciousness and to manifest the fruits of that work in the world. This new amalgam of ideas and practices has drawn from dozens of traditions, thousands of books and experiments, and millions of collectively focused lives. Drawing a firm boundary around this "movement" is thus misleading. It is better likened to the flow of a tumultuous river, its millions of eddies and currents creating, when seen from afar, a cohesive sense of direction. This timeline is best viewed as a snapshot of that river from high above.

1875 - Founding of the Theosophical Society in New York, spurs interest in spiritualism. The Society propounded the notion of spiritual evolution in an attempt to bridge the religious world view with that arising in science. (Nov. 17)

1890 - William James, Principles of Psychology.

1893 - First Parliament of World Religions, Vivekananda electrifies the gathering and brings Vedanta to the West.

1894 - Rudolf Steiner, The Philosophy of Freedom, first of his four "foundational" books.

1900 - Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams. Birth of the psychoanalytic movement.

1901 - William James, Varieties of Religious Experience, lays the groundwork for the cross-cultural study of mystical experience.

1903 - Frederic Myers, Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death.

1905 - Richard Maurice Bucke, Cosmic Consciousness.

1906 - James Mark Baldwin, Thought and Things.


- D. T. Suzuki's Outline of Mahayana Buddhism introduces Zen to the West.

- Henri Bergson, Creative Evolution.

1909 - Alexandra David-Neel's The Buddhism of the Buddha and Buddhist Modernism, presents a non-academic account of Buddhist practice.

1911 - Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism.


- Carl Jung, Psychology of the Unconscious, break from Freud.

- P. D. Ouspensky, Tertium Organum.

1913 - Rudolf Steiner founds anthroposophy.


- James H. Woods, The Yoga System of Patanjali, considered the first full-length scholarly work in America on Indian philosophy.

- Caroline Rhys Davids, Buddhist Psychology, offers the first well-developed discussion of the compatibility between Western psychology and Buddhism.

1917 - Rudolf Otto, The Idea of the Holy.

1918 - Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, especially influential on J. Campbell.

1920 - Arrival of Paramahansa Yogananda in Boston, an important figure in the spread of Hinduism in the West.

1921 - Carl Jung, Psychological Types.


- Sigmund Freud, The Ego and the Id.

- Martin Buber, I and Thou.


- Otto Rank, The Trauma of Birth.

- Jean Piaget, Judgement and Reasoning in the Child, demonstrates how structures of thought evolve.


- C. D. Broad, The Mind and Its Place in Nature.

- Alfred North Whitehead, Science and the Modern World


- Rudolf Otto, Mysticism East and West, helps create the discipline of East-West comparative mysticism.

- Jan Smuts, Holism and Evolution, argues that each subsequent level of evolution is more encompassing than the last, that what was once a whole becomes part of a greater whole. Influential in systems theory.

1927 - Wilhelm Reich, Die Funktion des Orgasmus.

1928 - Richard Wilhelm invites Jung to write a commentary on the Taoist text The Secret of the Golden Flower in which Jung aims "to build a bridge of psychological understanding between East and West."


- Alfred North Whitehead, in Process and Reality, introduces the notion of prehension, that interiority is fundamental all the way down to the most basic levels of the universe.

- Krishnamurti, who had been chosen as the next World Teacher by the Theosophical Society, rejects the organization and states that "truth is a pathless land," setting the stage for the nondoctrinal teachings of his next sixty years.

1933 - Beginning of the Eranos seminars, started with the purpose of finding common ground between Eastern and Western religious thought. Participants included C.G. Jung, Heinrich Zimmer, D. T. Suzuki, Martin Buber, and Mircea Eliade.


- Carl Jung, Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious.

- Arnold Toynbee, in A Study of History, explicates his theory of the rise and breakdown of civilizations.

1936 - Arthur Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being.

1937 - Anna Freud, The Ego and Mechanisms of Defense.

1938 - Jung travels to India and upon his return warns against the Western adoption of the practice of yoga, instead calling for the development of a Western form of yoga.

1939 - First East-West Philosophers' Conference, organized by Charles A. Moore in Honolulu, attempts to forge a global philosophy.

1943 - Albert Hoffman accidentally ingests LSD-25 (first synthesized in 1938), a mistake leading eventually to the widespread use of psychedelics. (4/16)

1944 - Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy.


- Merleau-Ponty, in Phénoménologie de la Perception, creates a methodology for the study of subjective experience.

- Rene Guénon, Man and His Becoming According to Vedanta.


- Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi.

- Anna Freud, The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense.

1947 - Fritz Perls, Ego, Hunger, and Aggression.


- Fritjof Schuon, The Transcendent Unity of Religions (French edition). Proposes the esoteric identity of all religions.

- Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain, important work in the revitalization of Christian mysticism.


- Jean Gebser, The Ever-Present Origin, articulates a theory of the evolution of human culture through five stages: archaic, magical, mythic, rational, and aperspectival.

- Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, highly influential in comparative mythology.

- Simone de Beauvoir, Le Deuxieme Sex.

- Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, foundational for many of the leading lights of the consciousness movement.

- Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return.

- Erich Neumann, The Origins and History of Consciousness.

- Moshe Feldenkrais, Body and Mature Behavior: A Study of Anxiety, Sex, Gravitation and Learning.

1950 - L. L. Whyte, The Next Development in Man.

1951 - Carl Rogers, Client-Centered Therapy.


- Radhakrishnan, History of Philosophy, Eastern and Western.

- Herbert Thurston, The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism, highly influential on Michael Murphy's later work in Future of the Body.

- Carl Jung, Answer to Job and Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle.


- Joseph Needham, in Science and Civilization in China argues for the scientific side of Taoism.

- Aldous Huxley, with The Doors of Perception, piques the interest of many as to the possible benefits of psychedelic experience.

- Mircea Eliade, The Myth of Eternal Return.


- Teilhard de Chardin's The Phenomenon of Man, published posthumously, a vision of the evolution of the universe from Creation to an Omega Point.

- Herbert Marcuse, Eros and Civilization.


- Gregory Bateson et al. formulate the double bind theory of the genesis of schizophrenia.

- Lewis Mumford, The Transformations of Man.

- Paul Reps, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones.


- Karl Jaspers includes chapters on the Buddha and Nagarjuna in his The Great Philosophers.

- Alan Watts, The Way of Zen.

- Leon Festinger, The Theory of Cognitive Dissonance.

- C. Thigpen and H. Cleckley, The Three Faces of Eve.

- P. D. Ouspensky, The Fourth Way, published posthumously and assembled by students.


- Mircea Eliade, Patterns in Comparative Religion.

- Otto Rank, Beyond Psychology.

- Hans Jonas, The Gnostic Religion.


- Norman O. Brown, Life Against Death.

- Joseph Campbell, Primitive Mythology, first volume of Masks of God series.

- Edward Conze, Buddhism: Its Essence and Development

- John Blofeld, The Zen Teaching of Huang Po.

- Arrival of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to San Francisco, start of the enormously influential Transcendental Meditation movement. Peak hits about 1967 or 1968.

- Arrival of Shunryu Suzuki to San Francisco as a priest for the Japanese Zen Buddhist congregation. He eventually creates the San Francisco Zen Center which plays an influential role in introducing Soto Zen practice to America. (5/23)

- Tibetan uprising against Chinese occupying force leads to bloodshed and the flight of the Dalai Lama and much of the core of the Tibetan religious hierarchy, setting the stage for the dissemination of Tibetan Buddhist teachers and practices.

1960 - Erich Fromm & D. T. Suzuki's Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis, dialogues between modern psychoanalysis and Eastern religion.


- Alan Watts, Psychotherapy East and West establishes parallels between Western psychotherapy and Eastern spirituality.

- Thomas Szasz, The Myth of Mental Illness.

- Michel Foucault, Histoire de la Folie.

- Carl Rogers, On Becoming a Person.

- J. D. Salinger, Franny and Zooey, fictional account of the turn towards mysticism.

- George Leonard, "The Explosive Generation" article in Look, first major piece to foretell the tumultuous times to come.

- Founding of The Journal of Humanistic Psychology. (Spring)

- Founding of The Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion.


- Founding of the Esalen Institute as a forum for exploring new philosophies and visions of human development.

- Abraham Maslow, Toward a Psychology of Being.

- Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy, describes the effect of electronic technologies on the age of the book.

- Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions articulates his theory of paradigm shifts governing the process of scientific discovery.

- Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, and Reflections, his autobiography.

- Rachel Carson, Silent Spring, an important catalyst for the environmental movement.

- Joseph Campbell, Oriental Mythology.

- Psychedelic experiments with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert at Harvard.


- Civil rights march on Washington, M. L. King's "I Have a Dream" speech (8/29).

- Betty Friedan, Feminine Mystique.

- E. N. Lorenz publishes the first paper on chaos theory.

- Gerald Heard, The Five Ages of Man.

- Victor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning.

- Charlotte Selver and Charles Brooks begin teaching Sensory Awareness at Esalen.


- Timothy Leary, Richard Alpert, and Ralph Metzner, The Psychedelic Experience, an adaptation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead as a guide for the Western use of psychedelics.

- Abraham Maslow, Religions, Values, Peak Experiences.

- Robert Bellah, "Religious Evolution."

- Mircea Eliade, Shamanism.

- Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology.

- Idries Shah, The Sufis.

- K. Dąbrowski, Positive Disintegration.

- Arthur Koestler, The Act of Creation.

- Arrival of Fritz Perls at Esalen, which provides a platform for the dissemination of Gestalt (May)


- Harvey Cox, Religion in the Secular City.

- R. D. Laing, The Divided Self.

- Morey Bernstein, The Search for Bridey Murphy, stokes public fascination with reincarnation.

- Robert Assagioli, Psychosynthesis: A Collection of Basic Writings.

- Philip Kapleau, The Three Pillars of Zen.

- Haridas Chaudhuri, Integral Yoga.

- Ida Rolf begins summers-in-residence at Esalen, bringing her work of Structural Integration into prominence, though she had practiced it for 25 years.

- George Leonard, while brainstorming with Esalen co-founder Michael Murphy, coins the term "human potential movement." (March)


- Norman O. Brown, Love's Body.

- Lama Govinda, The Way of the White Clouds.

- Bell's theory of nonlocality proposed, precursor of physics and consciousness movement to follow in 1970s and 80s.

- San Francisco Zen Center purchases Tassajara Hot Springs, which becomes the center of gravity for intensive practice of Soto Zen in the West.

- Thich Nhat Hanh arrives in the U.S. for a three-week speaking tour.


- R. D. Laing, The Politics of Experience.

- Alexander Lowen, The Betrayal of the Body.

- Arthur Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine.

- Will Schutz, Joy, turns group therapy into an important national movement. (May approx.)

- Summer of Love

- Stanislav Grof suggests the term "transpersonal" to describe an emerging orientation in the consciousness movement.

- Ford Foundation grant starts the Confluent Education program at Esalen, directed by George Brown, applying humanistic principles to education. This program is eventually incorporated into UC-Santa Barbara's School of Education.


- Haridas Chaudhuri founds the California Institute of Asian Studies (CIAS) in San Francisco to spread Sri Aurobindo's integral philosophy. (April 8)

- Thomas Merton travels to South-East Asia in order to build bridges between Christian and Asian monasticism.

- Von Bertalanffy, General System Theory.

- Carlos Casteneda, The Teachings of Don Juan, first in his series of influential semi-fictional tales of a Yaqui sorcerer.

- Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Catalog.

- George Leonard, Education and Ecstasy.

- Joseph Campbell, Creative Mythology.

- Ralph Metzner leads a series of dialogues at the Esalen San Francisco center on ecology and psychology.


- Abraham Maslow and Anthony Sutich create the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology (JTP).

- Theodore Roszak, The Making of a Counter Culture, helps define the epochal social changes occurring in America in the sixties.

- Charles Tart, ed., Altered States of Consciousness.

- James Lovelock first proposes, but does not name, the Gaia hypothesis.

- Fritz Perls, Gestalt Therapy Verbatim.

- Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, On Death and Dying.

- Rollo May, Love and Will.

- Mircea Eliade, Yoga: Immortality and Freedom.

- F. M. Alexander, The Resurrection of the Body.

- S. N. Goenka returns to India to teach vipassana courses, a pivotal event in the dissemination of Dharma practice in the world.

- Samuel Bercholz founds Shambhala Publications.

- Launching of the Agnews Project by Esalen, an alternative approach to psychosis in a state mental hospital.

- Ashley Montagu, Sex, Man, and Society.

- Lawrence LeShan, "Physicists and Mystics: Similarities in World View." (Nov.)

- First Council Grove, Kansas, conference on voluntary control of internal states.

- First Association of Humanistic Psychology conference with a transpersonal subsection.


- First Earth Day (April 22), a significant launching point for the environmental movement

- Robert Bellah, Beyond Belief.

- John Blofeld, The Tantric Mysticism of Tibet.

- Sheila Ostrander and Lynn Schroeder, Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, opens channels for the bridging of the Western consciousness movement with similar work in the Soviet Union.

- Chogyam Trungpa, Meditation in Action.

- Jacob Needleman, The New Religions, examines the emergence of Eastern disciplines and cults and the growing number of spiritual seekers, especially in California.

- Moshe Feldenkrais, Body and Mature Behavior.

- Esalen contingent visits Roberto Assagioli, bringing his system of Psychosynthesis back to the United States and leading to its popularization. (June)


- Baba Ram Dass, Be Here Now, a transitional point for consciousness movement away from psychedelics.

- Robert Monroe, Journeys Out of the Body, popular autobiographical treatment of out-of-body experiences.

- William Irwin Thompson, At the Edge of History.

- Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind.

- Lama Angarika Govinda, Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism.

- Abraham Maslow, The Farther Reaches of Human Nature.

- Werner Erhard springs into limelight with his est trainings, a quick-fix distillation of human potential ideas in a weekend workshop format.

- Creation of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology (Nov.)

- Ralph Metzner, Maps of Consciousness.

- Gopi Krishna, Kundalini -- The Evolutionary Energy in Man.

- E. Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery.

- Karl Pribram, Languages of the Brain.

- Esalen creates the Program in Humanistic Medicine, planting some of the first seeds for holistic medicine, an extension in many ways of the consciousness movement.


- Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind, an influential synthesis of anthropology, biology, and cybernetics.

- Michael Murphy, Golf in the Kingdom. Though fictional, Murphy's book becomes the bestselling golf book of all time, inaugurating the "inner game" of sports, sports psychology, and mystical offshoots.

- Ervin Laszlo, Introduction to Systems Philosophy.

- Robert Ornstein, The Psychology of Consciousness.

- George Leonard, The Transformation.

- Andrew Weil, The Natural Mind.

- John Lilly, The Center of the Cyclone.

- First International Transpersonal Conference in Reykjavik, Iceland (5/31-6/5)


- Arne Naess, The Shallow and Deep Ecology Movements.

- E. F. Schumacher's Small is Beautiful advocates the adoption of Buddhist principles in the Western economic system.

- New Dimensions Radio first begins to broadcast as a voice for the emerging new perspectives.

- Chogyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism.

- Michael Harner, Hallucinogens and Shamanism.

- Founding of the Institute of Noetic Sciences by astronaut Edgar Mitchell as a research and educational institution to explore human consciousness.

- First national conference of the Association for Transpersonal Psychology.

- Conference on "Spiritual and Therapeutic Tyranny: The Willingness to Submit" addressed abuses of power in human potential arena. (Dec. 7-8, SF)


- Chogyam Trungpa founds the Naropa Institute in Boulder, helping to bring Tibetan Buddhism to the West.

- Ian Stevenson's Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation, begins his lifework of a systematic and scientific study of reincarnation.

- Marija Gimbutas, The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe, influential in the seeding of the Goddess and neo-pagan movements.

- Anica Mander and Anne Kent Rush, Feminism as Therapy.

- Lawrence LeShan, The Medium, the Mystic, and the Physicist.

- Edgar Mitchell and John White, eds., Psychic Exploration: A Challenge for Science.

- Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

- Kenneth Ring, "A Transpersonal View of Consciousness: A Mapping of Farther Reaches of Inner Space," JTP, attempts to synthesize a range of perspectives on consciousness.


- Stanislav Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious, adds perinatal (birth) matrices between the personal unconscious and transpersonal realms and chronicles the results of thousands of psychedelic sessions.

- Terrence and Dennis McKenna, The Invisible Landscape.

- James Hillman, Revisioning Psychology, deconstructs the hero myth and ego psychology.

- Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, explores parallels between Eastern mystical systems and the worldview of modern physics.

- Charles Tart, States of Consciousness, proposes the idea of state-specific sciences and pioneers the scientific study of altered states of consciousness.

- Ken Wilber, "Psychologia Perennis: The Spectrum of Consciousness." Journal of Transpersonal Psychology. First exposition of Wilber's spectrum model, in which all psychologies and traditions are situated on one continuum.

- Peter Marin, "The New Narcissism" in Harper's begins self-critical phase of consciousness movement.

- Raymond Moody, Life After Life, brings near-death experiences and their potential meaning into the public consciousness.

- Jeffrey Mishlove, The Roots of Consciousness.

- Herbert Benson, The Relaxation Response, influential in medical/scientific circles as a paradigm for understanding meditation and its effects.

- George Leonard, The Ultimate Athlete, applies human potential philosophies and principles to sports, games, and the growing fitness movement.

- Founding of the journal Anima as a forum for psychology, religion, and women's studies.

- Founding of Yoga Journal (May)


- Huston Smith, Forgotten Truth.

- Julian Jaynes, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.

- A Course in Miracles.

- Chogyam Trungpa, The Myth of Freedom.

- Arthur Young, The Reflexive Universe.

- Founding of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, MA, by Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzburg. Important in bringing the practice of Theravadan Buddhism to the West.

- Lee Sanella, Kundalini: Psychosis or Transcendence?

- James Fadiman and Robert Frager, Personality and Personal Growth, first textbook on personality theory to include transpersonal and Eastern viewpoints.

- June Singer, Androgyny: Toward a New Theory of Sexuality.

- Johannes Fabricius, Alchemy: The Medieval Alchemists and Their Royal Art.

- J. Poortman, Vehicles of Consciousness: The Concept of Hylic Pluralism, examines the cross-cultural evidence for subtle bodies.

- Founding of the journal Parabola as a forum for the study of myth and the quest for meaning.


- Ken Wilber, Spectrum of Consciousness, important synthesis of a variety of approaches to consciousness, situating them on one spectrum, bridging Eastern mysticism and Western psychology in influential ways.

- Amory Lovins, Soft Energy Paths.

- Ida P. Rolf, Rolfing: The Integration of Human Structures.

- Haridas Chaudhuri, The Evolution of Integral Consciousness.

- Elmer and Alyce Green, Beyond Biofeedback.

- Stanislav and Christina Grof create Holotropic Breathwork during an Esalen month-long workshop.

- Ken Wilber and Jack Crittenden found the journal Revision: A Journal of Knowledge and Consciousness as a forum for the consciousness movement.

- John Welwood, "Meditation and the Unconscious: A New Perspective," JTP, proposes four grounds of consciousness: situational, personal, transpersonal, basic.

- Daniel Goleman, The Varieties of the Meditative Experience, outlines a dozen major meditative disciplines, popularizes distinction between awareness and concentration paths, a distinction derived from Theravada Buddhism.

- James Ogilvy, Many-Dimensional Man.

- Russell Targ and Harold Putoff, Mind Reach.

- Robert M. Anderson, "A Holographic Model of Transpersonal Consciousness," JTP.

- Don Hanlon Johnson, The Protean Body.

- Ida Rolf, Rolfing: The Integration of Human Structures

- Founding of the journal Consciousness and Culture.

- Release of Star Wars, first movie to show significant influence of human potential movement through Lucas' study of J. Campbell, tai chi, and other related fields. (summer)


- Arthur Koestler, Janus: A Summing Up, articulates the theory of "holons."

- Stephen Katz, Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, launches the constructivist program in the study of comparative mysticism.

- Theodore Roszak, Person/Planet.

- Hazel Henderson, Creating Alternative Futures.

- Lex Hixon, Coming Home, explores parallel visions in different traditions of enlightenment or liberation.

- George Leonard, Silent Pulse.

- Susan Griffin, Woman and Nature.

- Eugene Gendlin, Focusing, argues that the common denominator in successful therapy is a capacity to tune in to more subtle levels of bodily felt sense.

- Michael Murphy and Rhea White, The Psychic Side of Sports.

- Helen Wambach, Reliving Past Lives

- Michael Washburn, "Observations Relevant to a Unified Theory of Meditation," JTP.

- Founding of the journal Somatics to create a framework for the new body-based disciplines, arts, and sciences.


- Gregory Bateson, Mind and Nature.

- James Lovelock, Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth.

- Christopher Lasch. The Culture of Narcissism, a backlash against the human potential movement.

- Elaine Pagels, The Gnostic Gospels.

- Frances Vaughan, Awakening Intuition, one of the first books on intuition that addresses both personal and transpersonal levels.

- Kenneth Pelletier, Holistic Medicine: From Stress to Optimum Health, reflects growing turn of consciousness movement to practical problems of health.

- Starhawk, The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess, gives voice to the growing Goddess movement.

- Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters, quantum physics and consciousness exploration that won the American Book Award for Science, ideas influenced by Esalen conferences.

- Carol Christ and Judith Plaskow, eds., Womanspirit Rising.

- Founding of the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research group by Robert Jahn, a source of some of the most important research on psychokinesis and field effects of consciousness.


- Francisco Varela and Humberto Maturana, Autopoiesis and Cognition, an important step in seeing how organisms actually co-create their environments.

- Ilya Prigogine, From Being to Becoming, develops the theory of "dissipative structures" by applying thermodynamics to biology.

- Erich Jantsch, The Self-Organizing Universe, attempts an overall view of the universe including the theories and ideas of Prigogine, Lovelock, Margulis, Varela, and Maturana.

- Roger Walsh and Frances Vaughan, eds., Beyond Ego, a transpersonal psychology anthology.

- Ken Wilber, with The Atman Project presents a developmental model of consciousness stretching from prepersonal to transpersonal realms.

- Creation of the Spiritual Emergence Network by Stanislav and Christina Grof

- David Bohm, in Wholeness and the Implicate Order, develops a holographic model of the universe to reconcile quantum mechanics with an "implicate order," an ontological ground of being.

- Stanislav Grof's LSD Psychotherapy, provides the best overview of the research programs, therapeutic strategies, and results from psychedelic research before the government closed formal research programs.

- Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy.

- Kenneth Ring, Life at Death: A Scientific Investigation of the Near-Death Experience.

- Michael Harner, Way of the Shaman.

- Jacob Needleman, Lost Christianity.

- Seymour Boorstein, ed., Transpersonal Psychotherapy.

- William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light.

- Hastings, Fadiman, and Gordon, Health for the Whole Person: The Complete Guide to Holistic Medicine.


- Rupert Sheldrake, A New Science of Life, proposes the theory of morphogenetic fields to explain anomalous data in a variety of fields.

- Morris Berman, The Reenchantment of the World.

- Charlene Spretnak, ed., The Politics of Women's Spirituality.

- B. Schultz and D. Hughes, eds., Ecological Consciousness.

- Duane Elgin, Voluntary Simplicity

- Ken Wilber, Up From Eden, examines cultural evolution from the Paleolithic to the present.

- Haridas Chaudhuri, Integral Yoga.

- Thomas Robbins and Dick Anthony, eds., In Gods We Trust: New Patterns of Religious Pluralism in America. Sociology of religion angle on new movements.

- Lynn Andrews, Medicine Woman.

- Founding of the journal Anabiosis, which subsequently becomes the Journal of Near-Death Studies.


- James Hillman, "Anima Mundi: the Return of Soul to the World"

- Fritjof Capra, The Turning Point, examines the parallel changes occurring in multiple fields to support his thesis that one historical epoch is coming to a close and another is arising.

- Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice, extends Kohlberg's work with moral development, examining ways in which women's moral growth differs.

- Michael Sabom, Recollections at Death.

- Arthur Deikman, The Observing Self.

- Huston Smith, Beyond the Postmodern Mind.


- First Leonard Energy Training at Esalen, an eight-week program of physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines. Early attempt at long-term, integral transformation program.

- N. Katz, Buddhist and Western Psychology.

- Founding of Common Boundary.

- Peter Russell, The Global Brain.


- Kenneth Ring, Heading Towards Omega.

- Willis Harman and Howard Rheingold, Higher Creativity: Liberating the Unconscious for Breakthrough Insights.

- Jean Shinoda Bolen, Goddesses in Everywoman: A New Psychology of Women.

- Tsultrim Allione, Women of Wisdom.


- Stanislav Grof, Beyond the Brain, the most sophisticated articulation of his synthesis of various depth psychologies.

- Stephen LaBerge, Lucid Dreaming. First popularization of the transformative possibilities of lucidity in dreams.

- Howard Gardner, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

- Charlene Spretnak and Fritjof Capra, Green Politics.

- Jeanne Achterberg, Imagery in Healing.

- John Welwood, Challenge of the Heart: Love, Sex, and Intimacy in Changing Times.

- Thomas Armstrong, The Radiant Child, explores the spiritual experiences of children, calling into question some transpersonal assumptions.

- Nick Herbert, Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics.

- Ram Dass and Paul Gorman, How Can I Help?

- Stanley Keleman, Emotional Anatomy.


- Hameed Ali, under the pen name A.H. Almaas, publishes Essence, the first exposition of his Diamond Approach, synthesizing Sufism, object relations psychology, and Tibetan Buddhism.

- Frances Vaughan, The Inward Arc.

- Donald Rothberg's "Philosophical Foundations of Transpersonal Psychology" addresses philosophical assumptions underpinning the consciousness movement.

- Sam Keen publishes Faces of the Enemy, foundational work on the psychology of enmity and propaganda.

- Ken Wilber, Jack Engler, and Daniel Brown, eds.,Transformations of Consciousness.

- Beginning of David Ray Griffin's SUNY Press series on constructive postmodernism, drawing from many works of the human potential movement.


- Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne, Margins of Reality: The Role of Consciousness in the Physical World. Important validation of PSI and field effects of consciousness from the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Program.

- Ervin Laszlo, Evolution: The Grand Synthesis.

- James Glick, Chaos.

- Georg Feuerstein, Structures of Consciousness.

- Riane Eisler, The Chalice and the Blade.

- Barbara Brennan, Hands of Light, an overview of subtle energy bodies and hands-on healing practices, linking them to psychodynamic processes.

- Jon Klimo, Channeling: Investigations on Receiving Information from Paranormal Sources.

- Deane Juhan, Job's Body: A Handbook for Bodywork.


- Willis Harman, Global Mind Change.

- Michael Washburn, The Ego and the Dynamic Ground, proposes a neo-Jungian transpersonal model of development alternative to Wilber's spectrum model.

- Hameed Ali, under the pen name A. H. Almaas, The Pearl Beyond Price.

- Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth.

- Michael Murphy and Steve Donovan, The Physical and Physiological Effects of Meditation, a comprehensive review of all published studies of meditation.


- Deepak Chopra, Quantum Healing, marks a significant turning point in the popularization of the role of consciousness in health and well-being.

- Stanislav and Christina Grof publish Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis, which distinguishes between psychosis and potentially liberating spiritual openings.

- Marija Gimbutas, The Language of the Goddess.

- Huston Smith, Beyond the Postmodern Mind.

- George Feuerstein, ed., Enlightened Sexuality.

- William Irwin Thompson, Imaginary Landscapes.

- Dalai Lama awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.


- Warwick Fox, Toward a Transpersonal Ecology

- Arthur Hastings, With the Tongues of Men and Angels, a scholarly review of the channeling phenomenon.

- Robert Forman, ed., The Problem of Pure Consciousness.

- Roger Walsh, The Spirit of Shamanism.

- Gary Zukav, The Seat of the Soul.

- Morris Berman, Coming to Our Senses: Body and Spirit in the Hidden History of the West.

- Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, Flow: The Psychology of Optimum Experience, argues that a broad range of transpersonal experiences can be attributed to the common experience of "flow."

- Jeanne Achterberg, Woman As Healer.

- Gary Doore, ed., What Survives: Contemporary Explorations of Life After Death.

- John Nelson's Healing the Split, explores the relation of madness to transcendence, drawing on major consciousness theorists.

- Founding of the journal Anthropology of Consciousness.


- Francisco Varela, Evan Thompson, and Eleanor Rosch, The Embodied Mind, a fusion of Buddhism, Merleau-Ponty and research into cognitive science and the immune system.

- Joanna Macy, World As Lover, World As Self.

- Richard Tarnas' Passion of the Western Mind, overviews Western history through the lens of the transformation of consciousness.

- Michael Mahoney, Human Change Processes: The Scientific Foundations of Psychotherapy.

- Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality.

- Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe.

- Jacob Needleman's Money and the Meaning of Life, turns a transformative lens on a largely neglected area in spiritual circles.

- Howard Rheingold, Virtual Realities.

- Charlene Spretnak, States of Grace: The Recovery of Meaning in the Postmodern Age.

- Sam Keen, Fire in the Belly.


- Michael Murphy writes The Future of the Body, the most comprehensive compendium yet published of evidence for metanormal capacities in human beings.

- Theodore Roszak, The Voice of the Earth.

- Michael Murphy and George Leonard initiate a two-year experimental class in what they called Integral Transformative Practice, a program combining meditation, imaging, affirmations, intellectual study, physical discipline, nutrition, and group work.

- Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry's The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era, tells the epic story of the creation of the universe combining scientific accuracy and poetic vision.

- Al Gore, Earth in the Balance, reflects penetration of ecological consciousness and human potential movement into upper echelons of government.

- Founding of "What is Enlightenment" magazine by Andrew Cohen

- Margaret Wheatley writes Leadership and the New Science, popular extrapolation of new science and consciousness movement principles into organizational theory, very influential in business world.

- Michael Lerner, ed., Tikkun -- To Heal, Repair, and Restore the World: An Anthology.

- Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul.


- James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy, pop spiritual adventure book based loosely on human potential principles taps unseen vein of interest in publishing, becoming a runaway bestseller.

- Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, quickly surpasses the important milestone of 100,000 copies sold, reflecting Buddhism's growing popularity.

- Roger Walsh and Frances Vaughan, eds., Paths Beyond Ego.

- First of two conferences at Esalen, convened by Theodore Roszak, to consolidate and articulate the outlines of the field of Ecopsychology. (6/12-6/18)

- J. Kramer and D. Alstad, The Guru Papers, a harsh indictment of the abuse of power in hierarchical guru relationships.

- Duane Elgin, Awakening Earth: Exploring the Human Dimensions of Evolution.

- Brendan O'Regan and Caryle Hirshberg, Spontaneous Remission: An Annotated Bibliography, the most comprehensive survey of the subject.


- Ralph Abraham, Chaos, Gaia, Eros: A Chaos Pioneer Uncovers the Three Great Streams of History.


- Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality: The Spirit of Evolution. Wilber's magnum opus, presents four-quadrant model of evolution (inner/outer, individual/collective) in an attempt to create a comprehensive integral philosophy.

- Daniel Goleman, Emotional Intelligence, argues that our emotional intelligence might be more central to our capacity to deal succesfully with the world than traditional measures of intelligence.

- Stuart Kauffman, At Home in the Universe, a version of complexity theory which posits "order for free" as the result of sufficient diversity and complexity. His basic ideas are extended into human domains as well.

- Daniel Matt, The Essence of Kabbalah, popularization of mystical Judaism, part of the revitalization of Western traditions.

- Andrew Harvey, The Return of the Mother, articulates the revival of the divine feminine principle in major world religions.

- George Leonard and Michael Murphy, The Life We Are Given

- Rabbi Zalman Schacter-Shalomi, From Age-ing to Sage-ing, introduces concept of Spiritual Eldering, revising visions of retirement and old age.

- Don Hanlon Johnson, ed., Bone, Breath, and Gesture: Practices of Embodiment, the first of three edited volumes that articulate the contours of the Somatics field.

- Frances Vaughan, Shadows of the Sacred: Seeing Through Spiritual Illusions.

- First State of the World Forum (October).


- William Irwin Thompson, Coming Into Being: Artifacts and Texts in the Evolution of Consciousness.

- Jenny Wade, Changes of Mind: A Holonomic Theory of the Evolution of Consciousness.

- Michael Lerner, The Politics of Meaning: Restoring Hope and Possibility in an Age of Cynicism.

- Bruce Scotton, Allen Chinen, and John Battista, eds., Textbook of Transpersonal Psychiatry and Psychology.

- James Hillman, The Soul's Code.

- Jean Houston, A Mythic Life.

- Paul Ray completes his social survey on an emerging integral culture, a group he numbers at 44 million US adults, all of whom share "values focused on spiritual transformation, ecological sustainability, and the worth of the feminine."

- Experiments by Marilyn Schiltz and Richard Wiseman provide strong evidence of experimenter effects on the success or failure of psychical research. Presented at the 39th Parapsychological Association Convention.


- Dean Radin, The Conscious Universe, comprehensive overview of the scientific evidence for psi phenomena.

- Marianne Williamson, The Healing of America, a turn from the inner world to political and social action.

- Willis Harman and Maya Porter, eds., The New Business of Business: Sharing Responsibility for a Positive Global Future.

- Lama Surya Das, Awakening the Buddha Within.


- Stanislav Grof, The Cosmic Game, the capstone work for this pioneering psychiatrist, charts the metaphysical insights gleaned from thousands of non-ordinary state sessions over four decades.

- Willis Harman and Elisabet Sahtouris, Biology Revisioned, examines the repercussions of including consciousness in biology.

- Andrew Harvey, Son of Man, radical revisioning of Jesus Christ through a mystical lens, also reflects the turning Westward of the consciousness movement.

- Erik Davis, Techgnosis, explores the magic, mythic, and spiritual fabric of the growing world of information technologies.

- Barbara Marx Hubbard, Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential.

- Ken Wilber, The Marriage of Sense and Soul, first book of consciousness movement to be publicly endorsed by the President and Vice-President of America.

- Kenneth Ring, Lessons From the Light: What We Can Learn from the Near-Death Experience.

- Ian Stevenson, Reincarnation and Biology, extends study of reincarnation evidence to include birthmarks and physical deformities.

- David Ray Griffin, Unsnarling the World-Knot: Consciousness, Freedom, and the Mind-Body Problem.


- Collected Works of Ken Wilber, a first for a living psychologist, reflects the growing popularity of the integral vision.


- Wilber founds the Integral Institute.

This timeline was heavily influenced by three sources in particular: Jorge Ferrer's unpublished chronology of the East-West encounter, Richard Tarnas' timeline in Passion of the Western Mind, and John David Ebert's timeline in Twilight of the Clockwork God: Conversations on Science and Spirituality at the End of an Age.

Richard Maurice Bucke (1837-1902)

It was in the early spring at the beginning of his thirty-sixth year. He and two friends had spent the evening reading Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Browning, and especially Whitman. They parted at midnight, and he had a long drive in a hansom. ...His mind, deeply under the influence of the ideas, images, and emotions called up by reading and talk of the evening, was calm and peaceful. He was in a state of quiet, almost passive enjoyment. All at once, without warning of any kind, he found himself wrapped around as it were by a flame-coloured cloud...he knew that the light was within himself. Directly afterwards came upon him a sense of exaltation, of immense joyousness accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination quite impossible to describe... he saw and knew that the cosmos is not dead matter but a living Presence, that the soul of man is immortal, that the universe is so ordered that without any peradventure all things work together for the good of each and all, that the foundation principle of the world is what we call love and that the happiness of every one in the long run is absolutely certain.


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Dąbrowski Handout: Session two.

For a link to Claire Graves and the subsequent work of Don Beck on Spiral Dynamics, see the link on the Dąbrowski web page.

I noted that Dąbrowski is mentioned in Howard Bloom's recent book (he sees a link between Dąbrowski and J. Kagan): Howard Bloom (2000) Global Brain: The Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big Bang to the 21st Century. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Colin Wilson. He is a prolific English author who has written many books on psychology and spiritual matters. His first book is a classic on the maladjusted individual: The Outsider, done in the mid 50s and out in many reprint editions. A recent, nice book he did was Atlas of holy places & sacred sites (1996) DK Publishing. His latest book is called Rogue Messiahs, 2000.


"Philosophia Perennis - ["Perennial Philosophy"] the phrase was coined by Leibniz; but the thing -- the metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being -- the thing is immemorial and universal. Rudiments of the Perennial Philosophy may be found among the traditionary lore of primitive peoples in every region of the world, and in its fully developed forms it has a place in every one of the higher religions." Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy

Autopoiesis: Autopoiesis literally means "self-reproduction," and expresses a fundamental complementarity between structure and function. More precisely, the term refers to the dynamics of non-equilibrium structures; that is, organized states (sometimes also called dissipative structures) that remain stable for long periods of time despite matter and energy continually flowing through them. A vivid example of a nonequilibrium structure is the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, which is essentially a gigantic whirlpool of gases in Jupiter's upper atmosphere. This vortex has persisted for a much longer time (on the order of centuries) than the average amount of time any one gas molecule has spent within it.

Another definition: AUTOPOIESIS: (F. Varela) the process whereby an organization produces itself. An autopoietic organization is an autonomous and self-maintaining unity which contains component-producing processes. The components, through their interaction, generate recursively the same network of processes which produced them. A cell, an organism, and perhaps a corporation are examples of autopoietic systems. . . . . Autopoiesis is a process whereby a system produces its own organization and maintains and constitutes itself in a space: e.g., a biological cell, a living organism and to some extend a corporation and a society as a whole.

ALLOPOIESIS: (Francisco Varela) the process whereby an organization produces something other than the organization itself. An assembly line is an example of an allopoietic system.

[In our approach, personality must be autopoietic, arising {somehow} from within the individual, not created allopoietically (externally) by the assembly line of

EQUIFINALITY: (Von Bertalanffy) a condition in which different initial conditions lead to similar effects, lead to the same end product.

MULTIFINALITY: a condition in which similar initial conditions lead to different end effects.

[There is NO ONE PATHWAY to development. As Van Morrison says, "No Guru, No teacher, No method." Dąbrowski describes a general process (positive disintegration) not a pathway to reach development.]

GENERAL SYSTEMS THEORY: [L. Von Bertalanffy] A scientific effort to identify concepts characteristic of organized wholes such as interactions, sums, mechanization, centralization, competition, finality, etc, and to apply them to concrete phenomena. Examples are the generalizations on the levels of cells, simple organs, open self-maintaining organisms, small groups of organisms, society and the universe.


Systems Theory: the transdisciplinary study of the abstract organization of phenomena, independent of their substance, type, or spatial or temporal scale of existence. It investigates both the principles common to all complex entities, and the (usually mathematical) models which can be used to describe them.

Systems theory was proposed in the 1940's by the biologist Ludwig von Bertalanffy: General Systems Theory, (1968), and furthered by Ross Ashby (Introduction to Cybernetics, 1956). von Bertalanffy was both reacting agaInst reductionism and attempting to revive the unity of science. He emphasized that real systems are open to, and interact with, their environments, and that they can acquire qualitatively new properties through emergence, resulting in continual evolution. Rather than reducing an entity (e.g. the human body) to the properties of its parts or elements (e.g. organs or cells), systems theory focuses on the arrangement of and relations between the parts which connect them into a whole (cf. holism). This particular organization determines a system, which is independent of the concrete substance of the elements (e.g. particles, cells, transistors, people, etc). Thus, the same concepts and principles of organization underlie the different disciplines (physics, biology, technology, sociology, etc.), providing a basis for their unification. Systems concepts include: system-environment boundary, input, output, process, state, hierarchy, goal-directedness, and information.


Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901--1972)

by Sabine Brauckmann

Was one of the most important theoretical biologists of the first half of this century; researched on comparative physiology, on biophysics, on cancer, on psychology, on philosophy of science ...

Developed a kinetic theory of stationary open systems and the General System Theory, was one of the founding fathers and vice-president of the Society for General System Theory, and one of the first who applied the system methodology to psychology and the social sciences ...

Held positions at the University of Vienna (1934-48), the University of Ottawa (1950-54), the Mount Sinai Hospital (Los Angeles) (1955-58), the University of Alberta (1961-68), State University of New York (SUNY) (1969-72)...

Here are some quotes from Bertalanffy that illustrate his approach:

"It appears that the S-R and psychoanalytic model is a highly unrealistic picture of human nature and, in its consequences, a rather dangerous one. Just what we consider to be specific human achievements can hardly be brought under the utilitarian, homeostasis, and stimulus-response scheme. One may call mountain climbing, composing of sonatas or lyrical poems "psychological homeostasis" - as has been done - but at the risk that this physiologically well-defined concept loses all meaning. Furthermore, if the principle of homeostatic maintenance is taken as a golden rule of behavior, the so-called well-adjusted individual will be the ultimate goal, that is the well-oiled robot maintaining itself in optimal biological, psychological and social homeostasis. This is Brave New World - not, for some at least, the ideal state of humanity. Furthermore, that precarious mental equilibrium must not be disturbed: hence, in what rather ironically is called progressive education, the anxiety not to overload the child, not to impose constraints and to minimize all directing influences - with the result of a previously unheard-of crop of illiterates and juvenile delinquents.

In contrast to conventional theory, it can safely be maintained that not only stresses and tensions but equally complete release from stimuli and the consequent mental void may be neurosogenic or even psychosogenic. Experimentally this is verified by the experiments with sensory deprivation when subjects, insulated from all incoming stimuli, after a few hours develop a so-called model psychosis with hallucinations, unbearable anxiety, etc. Clinically it amounts to the same when insulations leads to prisoners' psychosis and to exacerbation of mental disease by isolation of patients in the ward. In contrast, maximal stress need not necessarily produce mental disturbance. If conventional theory were correct, Europe during and after the war, with extreme physiological as well as psychological stresses, should have been a gigantic lunatic asylum. As a matter of fact, there was statistically no increase either in neurotic or psychotic disturbances, apart from easily explained acute disturbances such as combat neurosis (see Chapter 9).

So we arrive at the conception that a great deal of biological and human behavior is beyond the principles of utility, homeostasis and stimulus-response, and that it is just this which is characteristic of human and cultural activities. Such a new look opens new perspectives not only in theory but in practical implications with respect to mental hygiene, education, and society in general. (See Chapter 9).

What has been said can also be couched in philosophical terms. If existentialists speak of the emptiness and meaninglessness of life, if they see in it a source not only of anxiety, but of actual mental illness, it is essentially the same viewpoint: that behavior is not merely a matter of satisfaction of biological drives and of maintenance in psychological and social equilibrium but that something more is involved. If life becomes unbearably empty in an industrialized society, what can a person do but develop a neurosis? The principle, what may loosely be called spontaneous activity of the psychophysical organism, is a more realistic formulation of what the existentialists want to say in their often obscure language. And if personality theorists like Maslow or Gardner Murphy speak of self-realization as human goal, it is again a somewhat pompous expression of the same." (Bertalanffy, pps. 108-109, 1968).

In another quote: "man is not only a political animal; he is, before and above all, an individual. The real values of humanity are not those which it shares with biological entities, the function of an organism or a community of animals, but those which stem from the individual mind. Human society is not a community of ants or termites, governed by inherited instinct and controlled by the laws of the superordinate whole; it is based upon the achievements of the individual and is doomed if the individual is made a cog in the social machine" (Bertalanffy, pps. 52-53, 1968).

"Life is not a comfortable settling down in pre-ordained grooves of being; at its best, it is elan vital, inexorably driven towards a higher form of existence. Admittedly, this is metaphysics and poetic simile; but so, after all, is any image we try to form of the driving forces of the universe. . . . . It is along such lines that a new model or image of man seems to be emerging. We may briefly characterize it as the model of man as active personality system. This, it appears, is the common denominator of many otherwise different currents such as developmental psychology after Piaget and Werner, various neo-Freudian schools, ego psychology, the ‘new look' in perception, recent theory in cognition, personality theories such as those of Allport and Maslow, new approaches in education, existential psychology and others" (Bertalanffy, pps. 192-193, 1968).

"Such a new ‘image of man,' replacing the robot concept by that of a system, emphasizing immanent activity instead of outer-directed reactivity, and recognizing the specificity of human culture compared to animal behavior, should lead to a basic reevaluation of problems of education, training, psychotherapy, and human attitudes in general" (Bertalanffy, p. 194, 1968).

Systems: A looser and more general view of systems and systems theory has evolved: any set of components together with the relations connecting them to form a whole unity.

-Maturana, H. & Varela, F. (1987). The Tree of Knowledge: A new look at the biological roots of human understanding. Shambhala/New Science Library, Boston. An outstanding and very understandable book on systems of life.

-Maturana, H. & Varela, F. (1980). Autopoiesis and Cognition: The realization of the living. D. REIDEL, Boston. Very technical and academic book, introduced the idea of Autopoiesis.


I mentioned L. Szondi in reference to the Dąbrowski Faces test. There is a whole institute devoted to Szondi. Here is an essay that gives an excellent context to Dąbrowski's faces test:

The Szondi Test by ALBERT RABIN, Ph.D. 1952


Over a period of more than a decade, the Hungarian psychiatrist, Leopold Szondi, evolved a number of genetic and psychological theories that became the forerunners of the Szondi test.

Szondi arrived at a sort of genetic determinism, which is a variety of a general philosophical theory of predestination. He himself claims, however, that his work is not philosophical but biological and bio-psychological. His first book, the "Schicksalanalyse" (Fate analysis), presents the chief tenets of his biological theory, which may be stated, briefly, as follows. [Schicksalanalysis was an important movement in European psychology/psychiatry, related to "depth psychology" see below]

The latent hereditary factors in human beings, the recessive genes, do not remain dormant or inactive within the human organism, but exert a very important and even decisive influence upon its behavior. This latent or recessive gene theory claims that these non-dominant hereditary factors determine the Object selection, voluntary and involuntary, of the individual. The drives resulting from these latent genes, therefore, direct the individual's selection of love objects, friendships, occupations, diseases, and forms of death. Hence, from the very beginning of the human's existence there is a hidden plan of life guided by the before mentioned drives. As a corollary, the process of genotropism is developed. Genotropism becomes manifest when two people, because of similar, identical, or related latent genetic elements-the recessive genes-become attracted to each other. Hence, this genotropic attraction determines the choice of love partners, ideals, and friendships.

A detailed psychological and psychotechnological extension of the genetic formulations appears in Szondi's second major work.

He feels that "drives," which come forth as a result, of the latent hereditary elements, constitute an intermediate layer of the unconscious. Whereas Freud dealt chiefly with the "Personal Unconscious", and C.G. Jung emphasized the importance of the "Collective Unconscious", Szondi has proposed another level of the unconscious the "Familial Unconscious". According to Szondi, this area has been hitherto unexplored. The familial unconscious, which lies between the Personal and Collective Unconscious, is the source from which the "repressed ancestors" direct the selective behaviour of the individual.

To quote Szondi: "Freudian psychoanalysis" is the ontogeny, "Schicksalanalyse" the genealogy, and Jung's "Analytical Psychology", the archaeology of the deep mental processes."

Despite the voluminous genealogical material presented by Szondi, it is doubtful whether modern genetics would be willing to lend any support to his theory.

At best, it may be said that the effects of the latent recessive genes upon the behavior of organisms in general and of the human species in particular is open to question. Moreover, the determination of dominance and recessiveness of psychological characteristics is a very difficult and laborious process that will require many more years of research and investigation.

Historically, the Szondi test is an outgrowth of Szondi's genetic and psychological theories; but it need not be bound or determined by them. It may be considered separately as an instrument of personality analysis -without adoption of its avowed theoretical antecedents.

The Szondi test materials consist of 48 cards bearing the portraits of individuals representing eight psychiatric diagnoses:


The subject is seated facing the examiner. The cards of the first set are laid flat on the table in front of the subject, in two horizontal rows of four each, and in the order indicated on the back of the cards as shown in Figure 1. The subject is then instructed as follows:

"Pick out the two pictures you like best (or most)." After the selection is made he is told: "Now, select the two you dislike most!" The examiner then records the numbers of the cards (or the corresponding initials of diagnosis of the cards) that are "liked," and that are "disliked." The same procedure is repeated with the remaining five sets. The same instructions are usually repeated with every set presented. The results of the selections and rejections are recorded for each set, as described above.


At the end of each testing period, a profile based on the choices and rejections of the subject is constructed. The profile is a graphic representation of the results and gives the picture at a glance. It also facilitates comparisons with other profiles obtained on the same or other individuals.


Historically, depth psychology, a term coined by Eugen Bleuler, has come to refer to the ongoing development of theories and therapies created by Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, and C. G. Jung. The modern version of this tripod is:

-Psychoanalytic (includes object relations and Kohut's Self Psychology)

-Adlerian (from Adler's Individual Psychology)

-Jungian (includes Jung's Analytical Psychology and Hillman's Archetypal Psychology)

I [the author of the web page] would also emphasize the influence of transpersonal psychology (which itself includes humanistic and Far Eastern currents), although not all depth-oriented practitioners would agree, and existentialism, which has worked its way into the psychotherapy world primarily via Rollo May and his protégé Stephen Diamond.

Broadly speaking, depth psychology operates according to the following working assumptions:

-The psyche is a process--one could say: a verb rather than a noun--that is partly conscious and partly unconscious. The unconscious in turn contains repressed experiences and other personal-level issues in its "upper" layers and "transpersonal" (i.e. collective, non-I, archetypal) forces in its depths.

-The psyche is irreducible to either neurochemistry or some "higher" spiritual reality: it is a "third" between matter and spirit that must be taken on its own terms. This principle is known as "psychic objectivity" (Jung, Edinger). (Archetypalists, who represent an offshoot of classical Jungian psychology, refer to the psyche's in-between quality as "liminal" or "imaginal.").

-The psyche spontaneously generates mythico-religious symbolism and is therefore spiritual as well as instinctive in nature. A clinical implication of this is that the choice of whether to be a spiritual person or not doesn't exist; the only question is exactly where we put our spirituality: do we live it consciously or unknowingly invest it in nonspiritual aspirations (perfectionism, addictions, greed, fame) that eventually possess us by virtue of their ignored but frightfully potent numinous [evincing the presence of a deity] power?

-Symptoms represent important unconscious messages to oneself and should be managed—if necessary, through psychotherapy or pharmacology or both—but not indiscriminately silenced. ("The gods have become diseases," as Jung wrote.) Symptom is one way by which the psyche tells us that we're not listening to its deeper voices.

-There is a "seat of meaningful experience" (Corbett) where the psyche's personal and transpersonal poles meet; this seat is referred to as soul. One of depth psychology's aims is to bring discussion of soul back into psychology. (See the work of Hillman, Moore, Sardello, and Watkins.)

-Soulfulness is considered a subjectivity that extends everywhere; everything has a "within," as Schopenhauer and Teilhard de Chardin believed. The depth practitioner's mission is to enrich the depth of life by being a witness to this subjectivity.

-Depth psychology rejects as philosophically archaic the absolute Cartesian split between self and other and instead posits a shifting interactive field of subjective and objective activities. A projection, for instance, is seen as dancing imaginally in the space between the "sender" and the "receiver" of it.

-An implication of interactivity is that "objective" research when applied to the psyche is limited and even fictionalized by the fact that we change whatever we study. Whereas empirical investigation uncovers only those facets of the psyche that are easily quantified, depth psychology deconstructs this would-be empiricism by envisioning the psyche studying itself as a "hall of mirrors" (Romanyshyn) in which a consciousness sensitized to its own relativity participates in perpetually reflected

-realities.Traditional depth-psychological thought carried all the misogynistic misinformation and cultural biases of the nineteenth century. The depth psychology of today critiques the equation of gender with sex, dispenses with theoretical constructs that reinforce old stereotypes about women and men (e.g., mothers as the primary source of later psychopathology; women = passively yin and men = actively yang, etc.), and investigates the psyche in its biological, cultural, personal, and archetypal context.

-For the depth practitioner, goals of health or wholeness have less significance than the cultivation of soulfulness (or "eudaimonism," as Stephen Diamond terms the conscious relationship to the daimonic [see related essay] life within). What may be risky, painful, confusing, or even disastrous for a person's conscious life might well be enriching to that person's soul. Notice that this turns the current standards of the psychology industry on their heads.

-Personal symptoms, conflicts, and stucknesses contain a mythic or transpersonal/archetypal core that when interpreted can reintroduce the client to the meaning of his struggles (e.g., the pain of leaving home can be reimagined as the ageless adventure of the wanderer setting out into the unknown). The danger in tending only to the transpersonal is inflation of the ego (e.g., pie-in-the-sky New Ageism); the danger in reductively focusing only on the personal is narcissistic devaluation of spiritual experiences.

-Work on the personal level is a prelude to work on the transpersonal level; for that reason, one must undergo various sorts of psychological initiations into adulthood—ideally, with the help of wiser and more mature adults--in order to attain the maturity to stand later encounters with those numinous (Otto), or highly charged, manifestations of the transpersonal psyche which in aboriginal cultures have always been considered signs of normality and vitality.

-Because we have a psychical share in all that surrounds us, we are sane and whole only to the degree that we care for our environment and tend responsibly to the world in which we live.

Also see https://www.intensivejournal.org/ for a bio of an important depth psychologist, Ira Progoff, originator of the Intensive Journal. "Since the 1950's, Dr. Progoff has devoted his life to the exploration of new ways to encourage creativity and to enhance individual growth. He is a leading authority on C.G. Jung, depth psychology and transpersonal psychology as well as journal writing."

Dąbrowski felt that writing an autobiography (and/or journal writing) are important parts of autopsychotherapy.


It is difficult to locate the roots of the crisis intervention model; however, most crisis theorists agree that the work of Erich Lindemann (1944) was pivotal in developing the model as it is known today. Much of Lindemann's work focused on the grief reactions of people who lost loved ones in the tragic Coconut Grove Nightclub fire in 1942. He published the reactions to this crisis in an article titled "Symptomology and Management of Acute Grief," which appeared in the September 1944 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. If the reader were to review this article, one finding would be obvious—the absence of any reference to crisis, crisis theory, or crisis intervention. It was not until the mid-1960s that these terms became popular. Even so, Lindemann described so well the symptoms that people display as they react to the death of a loved one.

Lindemann continued his writings into the 1950s and was joined at the Wellesley Human Relations Center by another psychiatrist, Gerald Caplan. Caplan (1964) took the term "homeostasis" that was developed earlier by Walter Cannon [see below] and adapted it to crisis theory to show how a person in crisis has exceeded his homeostatic or equilibrium capacities. [This was a firm basis for the idea that the norm of psychological health is homeostasis and that any crisis or deviation from homeostasis was pathology - to be avoided and treated ASAP. This approach gives little room for Dąbrowski's idea that crisis could be healthy or positive] Caplan went on to describe the four stages that characterize a crisis and added that these stages last five to eight weeks. Along with these theoretical contributions, Caplan (1960, 1965) also wrote a series of articles wherein he discussed how a therapist can aid a mother and other family members who are struggling with the crisis of a premature birth. In contrast to the literature of the 1950s which is only sprinkled with articles about crisis intervention, the literature of the 1960s explodes with articles and books about crisis intervention theory and practice. Much of this explosion can be attributed to the passage of the Comprehensive Mental Health Act of 1963. This piece of federal legislation provided for the funding of community mental health centers across the country. One of the community services provided by these centers was 24-hour emergency or crisis care.

-Caplan, G. (1960). Patterns of parental response to the crisis of premature birth: A preliminary approach to modifying mental-health outcomes. Psychiatry, 23(4), 365-374.

-Caplan, G. (1964). Principles of preventive psychiatry. New York: Basic

-Books.Caplan, G. et al. (1965). Four studies of crisis in parents of prematures. Community Mental Health Journal, 9(2), 149-161.

-Lindemann, E. (1944). Symptomology and management of acute grief American Journal of Psychiatry, 101(9), 141-148.

[Walter Cannon: 1871-1945, an important American physiologist who also advanced an important theory of emotion. His theory was critical of the other major approach to emotions - the James-Lange theory.]

"According to the James-Lange theory, the experience of emotion results from awareness of the physiological responses to emotion-arousing stimuli. According to the Cannon-Bard theory, an emotion-arousing stimulus is simultaneously routed to the cortex, which causes the subjective experience of emotion, and to the sympathetic nervous system, which causes the body's physiological arousal. In criticizing the James-Lange theory, Walter Cannon argued that the body's responses were not sufficiently distinct to trigger the different emotions. The James-Lange theory has recently received support from evidence showing that there are physiological distinctions among the emotions and that emotions are diminished when the brain's awareness of the body's reactions is reduced. However, many researchers continue to agree with Cannon and Bard that the experience of emotion also involves cognitive activity."

"The James-Lange Theory: William James (1884) proposed that the body takes the lead in emotional situations. Feelings are mental responses to the changes that have already occurred in the autonomic nervous system, muscles, and glands. The body reacts automatically to the situation, then the qualities associated with anger or rage are experienced. Karl Lange independently proposed basically the same kind of explanation in 1885. This viewpoint is know as the James-Lange Theory.

The Cannon- Bard Theory- Walter Cannon first raised objections to the to the James-Lange Theory and subsequently developed a different approach. He asserted that two different parts of the brain, the thalamus and the hypothalamus, process emotional inputs simultaneously. The thalamus controls emotional feelings while the hypothalamus controls bodily responses. This concept is know as the Cannon- Bard Theory since Philip Bard advanced almost the same viewpoint in 1927.

An Essay on the Daimon.

dai·mon: Greek Mythology 1. An inferior deity, such as a deified hero. 2. An attendant spirit; a genius. (Pronounced day-mon or die-mon).

demon: 1. An evil supernatural being; a devil. 2. A persistently tormenting person, force, or passion: "the demon of drug addiction." 3. One who is extremely zealous, skilful, or diligent: "worked away like a demon; a real demon at math."

de·mon·ic: 1. Befitting a demon; fiendish. 2. Motivated by a spiritual force or genius; inspired.

Rollo May (1909 - 1994), the best known American existential psychologist, was an important figure in advancing the concept of the daimonic.

Many of May's unique ideas can be found in his book Love and Will. In his efforts at reconciling Freud and the existentialists, he turns his attention to motivation. May's basic motivational construct is the daimonic. The daimonic, in turn, is composed of a broad collection of daimons. The word daimon is from the Greek, and means little god. It comes to us as demon, with a very negative connotation. But originally, a daimon could be bad or good. Daimons include lower needs, such as food and sex, as well as higher needs, such as love. Basically, May says, a daimon is anything that can take over the person, a situation he refers to as daimonic possession. It is then, when the balance among daimons is disrupted, that they should be considered "evil."

One of the most important daimons is eros. Eros is love (not sex), and in Greek mythology was a little god pictured as a young man (before being trivialized as Cupid).

Another important concept for May is will: The ability to organize oneself in order to achieve one's goals. This makes will roughly synonymous with ego and reality-testing, but with its own store of energy, as in ego psychology. I suspect he got the notion from Otto Rank, who uses will in the same way. May hints that will, too, is a daimon that can potentially take over the person.

The human, insofar as it is human, dwells in the nearness of divine-likeness which is the daimonic (not to be confused with the demonic or daemonic) (Heidegger 1962: 296).

Stephen A. Diamond, PhD is a clinical and forensic psychologist who practised psychotherapy in the San Francisco Bay Area for the past twenty years. He recently relocated to Los Angeles. A former pupil and protégée of Dr. Rollo May.

Diamond, S. A. & May, R. (1996). Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic: The Psychological Genesis of Violence, Evil, and Creativity. New York: State Univ of New York Press.

From Amazon books: In Anger, Madness, and the Daimonic clinical psychologist Stephen Diamond considers the ancient Greek concept of the daimonic (a term also favored by James Hillman) as a unified life-force with potential for both good and evil, in an effort to revitalize our psychology of human evil, psychopathology, and creativity. Diamond argues for the use of existential depth psychology as the most promising approach to dealing with daimonic tendencies in individuals and society. ...bear(s) reading and rereading and, I feel certain, will continue to reward readers who wish to have their most deeply felt ideas challenged at nearly every turn.

Excerpts of a book review. "A special characteristic of the daimonic model is that it considers both creativity on one side, and anger and rage on the other side, as coming from the same source. That is, constructiveness and destructiveness have the same source in human personality. The source is simply human potential," (author's italics) from the foreword by Rollo May (xxi).

The central concept of this book is the daimonic, which can be described as any

naturalfunction with the power to control the emotions. Sex, anger, rage, the search for power, creativity are such precipitators. It is only when such affects assert and perpetuate themselves that they become evil. One of the Greek concepts was that the daimonic is a union of good and evil that is responsible for the creativity of the poet, artist, musician, writer, etc. Existential depth psychology aims to transform this force by avoiding its repression and suppression. "The task of the therapist is to conjure up the devils rather than put them to sleep, "-- Rollo May (p. 181).

Book chapter from Zweig, C. & Abrams, J. (eds.). (1991). Meeting the Shadow : The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature Los Angeles: Tharcher.

Redeeming Our Devils and Demons By Stephen A. Diamond (pps. 180-186).

A preoccupation with the perplexing problem of evil is not new to psychology--though it is certainly timely. Freud wrestled with this thorny issue, as have many other psychologists and psychiatrists in this century, including Jung, Fromm, May, Menninger, Lifton, and recently, M. Scott Peck.

Freud's solution took the form of an evil "death instinct" (Thanatos) doing eternal battle with a good "life instinct" (Eros), with evil ever dominating this tragic duel. Jung, drawing on Nietzsche's philosophy, preferred "the term 'shadow' to that of 'evil' in order to differentiate between individual evil and evil in collective morality."[1] His position, rooted in a Swiss-Protestant tradition of individual conscience, was that social morality cannot be considered the causal source of evil, but only "becomes negative [i.e., evil] whenever the individual takes its commandments and prohibitions as absolutes, and ignores his other impulsions. It is not the cultural canon itself, therefore, but the moral attitude of the individual which we must hold responsible for what is pathological, negative and evil."[2]

Prefiguring Peck, Rollo May steadfastly has held that in America we still comprehend little of evil's true nature, and thus are pitifully ill-prepared to deal with it. May echoes Jung's warning to Europe: "Evil has become a determinant reality. It can no longer be dismissed from the world by a circumlocution. We must learn to handle it, since it is here to stay. How we can live with it without terrible consequences cannot for the present be conceived."[3]

Following the lead of his long-time teacher and friend, theologian Paul Tillich, May introduced the daimonic as a concept designed to rival the "devil," the traditional Judeo-Christian symbol of cosmic evil. It is May's contention that the term, the devil, "is unsatisfactory because it projects the power outside the self and opens the way for all kinds of psychological projection."[4]

Peck, whose writing has been compared to May's by some, focuses mainly on the spiritual/theological domain; his current belief system is conventionally Christian. Peck draws a distinction between human evil and demonic evil. He sees human evil as a specific form of mental illness," a chronic, insidious kind of "malignant narcissism." Peck believes demonic evil, however, to be supernatural in origin, a direct product of "possession by minor demons" or by Satan, for which exorcism is the necessary treatment.[5]

In my estimation, Jung's concept of the shadow and, in particular, May's less familiar model of the daimonic, have paved the way toward a more progressive psychology of evil. Because the daimonic stands in contrast to Peck' s premise of the demonic, it is worthwhile to examine May's model in more detail.


Devils and demons have long been seen as the source and personification of evil. Freud suggests that native peoples projected their hostility onto imaginary demons. Moreover, he considered it "quite possible that the whole conception of demons was derived from the extremely important relation to the dead," adding that "nothing testifies so much to the influence of mourning on the origin of belief in demons as the fact that demons were always taken to be the spirits of persons not long dead."[6]

Historically, demons have served as scapegoats and repositories for all sorts of unacceptable, threatening human impulses and emotions, especially surrounding the inescapable fact of death. But the popular, one-sidedly negative view of demons is simplistic and psychologically unsophisticated. For Freud informs us that demons, though feared at first by our forebears, were also instrumental in the mourning process. Once confronted and integrated by the mourners, these same evil demons were "revered as ancestors and appealed to for help in times of distress."[7]

Referring to the medieval idea of the "daemonic," Jung writes that "demons are nothing other than intruders from the unconscious, spontaneous irruptions of the unconscious complexes into the continuity of the conscious process. Complexes are comparable to demons which fitfully harass our thought and actions; hence in antiquity and the Middle Ages acute neurotic disturbances were conceived as possession."[8]

Indeed, prior to the seventeenth-century philosophical revelations of René Descartes, which later gave rise to scientific objectivism, it was commonly believed that an emotional disorder or insanity was literally the work of demons, who in their winged travels would inhabit the unwitting body (or brain) of the unfortunate sufferer. This imagery of invasive flying entities with supernatural powers can still be seen in such euphemisms for insanity as "having bats in the belfry," and in the paranoid patient's certainty of being influenced by aliens in flying saucers.

Descartes' approach, which separated mind and body, subject and object, deemed "real" only that aspect of human experience which is objectively measurable or quantifiable. This advance led, notoriously, to the abject neglect of "irrational," subjective phenomena. His breakthrough was a dubious development in human thought: it enabled late Renaissance people to rid the world of superstition, witchcraft, magic, and the gamut of mythical creatures--both evil and good--in one clean, scientific sweep. But as May laments, "What we did in getting rid of fairies and the elves and their ilk was to impoverish our lives; and impoverishment is not the lasting way to clear men's minds of superstition. . . . Our world became disenchanted; and it leaves us not only out of tune with nature, but with ourselves as well."[9]

Jung's life-long exploration of the powerful, archetypal forces of the unconscious led him to conclude that they "possess a specific energy which causes or compels definite modes of behavior or impulses; that is, they may under certain circumstances have a possessive or obsessive force (numinosity!). The conception of them as daimonia is therefore quite in accord with their nature."[10]

Along similar lines, May reminds us that our modern word demon derives from the classical Greek idea of the daimon, which provides the basis for his mythological model of the daimonic: "The daimonic is any natural function which has the power to take over the whole person. Sex and eros, anger and rage, and the craving for power are examples. The daimonic can be either creative or destructive and is normally both. When this power goes awry, and one element usurps control over the total personality, we have 'daimon possession,' the traditional name through history for psychosis. The daimonic is obviously not an entity but refers to a fundamental, archetypal function of human experience--an existential reality."[11]

According to Jung's disciple Marie-Louise Von Franz, "in pre-Hellenic Greece the demons, as in Egypt, were part of a nameless collectivity."[12] This is the way that May, too, conceives of the daimonic: as an essentially undifferentiated, impersonal, primal force of nature. For the early Greeks, the daimon was both evil and creative; it was the source of destruction as well as spiritual guidance, much like those primitive demons described by Freud. The word daimon was sometimes used by Plato as a synonym for theos or god; and mighty Eros was also a daimon.

Daimons were potentially both good and evil, constructive and destructive, depending upon how the person would relate to them. But later on in history, reports May, during "the Hellenistic and Christian eras, the dualistic split between the good and evil side of the daimon became more pronounced. We now have a celestial population separated into two camps--devils and angels, the formeron the side of their leader, Satan, and the latter allied to God. Though such developments are never fully rationalized, there must have existed in those days the expectation that with this split it would be easier for man to face and conquer the devil."[13]

Contemporary perpetuators of this artificial dichotomy fail to see that we can never hope to conquer our so-called devils and demons by destroying them; we must learn instead to acknowledge and assimilate what they symbolize into our selves and our daily lives. Native peoples managed to achieve this, but it has now become a task for which we modern post-Christians--with our "gods" of science and technology, and even our newly found religions--are poorly equipped.


Today, the devil has largely been reduced to a lifeless concept lacking the kind of authority it once enjoyed. Indeed, for many of us, Satan has become a sign--not a true symbol--of a rejected, unscientific, and superstitious religious system.

Nevertheless, we live in an era when the problem of personal and collective evil appears with alarming regularity in our daily newspaper headlines and nightly television news. Evil, it seems, is everywhere--most visibly in the form of pathological anger and rage, hostility, vicious interpersonal savagery, and so-called senseless violence.

"Violence," writes May, "is the daimonic gone awry. It is 'demon possession' in its starkest form. Our age is one of transition, in which the normal channels for utilizing the daimonic are denied; and such ages tend to be times when the daimonic is expressed in its most destructive form."[14]

These turbulent times force us to come face-to-face with the ugly reality of evil. For lack of a more psychologically accurate, integrating, and meaningful myth, some people seize upon the timeworn symbol of the devil to express their disturbing encounter with the destructive side of the daimonic. The sudden resurgence of such an ancient symbol can be accompanied by a morbid fascination with the devil and demonology, as evidenced by the rapid proliferation of Satanic cults. In my view, the current trend toward Satanism is a tragically misdirected, desperate effort to find some sense of personal significance, belonging, and relationship with the transpersonal realm. Pursuit of these legitimate goals through such perverse--sometimes deadly--behavior bespeaks the dilemma that plagues us. The problem appears to lie in the split between good and evil promulgated by Western religious tradition, a rigid dualism that condemns the daimonic as being evil, and evil only. This is precisely the same misconception we find in Peck's thought.

What we need is a new or renewed conception of that realm of reality represented by the devil, which can include the creative side of this elemental power. For the devil holds truly what Jung might call a coincidentia oppositorum. In fact, the word devil according to May,

comes from the Greek word diabolos; "diabolic" is the term in contemporary English. Diabolos, interestingly enough, literally means "to tear apart" (dia-bollein). Now it is fascinating to note that this diabolic is the antonym of "symbolic." The latter comes from sym-bollein, which means "to throw together," to unite. There lie in these words tremendous implications with respect to an ontology of good and evil. The symbolic is that which draws together, ties, integrates the individual in himself and with his group; the diabolic, in contrast, is that which disintegrates and tears apart. Both of these are present in the daimonic.[15]


While similar, the concepts of the shadow and the daimonic also contain noteworthy differences. May's resurrection of the daimonic model is in part an effort to counteract and correct any movement in modern depth psychology toward dogmatizing, dehumanizing, mechanizing, or otherwise abusing Jung's original conception of the shadow, with its tremendous psychological significance--especially regarding the nature of human evil.

A potential pitfall with the Jungian doctrine of the shadow is the temptation to project evil, not onto some external entity such as the devil, but rather onto "a relatively autonomous 'splinter personality'"[16] residing deep within us--namely, the compensatory "shadow," "stranger," or "other." Thus, instead of saying "The devil made me do it," one could conveniently claim, "The shadow (or the daimonic) made me do it." May seeks to minimize this fragmenting loss of integrity, freedom, and responsibility by retaining in his model of the daimonic "a decisive element, that is, the choice the self asserts to work for or against the integration of the self."[17] The daimonic becomes evil (i.e., demonic) when we begin to deem it so, and subsequently suppress, deny, drug, or otherwise try to exclude it from consciousness. In so doing, we participate in the process of evil, potentiating the violent eruptions of anger, rage, social destructiveness, and assorted psychopathologies that result from the daimonic reasserting itself--with a vengeance--in its most negative forms. When we choose instead to constructively integrate the daimonic into our personality, we participate in the metamorphic process of creativity.

James Hillman reminds us that Jung's personal encounter with the daimonic convinced him of the "great responsibility" placed upon us by its various manifestations. Like Jung, May sees an implicit ethical and moral obligation to carefully choose our response to the often blind, obliging, psychobiological urgings of the daimonic, and to courageously carry out the constructive choices we then make. It is well known that Jung's salvation during his nearly overwhelming inundation by the unconscious was to religiously engage in "active imagination," and the faithful observing and recording--rather than suppressing or acting out--of his subjective experience. This conscious, existential decision, consistently reaffirmed over time, eventually led to Jung becoming, as Hillman says, a "daimonic man."[18]

As envisioned by May, the daimonic includes and incorporates Jung's concepts of the shadow and Self, as well as the archetypes of anima and animus. While Jung differentiates the shadow from the Self, and the personal shadow from the collective and archetypal shadow, May makes no such distinctions. This recalls a recent caution by Marie-Louise von Franz:

We should be skeptical about attempts to relate some of these "souls" or "daimons" to the Jungian concepts of shadow, anima, animus, and Self. It would be a great mistake, as Jung himself often emphasized, to suppose that the shadow, the anima (or animus), and the Self appear separately in a person's unconscious, neatly timed and in definable order....If we look for personifications of the Self among the daimons of antiquity, we see that certain daimons are more like a mixture of shadow and Self, or of animus-anima and Self, and that is, in fact, what they are. In other words, they represent the still undifferentiated "other" unconscious personality of the individual.[19]

Despite these differences, Jung's unifying notion of the shadow serves also to reconcile the sundering imposed upon us by the conflict of opposites. Facing and assimilating our shadows forces the recognition of a totality of being consisting of good and evil, rational and irrational, masculine and feminine, as well as conscious and unconscious polarities. When we consider the psychological concepts of the shadow and the daimonic side-by-side, we are left with the strong impression that both Jung and May are trying to convey the same basic truths about human existence. For Peck, on the other hand, the "demonic" is purely negative, a power so vile it can only be exorcised, expelled, and excluded from consciousness; it has no redeeming qualities and is unworthy of redemption. Clearly, this is not true of the Jungian shadow or of the daimonic.

Psychotherapy is one way of coming to terms with the daimonic. By bravely voicing our inner "demons"--symbolizing those tendencies in us that we most fear, flee from, and hence, are obsessed or haunted by--we transmute them into helpful allies, in the form of newly liberated, life-giving psychic energy, for use in constructive activity. During this process, we come to discover the paradox that many artists perceive: That which we had previously run from and rejected turns out to be the redemptive source of vitality, creativity, and authentic spirituality.

Book Review: Seeds of Success

Date: September 15, 1996, Late Edition - Final

Byline: By Susan Jacoby

THE SOUL'S CODE In Search of Character and Calling.

By James Hillman. 334 pp. New York: Random House.

Be true to your acorn. As you grow up into a mighty oak, don't forget to ''grow down'' into the earth. In a nutshell -- the title of Chapter 1 -- that is the substance of the theory of human development propounded by James Hillman in his new book, a work that subsumes flashes of erudition and insight in a tortuously elaborated yet maddeningly simplistic metaphor.


Mr. Hillman, the former director of the Jung Institute and the author of more than 20 books on subjects ranging from suicide to the limitations of psychotherapy, is not a self-help guru but an intellectual grounded in classical, most notably Platonic, philosophy. Yet ''The Soul's Code: In Search of Character and Calling'' displays the self-help predilection, albeit in descriptive rather than prescriptive form, for a single explanation of human achievement and frailty. Ironically, Mr. Hillman's all-encompassing explanation rests on a passionate belief in the irreducible individuality, independent of both heredity and environment, of each human being. This core of character is described interchangeably as an acorn, soul, calling, the Greek daimon (''in-dwelling spirit''), the Roman genius (also a spirit, not to be confused with the modern definition of genius as extraordinary creative power) and guardian angel. The acorn-angel is innate and may even ''choose'' the right parents to fulfill its destiny. Opting out of the heredity-versus-environment quarrel, the author contends that behavior cannot be explained even by the interplay of nature and nurture, which ''omits something essential -- the particularity you feel to be you.'' We are all victimized, Mr. Hillman further argues, by ''academic, scientistic and even therapeutic psychology, whose paradigms do not sufficiently account for or engage with, and therefore ignore, the sense of calling, that essential mystery at the heart of each human life.''

The pejorative adjective ''scientistic'' provides the first clear signal of the book's direction. Even though he chooses the Nobel Prize-winning geneticist Barbara McClintock as an example of an acorn-honoring achiever, Mr. Hillman goes on to equate empirically based science with belief systems grounded in opinion and faith. Gene-splicing to correct hereditary disorders is placed on the same level as the crackpot notions of men like the 18th-century Viennese-born doctor Franz Josef Gall and the 19th-century criminologist Cesare Lombroso, advocates of decidedly unscientific systems correlating psychological faculties with skull configurations. ''Refinement in methods over the years does not necessarily lead to progress in theorizing,'' the author says; ''1795 or 1995 -- material location . . . prompts the enterprise.'' But the genetic code, though it owes its discovery to the human capacity for imaginative theorizing, is a reality. Genes may be observed not by angels but by trained men and women in a laboratory. How do I know? My acorn-angel, which I happen to call my mind, tells me so.

Mr. Hillman is most persuasive when he argues against the popular psychology of victimization that blames childhood trauma and parental shortcomings for everything. He perceptively observes that ''the current American identity as victim is the tail side of the coin whose head brightly displays the opposite identity: the heroic self-made 'man,' carving out destiny alone and with unflagging will.'' But the acorn theory is always lying in wait, demanding that the life stories of such diverse personalities as Ms. McClintock, Judy Garland, Billy Graham, Oliver North, Ingmar Bergman and Henry Kissinger be interpreted as a fulfillment or rejection of that original nut.

In Walter Isaacson's 1992 biography of Mr. Kissinger, the former Secretary of State is quoted as dismissing his youthful experiences in Nazi Germany with the statement, ''For children these things are not that serious.'' His mother, by contrast, recalled her children's ''pitiful fright and puzzlement when the Nazi youths would march by.'' Mr. Isaacson, not surprisingly, saw ''denial'' in Mr. Kissinger's bland recollection, but Mr. Hillman finds it hard to imagine that the future adviser to Presidents -- with a tough acorn already in place -- would have been frightened ''by a bunch of parading blond kids in short pants.'' It is easy to sympathize with Mr. Hillman's exasperation at the application of ''denial'' to any viewpoint that happens to contradict an interlocutor's prejudices. In this instance, though, denial in the classic psychoanalytic sense seems perfectly appropriate – unless Mr. Kissinger consciously lied. In either case, the phenomenon certainly merits discussion in a biography.

Mr. Hillman's attempt to deal with the problem of mediocrity is particularly unsatisfying. He clearly believes that evil acorns exist -- Hitler is presented as the proverbial bad seed -- but he seems uncertain whether mediocrity qualifies as an angelic calling or a missed opportunity. Ultimately, he dismisses mediocrity not as a sociological but as a psychological concept and holds up exceptional people as ''enlarged witnesses to the availability of blessing.'' There is a ''grandeur latent in the acorn of Everyman and Everywoman no matter their statistical mediocrity.'' In a metaphor that attempts to blend angels and acorns, a conclusion of pablum-like consistency is predictable. Only a more discriminating theory can do justice to the connections among men, angels and existential meaning. In ''The Book of Laughter and Forgetting'' (recently published in a new English translation by Aaron Asher), the novelist Milan Kundera demonstrates what a precise metaphor can do:

''The good of the world . . . implies not that angels have the advantage over devils (as I believed when I was a child) but that the powers of the two sides are nearly in equilibrium. If there were too much incontestable meaning in the world (the angels' power), man would succumb under its weight.''

This exacting metaphor implies proportionality and balance and suggests that meaning may be found only by assigning the proper weight to each of the powers that shape earthly existence. This is a more daunting and less simple task than hunting acorns or hearkening to the voices of angels.

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942)

Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) Austrian author, Eurocentric cosmopolitan, who was a champion on the idea of an international culture and a Europe united under one government. Zweig achieved fame with his interpretations of many imaginary and historical characters in which he used psychoanalytical theories about how people's minds work. Among Zweig's best-known biographies is BAUMEISTER DER WELT (1936, translated as Master Builders). Zweig was an extraordinary prolific writer, whose portrayals of his characters, whether fictional or factual, showed psychological sensitivity and considerable talent for empathy. In the 1930s Zweig was one of the most widely translated authors of the world. His extensive travels led him to India, Africa, North and Central America and Russia.

Written October 7, 1996 by Gonçalo L. Fonseca


Part of the Master Builders book series.

John Nash created the concept of a "Nash Equilibrium" in Game Theory in 1950. His dissertation, only 27 pages long, was magnificent - leading one of his professors, in a letter of recommendation, to only write one sentence: "This man is a genius!"

In 1994, John Nash was given a Nobel Prize in economics. But everyone was worried - for, you see, Nash was crazy and had suffered from acute schizophrenia from 1959 to 1974 (he claimed there were the only "15 years of madness" properly speaking). They were afraid he might say something out-of-place to the King of Sweden during the Nobel awards ceremony.

As it happened, everything went fine. But about a month ago, John Nash delivered a speech at some big meeting - and in it, he did something rather astounding: his speech was one long elegy to madness!

Like a latter-day William Blake, Nash praised his madness. In short, he was glad he was mad and felt it a small price to pay for the creativity that surged in him. Would he have made his seminal contributions to economics and mathematics (which he later concentrated on) had he been of "normal temperament"? No, he claims. The madness was "essential" to that.

From that point, he drew up a list of mathematical behemoths who had also gone mad: Georg Cantor (creator of Set Theory), Isaac Newton, Kurt Godel, (creator of Godel's Theorem, perhaps the most celebrated proof in the twentieth century), Alan Turing (the pioneer of computer science and the promoter of the famous "Turing Machine" challenge to artificial intelligence). Other names were added: Descartes, Locke, Spinoza, Leibniz, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein - to a greater or lesser degree, mad or near-mad introverts. Of course, the list could be duly expanded interminably!

Nash's thesis, quite simply, was that "rationality" (in the conventional sense) interfered with "ultra-logical" thinking which mathematics and philosophy require. In fact, he went so far as to claim that his return to conventional "rationality" had been a source of "great pain". As Nash said: "Can a musician be said to have recovered if he cannot compose great works? I would not treat myself as recovered if I could not produce good things in my work."

Of course, he admitted, pure madness obliterates everything. But a "tendency" to madness is the essential part of the creative impulse, with this propensity to delusion providing the necessary leap of imagination that finally reveals a new way of looking at things.

[Bill: I want to emphasize here that I agree that we need to be careful not to take this idea too far. My perception is that many of these people were very creative and then developed schizophrenia. Their illness did not produce their creativity. Dąbrowski clearly distinguishes psychoneurosis from schizophrenia and sees the latter as likely reflecting negative disintegration. I also don't think Dąbrowski is saying that a psychoneurosis causes creativity, it predisposes development that then is linked to creativity. There is obviously a continuum here - some odd or eccentric behaviour {what I confusingly refer to as "crazy" at times in class} helps in the creative process: See Eysenck, H. J. (1995). Genius: The natural history of creativity (Problems in the Behavioural Sciences, Vol 12). Cambridge University Press. So, in summary, we need to take these "mad genius" anecdotes with a grain of salt.]

The logic Nash gave was compelling: unlike experimental sciences, philosophy and mathematics, he noted, are "loner" fields, realms to be discovered only by deep, prolonged, solitary "ultra-logical" thought. The resignation from the "conventional world" which this requires leads one to naturally live in one's mind alone. This complete immersion in one's mind often leads one to confuse outer- world reality with inner-world dreams. It is this very confusion between reality and dreams which Nash described the essence of his "madness".

[This confusion between reality and dreams is the main theme of Werner Herzog. His movies often put the characters in a position where they are confused between reality and their dreams in what they are seeing. This apparently reflects the idea, held by ancient man/aboriginals, that dreams and dream images are real, simply another form of waking reality and that modern man can no longer appreciate this. Modern man either can't see the dream reality or confuses dream reality with waking reality. Herzog seems, at times, to want to challenge us to expand our range of consciousness or at least to think about what reality is.]

This brought to mind a book I had been reading the week before, Stefan Zweig's "MASTER BUILDERS" (1939) which dealt with some particular literary figures. The nine writers he chose were placed in three groups, each with a different type. He thus considered his book as a "typology of the spirit". This book, then, was really three of his books put together.

The first book was "THREE MASTERS" (1920) and dealt with "consistent" novelists, namely the Frenchman, Honore de Balzac, the Englishman, Charles Dickens and the Russian, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Naturally, I was appalled by the choice of Dickens, but, one must admit, he was relatively consistent and his writing was impeccable - even if his work was wholly unsatisfactory.

The third book, "ADEPTS IN SELF-PORTRAITURE" (1928) dealt with three autobiographical authors, namely the Frenchmen Jacques Casanova and Henri Beyle (aka Stendhal) and the Russian Leo Tolstoy.

In the first and third books, then, there is an appalling lack of Germans. Nonetheless, he made up for this lack by the second book - which was all German. The second book of the series was called, quite appropriately, "THE STRUGGLE WITH THE DAIMON" (1925) dealt with three fantastic German characters: the poet Friedrich Holderlin, the playright and poet, Heinrich von Kleist and, finally, the great philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche.

The first two, Holderlin and Kleist, were important and tragic protagnonists of the Goethe-inspired "Sturm und Drang" romantic movement in Germany. And Zweig does a brilliant job with them. His objective, clearly stated, is to describe three "losers" in the struggle with the Demonic, (Holderlin, Kleist, Nietzsche) by contrasting all three with the great "winner" of the struggle with the Demonic (Goethe). Thus, there is really a fourth description, Goethe, who is at every turn contrasted with Holderlin, Kleist and Nietzsche.

Zweig begins his essay on Holderlin with a beautiful description of the beginning of the 19th Century - the "Romantic Age" or, as Zweig would call it, "the age of youth". "The eighteenth century", Zweig writes, "had belonged to the old and the wise, to Voltaire and Rousseau, to Leibniz and Kant, to Haydn and Wieland, to the cautious and the patient, to the great and the learned" - where, of course, Zweig should also have added the names of learned British masters of the age: Alexander Pope, David Hume and Adam Smith.

But the 19th Century, at least its beginning, the Romantic Age, belonged to another group: "for youth and valour, for passion and impetuousness. Mighty was the wave in which they swept forward. Never since the days of the Renaissance had Europe known a more magnificent surge of the spirit."

But, in a very beautiful way, he describes it in terrifying terms. The age was romantic, but "the new century did not like this intrepid offspring" (i.e. the Romantics). "It dreaded the exhuberance, was mistrustful of the ecstasy of its youthful enthusiasts. Relentlessly it mowed down the crop as soon as the tender green showed above ground."

What he speaks of, then, is the supernova character of the Romantics: rising very quickly only to die very young. Firstly, in the Napoleonic Wars where "for fifteen years the noblest and best were ground to powder in this murderous mill". But then also for the non-warriors: the "axe fell with equal truculence upon dreamers and singers who had scarcely emerged from boyhood when the century was opening".

The age was cruel to the Romantic poets, writers and musicians - and, with some exceptions, many died very young. The "mowing down" of the brilliant young poets - by fate, by war, by the Daimonic - is beautifully described by Zweig:

"Never before in so short a time had there been offered such a hecatomb of artists as those who went to their deaths soon after Schiller...Never had fate sickled such an abundance of illustrious and rathe-ripe figures. Never had the altar of the gods been sprinkled with so much divine blood."

Let us return, then, to Zweig's analysis of the "Struggle with the Daimon" (1925). Zweig seeks to contrast three persons, Holderlin, Kleist and Nietzsche, with a fourth, Goethe. And his thesis is a quite simple typology "of the spirit".

Zweig explains: "I term "daimonic" the unrest that is in us all, driving each of us out of himself into the elemental. It seems as if nature had implanted into every mind an inalienable part of the primordial chaos, and as if this part were interminably striving - with tense passion - to rejoin the superhuman, suprasensual medium whence it derives. The daimon is the incorporation of tormenting leaven [something that modifies or lightens] which impels our being (otherwise quiet or almost inert) towards danger, immoderation, ecstasy, renunciation and even self-destruction" . . .

"But in those of common clay, this factor of our composition which is both precious and perilous proves comparatively ineffective, is speedily absorbed and consumed. In such persons only at rare moments, during the crises of puberty or when, through love or the generative impulse, the inward cosmos is heated to the boiling-point, does the longing to escape from the familiar groove, to renounce the trite and the commonplace, exert its mysterious sway."

But the demonic it is NOT the "normal state" of being for most people:

"At other times, the average man keeps a tight hand on any stirrings of the Faustian impulse, chloroforming it with the dicta of conventional morality, numbing it with work, restraining its wild waters behind the dams of established order. By temperament or training the humdrum citizen is an inverterate enemy of the chaotic, not only in the outer world, but in himself as well."

But then Zweig goes on to identify the "demonic elite":

"In persons of finer type, however, and above all in those with strongly productive inclinations, the unrestful element is ever at work, showing itself as dissatisfaction with the daily round, creating that "higher heart which afflicts itself" (Dostoyevsky), that questioning spirit which expands with its yearning into abysses of the limitless universe. Whatever strives to transcend the narrower boundaries of self, overleaping immediate personal interest to seek adventures in the dangerous realm of inquiry, is the outcome of the daimonic constintuent of our being."

But is the "demonic" good or useful? Well, Zweig continues:

"But the daimon is not a friendly and helpful power unless we can hold him in leash, can use him to promote a wholesome tension and to assist us on our upward path."

He obviously has Goethe in mind at this point. But he goes on:

"[The Daimon] becomes a menace when the tension he fosters is excessive, and when the mind is a prey to the rebellious and volcanically eruptive urge of the daimonic. For the daimon cannot make his way back to the infinite which is his home, except by ruthlessly destroying the finite and the earthly which restrains him, by destroying the body wherein, for a season, he is housed. He works, with a lever, to promote expansion, but threatens in so doing to shatter the tenement. That is why those of an exceptionally "daimonic temperament", those who cannot early and thoroughly subdue the daimon within them, are racked by disquietude. Ever and again the daimon snatches the helm from their control and steers them (helpless as straws in the blast) into the heart of the storm, perchance to shatter them on the rocks of destiny. Restlessness of the blood, the nerves, the mind, is always the herald of the daimonic tempest...The daimonic bodes danger, carries with it an atmosphere of tragedy, breathes doom."

So the demon is destructive. But it is also, as Nash reminded us, the essence of the creative, however destructive it might also be. The creative, coming in the "tendency" to madness but not in outright surrender to it. As Zweig put it, it is in the "wrestle" AND "embrace" between the soul and its seducer (the daimon) that the creative spark lives:

"Thus it comes to pass that everyone whose nature excels the commonplace, everyone whose impulses are creative, wrestles perforce with his daimon. This is a combat of titans, a struggle between lovers, the most splendid contest in which we mortals can engage. Many succumb to the daimon's fierce onslaught as the woman succumbs to the passion of an impetuous male; they are overpowered by the preponderant strength; they feel themselves joyfully permeated by the fertilizing element.

[still in quote] Many subjugate him; their cold, resolute, purposive will constrains his ardours to accept their guidance even while he animates their energies. Often the embrace which is a wrestle and the wrestle which is an embrace persist for a lifetime. In the artist and his work the great encounter becomes, as it were, symbolical; his every nerve is thrilled by the sensuous union between his spirit and its perpetual seducer. Only in the creative genius does the daimonic succeed in making its way out of the shadows of feeling into the regions of language and of light; and we discern the daimon's passionate features most plainly in those who have been mastered by him, in the imaginative writers whom he leads whithersoever he wills - in such as the three men I have chosen as the most typical of their kind in the German world: Holderlin, Kleist and Nietzsche.

[still in quote] For if in an imaginative writer the daimon rules autocratically, there flames up in him a peculiar kind of art; he becomes, as it were, drunken with his art; he gives himself up to a frenzied, ferbile creation; there occurs in him a spasmodic exaltation of spirit, convulsive, explosive, orgiastic, the "mania" of the Greeks, characteristic of the prophet and the pythoness. The measureless, the superlative, is the first unmistakable token of this form of art - an unceasing endeavour to outdo oneself in the effort to reach that limitless sphere to which the daimonic properly belongs.

Goethe "guides" the daimonic into his service:

"Great art cannot exist without inspiration, and inspiration derives from the unknown, from a region outside the domain of waking consciousness. For me, the true counterpart of the exalted writer, divinely presumptuous, carried out of himself by the exuberance of uncontrolled forces, is the writer who can master these forces, the writer whose mundane will is powerful enough to tame and to guide the daimonic element that has been instilled into his being. To guide as well as to tame, for daimonic power, magnificent though it may be and the source of creative artistry, is fundamentally aimless, striving only to re-enter the chaos out of which it sprang. Unquestionably great art, art nowise inferior to the daimonic, emerges when an artist win mastery over this elemental force and imposes on it whatever direction he pleases, when he "commands" poesy as Goethe commanded it, and gives the "incommensurable" a definite form; when, in a word, he becomes the daimon's master instead of the daimon's thrall."

A brief note on the terms Neurosis and Psychoneurosis

by Bill Tillier

A brief note on the terms Neurosis and Psychoneurosis

The term ‘neurosis' was first used by William Cullen in 1769: "I propose to comprehend, under the title of neurosis, all those preternatural [more than is usual or natural] affections of sense and motion which are without pyrexia, [fever] as part of the primary disease" (Weiner and Simpson, 1991, Vol. 1, p. 1917). Knoff (as cited in Quintner & Cohen, 1994) outlines Cullen's categories of neurosis as: "comata (conditions like apoplexy [extreme anger, or in a state of violent excitement] and stroke), adynamiae (alterations of the involuntary, or what we would call today the autonomic, nervous system), spasmi (disturbances of voluntary muscle, such as convulsions and tetanus), and vesaniae (by which he meant intellectual impairment). Cullen's aim was to direct medical thought away from the ancient humoral theory of disease towards the tonus theory, an equally ancient concept which meant literally a tightening or loosening of the nerves." The early thinking was that all of these disorders were neurological in origin.

Freud introduced the idea that neurosis were caused by anxiety that had a psychological root. His influence was significant and his approach changed how neuroses were viewed. Dąbrowski (1972) gives an excellent overview:

the cause of various unconscious processes is the contradictory action of two opposite desires (or purposes), one of which is apparent and the other hidden and unconscious. The subconscious and the unconscious processes are expressed in dreams often in symbolic form, acceptable to the censor or ‘guard' who watches, as it were, on the borderlines of consciousness. This censor, according to Freud, is a function of the ‘ego' (Ich), or our personal consciousness, developed by the instinct of self-preservation. Corresponding to the conscious ‘ego' is the dark and primitive aspect of our personality, the ‘id' (Es). In the subconscious there is also the ‘superego' (hber-Ich). ‘Superego' is the subconscious representative of our relations with our parents, it represents the internalization of parental prohibitions, expressing the need for penance and punishment; it is the source of religious and social sentiments (p. 226-227).

Dąbrowski (1972) continues: "neurosis, according to Freud, result from the conflicts between the ‘ego' and the ‘id'. The ‘ego' depends on reality and in trying to adjust to reality, represses part of the ‘id': the ‘ego' is then transferred from the pleasure principle to the reality principle. The action of the pleasure principle is thereby thwarted. This results in an improper development" (p. 227).

In other words, the individual unconsciously struggles to repress certain elements of the Id. These thoughts, conflicts, desires, memories, etc. often focus on unacceptable sexual desires, or memories of intense, inappropriate (e.g. murderous) feelings toward a parent or other loved one. If these ideas were to become conscious, they would be very threatening and upsetting to the person, so the ego must (unconsciously) try to repress them and block their expression. Anxiety arises when these types of thoughts are only partially repressed or when they threaten to resurface back into our consciousness. As the anxiety mounts, neurotic symptoms will occur either to directly express the anxiety or to try to defend against it. Freud (1953) states:

We believe that civilization has been built up, under the struggle for existence, by sacrifices in gratification of the primitive impulses . . . .The sexual are among the most important of the instinctive forces thus utilized . . . .their energy is turned aside from its sexual goal and diverted toward other ends, no longer sexual and socially more valuable. But the structure thus built up is insecure, for the sexual impulses are with difficulty controlled; in each individual who takes up his part in the work of civilization there is a danger that a rebellion of the sexual impulses may occur against this diversion of their energy. Society can conceive of no more powerful menace to its culture than would arise from the liberation of the sexual impulses and a return to their original goal (p. 27).

In another quote, Freud (1953) says:

I noticed often enough that a man who contented himself with some kind of incomplete sexual satisfaction, e.g. with manual masturbation, would suffer from a definite type of actual neurosis" (which is the result of) "disturbances in the sexual metabolism, due to more of these sexual toxins being produced than the person can dispose of, or else to internal or even mental conditions which interfere with the proper disposal of these substances (p. 395-6).

Freud felt that all energy was derived from the libido and he was afraid of the individual allowing their energy free expression. Rather, he believed that a healthy individual sublimated their libido into many controlled activities and subroutines that gave them some pleasure, while preventing the expression of their ‘true, darker desires.' These latter desires would involve acts abhorrent to a civilization, (incest, rape, murder, stealing, etc). A ‘civilized libido' gives its owner the energy to succeed and accomplish great things in society, whereas an unrepressed libido runs amok and ruins one's life.

The term psychoneurosis was introduced by Thomas Smith Clouston in his Clinical lectures on mental diseases (1883). Clouston was a pioneer in the psychiatric study of adolescence. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the term as: "mental disease, especially without organic lesion or recognized mental weakening. (Weiner and Simpson, 1991, Vol. 2, p. 2347).

Freud differentiated neurosis and psychoneurosis as follows:

1). "Actual neurosis" include neurasthenia, anxiety neurosis and hypochondria. These disorders are based on physical factors. In these cases, the cause and the symptom appear at the same time and no psychic trauma is apparent. Actual neuroses are organically (physically) generated by blocked libido. This blockage causes a buildup of physiologically based sexual frustrations that in turn leads to neurotic anxiety (Eidelberg, 1968). In summary, in the actual neuroses, intrapsychic conflict (between ego and id forces) results in dammed up libido which then seeks indirect discharge through neurotic symptoms.

2). Psychoneuroses include conversion hysteria, anxiety hysteria and obsessive neurosis. These conditions result from psychic factors, thought to be primarily caused by conflicts occurring in childhood and often the result of psychological trauma. Unlike the neuroses where symptoms and causes appear at the same time, the conflicts causing psychoneuroses occur prior to the appearance of symptoms, usually by many years. Also called transference neuroses (Ubertragungsneurosen): "and said to result from a transfer of inimical or pleasant feelings and drives of the patient, from the people closest to the patient in childhood (mother, father, sister, etc), to the people (doctor, teacher, spouse, friend) in the actual situation in the present" (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 227).

Dąbrowski (1972) also differentiated neurosis and psychoneurosis: "we shall apply the term ‘neurosis' or ‘somatic neurosis' only in those cases where physiological components (organs or systems of organs) are involved" (p. 40). He goes on to note that the defects in the neuroses are psychosomatic and there is no structural abnormality in the underlying organs.

His glossary entry for neurosis is: "psychophysiological or psychosomatic disorders characterized by a dominance of somatic processes. There are no detectable organic defects, although the functions may be severely affected (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 299). Dąbrowski (1972) says "psychoneurosis is a disorder of function, which like the neurosis, is reversable, i.e. it can be ‘cured' or even transformed into a developmentally higher form of psychological functioning. This higher form is no longer a psychoneurosis but a new personality structure in which the psychoneurotic history remains recorded" (p. 40). In psychoneurosis there is a hierarchy of higher functions not observed in the neuroses. Dąbrowski (1972) noted that "psychoneurosis is a psychical or more mental form of functional disorder, while neurosis is a more nervous or somatic form" (p. 41). Dąbrowski (1972) further associated psychoneurosis with "highly conscious internal struggles whose tensions and frustrations are not anymore translated into somatic [neurotic] disorders" (p. 303).

Dąbrowski rejected Freud's approach for several reasons. For one thing, Dąbrowski did not see a multilevel approach in Freud. Second, Freud's approach is "permeated with pansexualism, having a dominance of the ‘libido' principle without properly appreciating psychoneurotic processes in personality development and without noticing the role of [the] ‘developmental drive'" (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 229). Third, there is no positive role for symptoms, this aspect is either omitted or symptoms are seen as pathological. Another important omission in Freud is a role for a conscious, autonomous aspect of development: the third factor. In psychoanalysis, the focus is on innate or environmental factors and mostly on the unconscious relationship between the person and the environment. There is little or no role for the person to volitionally affect their own development: this is a fundamental aspect in Dąbrowski's approach.

Current Definitions and Usage of Neurosis

Chaturvedi (2000) says that over the last two centuries, the term neurosis has evolved to be used in at least four different but related ways:

Today, psychiatric classificatory systems have abandoned the category of neurosis as an organizing principle. Neurosis was used in DSM-II but was replaced in DSM-III by anxiety disorders, somatoform disorders and dissociation disorders.

The Encyclopaedia Britannica (2000) entry for neuroses: "Neuroses are characterized by anxiety, depression, or other feelings of unhappiness or distress that are out of proportion to the circumstances of a person's life. They may impair a person's functioning in virtually any area of his life, relationships, or external affairs, but they are not severe enough to incapacitate the person. Neurotic patients generally do not suffer from the loss of the sense of reality seen in persons with psychoses.

Psychiatrists first used the term "neurosis" in the mid-19th century to categorize symptoms thought to be neurological in origin; the prefix "psycho-" was added some decades later when it became clear that mental and emotional factors were important in the etiology of these disorders. The terms neurosis and psychoneurosis are now used interchangeably, although the shorter word is more common."

The Role of Neuroses

Invariably, early views of neurosis and psychoneurosis were negative. They represented blockages, pathological frustrations, anxieties and depressions. Dąbrowski was perhaps the first to present the alternative viewpoint that neurosis and psychoneurosis could represent positive and even necessary features in human development. Dąbrowski saw that the basic organization of the brain needs to be fluid and open to change if it is to develop. He saw psychoneuroses (and positive disintegration) as the process by which this disorganization occurs. Dąbrowski's ideas reflect John Hughlings Jackson's model of brain organization. Lower levels (earlier in evolution) are more automatic (reflexive) but better organized and less open to modification. Higher levels (recent in our evolution - and literally higher - structures at the top of the brain like the neocortex) are more voluntary, but less well organized and thus are more open to disruption and reorganization. Jackson saw this lack of organization as a vulnerability: for maximum health, these structures need to solidify as fast as possible. If their disorganization becomes too great, the inhibitory effects of the higher levels could fail and allow the lower levels to emerge. For Jackson, initial neurotic symptoms are a signal of this process and the first step in a cascade towards major mental illness and total mental ‘involution.' Dąbrowski took an opposite approach and said this initial disorganization gives the person a volitional, conscious chance to partake in the organization and reorganization of their higher brain structures. For Dąbrowski, development literally was a conscious reorganization of the brain.


Asthenia means a loss or lack of bodily strength; weakness; debility.

Dąbrowski (1972) defined neurasthenia as a "type of psychoneurosis characterized by cycles of excitation followed by excessive fatigue, even exhaustion. Lower level of psychasthenia, frequently associated with obsessions and phobias" (p. 299).

The Columbia Encyclopedia (2000) entry for neurasthenia is: "a condition characterized by general lassitude, irritability, lack of concentration, worry, and hypochondria. The term was introduced into psychiatry in 1869 by G. M. Beard, an American neurologist. Used by Freud to describe a fundamental disorder in mental functioning, the term was incorrectly applied to almost any psychoneurosis and has been largely abandoned."

The American Heritage Dictionary (2000) defines neurasthenia as "a psychological disorder characterized by chronic fatigue and weakness, loss of memory, and generalized aches and pains, formerly thought to result from exhaustion of the nervous system. No longer in scientific use."

Psychasthenia is defined by Dąbrowski (1972) as: "a type of psychoneurosis characterized by lowered bio-psychic tonus, especially in regard to primitive functions and adjustment to actual reality. Psychasthenia is characterized by feelings of inadequacy, obsessions, anxieties (especially existential), depressions. (p. 303). Psychasthenia was introduced as a term by Pierre Janet in 1903. The American Heritage Dictionary (2000) defines psychasthenia as "a psychological disorder characterized by phobias, obsessions, compulsions, or excessive anxiety. No longer in scientific use." Although this source indicates the term is no longer in use, it has retained one application in current psychology. Psychasthenia was the basis of one of the scales for the MMPI, a very common and popular personality test. Karp and Karp (2000) note that:

scale 7: Psychasthenia (Pt) . . . was originally developed to measure the general symptomatic pattern labelled psychasthenia. This diagnostic label is not commonly used today. Among currently popular diagnostic categories, the obsessive-compulsive disorder probably is closest to the original psychasthenia label. Psychasthenia was originally characterized by excessive doubts, compulsions, obsessions, and unreasonable fears. The person suffering from psychasthenia had an inability to resist specific actions or thoughts regardless of their maladaptive nature. In addition to obsessive-compulsive features, this scale taps abnormal fears, self-criticism, difficulties in concentration, and guilt feelings. The anxiety assessed by this scale is of a long-term nature or trait anxiety, although the scale is somewhat responsive to situational stress as well. All 48 items from the original scale have been maintained in the MMPI-2.


Cullen, 1796 Introduces the term neurosis. Neuroses reflect a state of abnormal tonus of nerves - not structural defects.

1800s Neuroses become associated with functional disorders - mental disorders that cannot be linked to actual structural (organic) defects of the brain.

Beard, 1869 Neurasthenia: general lassitude, irritability, lack of concentration, worry, and hypochondria.

Clouston, 1883 Introduces the term psychoneurosis.

Janet, 1903 Psychasthenia: a neurotic state characterized especially by phobias, obsessions, or compulsions that one knows are irrational.

Freud Neuroses reflect a current unconscious nervous tension /anxiety caused by blocked up sexual energy: blocked by current intrapsychic conflicts, primarily between Ego and Id.

Freud Psychoneuroses reflect past problems, blocks and conflicts: the current symptoms are interpreted as manifestations of old conflicts, primarily between Ego and

Id.Dąbrowski Neurosis: Lower, nervous and somatic defects in the function of various organs or systems of organs. No physical disorder of the organs is present. Anxieties, depressions and conflicts are unilevel and usually center on the needs of the

individual.Dąbrowski Psychoneurosis: higher, more mental ("psychical") form of the functional disorder. Characterized by a hierarchy of higher functions resulting in existential conflicts and value crises, resolved by volitional action of the individual: the person takes control of their conflicts and development. The psychoneurosis is transformed into a new personality structure marked by autonomy.

Current lay usage: (Example) Encyclopaedia Britannica. Neuroses are characterized by anxiety, depression, or other feelings of unhappiness or distress that are out of proportion to the circumstances of a person's life. They may impair a person's functioning, but they are not incapacitating. Psychoneurosis, neurasthenia, psychasthenia are not commonly heard terms.

Current professional usage: None. The terms neurosis and psychoneurosis are not "officially" recognized in current psychiatric usage. Neurasthenia is not generally used anymore. Psychasthenia has a very narrow application on the MMPI, otherwise, it is no longer used.



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Dąbrowski Handout: Session three.

Why Walk When You Can Fly

Carpenter, Mary Chapin. (1994). Why walk when you can fly. Why Walk Music. On the Compact Disk Stones in the Road. Columbia (Sony Music) CK 64327.

In this world there's a whole lot of trouble, baby

In this world there's a whole lot of pain

In this world there's a whole lot of trouble

But a whole lot of ground to gain

Why take when you could be giving, why watch as the world goes by

It's a hard enough life to be living, why walk when you can fly.

In this world there's a whole lot of sorrow

In this world there's a whole lot of shame

In this world there's a whole lot of sorrow

But a whole lot of ground to gain

When you spend your whole life wishing, wanting and wondering why

Its a lot enough life to be living, why walk when you can fly

In this world there's a whole lot of golden

In this world there's a whole lot of plain

In this world you've a soul for a compass

And a heart for a pair of wings

There's a star on the far horizon, rising bright in an azure sky

For the rest of the time you're given, why walk when you can fly.

Several songs by Van Morrison:


Chop that wood

Carry water

What's the sound of one hand clapping

Enlightenment, don't know what it is

Every second, every minute

It keeps changing to something different

Enlightenment, don't know what it is

Enlightenment, don't know what it is

It says it's non attachment

Non attachment. non attachment

I'm in the here and now, and I'm meditating

And still I'm suffering but that's my problem

Enlightenment, don't know what it is

Wake up

Enlightenment says the world is nothing

Nothing but a dream, everything's an illusion

And nothing is real

Good or bad baby

You can change it anyway you want

You can rearrange it

Enlightenment, don't know what it is

Chop that wood

And carry water

What's the sound of one hand clapping

Enlightenment, don't know what it is

All around baby. you can see

You're making your own reality. everyday because

Enlightenment, don't know what it is

One more time

Enlightenment. don't know what it is

It's up to you

Enlightenment. don't know what it is

It's up to you everyday

Enlightenment, don't know what it is

It's always up to you

Enlightenment, don't know what it is

It's up to you, the way you think

In The Garden

The streets are always wet with rain

After a summer shower when I saw you standin'

In the garden in the garden wet with rain

You wiped the teardrops from your eye in sorrow

As we watched the petals fall down to the ground

And as I sat beside you I felt the

Great sadness that day in the garden

And then one day you came back home

You were a creature all in rapture

You had the key to your soul

And you did open that day you came back to the garden

The olden summer breeze was blowin' on your face

The light of God was shinin' on your countenance divine

And you were a violet colour as you

Sat beside your father and your mother in the garden

The summer breeze was blowin' on your face

Within your violet you treasure your summery words

And as the shiver from my neck down to my spine

Ignited me in daylight and nature in the garden

And you went into a trance

Your childlike vision became so fine

And we heard the bells inside the church

We loved so much

And felt the presence of the youth of

Eternal summers in the garden

And as it touched your cheeks so lightly

Born again you were and blushed and we touched each other lightly

And we felt the presence of the Christ

And I turned to you and I said

No Guru, no method, no teacher (see note one below)

Just you and I and nature

And the father in the garden

No Guru, no method, no teacher

Just you and I and nature

And the Father and the

Son and the Holy Ghost

In the garden wet with rain

No Guru, no method, no teacher

Just you and I and nature and the holy ghost

In the garden, in the garden, wet with rain

No Guru, no method, no teacher

Just you and I and nature

And the Father in the garden

So Quiet In Here

Foghorns blowing in the night

Salt sea air in the morning breeze

Driving cars all along the coastline

This must be what it's all about

Oh this must be what it's all about

This must be what paradise is like

So quiet in here, so peaceful in here

So quiet in here, so peaceful in here

The warm look of radiance on your face

And your heart beating close to mine

And the evening fading in the candle glow

This must be what it's all about

Oh this must be what it's all about

This must be what paradise is like

So quiet in here. so peaceful in here

So quiet in here, yeah, so peaceful in here

All my struggling in the world

And so many dreams that don't come true

Step back, put it all away

It don't matter, it don't matter anymore

Oh this must be what paradise is like

This must be what paradise is like

It's so quiet in here, so peaceful in here

It's so quiet in here, so peaceful in here

A glass of wine with some friends

Talking into the wee hours of the dawn

Sit back and relax your mind

This must be, this must be, what it's all about

This must be what paradise is like

Oh this must be what paradise is like

So quiet in here, so peaceful in here

So quiet in here, so peaceful in here

Big ships out in the night

And we're floating across the waves

Sailing for some other shore

Where we can be what we wanna be

Oh this must be what paradise is like

This must be what paradise is like

Baby it's so quiet in here, so peaceful in here

So quiet in here, so peaceful in here

So quiet in here, so peaceful in here

So quiet in here, you can hear, it's so quiet

I Forgot That Love Existed

I forgot that love existed, troubled in my mind.

Heartache after heartache, worried all the time.

I forgot that love existed

Then I saw the light

Everyone around me make everything alright.

Oh, oh Socrates and Plato they

Praised it to the skies.

Anyone who's ever loved

Everyone who's ever tried.

If my heart could do my thinking

And my head begin to feel

I would look upon the world anew

And know what's truly real.



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Dąbrowski handout: Session Four.

The Great Chain Of Being:

Arthur O. Lovejoy The Great Chain Of Being (1936). Lovejoy shows that, courtesy of Aristotle, the Middle Ages inherited the notion of the discrete: every species had its own distinct, well-bounded being. And he shows that, courtesy (once again) of Aristotle, it also inherited the absolutely contrary notion -- namely, that species were completely continuous with and always shading into one another. There were no gaps between species -- or rather, each gap was filled, of necessity, with further species, and each gap between them likewise filled, on to infinity, from lowliest "exiguities" on up to God. The "Great Chain of Being" was formed by this perfect fit of the discrete into the continuous.

As Lovejoy put it: "There are not many differences in mental habit more significant than that between the habit of thinking in discrete, well-defined, class concepts and that of thinking in terms of continuity, of infinitely delicate shadings-off of everything into something else." Having said that, he proceeded to show how the Great Chain of Being was powered for a thousand years by the contradiction installed at its core. Paradox proves to be one of the mind's more durable -- and high-energy -- forms. (And nature's, too: the paradox of light being both wave and particle seems to have come bundled with the Big Bang).

The Great Chain: also called the CHAIN OF BEING, conception of the nature of the universe that had a pervasive influence on Western thought, particularly through the ancient Greek Neoplatonists and derivative philosophies during the European Renaissance and the 17th and early 18th centuries. The term denotes three general features of the universe: plenitude, continuity, and gradation. The principle of plenitude states that the universe is "full," exhibiting the maximal diversity of kinds of existences; everything possible (i.e., not self-contradictory) is actual. The principle of continuity asserts that the universe is composed of an infinite series of forms, each of which shares with its neighbour at least one attribute. According to the principle of linear gradation, this series ranges in hierarchical order from the barest type of existence to the ens perfectissimum, or God.

The idea of the chain of being was first systematized by the Neoplatonist Plotinus, though the component concepts were derived from Plato and Aristotle. Plato's "idea of the good" in the Republic, eternal, immutable, ineffable, perfect, the universal object of desire, is fused with the demiurge of the Timaeus, who constructed the world of becoming because "he was good, and in one that is good no envy of anything else ever arises." Aristotle introduced a definition of the continuum and pointed out various graded scales of existence. Thus, in the words of Plotinus, in his Enneads, "The one is perfect because it seeks for nothing, and possesses nothing, and has need of nothing; and being perfect, it overflows, and thus its superabundance produces an Other." This generation of the many from the one must continue until all possible varieties of being in the descending series are realized.

The scale of being served Plotinus and many later writers as an explanation of the existence of evil in the sense of lack of some good. It also offered an argument for optimism; since all beings other than the ens perfectissimum are to some degree imperfect or evil, and since the goodness of the universe as a whole consists in its fullness, the best possible world will be one that contains the greatest possible variety of beings and so all possible evils. The notion died out in the 19th century but was given renewed currency in the 20th by Arthur O. Lovejoy (The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea, 1936).

Philosopher's Corner Presents: Aldous Huxley

Aldous Huxley was born at Godalming, Surrey, England July 26, 1894. A grandson of T.H. Huxley, the famous biologist. Aldous was educated at Eton and Oxford, He had planned to study medicine, but a serious eye complaint left him nearly blind, and he was forced to abandon the idea. Instead, he became a journalist and published his fist book poems, The Burning Wheel, in 1916. More poetry followed, and then, after Limbo, a collection of short stories, had appeared, his first novel, Crome Yellow, made his reputation as a witty an cynical writer when it came out in 1921.

His next book Mortal Coils, published in 1922, was another volume of short stores, and included one of his best-known works 'The Giaconda Smile.' It was followed by the novels Antic Hay, in 1923, Those Barren Leaves, in 1925, and Point Counter Point, in 1928.

He achieved a major success in 1932 with his prophetic story of the future, Brave New World. He published several more novels including Eyeless in Gaza, in 1936, Ape and Essence, in 1948, The Genius and the Goddess, in 1955, and some collections of short stories.

After emigrating to the United States in 1938 and settling in California, he also produced a number of nonfiction works. Among these were The Perennial Philosophy, which appeared in 1946 and was the first of a series of books in which he wrote of art and reality; the Devils of Londun, examining a case of mass sexual hysteria; and the two books, The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, which, when published in 1954 and 1956, caused considerable controversy because they described Huxley's experience under the influence of LSD and mescalin.

"I can sympathize with people's pains, but not with their pleasures. There is something curiously boring about somebody else's happiness. from 1920

"The proper study of mankind is books." from Crome Yellow 1921

"The end cannot justify the means, for the simple and obvious reason that the means employed determined the nature of the ends produced." from End and Means 1937

[I am including a bit on metaphysics here as it often comes into discussions of Plato. In our context, we want to know a simple answer: is everything that we need to know about psychology (about the world) knowable based on what we see in front of us - the brain, modern physics etc? If it is, then we do not need a metaphysical approach at all. But if there is more hidden that we can not study or see, then this is a metaphysical situation. Example: developmental potential in Dąbrowski is literally in the genes and one's "push or pull" to develop is a manifestation of this genetic potential - a physical approach. On the other hand, Plato (or Wilber) would say that there are forces (Forms) apart from us that push and pull us. So Forms exist in a metaphysical place (meta=above) that we can only grasp/ know / study tangentially. Our intuitive experience of these Forms is our guide, they can not be know by the physical senses or through logic and cognition. Thus we must use a metaphysical approach to know and fully describe the world - we have to try to combine what we can see and know with the "higher" (meta) aspects that we can only glimpse.]



The term metaphysics originally referred to the writings of Aristotle that came after his writings on physics, in the arrangement made by Andronicus of Rhodes about three centuries after Aristotle's death.

Traditionally, metaphysics refers to the branch of philosophy that attempts to understand the fundamental nature of all reality, whether visible or invisible. It seeks a description so basic, so essentially simple, so all-inclusive that it applies to everything, whether divine or human or anything else. It attempts to tell what anything must be like in order to be at all.

To call one a metaphysician in this traditional, philosophical sense indicates nothing more than his or her interest in attempting to discover what underlies everything. Old materialists, who said that there is nothing but matter in motion, and current naturalists, who say that everything is made of lifeless, non-experiencing energy, are just as much to be classified as metaphysicians as are idealists, who maintain that there is nothing but ideas, or mind, or spirit.

Perhaps the best definition of materialism is that of Charles Hartshorne (Insights and Oversights of Great Thinkers, p. 17): "the denial that the most pervasive processes of nature involve any such psychical functions as sensing, feeling, remembering, desiring, or thinking." Idealists assert what materialists here deny. Dualists say that mind and matter are equally real, while neutral monists claim that there is a neutral reality that can appear as either mind or matter. Philosophers generally are content to divide reality into two halves, mind and matter (extended and unextended reality) and do not emphasize such distinctions within the mind half as spirit and soul.


A commonly employed, secondary, popular, usage of metaphysics includes a wide range of controversial phenomena believed by many people to exist beyond the physical.

[paraphrased] Plato is probably the earliest Western philosopher from whom we can still learn today, and this claim seems particularly true of his metaphysics, even though many of its aspects undoubtedly strike us at first as alien and difficult to understand. The central part of Plato's metaphysics, the "classical" Theory of Forms, is his "middle period," as expounded in his dialogues such as the Phaedo, the Symposium, the Republic, the Phaedrus, and the Parmenides.

metaphysics: the philosophical study whose object is to determine the real nature of things--to determine the meaning, structure, and principles of whatever is insofar as it is. Although this study is popularly conceived as referring to anything excessively subtle and highly theoretical and although it has been subjected to many criticisms, it is presented by metaphysicians as the most fundamental and most comprehensive of inquiries, inasmuch as it is concerned with reality as a whole.

Plato, following the early Greek philosopher Parmenides, who is known as the father of metaphysics, had sought to distinguish opinion, or belief, from knowledge and to assign distinct objects to each. Opinion, for Plato, was a form of apprehension that was shifting and unclear, similar to seeing things in a dream or only through their shadows; its objects were correspondingly unstable. Knowledge, by contrast, was wholly lucid; it carried its own guarantee against error, and the objects with which it was concerned were eternally what they were, and so were exempt from change and the deceptive power to appear to be what they were not. Plato called the objects of opinion phenomena, or appearances; he referred to the objects of knowledge as noumena (objects of the intelligence) or quite simply as realities. Much of the burden of his philosophical message was to call men's attentions to these contrasts and to impress them with the necessity to turn away from concern with mere phenomena to the investigation of true reality. The education of the Platonic philosopher consisted precisely in effecting this transition: he was taught to recognize the contradictions involved in appearances and to fix his gaze on the realities that lay behind them, the realities that Plato himself called Forms, or Ideas. Philosophy for Plato was thus a call to recognize the existence and overwhelming importance of a set of higher realities that ordinary men--even those, like the Sophists of the time, who professed to be enlightened--entirely ignored. That there were such realities, or at least that there was a serious case for thinking that there were, was a fundamental tenet in the discipline that later became known as metaphysics. Conversely, much of the subsequent controversy about the very possibility of metaphysics has turned on the acceptability of this tenet and on whether, if it is rejected, some alternative foundation can be discovered on which the metaphysician can stand.

phenomenological hermeneutics.

[I am going to use two complicated words here to describe what I think Dąbrowski is trying to do and to describe our approach. I am going to give the SIMPLEST explanation in ENGLISH I can, then I will provide some deeper material. These terms refer to very complex, evolving branches of philosophy. Our basic approach is one of phenomenological hermeneutics.

Phenomenology basically just refers to the way a person sees and comes to understand the world: one's own unique experience of the world. It is sort of a description of a person - this is how I see and understand MY world and this description says a lot about both the world and about me. This description includes one's perceptions, beliefs and how one sees other people as well. Hermeneutics is the idea that some things (like passages in the Bible) can have more than one interpretation. So, when we study hermeneutics, we are trying to look at different interpretations of a passage and to try to figure out (to choose) which one best applies to what is being said.

In Dąbrowski's context, I think we combine these two ideas: We each deeply examine our phenomenology: how do you see the world? What is it like for you in THIS world of YOURS? Then, we come together and through DIALOGUE we talk to each other (we share each other's experience of the world) in order to try to interpret the different viewpoints expressed and thereby to arrive at a broader understanding of the overall WORLD. As people do this, they come to an appreciation for the deeper, universals in life: general underlying principles. Traditional approaches have focussed on cognition: one arrives at one's understanding cognitively and formal hermeneutical approaches used to only look at written text (the Bible primarily). In Dąbrowski, we are opening up the field and we now have more to consider and to try to interpret. We now want to include all "psychological functions" as Dąbrowski called them. Utmost of these functions are our emotional experiences in life and what they mean. So, Dąbrowski gives us a whole new basis to examine and this expanded approach opens great possibilities in understanding life.]

Phenomenology Defined

Phenomenology is a school of philosophy whose principal purpose is to study the phenomena, or appearances, of human experience while attempting to suspend all consideration of their objective reality or subjective association. The phenomena studied are those experienced in various acts of consciousness, mainly cognitive or perceptual acts, but also in such acts as valuation and aesthetic appreciation.

Phenomenology took its present shape at the beginning of the 20th century with the writings of Edmund Husserl. Husserl intended to develop a philosophical method that was devoid of all presuppositions and that would describe phenomena by focusing exclusively on them, to the exclusion of all questions of their causal origins and their status outside the act of consciousness itself. His aim was to discover the essential structures and relationships of the phenomena as well as the acts of consciousness in which the phenomena appeared, and to do this by as faithful an exploration as possible, uncluttered by scientific or cultural presuppositions.

In his original conception of phenomenology, Husserl's idea of a presuppositionless science amounted to rejecting all antecedent commitments to theories of knowledge, both those formally developed as philosophical systems and those which pervade our ordinary thinking ("the natural attitude"). He intended by this suspension, or bracketing, of extraneous commitments to go beyond the usual choices of Idealism and Realism, to "the things themselves." In his later work, however, Husserl expanded his phenomenological method to include what he called "the phenomenological reduction." In this reduction, not only extraneous opinions, but also all beliefs about the external existence of the objects of consciousness, were bracketed. This suspension of all reference to the reality of the thing experienced left the philosopher with nothing but the experiencing itself, which Husserl divided into the "noesis" (act of consciousness) and the "noema" (object of consciousness). Here the line between idealism and phenomenology became blurred, although the suspension of belief in the reality of an object of consciousness is not the same thing as denying that it exists.

There is considerable diversity in the use that Husserl's successors have made of his method. Max Scheler, an early assistant of Husserl, adapted it to religious and ethical experience, and Martin Heidegger, a student of Husserl, applied it to such experiences as dread and fear and thereby generated what is now known as existential phenomenology. The French philosophers Jean Paul Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty also employed the methods of phenomenology for their existential programs, as has the German philosopher Karl Jaspers. Through these philosophers, especially Jaspers, the phenomenological method has influenced psychological thought, particularly that of certain European psychiatrists, such as Ludwig Binswanger. Phenomenology has also influenced neo-Thomist religious thought. Although obviously related, phenomenology should be distinguished from phenomenalism, the view that human knowledge is limited to phenomena. ---by Thomas E. Wren

hermeneutics: the branch of continental philosophy which treats the understanding and interpretation of texts. Derived from a Greek word connected with the name of the god Hermes, the reputed messenger and interpreter of the gods.

"There's nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Hamlet, Act II, Scene II

The background of philosophical hermeneutics (theories of interpretation) in modern philosophy include the works of Descartes, Hume, Kant, and Dilthey. The hermeneutic tradition in philosophy develops in the twentieth century, through the works of Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Jürgen Habermas, and Paul Ricoeur.


Word first appeared 1941: Branch of philosophy based on the situation of the individual in an absurd or meaningless universe where humans have free will. Existentialists argue that people are responsible for and the sole judge of their actions as they affect others. The origin of existentialism is usually traced back to the Danish philosopher Kierkegaard; among its proponents were Martin Heidegger in Germany and Jean-Paul Sartre in France.

All self-aware individuals can grasp or intuit their own existence and freedom, and individuals must not allow their choices to be constrained by anything – not even reason or morality. This freedom to choose leads to the notion of nonbeing, or nothingness, which can provoke angst or dread.

Existentialism, philosophical movement or tendency, emphasizing individual existence, freedom, and choice, that influenced many diverse writers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Major Themes

Because of the diversity of positions associated with existentialism, the term is impossible to define precisely. Certain themes common to virtually all existentialist writers can, however, be identified. The term itself suggests one major theme: the stress on concrete individual existence and, consequently, on subjectivity, individual freedom, and choice.

Moral Individualism

Most philosophers since Plato have held that the highest ethical good is the same for everyone; insofar as one approaches moral perfection, one resembles other morally perfect individuals. The 19th-century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who was the first writer to call himself existential, reacted against this tradition by insisting that the highest good for the individual is to find his or her own unique vocation. As he wrote in his journal, "I must find a truth that is true for me . . . the idea for which I can live or die." Other existentialist writers have echoed Kierkegaard's belief that one must choose one's own way without the aid of universal, objective standards. Against the traditional view that moral choice involves an objective judgment of right and wrong, existentialists have argued that no objective, rational basis can be found for moral decisions. The 19th-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche further contended that the individual must decide which situations are to count as moral situations.


All existentialists have followed Kierkegaard in stressing the importance of passionate individual action in deciding questions of both morality and truth. They have insisted, accordingly, that personal experience and acting on one's own convictions are essential in arriving at the truth. Thus, the understanding of a situation by someone involved in that situation is superior to that of a detached, objective observer. This emphasis on the perspective of the individual agent has also made existentialists suspicious of systematic reasoning. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and other existentialist writers have been deliberately unsystematic in the exposition of their philosophies, preferring to express themselves in aphorisms, dialogues, parables, and other literary forms. Despite their antirationalist position, however, most existentialists cannot be said to be irrationalists in the sense of denying all validity to rational thought. They have held that rational clarity is desirable wherever possible, but that the most important questions in life are not accessible to reason or science. Furthermore, they have argued that even science is not as rational as is commonly supposed. Nietzsche, for instance, asserted that the scientific assumption of an orderly universe is for the most part a useful fiction.

Choice and Commitment

Perhaps the most prominent theme in existentialist writing is that of choice. Humanity's primary distinction, in the view of most existentialists, is the freedom to choose. Existentialists have held that human beings do not have a fixed nature, or essence, as other animals and plants do; each human being makes choices that create his or her own nature. In the formulation of the 20th-century French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, existence precedes essence. Choice is therefore central to human existence, and it is inescapable; even the refusal to choose is a choice. Freedom of choice entails commitment and responsibility. Because individuals are free to choose their own path, existentialists have argued, they must accept the risk and responsibility of following their commitment wherever it leads.

Dread and Anxiety

Kierkegaard held that it is spiritually crucial to recognize that one experiences not only a fear of specific objects but also a feeling of general apprehension, which he called dread. He interpreted it as God's way of calling each individual to make a commitment to a personally valid way of life. The word anxiety (German Angst) has a similarly crucial role in the work of the 20th-century German philosopher Martin Heidegger; anxiety leads to the individual's confrontation with nothingness and with the impossibility of finding ultimate justification for the choices he or she must make. In the philosophy of Sartre, the word nausea is used for the individual's recognition of the pure contingency of the universe, and the word anguish is used for the recognition of the total freedom of choice that confronts the individual at every moment.


Existentialism as a distinct philosophical and literary movement belongs to the 19th and 20th centuries, but elements of existentialism can be found in the thought (and life) of Socrates, in the Bible, and in the work of many premodern philosophers and writers.


The first to anticipate the major concerns of modern existentialism was the 17th-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal. Pascal rejected the rigorous rationalism of his contemporary René Descartes, asserting, in his Pensées (1670), that a systematic philosophy that presumes to explain God and humanity is a form of pride. Like later existentialist writers, he saw human life in terms of paradoxes: The human self, which combines mind and body, is itself a paradox and contradiction.


Kierkegaard, generally regarded as the founder of modern existentialism, reacted against the systematic absolute idealism of the 19th-century German philosopher G. W. F. Hegel, who claimed to have worked out a total rational understanding of humanity and history. Kierkegaard, on the contrary, stressed the ambiguity and absurdity of the human situation. The individual's response to this situation must be to live a totally committed life, and this commitment can only be understood by the individual who has made it. The individual therefore must always be prepared to defy the norms of society for the sake of the higher authority of a personally valid way of life. Kierkegaard ultimately advocated a "leap of faith" into a Christian way of life, which, although incomprehensible and full of risk, was the only commitment he believed could save the individual from despair.


Nietzsche, who was not acquainted with the work of Kierkegaard, influenced subsequent existentialist thought through his criticism of traditional metaphysical and moral assumptions and through his espousal of tragic pessimism and the life-affirming individual will that opposes itself to the moral conformity of the majority. In contrast to Kierkegaard, whose attack on conventional morality led him to advocate a radically individualistic Christianity, Nietzsche proclaimed the "death of God" and went on to reject the entire Judeo-Christian moral tradition in favor of a heroic pagan ideal.


Heidegger, like Pascal and Kierkegaard, reacted against an attempt to put philosophy on a conclusive rationalistic basis—in this case the phenomenology of the 20th-century German philosopher Edmund Husserl. Heidegger argued that humanity finds itself in an incomprehensible, indifferent world. Human beings can never hope to understand why they are here; instead, each individual must choose a goal and follow it with passionate conviction, aware of the certainty of death and the ultimate meaninglessness of one's life. Heidegger contributed to existentialist thought an original emphasis on being and ontology as well as on language.


Sartre first gave the term existentialism general currency by using it for his own philosophy and by becoming the leading figure of a distinct movement in France that became internationally influential after World War II. Sartre's philosophy is explicitly atheistic and pessimistic; he declared that human beings require a rational basis for their lives but are unable to achieve one, and thus human life is a "futile passion." Sartre nevertheless insisted that his existentialism is a form of humanism, and he strongly emphasized human freedom, choice, and responsibility. He eventually tried to reconcile these existentialist concepts with a Marxist analysis of society and history.

Existentialism and Theology

Although existentialist thought encompasses the uncompromising atheism of Nietzsche and Sartre and the agnosticism of Heidegger, its origin in the intensely religious philosophies of Pascal and Kierkegaard foreshadowed its profound influence on 20th-century theology. The 20th-century German philosopher Karl Jaspers, although he rejected explicit religious doctrines, influenced contemporary theology through his preoccupation with transcendence and the limits of human experience. The German Protestant theologians Paul Tillich and Rudolf Bultmann, the French Roman Catholic theologian Gabriel Marcel, the Russian Orthodox philosopher Nikolay Berdyayev, and the German Jewish philosopher Martin Buber inherited many of Kierkegaard's concerns, especially that a personal sense of authenticity and commitment is essential to religious faith.

Existentialism and Literature

A number of existentialist philosophers used literary forms to convey their thought, and existentialism has been as vital and as extensive a movement in literature as in philosophy. The 19th-century Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky is probably the greatest existentialist literary figure. In Notes from the Underground (1864), the alienated antihero rages against the optimistic assumptions of rationalist humanism. The view of human nature that emerges in this and other novels of Dostoyevsky is that it is unpredictable and perversely self-destructive; only Christian love can save humanity from itself, but such love cannot be understood philosophically. As the character Alyosha says in The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80), "We must love life more than the meaning of it."

In the 20th century, the novels of the Austrian Jewish writer Franz Kafka, such as The Trial (1925; trans. 1937) and The Castle (1926; trans. 1930), present isolated men confronting vast, elusive, menacing bureaucracies; Kafka's themes of anxiety, guilt, and solitude reflect the influence of Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, and Nietzsche. The influence of Nietzsche is also discernible in the novels of the French writers André Malraux and in the plays of Sartre. The work of the French writer Albert Camus is usually associated with existentialism because of the prominence in it of such themes as the apparent absurdity and futility of life, the indifference of the universe, and the necessity of engagement in a just cause. Existentialist themes are also reflected in the theatre of the absurd, notably in the plays of Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco. In the United States, the influence of existentialism on literature has been more indirect and diffuse, but traces of Kierkegaard's thought can be found in the novels of Walker Percy and John Updike, and various existentialist themes are apparent in the work of such diverse writers as Norman Mailer, John Barth, and Arthur Miller.

Existential Psychology

Existential Psychology represents a synthesis of philosophy and psychology. The philosophical bases were formed by Kierkegaard and Heidegger. The most popular one-sentence summary is "existence precedes essence". The followers who have translated their thinking into statements about personality include the Europeans Ludwig Binswanger, Medard Boss, and Victor Frankl. Major American theorists include Rollo May and Paul Tillich, but I will also include some writings of Salvatore Maddi. The following notes represent an attempt at a synthesis of the writings of many theorists. I will not attempt to associate each concept with it's originator. You can get this detailed information in a graduate class. The writings of Rollo May are considered as a primary source.

Core Tendency of Personality

I. Core Tendency: To achieve authentic being. Being signifies the special quality of human mentality (aptly called intentionality), that makes life a series of decisions, each involving an alternative that precipitates persons into an unknown future and an alternative that pushes them back into a routine, predictable past. Choosing the future brings ontological anxiety (fear of the unknown), whereas choosing the safe status quo brings ontological guilt (sense of missed opportunity). Authenticity involves accepting this painful state of affairs and finding the courage or hardiness to persist in the face of ontological anxiety and choose the future, thereby minimizing ontological guilt.

II. Core Characteristics:

A. Being-in-the-world: This concept emphasizes the unity of person and environment, since, in this heavily phenomenological position, both are subjectively defined. Being-in-the-world has three components:

B. Six ontological principles:

C. The goals of integration: May conceives of the human being as conscious of self, capable of intentionality, and needing to make choices. To do this we must recognize and confront the paradoxes of our lives. A paradox is too opposing things posited against each other all the while the fact is that they cannot exist without each other. Thus, good and evil; life and death; and beauty and ugliness appear to be at odds with each other, but the very confrontation with one breathes life and meaning into the other. The goals of integration include confronting one's potentialities for the daimonic, power, love, intentionality, freedom and destiny, and courage and creativity.


1 Early Development. The period during which the child is dependent and requires parental guidance in order to develop courage. Ideally, parents (1) expose the child to a richness of experience, (2) freely impose limits expressing their own views, (3) love and respect the child as a budding individual, and (4) teach the value of vigorous symbolization, imagination, and judgement directly and by example. Experiencing these things, the child develops courage, or the willingness to consider what is facticity (given) and what is possibility, and the tendency to chose the future rather than the past, tolerating ontological anxiety (fear of unknown) rather than building up ontological guilt (sense of missed opportunity).

II. Later development. Begins when courage has been developed (presumably sometime in adolescence, if conditions have been ideal). This period, which continues throughout life, involves self-initiated learning from failure experiences. There are two transitional stages to go through before authenticity or individuality can be reached. The first is the aesthetic phase, which takes place as soon as the person leaves the family. It is characterized by living in the moment (without regard for past or future) and failing to form deep relationships. The loneliness and aimlessness of this orientation teaches the person its shortcomings. Thus, the idealistic phase begins, characterized by undying commitments and uncompromising principles. Sooner or later the person recognizes, through failures, that commitments cannot be made forever and that the relationship between principles and any particular persons or events is problematical. With this learning, the phase of authenticity or individuality begins.

Periphery of Personality.

Personality types emphasizing self-definition and world view: (This is mostly from Maddi's writings)

I. Authenticity or individuality (ideal type) involves the self-definition as someone with a mental life permitting comprehension and influence over one's social and biological experiences. The world view is characterized by considering society the creation of persons and properly in their service. The individualist's functioning has unity and shows subtly, taste, intimacy, and love. Doubt (or ontological anxiety) is experienced as a natural concomitant of creating one's own meaning and does not undermine the decision-making process. There is a minimum of ontological guilt, or sense of missed opportunity.

II. Conformism (nonideal type) is the expression in adulthood of not having learned courage in early development, and, hence, being unable to learn from failures. The self-definition is nothing more than a player of social roles and an embodiment of biological needs. Expression of symbolization, imagination, and judgement, is inhibited, leading to stereotyped, fragmentary functioning. Biological experiencing is exaggerated and gross, and social experiencing is contractual rather than intimate. The conformist feels worthless and insecure because of the buildup of ontological guilt through frequently choosing the past rather than the future. The relevant world view stresses materialism and pragmatism. This type represents a vulnerability to existential sickness, which tendency becomes an actuality when environmental stresses occur that are sufficient to disconfirm the conformist's self-definition and world view.

Kierkegaard, Søren.

Kierkegaard, Søren, b. May 5, 1813, Copenhagen, Den. d. Nov. 11, 1855,

SØREN AABYE KIERKEGAARD Danish religious philosopher and critic of rationalism, regarded as the founder of existentialist philosophy. He is famous for his critique of systematic rational philosophy, particularly Hegelianism, on the grounds that actual life cannot be contained within an abstract conceptual system. With this stance, he intended to clear the ground for an adequate consideration of faith and, accordingly, of religion--specifically Christianity.

Early life.

Kierkegaard's father, Michael Pedersen Kierkegaard, who had a great influence on his character, had begun his own career as a poor tenant-farmers' helper in the desolate moorlands of western Jutland. One day, desperate with rage at divine indifference to his sufferings and privations, he stood on a hill and solemnly cursed God. Soon after, he was sent to Copenhagen, to an uncle who was a dealer in woolen articles, and from that moment he prospered, ending his life as a rich man--the owner of five houses in the capital that all miraculously escaped destruction during the British bombardment of Copenhagen in 1807. Moreover, having placed his entire fortune in gilt-edged securities, he was among the few who escaped ruin in the state bankruptcy of 1813, the year Søren was born. Thus, at his death in 1838, the old man left Kierkegaard and his brother a considerable fortune that enabled Kierkegaard to spend his life writing, unhampered by financial considerations.

Kierkegaard's psychological heritage was, however, far more important than his financial legacy in its consequences for his development as a man and a writer. His father combined a strict adherence to orthodox Lutheranism with a fondness for the logic of formal argument, and yet the austere religious and intellectual training he devised for the most brilliant of his sons was enlivened by a captivating imagination. Kierkegaard never shook off the influence of his father's overpowering personality nor of the suppressed melancholy that lay so disquietingly below the surface of his father's piety. At an early age, Kierkegaard became aware of the heavy burden of guilt that weighed his father down and later learned, in circumstances the traumatic effect of which he designated as "The Great Earthquake," that the reasons for it lay in the boyhood curse his father had hurled at God. Appalled by the knowledge of his father's sin, he threw himself into a life of dissipation yet remained haunted by the elder Kierkegaard's conviction that God's curse lay on the family, a conviction that the deaths of Kierkegaard's mother and five of his six brothers and sisters seemed to confirm. He went to the University of Copenhagen to study theology but neglected this in favour of philosophy.

The death of his father in 1838 had a sobering effect on Kierkegaard. He resumed his theological studies and two years later took his master's degree. There was, however, another reason for his renewal of purpose; he had fallen in love with a young girl, Regine Olsen, and become engaged to her. Almost immediately, however, he began to think he had made a mistake, though he still felt himself deeply in love. It appears that he became increasingly aware of the gulf between the young, innocent, inexperienced girl and himself, weighed down as he was by a feeling of guilt and by his unusual consciousness of the complexities of the human mind, which he would never be able to communicate to Regine. As he wrote in his diary: "I was a thousand years too old for her."

Accordingly, he decided to break the engagement. But Regine was in love with him, and the more he tried to persuade her to let him go, the more she clung to him. In the end he had to break off their relationship himself, but, in order to preserve her reputation, he staged an elaborate show of caddishness so as to make it appear that it was she who had rejected him. This point established, he fled to Berlin, where he lived for half a year. This little romance, novelettish though it may seem in bare outline, had a profound effect on Kierkegaard and furnished him with material for reflection and comment in several of his books.

First philosophical works.

He returned from Berlin with an enormous manuscript in his trunk, Enten-Eller: et-livs fragment (1843; Either/Or: A Fragment of Life). Nearly all Kierkegaard's books were published pseudonymously, with fictitious names suited to the particular work, a peculiarity intended to persuade the reader that the ideas he proposed were not to be taken as the pronouncements of an authority but presented as various modes of life for the reader's judgment and, especially, choice. This is, in fact, the meaning of the title Either/Or, which offers the alternatives of an aesthetic or an ethical (or ethico-religious) view of life. Kierkegaard's belief in the necessity--for each individual--of making a fully conscious, responsible choice among the alternatives that life offers has become fundamental in all existential writing and thought.

Kierkegaard's unhappy experience with Regine obviously plays a great role in Either/Or, and, indeed, the final part of the first volume recalls his own love story in many details recorded in his diary. The book can be seen as a secret communication to Regine, intended to explain and justify his attitude to her. Such secret communications run through all his works, and Kierkegaard returns again and again to the question of his responsibility for what he did. Either/Or is a work of high artistic value; in addition, it provides an important illustration of the current literary trend when Romanticism was developing some of its later preoccupations--social realism and individual psychology--and was becoming more pessimistic and morbid in its outlook. These elements also occur in Kierkegaard's subsequent books, which appeared in rapid succession.

Among them should be mentioned Frygt og baeven (1843; Fear and Trembling) and Gjentagelsen (1843; Repetition), both of which deal with faith and with the idea of sacrifice. The starting point of Fear and Trembling is the story of Abraham and Isaac. Once more Kierkegaard examines the implications of his break with Regine, a sacrifice, like that of Abraham, performed in obedience to a higher duty, and, like Abraham's readiness to slay his son, an act that contravenes the laws of ethics. The problem is whether situations can be imagined in which ethics can be suspended by a higher authority--i.e., by God, when God himself must be considered the essence of everything ethical. This problem--which Kierkegaard calls "the teleological suspension of the ethical"--led him to the conclusion that faith is essentially paradoxical. Repetition is associated with Fear and Trembling since it provides a psychological demonstration of these ideas.

In 1844 Philosophiske smuler (Philosophical Fragments) and Begrebet angest (The Concept of Dread) appeared. The former is an attempt to present Christianity as it should be if it is to have any meaning. It aims particularly at presenting Christianity as a form of existence that presupposes free will, without which everything becomes meaningless. This was an attack on the prevailing Hegelian philosophy, which employed grandiose historical perspectives in which the individual was sucked up as tracelessly as a grain of dust. In fact, by this time Kierkegaard was preparing for a showdown with Hegelian philosophy, but, before he did so, he felt the need to extend his ideas concerning the philosophy of freedom into the sphere of psychology. The result was The Concept of Dread. Extraordinarily penetrating, it is perhaps the first work of depth psychology in existence.

In this work Kierkegaard makes a clear distinction between what he calls angst, or dread--a feeling that has no definite object--and the fear and terror that derive from an objective threat (e.g., a wild animal, a gunman). How intimately Kierkegaard's ideas were intertwined with his life can be seen from an extract from his diary:

But if I had explained things to her [Regine], I would have had to initiate her into terrible things, my relationship with my father, his melancholy, the eternal night that broods over me, my despair, lusts, and excesses, which perhaps in God's eyes were not so heinous; for it was dread which caused me to go astray.

In the last part of the sentence we have the starting point and key to The Concept of Dread. Kierkegaard perceived that freedom cannot be proved philosophically because any proof would imply a logical necessity, which is the opposite of freedom. The discussion of freedom does not belong to the sphere of logic but to that of psychology, which cannot discuss freedom itself but can describe the state of mind that makes freedom possible. This state of mind is dread. Through experiencing dread, one leaps from innocence to sin, and, if the challenge of Christianity is accepted, from guilt to faith. Dread is thus sin's prelude, not its sequel, as one would think at first.

In 1845 Kierkegaard had a new book ready, Stadier paa livets vei (Stages on Life's Way), a voluminous work and perhaps his most mature artistic achievement. In a way, it reiterates the idea of Either/Or, as the two titles indicate, but there is a vital difference--now the religious stage, or sphere, is distinguished not merely from the aesthetic but also from the ethical. This development was, in fact, a logical consequence of the ideas embodied in all his former works, which aimed at exposing the inadequacy of human ethics as a way of life. Accordingly, while in Either/Or there were only two spheres, the aesthetic and the ethical, in Stages on Life's Way there are three. In the third and last section of the book, "Guilty?/Not Guilty?," Kierkegaard dissects the story of his broken engagement from a new angle. On the aesthetic plane, a love tragedy signifies that two lovers cannot be united because an extraneous power prevents them; the story of Romeo and Juliet provides a classic example. On the ethical plane, the obstacle consists in their belonging to different spheres of existence, one interpreting love aesthetically, the other ethically. This obstacle can only be overcome by one elevating the other to his own sphere of existence, a thing that rarely happens. On the religious plane, however, the obstacle lies in the fact that one of the two is constitutionally different, for he conceives his destiny to be one of suffering, and only the acceptance of suffering will enable him to achieve detachment from the here and now and so prepare him for eternity. The aesthetic hero has his opposition outside himself; the religious finds it within. The aesthetic hero becomes great by conquering; the religious hero by suffering. But suffering in the service of "the idea" is precisely the realization of the idea in the religious sphere of existence. This was the argument that Kierkegaard had not himself conceived when he wrote Either/Or and for whose sake he had to write the book over again.

It is an argument that evinces an increasingly sombre outlook on life and on humanity as a whole. A number of unpleasant experiences had contributed to his changed mood. Regine had married and thus crushed a romantic illusion about their remaining in a sort of divine marriage, raised above the terrestrial level, only waiting for God to make the impossible possible. This, in fact, was the idea underlying both Fear and Trembling and Repetition. Now it had all come to nothing, and the disillusionment emerges clearly in the first part of Stages on Life's Way, called "In Vino Veritas" or "The Banquet," which is modeled on Plato's Symposium and deals with the same subjects--love, eros, sex, woman--and reflects a biting sarcasm and scathing contempt for women in general.

Attack on Hegelianism.

Kierkegaard also had other disappointments. He quarreled with literary critics who did not see the purport of his writings or, even worse, did see it and still tried to make him a laughingstock. From these skirmishes, he emerged victorious but deeply hurt and filled with an enormous disgust for mankind. This bitterness manifests itself in most of what he wrote afterward. But his next book was an exception. It bears the impressive title "Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments. A Mimic-Pathetic-Dialectic Composition, an Existential Contribution. By Johannes Climacus. Published by S. Kierkegaard." (1846).

It is typical of Kierkegaard's irony that his most philosophically important work figures as a postscript to a book only about a fifth its size. And by calling his book "an existential contribution," Kierkegaard gives the reader a strong hint of his own philosophical position; his aim is to settle accounts with the predominant philosophy of his time, the Hegelian philosophy, which had swept Europe. Kierkegaard attacked Hegel's attempt to systematize the whole of existence, declaring that a system of existence cannot be constructed, since existence is incomplete and constantly developing. He further drew attention to the logical error that arose from Hegel's attempt to introduce mobility into logic and so revealed the confusion arising from the mixing of categories. Hegel thought he had created the objective theory of knowledge; Kierkegaard put forward the thesis that subjectivity is truth or, to quote his own definition, "the objective uncertainty maintained in the most passionate spirit of dedication is truth, the highest truth for one existing."

These tenets, which have become the foundation stones of modern existentialism, have not only punctured "the system," as Hegel called his own philosophy, but have made all philosophical systems precarious. The system builder will never understand that it is not possible to understand existence intellectually. Hegel equated existence and thought and thus left no room for faith. Accordingly, Christianity appeared as a mere paragraph in the system, an example of the general, and that, according to Kierkegaard, was the scandal. Kierkegaard did not feel himself called upon to persuade people to become Christians, but he certainly did feel an obligation to let his contemporaries understand what Christianity really is. And more than that, he had a feeling that God had designated him for a special task and that he should give up writing altogether.

Showdown with the church.

Kierkegaard could not abstain from writing, and now the "mission" was beginning to crystallize. God had appointed him, he thought, to reveal to his contemporaries the true nature of Christianity and to expose the scandal of the established Church of Denmark, the clergy of which had betrayed their religion by making themselves comfortable in secular society, in short, had become civil servants instead of followers of Christ.

It is clear that Kierkegaard was moving in the direction of even greater austerity in his religious thinking, and in the works that he now produced, particularly Kjerlighedens gjerninger (1847; Works of Love), Christelige taler (1848; Christian Discourses), Sygdommen til døden (1849; The Sickness unto Death), and Indøvelse I Christendom (1850; Training in Christianity), he depicted a Christianity sterner and more uncompromising than in any of his other writings. The last book was also a disguised attack on the heads of the Danish church. By 1855 he felt convinced that God had authorized him to attack the established church and its clergy ruthlessly, and he began at once with a great number of small books and pamphlets and even a periodical called The Moment, to the 10 numbers of which he was the sole contributor.

The strain of this intensely conducted campaign made grave inroads on his health. After nearly two years of it he collapsed and was brought to a hospital, where he died a month later. By that time he had exhausted his fortune. The few things of value he possessed he left to Regine, the woman he had loved and who by that time lived in the Danish West Indies, married to the governor.

Influence on modern existentialism.

It was not until several decades after Kierkegaard's death that the philosophical and artistic value of his work began to be fully appreciated. In 1877 the Danish literary critic Georg Brandes published the first book ever written about Kierkegaard and gave a brilliant analysis of his thought and life. In Germany interest in Kierkegaard became widespread, and everything of his was translated before World War I. It was not, however, until the years between the two world wars that knowledge of his work became widespread. The theology of the Swiss Protestant theologian Karl Barth also helped to escalate existentialist thinking, as did the philosophical thought of Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger and the Jewish religious thinker Martin Buber.

The crucial understanding of Kierkegaard's writing came in the post-World War II years, which seem to have created a more penetrating realization of such states as angst and suffering. Now the interest in Kierkegaard became universal, and by a century after his lonely death, Kierkegaard's time had finally come. (P.P.R./Ed.)

Book on the psychology of Evil: Baumeister, R. F. (1996). Evil: Inside Human Cruelty and Violence. New York: W H Freeman & Co.


Although it may be a universal truth that the desires of each and every individual will always be within sight but forever just out of reach, German director Werner Herzog has made it his mission to grapple with the extremes of the human spirit by rattling the chains of reality until something comes loose. The Harvard Film Archive's Werner Herzog film series, which starts this Friday, offers a comprehensive collection of the writer/director's work.

Herzog's visual interpretations and commentaries on the nature of dreams and those individuals willing to leap into the abyss in order to realize their visceral desires is a subject many filmmakers shy away from. He not only takes the plunge but relates the fall and somehow climbs back out to describe this realm where there is no longer any distinction between real and unreal. The subjects of his films include conquistadors haunting the depths of sanity amid the Amazon jungle, mountain climbers circling the highest reaches of the world and human spirit, the murky world of a woman who is both deaf and blind, even the influence of vampires on a society now forsaken by God.

"I think his is a visionary cinema. He is one of the great directors working today," says Herbert Golder, a professor of Classics at Boston University and longtime friend and collaborator of Herzog's. "Werner's films examine human feelings in the extreme. When you subject someone to extremes, it is man at the greatest points of his courage and spiritual depth. He is a man who dreams with his eyes open, and his is a highly original and universal vision."

Fitzcarraldo, Herzog's most famous -- and infamous -- film (it screens this Saturday, October 19, at 8:30 p.m.), is the story of a man who yearns to build an opera house in the middle of the Amazon jungle. The inimitable Klaus Kinski delivers one of his most inspired performances as the eccentric Irishman who strikes out into a cloying world of García Márquez-ian lushness and magic. The Jivero Indians believe that "everyday life is only an illusion behind which lies the reality of dreams." They see Fitzcarraldo's gigantic steamboat as the means to soothe the angry gods who have chosen to leave their world unfinished.

For Herzog's script to remain true to his personal vision, he actually had to drag the ship over a mountain. The painstaking process encountered every disaster possible, including tribal and cast revolts, droughts, and floods. Herzog somehow pulled the boat and everyone else along with his own dream, to create one of the truest representations of the primordial and one of finest examples of the transcendent nature of film. It left many casualties in its wake, however, and he wound up the target of numerous accusations of recklessness. Ironically, most of the controversy was fuelled by the documentary that he himself commissioned. Les Blank's Burden of Dreams paints a picture of actors trapped in the jungle at the mercy of a mad genius.

"It's all been grotesquely misrepresented," says Golder. "None of these bad things happened because of Herzog's recklessness. He has never intentionally put anyone's life in danger. He is the consummate professional. Burden of Dreams does misrepresent reality, but Werner understands why he [Blank] did it."

There have also been stories about the clashing of wills with frequent star Klaus Kinski. The two worked together in the Amazon on Aguirre, the Wrath of God, under exceedingly rough conditions. Kinski relates the experience in his recently reissued autobiography, Kinski Uncut, saying among other things, "Huge red ants should piss into his lying eyes and gobble up his balls and his guts! He should catch the plague! Syphilis! Malaria! Yellow fever! Leprosy! It's no use; the more I wish him the most gruesome deaths, the more he haunts me." And yet they did some of their best work together, Kinski giving one of the best performances of Dracula in Nosferatu the Vampyre and one of the most staggering comments on man's relation to God in Woyzeck. Both men have commented that it was some twisted form of destiny that brought them together.

"No matter how fantastic, his feature films are more real than anything Hollywood has to offer," Golder concludes. "His work represents the familiar landscape you see with eyes refreshed -- the miraculous in the mundane."

The Mystery of Kasper Hauser:

Synopsis: Herzog's film opens in Nuremberg in 1828, where a grown man is found standing catatonically in the town square. He is Kasper Hauser, perhaps the ultimate Herzogian outsider: without speech, reason, memory, and without human contact since childhood. Initially treated as a curiosity and a freak, he is gradually educated in the ways of Western civilization, but his initiation into the mysteries of language, logic, and religion only drives him to despair.

Herzog employs the visual style of the film (odd camera angles, awkward shot composition, unusual lighting) to convey his protagonist's perceptual disorientation, and heightens the sense of estrangement with the inspired casting of Bruno S, - a former schizophrenic who had spent much of his time in institutions - in the title role.

"Movie Magazine International" Review -- Air Date: Week Of 9/20/95

By Monica Sullivan

In 1828, a most unusual young man turned up in Nuremburg. For the next five years, he was a source of wonder and, perhaps, fear to the intelligentsia. Who was he? Where had he come from? Why had he been deprived of a normal existence his entire life? Was he descended from Royalty? His murder in 1833 only intensified the riddle. Artists and scholars continue to study Kaspar Hauser to the present day.

Possibly the most heartfelt view of the subject was provided by the Werner Herzog masterpiece, "The Mystery Of Kaspar Hauser". Under Hertzog's brilliant direction, Bruno S. attempts and succeeds at the impossible: stripping his entire personality of each and every trace of socialisation. His Kaspar is like a baby that grows from infancy to adulthood without learning a thing. His social vulnerability is the quality that attracts small children who laboriously teach him how to speak, one word at a time.

Kaspar is later exploited as a freak attraction, but he escapes and later leads a life of what appears to be non-stop education in sheltered circumstances. His questions are strong, clear and child-like, but because he is a man, they are interpreted as a threat. Or so Herzog suggests. The tenderness and compassion with which Kaspar is initially received evolves into suspicion and violence. Just when the whole world appears to be opening up for Kaspar, he is the object of two murderous attacks, the second eventually proving fatal. His efforts at socialization end and he reverts to the infant's heartrending gestures for someone, anyone, to stop the pain.

When Bruno S. is onscreen, it's impossible to tear your eyes away from his one-of-a-kind performance, but Herzog wisely gives a spare but eloquent context for "The Mystery Of Kaspar Hauser". An anatomical dissection of Kaspar Hauser is quickly carried out, revealing nothing but our eagerness to search for answers, even when they're wrong. In contrast, Herzog shows us the landscapes that surround his story, recreating the lush colour experiments of photographers of the mid-nineteenth century. Herzog's anachronistic images and Bruno S's newly-reborn eyes make more sense of the mystery than all the state-of-the-art scientific bumbling of 1833 or 1993.

The New England Journal of Medicine -- October 13, 1994 -- Vol. 331, No. 15

The Kaspar Hauser Syndrome of "Psychosocial Dwarfism": Deficient Statural, Intellectual, and Social Growth Induced by Child Abuse

By John Money. 290 pp. Buffalo, N.Y., Prometheus Books, 1994. $25.95. ISBN 0-87975-754-X

In 1828 Kaspar Hauser, a foundling, physically and intellectually stunted by abuse and neglect, was abandoned at the Haller Gate of the wall of the city of Nuremberg. The facts of his story tore a hole through another wall, the wall of denial of the severe abuse to which many children were being subjected. Much controversy resulted from that breach in the wall and the writings of those who studied it. This study and the alternating outrage and incredulity that it provoked are the subtext of this book, whose main subject is the syndrome of reversible hyposomatotropism due to abuse, here christened the Kaspar Hauser syndrome by John Money.

That the story is told by a researcher who has walked the path made by the breach gives the book an urgency that belies the precise, scholarly language in which it is written. One never forgets while reading this book that this is a personal account, that of a man angered by what has been done to children by their abusive parents and by the indifference or incompetence of "decent folk." Yet it is also the account of a scientist excited about the perspective the case of Kaspar Hauser brings to the connections between the soul and the soma.

Kaspar Hauser was found with a note identifying him as a 16-year-old foundling. He was 4 feet 8 inches tall, with a beard and mustache just beginning to show. His vocabulary was limited to a few reiterated words; his speech was telegraphic and deficient in syntax. After being tutored for three years, he was able to write in the style of a beginning student of German. He was thus able to write his own story. He wrote that he had always lived in a small dark room with only two toy horses. It was only shortly before being taken to Nuremberg that he was taught a few words. Despite his progress in learning language, he remained socially inept. At the time of his murder at the age of 21 years, he was only 4 feet 11 inches tall.

John Money uses the case of Kaspar Hauser to introduce the syndrome he proposes be named after that unfortunate boy. In the 22 chapters of parts I and II, he takes the reader from the gradual awakening of our awareness of its characteristics in children with failure to thrive in institutional settings to the scientific documentation of the many levels on which the effects of the abuse continue even after the children are rescued. No detail is spared, nor is there any bowing to current fads or political correctness as the author describes the biologic manifestations (the partially reversible stunting of somatic and cognitive development and pain agnosia), the children's psychological adaptations and social development, the accompanying systemic abnormalities in the families, and the short- and long-term sequelae for the children and those who care for them. In doing so, he quotes extensively from the writings of investigators who described different aspects of the syndrome.

This valuable method shows the process of scientific discovery in a clinical setting and gives the reader a perspective on the times that shaped this process. Extensive quotations from case reports allow the reader to make independent conclusions.

Two chapters deserve special mention. The one on grooming deprivation summarizes data implicating the quality of early care-giving in the development of the neuroendocrine system and subsequent physical and intellectual growth. This short chapter may be prophetic in drawing attention to the links between abnormalities in the neuroendocrine axis and major depression (and other affective syndromes) or cognitive deficits. The chapter on "lovemaps" reports on the sexual and erotic functioning of 16 children who were given a diagnosis of abuse dwarfism in childhood. The findings shed profound light on the confusion surrounding the sexual development of these children and clarify the development of sexuality and the vicissitudes of love in general. This chapter is particularly illustrative of the power of Money's method of inquiry: the longitudinal follow-up study with information collected through in-depth interviews over the years.

Professor emeritus of medical psychology and pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University Medical School, Money is known throughout the world for his contributions to the understanding of sexuality and its development. He was the first to describe the effects of child abuse and neglect on physical, intellectual, and social growth. One of the hallmarks of his work is its independence from prevailing academic fashion. Thus, some readers will note (and disagree with) the conspicuous absence in this book of detailed discussion of the newer psychoanalytic formulations of the effects of childhood abuse, but no one familiar with Money's work will be surprised. In the epilogue he offers his views on the historical role that psychoanalytic thinking had in developing our understanding of the effects of child abuse. Over the years, Money has grounded his own hypotheses in detailed longitudinal observation. As a result, much of his work continues to be cited as definitive in human psychology, though four decades have passed since some of it was first published.

The first two parts of this book document medical and scientific attempts to understand child abuse. The third part, written by Joshua Kendall, M.A., is a review and commentary on the century and a half of literary reaction to the story of Kaspar Hauser. It completes the design of this important study by documenting society's reaction. It reviews the portrayal of Kaspar Hauser in poetry, drama, and novels, and nicely documents how he became both a symbol and a metaphor.

I believe this book has much to offer to students and researchers alike. It places an important area of psychological inquiry in a historical context, summarizes the salient findings, and provides ready access to many important references. Beyond this it demonstrates what can be accomplished through the dedication of a career in clinical work if care is taken to document findings and conduct a follow-up over the long term. Lastly, it makes manifest both the power and the limitations of genius in formulating -- beyond its historical era -- observations that cut to the very essence of our tools of understanding.

Joseph Gonzalez-Heydrich, M.D.

Children's Hospital

Boston, MA 02115

The Existential Megabomb Is Still Ticking

Rollo May, Ernest Angel, and Henri F. Ellenberger

Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology

New York: Basic Books, 1958. 445 pp.

Retrospective review by Alvin R. Mahrer

Before I read this volume in 1958, I had a four-year-old doctorate and a big confusion. The confusion was from being a passionate disciple of four psychological movements that were outrageously incompatible with one another. One was from a long psychoanalysis that had been comfortably benign. A second was from Carl Rogers's approach, which he had bequeathed to the doctoral program before I entered the department. The other two were from the twin stars of the department—Julian Rotter and his social learning theory and George Kelly and his personal construct theory. When I read this volume in 1958, I had no idea I was studying a powerful megabomb. But I was.

When I reread the pencilled notes in the margins, almost 40 years later, it seems to me that (a) the book is indeed a powerful megabomb that is still ticking away, and (b) because it is still ticking, it has had almost no impact on the fields of psychiatry and psychology. So far. The intended contribution of this volume was both big and little. The big intention was to put European existentialism into a package and to bring it to North America. However, the little intended contribution was to bring it in as a mere new dimension to psychoanalytic North American psychiatry and psychology. The editors were innocent of intending to import a megabomb; it was just a friendly little existential dimension, one that could add a dash of European existentialism to North American psychoanalytic thought and practice.

Indeed, the editors and contributors were steeped in the psychoanalytic tradition. Ernest Angel, the editor mainly responsible for the translations, was a scholar of psychoanalysis and existential philosophy. Rollo May, the senior editor and a training psychoanalyst, contributed the two classic introductory-overview chapters. There are chapters by Henri Ellenberger, a psychoanalytic psychiatrist and the third editor, as well as chapters by Eugene Minkowski, Erwin Straus, V. E. Gebsattel, and Roland Kuhn, with three chapters by Ludwig Binswanger. These chapters introduce the reader to the fountainhead of existential thinking of such giants as Alfred Storch, Medard Boss, G. Bally, J. V. Van Den Berg, F. J. Buytendijk, Sören Kierkegaard, Ludwig Feuerbach, Paul Tillich, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, Karl Jaspers, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, Franz Kafka, and others. What this volume had imported from Europe was the foundation for a whole new field of clinical psychiatry and psychology. They smuggled in a powerful megabomb, almost without knowing what they had done.

Has the volume had much of an impact on North American psychiatry and psychology? A weak case for a yes answer may point toward a few contemporary movements that acknowledge a loose existential ancestry: Frankl's logotherapy, Boss's Daseinsanalysis, client-centered therapy, Gestalt therapy, the "third force'' of the Rogers–Maslow humanistic psychology, and phenomenology. However, the gratuitous existential connection does not mean that the powerful contents of this volume are reflected in these contemporary movements. A much stronger case can be made that this remarkable volume has had little or no effect, even in terms of its intention to inject an existential flavor to psychoanalytic thought and practice.

The purpose of the balance of this retrospective review is to take a peek inside the megabomb and to suggest that, whatever its benign little impacts have been so far, you ain't seen nothing yet. Once you take a look inside, I believe you might agree that if this megabomb is ever exploded, the impact would probably be revolutionary on the fields of clinical psychiatry and psychology. Worded more carefully, this volume contains the conceptual structure for a whole new existential psychology and psychiatry. Here are a few samples of the rumbling powerful contents:

*In most contemporary psychologies, the person is one entity, and other persons or the external world constitute another entity. These two entities interact and interrelate in complex ways. In an exceedingly bold departure, this volume heralds a single entity that is referred to as a "being-in-the-world'' (p. 55). The definition of a person includes the very world in which the person is being, in whose design the person participates. In a hyphenated stroke, the person is the architect of the world, and the constructed world is a part of the person who constructs it.

Here is a grand existential alternative to the anchoring presumption of the person as one entity and the other person or world as a separate entity, with the two entities touching, affecting, effecting, and interacting with one another. Even with approaches that emphasize the person within an encompassing larger entity or system, there is still the anchoring acceptance of two entities in interaction. The powerful alternative is contained in the jargon phrase of being-in-the-world, hyphenated to acknowledge the essential coterminality of person-world. Here is a massive qualitative shift of who and what is a person, the person's world, and how they are with one another.

*The existential way of understanding or knowing a person or a phenomenon is by "being it.'' Understanding and knowing consist of a determined, intentional, careful, sensitive, and rigorous attempt to join with it, fuse or meld with it, or enter into its very existential being and its very existential world. This is the way to understand and to know whether the intent is clinical knowing or scientific research study.

This means abandoning traditional stances of studying the person or phenomenon from the outside, from the stance of an objective, removed, separated observer. This existential mode of understanding means risking the wholesale loss of one's removed, separated, observing self, and virtually the whole traditionally accepted hard core of ways in which this objective observer comes to understand and know the object of her study. Whether it is a therapist and a patient, or a qualitative researcher and some phenomenon, the way to understand and know is by entering into the other's existential being. Qualitative researchers sense the power of this method. Its full impact has yet to be released.

*Understanding and knowing consists of sharing the other person's existential being, and this means jettisoning virtually the whole world of psychiatry's and psychology's predetermined categories, dimensions, nomenclatures, tests, inventories, scales, and measures. It abandons the whole tradition of assessment and evaluation and of mental illnesses and disorders. Understanding and knowing the other person means a radical departure from trying to impose one's own categories on the person and then trying to keep the person stuffed into the same category (he is autistic, depressed, dependent, a borderline) from then on.

*How can one know what is supposedly deeper inside the other person? The existential answer is to join with the person in the fullest possible way, and to be in this person's world in the fullest possible way. The more you can wholly share the person's immediate existence, the more you come into existential contact with what is deeper. What is let go is the whole tradition of trying to probe what is deeper inside by being outside the person, talking to the person about what is inside and deeper. What is let go is the study of personal history; the study of test answers; and the clinical observation of behaviors, thoughts, and interactions that supposedly reveal the deeper insides. The existential way of getting at deeper material is boldly distinctive; what is declined is virtually all of the traditional ways of trying to know what is more deeply inside the person.

*The field of psychotherapy almost worships the relationship between therapist and patient. This relationship is practically the foundation of the field.

Existentialism opens a whole new departure. It sees the therapist as forever being-in-the-world, and the world includes the patient; it sees the patient as forever being-in-the-world, and the world includes the therapist. Rather than a theory of two separate persons having a relationship, the model is of two beings-in-the-world, with each constituting, overlapping, and coterminalizing the world of the other. This model yields its own ways in which therapists and patients can be with one another. In its somewhat extreme forms, and quite different from the ordinary therapist-patient relationship, therapist and patient may be (a) in a mutual encounter with one another, an existential meeting of the unconscious of patient and unconscious of therapist, or (b) in a genuine new blending or union or fusion of the personalities of each with the other. Again, the potential impact may be massive.

*In many contemporary approaches, there are powerful inner forces such as drives, needs, impulses, psychic energies, biological urges, motivations, growth forces, and actualization forces. These generally are understood as propelling the person along developmental stages that are biological, psychological, social, or some combination of these, and the direction is toward maturity, growth, full development, normality, and adulthood. In addition to grand internal forces, there are grand external forces in the form of family, groups, society, the whole universe of external influences, and stimuli. The picture is of the person as essentially at the mercy of these powerful internal and external forces, for better or for worse.

Existentialism departs from this common picture by seeing these internal and external forces as grand illusions and as collectively held fabrications. The entire fabric of determining internal and external forces is declined in the simple but elegant alternative of draping the person as a being-in-the-world, as building and architecting and giving meaning to one's own world, and as the one who constructs and uses these internal and external grand forces. Existentialism declines the necessity of these grand forces, except as inventions of the person in her way of being-in-the-world.

*This volume introduces a two-pronged understanding of unhappiness, pain, suffering, and anguish, with each prong perhaps differing dramatically from many commonly held views. According to existentialism, unhappiness, pain, suffering, and anguish are the inevitable consequence of trying to distance or cut oneself off from one's inner deeper self. If the person ultimately succeeds in cutting off, distancing, and sealing off, the surface payoff may be reduced anxiety, fear, depression, and the like, but existentialism mourns the state as one of existential death, of existential numbness, of becoming an adjusted, normal automaton. This is one prong.

The other prong is understanding such states as anxiety, tension, fear, and dread as threats to the surface person's very existence and therefore as windows into existential becoming and into the inner existential possibilities. This kind of feeling

occurs at the point where some emerging potentiality or possibility faces the individual, some possibility of fulfilling his existence, but this very possibility involves the destroying of present security, which thereupon gives rise to the tendency to deny the new potentiality. (p. 52)

In other words, existentialism sees these painful states not so much as targets of therapy, as things to be reduced or treated. Rather, this volume introduces the precious possibility that these states are points of entry into the deeper self. Here is a radical conceptualization of the meaning and possible use of painful feelings. Perhaps the most singularly dramatic implications for the field of psychotherapy come from this volume's pointing toward the way out of a state of pain, unhappiness, and suffering.

The way out of this state is to throw oneself into the black hole of existential possibilities. This is the final and utmost leap of faith. It is the voluntary leap into the innermost possibilities.

The way out of pain, unhappiness, and suffering is to let go of the very self, the very person that one is, and the very core of one's sense of I-ness. This is the very self, the very I-ness that is preserved, immune, and enhanced in most other approaches. What is let go is the very self that has thoughts, that has behaviors, and that can gain insight and understanding. In most therapies, what is expendable, what is even to be gotten rid of, are certain kinds of cognitions, ideas, behaviors, reactions, problems, and symptoms, but not the self that has them. In existentialism, what is expendable is the very core I-ness or self who has all these parts that are to be fixed. The stakes are much higher. This is existential death, risking the very end of existence of the very person who has the pain, unhappiness, trouble, or problem.

How can this massive and foundational change be accomplished? The volume does not ask or answer this question, at least not directly. But it seems to turn away from the ordinary endless conversations between the therapist and the surface patient, from the ordinary relationships between these two people, and from the gamut of therapist interventions and techniques and programs. What is the answer? This remarkable volume almost seems to hold back from taking its own existential leap into its own existential possibilities.

About 40 years after its publication, this volume seems to remain an existential megabomb that is still ticking. If you are willing to take an existential leap, study this book. Expose yourself to your own personal mega-explosion.


A. BACKGROUND. Rollo May was the writer most responsible for introducing European existentialism to U.S. readers. This included both philosophical inquiry into anings of human existence & experience, and the existential psychiatry which identified these philosophical issues as the core of an existential psychotherapy.

B. THE EXISTING PERSON. May reflects Sartre's view in his belief that the person cannot be seen in just terms of mechanisms and drives. That removes what is most personal and uniquely human, and blocks our understanding of what the person is really experiencing. The one real datum we have in the therapeutic situation is the existing person sitting in a consulting room with a therapist.

C. TRANSFERENCE AND ENCOUNTER. "Transference... vastly enlarges the sphere and influence of personality; we live in others and they in us." An emphasis on the concept of transference can undermine therapy in that it denies the reality of the relationship. "Transference is the distortion of encounter." The therapist can hide behind it to protect himself from the anxiety o_ direct encounter.


1. There is wide agreement that anxiety is a diffuse apprehension, "vague" and "objectless" while fear is a reaction to a specific danter. Characteristics of anxiety include uncertainty and helplessness in the face of the danger.

2. Anxiety is a threat to something in the "core or essence" of one's personality (Victor [the web page author] adds, --or one's life.) Anxiety is apprehension cued off by a threat to some value which the person holds essential.

3. Normal anxiety

a. Is not disproportionate to the objective threat

b. Does not involve repression or other mechanisms of intrapsychic conflict, and

c. Does not require neurotic defense mechanisms to manage, but can be confronted constructively on the level of conscious awareness or can be relieved if the objective situation is altered. Freud called normal anxiety, "objective anxiety."

d. May mentions that Otto Rank has emphasized that normal anxiety occurs in all experiences of "separation" throughout the person's life. If negotiated successfully, these experiences can lead to greater independence and to re-establishment of the relations with parents and others on new levels.

4. Neurotic anxiety is the result of not facing normal anxiety. To run away from anxiety means automatically surrendering a measure of one's freedom.

5. Neurotic anxiety

a) Is disproportionate to the objective danger

b) Involves repression (dissociation) and other forms of intrapsychic conflict

c) Is managed by inhibitions of activity and awareness, the development of symptoms, and defense mechanisms. Note that the reaction is disproportionate to the objective danger because some intrapsychic conflict is involved -- thus the reaction is never disproportionate to the subjective threat.

6. Neurotic anxiety occurs when inability to cope adequately with threat is subjective -- is due not to objective weakness but to inner psychological patterns and conflicts which prevent the individual from using his powers. Often this is rooted in early childhood. Horney, for instance, notes the conflict which may occur between dependence on parents and anger toward them.

7. The child develops toward decreasing dependence on parents and increasing use of own powers, and toward progressive relating to parents and others on new levels. When either of these kinds of development is blocked, it produces psychological conflict which results in anxiety.

8. Anxiety gives rise to hostility. For example, a dependent person, finding herself in a position of responsibility with which she feels she cannot cope, reacts with hostilitytoward those who have placed her in the situation and toward those who caused her to be unable to cope with it.


1. Freedom is a quality of action of the centered self: One who is in touch with parts of himself or herself.

2. Freedom always involves social responsibility. It occurs within the context of a perception of limits. The self always exists in a world.

The capacity to confront limits is part of freeedom.

3. Subordination strikes at the core of human dignity of the master as well as the slave. Slavery destroys the freedom of both.

4. We too easily think that freedom comes as our birthright and forget that we each must rediscover it for ourselves.

5. The purpose of psychotherapy, suggests May, is to set people free. "Freedom is the capacity to pause in the face of stimuli from many directions at once and, in this pause, to throw one's weight toward this response rather than that one. The person becomes able to say, "I can" or "I will."

6. Hating or resenting can serve as a way to avoid psychological or spiritual suicide by preserving some dignity, some feeling of one's own identity. The person says, in essence, "You have conquered me, but I reserve the right to hate you."

7. The mark of maturity is to transform hate and resentment into constructive emotions, but the fact that a person will destroy him/herself or something else rather than surrender fjreedom shows how important freedom is.


1. Innocence os of two types. One is childlike "true innocence." It evokes positive, warm feelings. The other is "pseudoinnocence". It is a pretense of innocence based on blotting out one's awareness of that which is incompatible with the "innocent" outlook. There is a foolish/stupid quality about it which results from this denial of awareness, which may lead the individual into harm which s/he could have avoided. Others see this type of "innocent" individual as "too good to be true." (Example described in detail in class: Melville's Billy Budd in his encounters with Claggert.)

2. Power is always interpersonal. If it is personal, then it is called strength.

3. Five types of power are present as potentialities in all people.

a. The power "to be". It is always present, represents possibilities. Seen in newborn infants.

b. The power of self-affirmation. All people have a need to affirm their own being.

c. Self-assertion" -- overt behaviors that a person exhibits in order for others to recognize. (The "terrible twos" -- "This is me; this is mine; I can; I will.)

d. Aggression -- occurs when self-assertion is blocked over a period of time. Involves moving into someone's territory and taking over what is theirs.

e. Violence: occurs when significance is difficult or impossible to achieve.


1. The Courage to Create. Physical, social, and moral courage are all potentially present in creativity.

2. The paradox of courage: "To be fully commmitted but fully aware at the same time that I may be wrong.

3. Creative courage: The discovering of new forms, symbols, and patterns upon which a new society can be built.

4. When we engage a painting, some new vision or way of seeing is born in us by our contact with it.

5. Creativity often involves conflict -- in a creative encounter our sense of identity is shaken, the world is not as we experienced it before, and since self and world are always correlated, we are no longer what we were before. Past, present, and future form a new Gestalt. Thus some anxiety arises.

6. Creativity, like freedom, works within limits. Limits create boundaries within which the creative energy can flow.


1. Any natural function which has the power to take over the whole person. Sex and eros, anger and rage, the craving for power.

2. The urge in every being to affirm itself, assert itself, perpetuate and increase itself. Becomes evil when it usurps the total self without regard to the integration of that self, or reasonable respect for others and their needs and rights.

3. The Greek concept of "daimon" included the creativity of poet, artist, and ethical & religious leader, and the absorption of the lover. In their concept of the daimon, the Greeks achieved a union of good and evil, a bridge between the divine and the human.

4. Consciousness can integrate the daimonic, make it personal. To live in accord with one's daimon is difficult but deeply rewarding.

5. In the Hellenistic and Christian eras, the dualistic split between good and evil sides of the daimon became more pronounced -- God and Satan, devils and angels. Lost is the classical organismic concept of being as combining both constructive and destructive possibilities. Rilke --if his devils are driven away, his angels flee as well.

6. When the daimonic is repressed, it tends to erupt in some form, which mayh be savage or destructive. Violence is the daimonic gone awry. It is "demon possession", often expressed in destructive form in our age because normal channels for utilizing the daimonic are denied.

7. The destructive power of the daimoic can be met only by transformiing it into constructive activities.


1. Human will always begins in a "no," a stand against the social environment. This no is a protest against a world we did not make, and is an assertion of oneself in the endeavor to remold and reform the world.

2. The reuniting of Love and will is important because when will destroyes simplistic bliss, it lays the groundwork for a relatively mature live in which we take responsibility for our choices and our actions in relationship. This relating of love and will is a task and an achievement which points toward maturity, integration, and wholeness.


1. RENAISSANCE. The Renaissance valued strong personality -- the powerful, free, creative person whose power was enhanced by knowledge and reason. As Fromm notes, the new individualism involved a "freedom from" ties which had bound the person of the middle ages. "The Renaissance set the problem for the modern period, namely: How can interpersonal community (ethical, psychological, economic, etc.) be attained which, integrated with the alues of individual freedom, will liberate the individual from the sense of isolation and concomitant anxiety inhering in excessive individualism?"

2. THE END OF AN ERA. "We live at the end of an era. The age that began with the Renaissance, born out of the twilight of the Middle Ages, is now at a close. The era that emphasized rationalism and individualism is suffering an inner and outer transition; and there are as yet only dim harbingers, only partly conscious, of what the new age will be."(PI)

3. The competitive aspect of individualism was greatly reinforced by the competitive process of industrialism. Individual economic competition set the state for a considerable increase of intrasocial aggression and histility. This could be expressed in the sociallyform of competitive striving.

4. FRAGMENTATION OF PERSONALITY. "The chief characteristic of the last half of the nineteenth century was the breaking up of personality into fragments. These fragmentations were symptoms of the emotional, psychological, and spiritual disintegration occurring in...almost every aspect of late nineteenth-century culture.... [for example] the spearating of religion from weekday existence...and the divorce of ethics from

business....This compartmentalization went hand-in-hand with the developing industrialism, as both cause and effect. A man who can keep the different segments of his life entirely separated, who can punch the clock everyat exactly the same moment, whose actions are always predictable, who is never troubled byurges or poetic visions, who indeed can manipulate himself the same way he would the machine whose levers he pulls, is the most profitable worker."...

"It was against these dehumanizing tendencies to make man into a machine, to make him over into the image of the industrial system for which he labored, that the early existentialists fought so strongly."(DB 62-3)

5. COMPARTMENTALIZATION OF CULTURE. "The compartmentalization of the culture had its psychological parallel in radical repression, within the individual personality." (DB 63)

6. The 20th Century is characterized by disunity and traumatic change. Hence the culture is marked by many inconsistencies and contradictions, which are reflected as contradictions in the psychological patterns of the individuals in the culture. May believes that the trauma of our culture involves a threatening of the basic patterns on which the culture itself has depended for security.



1. Generally considered the first relatively modern "existentialist" (if we do not consider existential currents in ancient Greek thought, Zen, etc.)

2. In K's view, truth is found through subjectivity, through our individual, unique apprehension of things.

a) We do not find truth through a detached "objectivity" but through a deep engagement with the world.

b) "The task is precisely to be objective toward oneself and subjective toward all others."

3. Existing, as contrasted to simply being, involves an infinite relationship with oneself and a passionate connection to life.

4. Passion is the quality of striving to become. Without passion there is no movement for the existing thinker. Passion raises the question of what moves one.

5. True heroism is "daring entirely to be oneself, this particular person, alone before God."

6. We may lose contact with our inner self and turn to exterior activity to camouflage this interior emptiness.

7. The sickness unto death is a sickness of the spirit. Also called despair. Its three forms are:

a. The despair of spiritlessness. To be unconscious that one is a spiritual as well as a mental-physical being.

b. The despair of encapsulation. Awareness that one has an inner self but wishing, despairingly, not to be this self.

c. The despair of defiance. Aware of inner self and wishing to affirm this self, but without recognizing the relatedness to and ultimate dependence of the human self on God.

8. The capacity to despair is a sign of our potential ability to grow; the reality of despair is often an impotent attempt to be rid of our own deep internal spirit which is in conflict with our daily getting and doing.

9. K. was especially sensitive to, and intolerant of, the hypocrisy of pretending to spirituality while actually acting from worldly motives.

10. The emergence from comfortable ignorance into self-consciousness leads to dread, or anxiety. We live in a condition of ambiguity in which we can not be either animal or angel. This dread, or anxiety, can be a springboard for growth into new dimensions .

l l. A constant of human life is the contradiction between consciousness of our individuality and part-divinity , and the terror of the world and our own death and decay. The final terror of self-consciousness is the knowledge of our own death.

12. "Half obscurity" and "shut-upness." In asking about what style and strategy a person uses to avoid anxiety, K. asks how a person is enslaved by his lies to himself about himself. This is, in different words and fifty years earlier, almost exactly what Freud later labeled "defense mechanisms" and "repression."

13 "Lofty shut-upness" leaves a child able to respond to the world on the basis of his or her individuality. "Mistaken shut-upness" never lets the child "walk alone" or develop itself in its own way.

14. Letting a child explore the world and develop its own powers gives the child an "inner sustainment," a self-confidence in the face of experience.

15. The lie of character is built up to adjust to parents, the world, and one's own existential dilemmas. Such character defenses can become automatic and unconscious. These lies of character deny our possibilities. They lead to people afraid to think for themselves.

16. Character is a structure built up to avoid perception of the "terror, perdition, and annihilation, that we all face.

17. The "automatic cultural man" is confined by culture and a slave to it, lulled into triviality by the comfortable routines of society and the limited alternatives and dull security it offers him. Such a person is called the Philistine. Today we would call it "normal neurosis."

18. The Philistine fears real freedom, because it endangers the structure of denial which surrounds his cultural routines. It opens up possibilities which the philistine wants to stay away from.

19. At the other extreme, too much possibility carries the danger of being ungrounded, out of touch with anchoring realities. Breakdown can occur because of either too much possibility or too little.

20. Self-development requires acknowledgment of both one's realities and one's limits.

21. The real problem of life is to discover what is one's true talent, secret gift, authentic vocation? How can we express this talent, give it form, dedicate it to something beyond oneself?

22. Health is not "normal adjustment," or "cultural normality". The truly healthy person is the one who has transcended himself or herself by dispelling the lies of our character, realizing the truth of our situation, and breaking our spirit out of its conditioned prison.

23. Possibility is an intermediate stage between cultural conditioning and the leap into faith which gives us direction and meaning in the face of conditions and uncertainty which otherwise would lead to terror, a feeling of alonenessness and helplessness, and constant anxiety.



Basic Existentialism

Mankind is the only known animal, according to earth-bound existentialists, that defines itself through the act of living. In other words, first a man or woman exists, then the individual spends a lifetime changing his or her essence. Without life there can be no meaning; the search for meaning in existentialism is the search for self... which is why there is existential psychotherapy. (Imagine a therapist telling people life has no meaning!) In other words, we define ourselves by living; suicide would indicate you have chosen to have no meaning.

Existentialists believe in living -- and in fact fighting for life. Camus, Sartre, and even Nietzsche were involved in various wars because they believed so passionately in fighting for the survival of their nations and peoples.

All too often people link a lack of faith or secular beliefs with existential ideals. Existentialism has little to do with faith or the lack thereof. To quote Walter Kaufmann, one of the leading existential scholars:

Certainly, existentialism is not a school of thought nor reducible to any set of tenets. The three writers who appear invariably on every list of existentialists -- Jaspers, Heidegger, and Sartre -- are not in agreement on essentials. By the time we consider adding Rilke, Kafka, and Camus, it becomes plain that one essential feature shared by all these men is their perfervid individualism.- Existentialism; Kaufmann, p. 11

In order to understand the current meaning of existentialism, one must first understand that the American view of existentialism was derived from the writings of three political activists, not intellectual purists. Americans learned the term existential after World War II. The term was coined by Jean-Paul Sartre to describe his own philosophies. It was not until the late 1950s that the term was applied broadly to several divergent schools of thought.

Despite encompassing a staggering range of philosophical, religious, and political ideologies, the underlying concepts of existentialism are simple:

Beyond this short list of concepts, the label existentialist is applied broadly. Even these concepts are not universal within existentialist works, or at least the writings of people groups as the existentialists. Blaise Pascal, for example, spent the last years of his life writing in support of predetermination, the theory men only think they have free will, making the decision-making process that much more depressing.

There is no one or two sentence statement summarizing what more than a dozen famous and infamous people pondered. The only common factor seems to be despair. The accompanying grid illustrates the range of ideals expressed by the major existentialists. Not every existentialist follows a perfect row in the grid. In particular, their political theories are more varied than the three categories listed.

Religious Predetermination Elitist Moralistic Intentions

Agnostic Chance Comunist Relativistic Actions

Atheistic Free Will Anarchrist Amoralistic Results

The first row might represent the writings of Blaise Pascal, especially late in his life when he tried desperately to defend his religious beliefs, including their inherent contradictions. The last row is representative of Jean-Paul Sartre's writings, if not his own beliefs.

As previously stated, uniting the men and women behind this matrix of concepts is despair. Their thoughts are linked by a belief that this life is a near-futile struggle against forces aligned in opposition to the individual.

The Existentialists

The individuals listed represent major contributors to existentialism and related philosophies. This chart is in philosophical order, not in the order of publication or life. Following the chart is further information on other existentialists or contributors to the philosophy. I would like to thank site visitor Eduardo Tenenbaum for his suggestions for this chart. I have made some minor changes, reflecting the input of visitors.

Name Philosophy / Faith Contribution Kaufmann's Comments

Fyodor Dostoevsky Eastern Orthodox Studied individual will, freedom, and anguish. I can see no reason for calling Dostoevsky an existentialist, but I do think that Part One of Notes from Underground is the best overture for existentialism ever written.

Søren Kierkegaard Existentialist, Protestant Theist Considered the first existentialist, his works were popularized by Heidegger.

E.T.: Formulated the aesthetic, ethical and religious as modes of existence. Perfected the Socratic technique of indirect communication Here lies Kierkegaard's importance for a vast segment of modern thought: he attacks received conceptions of Christianity, suggests a radical revision of the popular idea of the self, and focuses attention on

decision.Friedrich Nietzsche Individualist, Anti-Christian Ideas influenced Heidegger and Sartre.

E.T.: Developed concepts of Will-to-Power, Eternal Recurrence and Overman. The refusal to belong to any school of thought, the repudiation of the adequacy of any body of beliefs whatever, the opposition to philosophic systems, and a marked dissatisfaction with traditional philosophy as superficial, academic, and remote from life -- all this is eminently characteristic of Nietzsche.

Georg W. F. Hegel German Idealism, Protestant Influenced Marx, Husserl, Sartre, and many others. Hegel's "followers" broke into "left" and "right" wings. First to promote the concept of phenomenology.

Edmund Husserl Phenomenologist Developed concept of essences and being.

E.T.: Developed the concept of the Lifeworld

Martin Heidegger Phenomenologist, Existentialist, Theist Assistant to Husserl, wrote about Kierkegaard's works.

E.T. Student of Husserl's phenomenology, proclaimed the end of metaphysics. An early disciple... would sum up Heidegger's importance by asserting that he introduced Nietzsche into philosophy. {Note: Kaufmann disagrees with the preceding observation}He made it possible for professors to discuss with a good conscience matters previously considered literary, if that.

Franz Kafka Absurdist, Jewish Similar to Camus, Sartre, in depictions of cruel fate. Kafka stands between Nietzsche and the existentialists: he pictures the world into which Heidegger's man, in Sein und Zeit, is "thrown," the godless world of Sartre, the "absurd" world of Camus.

Jean-Paul Sartre Existentialist, Atheist Student of Heidegger, colleague and lover of de Beauvoir. It is mainly through the work of Jean-Paul Sartre that existentialism has come to the attention of a wide international audience. Sartre is a philosopher in the French tradition... at the borderline of philosophy and literature.

Simone de Beauvoir Existentialist, Feminist Best known as a "feminist" writer, she was the editor of many of Sartre's works. Lover of Sartre, friend to Camus and Merleau-Ponty.

Maurice Merleau-Ponty Phenomenologist, Existentialist One-time friend of Sartre, Camus. Supporter of Husserlian Phenomenology.

Albert Camus Existentialist / Absurdist, Atheist French Resistance member during WWII with Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, de Beauvoir. Brought "humanism" to his existentialism. {Paraphrase of Kaufmann} Camus marks the finale of existentialism... an attempt to move beyond what Sartre had defined. Camus cannot be called an existentialist, but his ideas evolved alongside those of Sartre and others.

Karl Jaspers Existentialist, Agnostic Contemporary of Sartre, Camus, et al. Jaspers sought to make philosophy more open for the general public... more relevant. It is in the work of Jaspers that the seeds sown by Kierkegaard and Nietzsche first grew into existentialism or, as he prefers to say, Existenzphilosophie.

Other existentialists worthy of mention include:

-Jean Wahl (1888 - 1974), founder of the French Existentialists movement, which grew under Sartre.

-Gabriel Marcel (1889 - 1973), French Roman-Catholic philosopher.

Influential philosophers and writers, with existential concepts reflected in their works include:

-Nicolas Alexandrovich Berdyaev (1874 - 1948), Russian Neo-Romanticist

-Leo Isakovich Shestov Schwarzman (1866 - 1938), Russian Irrationalist

-José Ortega y Gasset (1883 - 1955), Spanish writer

-Miguel de Unamuno (1864 - 1936), Spanish philosopher


Unamuno, Miguel de b. Sept. 29, 1864, Bilbao, Spain d. Dec. 31, 1936, Salamanca

MIGUEL DE UNAMUNO Y JUGO, educator, philosopher, and author whose essays had considerable influence in early 20th-century Spain.

Unamuno was the son of Basque parents. After attending the Vizcayan Institute of Bilbao, he entered the University of Madrid in 1880 and in four years received a doctorate in philosophy and letters. Six years later he became professor of Greek language and literature at the University of Salamanca.

In 1901 Unamuno became rector of the university, but he was relieved of his duties in 1914 after publicly espousing the Allied cause in World War I. His opposition in 1924 to General Miguel Primo de Rivera's rule in Spain resulted in his forced exile to the Canary Islands, from which he escaped to France. When Primo de Rivera's dictatorship fell, Unamuno returned to the University of Salamanca and was reelected rector of the university in 1931, but in October 1936 he denounced General Francisco Franco's Falangists, was removed once again as rector, and was placed under house arrest. He died of a heart attack two months later.

Unamuno was an early existentialist who concerned himself largely with the tension between intellect and emotion, faith and reason. At the heart of his view of life was his personal and passionate longing for immortality. According to Unamuno, man's hunger to live on after death is constantly denied by his reason and can only be satisfied by faith, and the resulting tension results in unceasing agony.

Although he also wrote poetry and plays, Unamuno was most influential as an essayist and novelist. If his vigorous and iconoclastic essays have any common theme, it is that of the need to preserve one's personal integrity in the face of social conformity, fanaticism, and hypocrisy. His first published work was the essays collected in En torno al casticismo (1895), in which he critically examined Spain's isolated and anachronistic position in western Europe at the time. His Vida de Don Quijote y Sancho (1905; Life of Don Quixote and Sancho) is a detailed analysis of Miguel de Cervantes' literary characters. Unamuno's mature philosophy found its fullest expression in Del sentimiento trágico de la vida en los hombres y en los pueblos (1913; The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Peoples), in which he stressed the vital role spiritual anxiety plays in driving man to live the fullest possible life. This and other themes were explored in La agonía del cristianismo (1925; The Agony of Christianity).

Unamuno's novels are intensely psychological depictions of agonized characters who illustrate and give voice to his own philosophical ideas. His most famous novel is Abel Sánchez: una historia de pasión (1917; Abel Sanchez), a modern re-creation of the biblical story of Cain and Abel, which centres on the painfully conflicting impulses of the character representing Cain. His other novels include Amor y pedagogía (1902; "Love and Pedagogy"), which describes a father's attempt to raise his son scientifically, ending in failure and the son's ruin; Niebla (1914; Mist); and San Manuel Bueno, mártir (1933; "Saint Manuel the Good, Martyr"), the story of an unbelieving priest. Unamuno's El Cristo de Velázquez (1920; The Christ of Velázquez), a study in poetic form of the great Spanish painter, is regarded as a superb example of modern Spanish verse.


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Dąbrowski Handout: Session Five (Last Handout).

Intersections Between Dąbrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration and Wilber's Spectral Model of Consciousness.

By: William Tillier Calgary, Alberta, Canada

[This paper appeared in the proceedings of the 3rd International Symposium on Dąbrowski's Theory: Texturizing and Contextualizing Dąbrowski's Theory, July 10 - 12, 1998, Evanston Illinois. Proceedings assembled by Cheryl Ackerman.]


Ken Wilber's spectral model of consciousness describes a generic hierarchy of levels of human development. Dąbrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) also presents a hierarchical, multilevel model of development. Wilber's important contributions are strengthened by the application of several ideas developed in Dąbrowski's Theory. Dąbrowski describes developmental potentials and their role in development. Dąbrowski also examines the positive role of conflict and psychoneuroses, suggesting that the disintegration of many lower level structures is required for advanced development. Symptoms may signal a developmental process and if this is the case, they should be treated accordingly. Comparing these authors and amalgamating their strengths suggest a wide range of opportunities for advancement of theory and research in the area. This paper will discuss both theories, outline intersections and differences between them and conclude with suggestions for future work.

Kazimierz Dąbrowski (1902 - 1980) developed a theory describing the hierarchical levels of Man's personality development. His Theory of Positive Disintegration is unusual in its focus on the role played by disintegration and psychoneurosis in development. Dąbrowski presents a model of advanced development based on a person's developmental potentials and on the replacement of lower, more reflexive structures by higher, more conscious, more autonomous volitional structures. His theory describes an initial integration followed by a process of disintegration leading to a second, higher level integration. Although few people achieve this level, exemplars of development are role models for its features.

Since 1977, Ken Wilber has been refining a model of Human psychological and spiritual growth. Wilber has proposed a spectrum of hierarchical (vertical) levels to describe the stages of man's psychological and spiritual growth. His approach bridges Eastern and Western philosophies and incorporates many historical works that describe Human development.

This paper will begin by presenting brief overviews of Dąbrowski's and Wilber's theories. The parallel consideration of these two approaches provides a more comprehensive description of the various levels of psychological growth and of the mechanisms that drive growth. Combing ideas from each approach creates many opportunities for further theory building. The intersections of Dąbrowski's and Wilber's approaches are described. We will focus on several specific issues and discuss some major differences between the two theories. Suggestions for future research are made.

Dąbrowski's Theory

Dąbrowski presents a theory of personality development observing that most people live their lives guided by their biological impulses (generally self-interest) and/or by uncritical adherence to social convention. He called these features the first and second factors. Dąbrowski also described a group of people who display an individualized developmental pathway. These people break away from an automatic, socialized view of life (what Dąbrowski described as "negative adjustment") to develop an individualized, conscious and critically evaluated value structure ("positive adjustment"). This hierarchy of values comes to act as a benchmark by which all things are seen and that directs behaviour. Advanced development is seen in people who possess strong developmental potential. Developmental potential represents a constellation of genetic features, expressed and mediated through environmental interaction, that consist of three major aspects: overexcitability (OE), specific abilities and talents, and a strong drive toward autonomous growth, a feature Dąbrowski called the third factor.

The most evident and perhaps most fundamental aspect of developmental potential is overexcitability (OE), a heightened physiological experience of sensory stimuli resulting from increased neuronal sensitivities. The greater the OE, the more intense the sensory experience of life, often to the point where "one sees reality in a different, stronger and more multisided manner" (Dąbrowski, 1964, p. 7). In short, the individual is more sensitive to the experiences of life. Dąbrowski presented five forms of OE: psychomotor, sensual, imaginational, intellectual and emotional. These overexcitabilities, especially the latter three, often cause a person to experience day-to-day life intensely and to feel extremes of both the joys and sorrows of life profoundly. This mixed experience was reflected in Dąbrowski's calling OE "the tragic gift."

Although based in the nervous system, overexcitabilities are expressed psychologically through the development of structures that reflect the emerging self. The most important of these conceptualizations are dynamisms: biological or mental forces that control behaviour and its development. "Instincts, drives, and intellectual processes combined with emotions are dynamisms" (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 294). With advanced development, dynamisms increasingly reflect movement toward autonomy.

Dąbrowski's theory presents five levels as shown in Table 1 (below).

Level Name Factor Key Features Life View Example

V Secondary Integration THREE Harmonious autonomy, volitional behaviour based on personality ideal, empathy, internal values ML Jesus, Buddha

IV Organized Multilevel Disintegration three Individual takes control over their crises and development ML A. Saint Exupery

III Spontaneous Multilevel Disintegration two/three More and more aspects of life are called into question: "dominos fall" transition

II Unilevel Disintegration two Distress: previous "certainty" of some important aspect of life begins to crumble transition Picasso,


I Primitive (Primary) Integration TWO Harmonious, robotic, reflexive conformity to society's rules: external values, uncritically accepted UNI "Average person"

ONE Instinctual, selfish behaviour - conformity feigned out of self-interest UNI "Criminal"

Table 1. Dąbrowski's Levels

The first and fifth level are characterized by psychological integration, harmony and little inner conflict. The first level is called primitive or primary integration and consists of people who show either prominent First Factor ("heredity" / impulse) and/or Second Factor ("social environment"). Most people at Level I are basically integrated at the environmental or social level. Dąbrowski distinguished two subgroups within Level I, psychopaths and the "average person" and said they varied by degree, "the state of primary integration is a state contrary to mental health. A fairly high degree of primary integration is present in the average person; a very high degree of primary integration is present in the psychopath" (Dąbrowski, 1964, p. 121). Dąbrowski called Level I primitive or psychopathic. This description may reflect an earlier usage of the term psychopathic that referred to individuals who were genetically impeded in their developmental course. Most of society's members live on Level I (also see Dąbrowski, 1964, pp. 4-10).

Levels II, III and IV describe various levels and types of the process of disintegration. The character of Level II is reflected in its name: Unilevel Disintegration. The prominent feature of this level is an initial, brief, and often intense crisis or series of crises. Crises are spontaneous and only occur on one level (and often involve only one dimension). "Unilevel disintegration occurs during developmental crises such as puberty or menopause, in periods of difficulty in handling some stressful external event, or under psychological and psychopathological conditions such as nervousness and psychoneurosis. Unilevel disintegration consists of processes on a single structural and emotional level; there is a prevalence of automatic dynamisms with only slight self-consciousness and self-control" (Dąbrowski, 1964, p. 6). Conflicts on the same level (horizontal) produce ambitendencies and ambivalences: the person is pulled between different but equivalent choices (ambitendencies) and is not able decide what to do (ambivalence). Ultimately, the individual might be thrust into an existential crisis: their social rationales no longer account for their experiences and no alternate explanations exist. During this phase, existential despair is the predominant emotion. The resolution of this phase begins as individually chosen values are integrated into a "new" hierarchy of personal values. These new values often conflict with the person's previous social values. The "status quo" explanations for the "way things are," learned through education and by the social order often collapse under conscious, individual scrutiny. This causes more conflicts focused on the individual's analysis of their reactions to the world at large and on the behaviour of others. Common behaviours and the ethics of the prevailing social order are often seen as inadequate, wrong or hypocritical. "Positive maladjustment" prevails. For Dąbrowski, these crises represent strong potential for personal growth as mental health reflects more than social conformity, it involves a careful, personal examination of the world and of one's values leading to the development of an individual personality.

Level II is a transitional period. Dąbrowski said you either fall back, move ahead or end negatively, in suicide or psychoses. "Prolongation of unilevel disintegration often leads to reintegration on a lower level, to suicidal tendencies, or to psychosis" (Dąbrowski, 1964, p. 7).

The transition from level II to level III involves a fundamental shift that requires a phenomenal amount of energy. This period is the crossroads of development as from here, one must either progress or regress. The struggle between Dąbrowski's Factors reflects this transitional crisis: "Do I follow my instincts (First Factor), my teachings (Second Factor) or my heart (Third Factor)?" The developmental answer is to transform your lower instincts (automatic reactions like anger) into positive motivation, to resist rote, social answers and to listen to your own, inner sense of "what you ought to do."

Level III describes the vertical conflicts caused by the perception of higher versus lower choices in life (initially, this vertical view is involuntary, therefore Dąbrowski called it spontaneous multilevel disintegration). Dąbrowski called this vertical dimension multilevelness. Multilevelness is a gradual realization of the "possibility of the higher" (a phrase Dąbrowski used frequently) and of the subsequent contrasts between the higher and the lower in life. These vertical comparisons often illustrate the lower, actual behaviour of a person in contrast to higher, imagined ideals and alternate choices. When a person perceives the higher choice, this is obviously the path one ought to follow. Guided by the experience of emotional and imaginational OE, the person feels ever more of a sense of autonomy (third factor). When the person's actual behaviour falls short of the ideal, disharmony and a drive to review and reconstruct one's life often follow. Multilevelness thus represents a new and powerful type of conflict.

Vertical conflicts are critical in leading to autonomy and advanced personality growth. If the person is to achieve higher levels, the shift to multilevelness must occur. If a person does not have the developmental potential to move into a multilevel view, then they would fall back from the crises of Level II to reintegrate at Level I.

In the shift to multilevelness, the "horizontal" (unilevel), stimulus-response model of life is replaced by a vertical and hierarchical analysis. This vertical view becomes anchored by one's individual value structure and all events are seen in relation to personal ideals. These personal value ideals become the personality ideal: the kind of person one wants to be and how the person wants to live their life. As events in life are seen in relation to this multilevel, vertical view, it becomes impossible to support positions that favour the lower course when higher goals can be identified (or imagined).

In level IV, the individual takes full control of their development. The involuntary spontaneous development of level III is replaced by a deliberate, conscious and self-directed review of life from the multilevel perspective. This level marks the full emergence of "the third factor," described by Dąbrowski as an autonomous factor "of conscious choice (valuation) by which one affirms or rejects certain qualities in oneself and in one's environment" (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 306). The person consciously reviews their existing belief system and tries to replace their lower, automatic views and reactions with carefully thought-out, examined and chosen ideals. These "new" values will increasingly be reflected in the person's behaviour. Behaviour becomes less reactive, less automatic, and more deliberate as behavioural choices fall under the influence of the person's higher, chosen ideals.

Development often leads to conflict with, and rejection of the status quo of a lower society ("positive maladjustment"). In other words, to be maladjusted to a low level society is a positive feature. The rejection of social mores, now seen as lower and inferior, does not produce a selfish psychopath or an asocial hermit. Rather, one's social orientation comes to reflect a deep responsibility for others based on emotional and intellectual factors. At the highest levels, "individuals of this kind feel responsible for the realization of justice and for the protection of others against harm and injustice. Their feelings of responsibility extend almost to everything" (Dąbrowski, 1973, p. 97). This pro-social perspective results from seeing life in relation to one's hierarchy of values (the multilevel view) and the subsequent appreciation of the potential of how life could be, and ought to be, lived. "Pro-social" is not just support of the existing social order. As mentioned, if the social order is "lower" and you are adjusted to it, then you also reflect the lower ("negative adjustment" in Dąbrowski's terms, a Level I feature). In this context, pro-social involves a genuine cultivation of social interactions based on higher values. Your disagreements with the (lower level) world are expressed compassionately in doing what you can to help achieve the "ought." Given their authentic pro-social outlook, those individuals achieving higher development would work to raise the level of their society.

The fifth level displays an integrated and harmonious character, but one vastly different from that at the first level. At this highest level, one's behaviour is guided by conscious, carefully weighed decisions based upon an individualized and chosen hierarchy of personal values. Behaviour conforms to this inner standard of how life "ought" to be lived and thus, little inner conflict arises in one's life.

The Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD) has an extremely broad scope and has implications for many areas. One central application applies to psychological and psychiatric diagnosis and treatment. Dąbrowski advocated a comprehensive, multilevel diagnosis of the person's situation, including their symptoms and their developmental potentials. If the disintegration appears to fit into a developmental context, then the person is educated in the theory and encouraged to take a developmental view of their situation and experiences. Rather than trying to eliminate symptoms, they are reframed to yield insight and understanding into life and the person's unique situation. Dąbrowski illustrated his theory in the autobiographies of, and biographies about, those who have experienced positive disintegration and he encouraged autobiography as a step in the process of autopsychotherapy. For Dąbrowski, the goal of therapy is to eliminate the therapist by providing a context within which a person could understand and help themselves. The gifted child, or the suicidal teen, or the troubled artist is the expert of the TPD and if they accept and understand the meaning of their feelings and crises, they can move ahead, not fall apart.

A second primary focus is on education, and in particular, on the experience of creative or gifted students. Dąbrowski hypothesized that these students will disproportionately show strong overexcitability and therefore will be prone to the disintegrative process.

In summary, Dąbrowski presents a theory of personality development describing how

asmall number of individuals will go through a process of disintegrations and subsequent

reintegrations leading to the development of an autonomous personality. This process, which is far more complicated than suggested here, involves a fundamental tearing apart of the existing reality function to allow for construction of a reality function and "new coordinating elements"

on a new (higher) level (see Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 224). In this way, a person can apply conscious self-development to fully realize or even transcend their genotype, overcome biological instinct and rote socialization, to consciously become the authentic human being they choose to be.

Wilber's Basic Thesis

Wilber approaches the study of life using a model that includes and integrates four basic strategies or levels of analysis. He calls this the four quadrant approach. Each major aspect is outlined below.

Upper right: individual exterior - observable behaviour (science)

Upper left: individual interior - intentional (phenomenology)

Lower left: collective interior - cultural aspects

Lower right: collective exterior - social aspects

Using the all-quadrant and all-level approach to analysis (the "multidimensional grid"), we consider data from each of the four aspects and consider how the aspects interact.

Wilber differentiates two parallel strands of evolution, the average mode of consciousness and the most advanced mode of consciousness. He suggests that our average level has reached about the half way point on the scale of possible levels (level 4) and that our current social systems reflect this level. From time to time, we will see a few individuals go on to reach higher and even the highest levels. From our study of these exemplars of development, people we usually call saints, sages and shamans, we can see the outline of the higher levels potentially available to us all. Wilber says that we can study the higher levels from the analysis of writings making up what Leibniz called the perennial philosophy. This body of work represents the wisdom and discoveries of developmental exemplars of Man's higher psychological and spiritual levels. This philosophy "forms the esoteric core of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism and Christian mysticism. As well as being embraced, in whole or in part by individual intellects ranging from Spinoza to Albert Einstein, Schopenhauer to Jung, William James to Plato" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, pp. 5-7). "The perennial philosophy describes the Ultimate as a seamless whole, an integral Oneness, that underlies but includes all multiplicity" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 7). This approach removes the previous division between Man and his God - some higher ‘other' beyond Man. This division was traditionally bridged by a pact or promise between a person and their God. Now, the Ultimate is ground, the condition of all things. The ground, from which all arises, gives light to the individual as the wave (individual) arises from the sea (ground). This ground is the Nature of all that is and thus the goal is not to find personal salvation, rather, it is to discover the wholeness of the Ultimate. In this discovery one finds him or herself whole as well.

Figure 2, on the next page, outlines Wilber's basic levels. In Wilber's philosophy, all levels exist in each of us as a vertical hierarchy of potentials called the ground unconscious. Through a process of involution, "each level, then, is created by a forgetting of its senior level" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 317). As the reality of each level is fundamentally spirit, this process represents the forgetting of spirit. Life is the effort to revive this spirit. The higher levels evolve or unfold from the enfolded (involved) cache of potentials. In enfolding, the higher levels have become unconscious in us as they are forgotten, obscured or hidden. The levels of development essentially reflect levels of increasing consciousness. With higher and higher levels of consciousness we can literally discover the higher levels within us. "To evolve is simply to re-member that which was dis-membered" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 321). Wilber suggests the higher levels are available to "every man and woman who cares to evolve and transform beyond the mental-egoic stage [our current average level]" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 339). Wilber says that Wholeness is contiguous with consciousness and that we can look at the history of Man as the unfolding of consciousness. We can thus read Man's history as the narrative of the development up to his present level of average consciousness - level four, the egoic. We can project the higher levels using the wisdom of the perennial philosophy.

Table 2 presents an overview of Wilber's levels.

Table 2. Based on Wilber (1996b).  Atman is the Hindu term for the basic nature of all souls and each of us has a deep intuition for his or her own Atman. Because we experience our self as separate and we feel our separate self apart from the other, we are afraid to transcend our self and return to an integration with the whole. The wave leaves the sea and becomes separated. To rediscover the whole, to return to the sea, is for the wave to die. Transcendence of the self is suicide, a death required to return to the whole. The urge to find our Atman is strong but it is drowned out by the urge to cling to our separate sense of the self. As Wilber says, "holding on to himself, he shuts out Atman; grasping only his own ego, he denies the rest of All" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 16). Feeling separate, man is confronted by his mortality. There are two courses: we can come to grips with our own death leading to consciousness - a path few achieve, or we can deny and repress our mortality (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 17). In not being able to come to grips with death, we cannot embrace our Atman (Whole) consciousness. This would entail the death of the separate self - the collapse of the wave back to the sea. Instead, we create a series of symbolic substitutions for death that give us temporary security. Ironically, these substitutions create a wedge that maintains the artificial boundary between the separate, distorted ego-self and the inherent but forgotten, unconscious Atman-self. We seek the Atman but in doing so, we create a series of conditions that prevent its discovery - a feature Wilber calls the "Atman project." The Atman project contains the desire to capture the Atman (a positive feature) but goes about it in ways that prevent its discovery.

Subjectively, Man feels "cosmocentric, independent, and immortal" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p.17). We build up a huge, but false, separate ego. Intrapsychic efforts to stave off death ultimately fail and the individual is forced to create external, objective defences. Culture reflects the world of objective substitutions for Atman - wants, desires, properties, possessions, goods and materials, fame, power, knowledge, etc. Cultural symbols are built to project immortality. Different cultures reflect different modes of self and in turn inculcate that level of self.

Only a few individuals can rise to the consciousness of "making friends with death" to achieve the Wholeness of Atman - a reflection of the highest levels of Man's possible growth. Wilber suggests "it will probably be thousands, maybe millions, of years before humankind as a whole evolves into consciousness" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 21).

Wilber continues to integrate and synthesize various approaches to understanding man and the world. His most recent effort is to attempt to integrate science and religion (Wilber, 1998). Rothberg and Kelly (1998) present a discussion of Wilber's work by his critics along with responses by Wilber.

Intersections: Dąbrowski and Wilber

Comparisons between Dąbrowski and Wilber are somewhat impaired by definitional issues. Several themes need to be better defined and explained before we can confidently compare the two. For example, Wilber's idea of transitions and the role of disintegration in moving ahead is not obvious. Despite these problems, we can readily see some major similarities and some major differences between the two approaches. Each author describes psychological growth as a generic sequence of evolutionary, developmental structures - stages or levels. Both authors appreciate that reality includes both horizontal and vertical aspects and to understand life fully, we must see and describe phenomena in both multidimensional and multilevel terms. Using vertical and horizontal approaches allows us to describe and understand both the span and the depth of life, leading to a comprehensive view of reality. Both authors see this as a critical step ahead in our analysis. Both authors conclude that most people today are unable to fully see the vertical richness of life and are limited, to a unilevel view in Dąbrowski's terms, or to the flatland perspective in Wilber's vocabulary. Both say that each higher level presents new, richer views of life and involves increasing degrees of consciousness. Each level is also associated with its own characteristic pathology and therefore different therapeutic approaches are suggested at different levels. Each theory describes a developmental force that propels (or pulls) development, toward Dąbrowski's personality ideal, or in the direction of Wilber's state of Atman. To continue, both authors say that advanced development is a rare phenomena, with less than 1 percent of people reaching the highest levels. Both describe a broad level of social function, occurring at the middle of Wilber's sequence, at the lowest level of Dąbrowski's model. In each case, the average level of social development is seen as the average of its member's developmental levels. Finally, each author describes the uneven pace of development. On different dimensions, a person may be on different levels. Thus, the overall level assignment is complicated and averages represent a compromise in describing a person's development. As we can see, there are many broad similarities that bridge the two theories.


Several major differences are seen between Dąbrowski and Wilber. One central difference involves the role of conflict, disintegration and psychopathology in development and more specifically, the role and placement of psychoneuroses in the developmental sequence. Traditional views, even within the transpersonal realm, generally see psychoneuroses as a blockage or a defect (for example, Maslow's approach). Wilber, using this more traditional approach, first sees psychoneuroses as an obstruction to development. Thus, at his third level, psychoneuroses are associated with the neurotic self structure and clearly interfere with development - psychoneuroses of level three can impede movement into level four. In Wilber's sequence, neurotic type symptoms can also occur at level five, where an apparently more advanced type of neurosis is associated with conflicts between the self as defined by the demands of social roles and the emerging identity of the self as an individual. This position is reminiscent of Dąbrowski's progression from Factor Two to Factor Three, from rote socialization to autonomy.

Wilber initially described neurotic symptoms as positive but in a very limited way: they are positive because they act as "signals," pointing the way to unconscious, unresolved problems in the shadow that can then be dealt with (Wilber, 1979, p. 99). Recently, Wilber appears to hint at a more positive role for symptoms when he suggests that "higher states and visions are sometimes intermixed with personal pathologies or neuroses, but the states themselves are not pathological in their essence; quite the contrary, researchers consistently refer to them as extraordinary states of well-being" (Wilber, 1997, p. 126).

Dąbrowski considers psychoneuroses a necessary mechanism of development. The disintegrative and motivational effects of psychoneuroses (dis-ease) are needed to move from socially defined role players (Dąbrowski's Level I, Wilber's level four) to autonomous, volitional individuals (Dąbrowski's Level V, level six in Wilber). In Dąbrowski's context, psychoneurotic symptoms are a positive, necessary feature because they are part of the very process of development. In another work, Wilber (1981/1996b, p. 61) suggests that there are two forms of anxiety related illness: one can be "traced to ‘mental illness,' pathological defence mechanisms," and second, "a basic, unavoidable, inescapable terror inherent in the separate-self sense." The latter idea of a normal existential anxiety occurring because of advancement along the developmental sequence hints at a normal role for severe anxiety - a view similar to Dąbrowski's.

In keeping with the multidimensional and multilevel approach, Dąbrowski's diagnosis of a person considers symptoms within the context of the person's developmental potentials. Interacting with an individual's developmental potential, crises, anxiety and psychoneuroses will eventually turn out to be positive or negative. Individuals who show signs of higher development and/or developmental potential, combined with symptoms of psychoneuroses (particularly anxiety and depression) need to be reviewed carefully. Symptoms seen as playing a developmental role are not palliated, the person is encouraged to see their experience as developmental and to "see where it takes them."

Developmental Potential

A second major difference between Wilber and Dąbrowski is Dąbrowski's idea of developmental potential. In describing the developmental sequence, Wilber makes scant mention of the individual sorts of variables that might interact with or influence development. Why does one person move through the levels and another does not? Wilber gives a partial answer in his model of development. The developmental tasks associated with the levels, their mastery (resolution), and their pathologies have been summarized by Wilber (Wilber, Engler & Brown, 1986). In overview, Wilber says that development requires high levels of energy (a point both authors stress). A person who invests heavily in repression at the second and third fulcrums (levels) diverts the energy required for higher development. However, this answer seems insufficient. For example, the developmental challenges probably faced at the transition between levels two and three or from three to four are quite different from those faced going from level four to five or from five to six. The individual variables that modulate, mitigate or maximize successful transcendence will likely be quite different at different levels. Those features that help the person become a "good citizen" (Wilber's level 4) may work against them becoming an individual personality (Wilber's level 6).

Dąbrowski said that significant developmental potential was required for advanced development to occur. One prominent aspect is an inherent tendency to show heightened responses to life's stimuli: overexcitability. Other developmental dynamisms are also critical. When all are present, overexcitability is expressed through various developmental dynamisms (like the third factor) that create the momentum needed for development. The status quo involves a strong inertia impeding development. As Wilber noted, if you try to rise above, your surrounding social influences literally "tend to pull you down" (Wilber, 1996d, p. 139). The average level tends to suppress individual development by raising lower levels and inhibiting higher ones from developing. Combined with the inner conflict and anxieties associated with growth, there are considerable rewards to stasis. To overcome these obstacles requires a strong developmental drive, developmental potential in Dąbrowski's theory. Unfortunately, Dąbrowski found that few people have these strong developmental factors. Many people are guided by their unthinking instincts or remain content to allow themselves to be externally defined by society passively. Wilber is far less detailed on the issue of individual potentials, he simply asserts that each person has the potential to move ahead "if they so choose to," and by implication if they can navigate the developmental challenges of each level successfully.

In summary, Dąbrowski says that many people fail to reach higher levels because they lack the genetic predispositions needed for advanced development. In contrast, Wilber suggests that it appears that the basic structures are within everyone and available to everyone. Wilber acknowledges that only a few people reach the highest levels and suggests that psychological defences often take energy away from the developmental tasks at hand and thus prevent higher development. Dąbrowski's ideas about an individual's developmental potential raise important questions about the interaction between individual characteristics and the developmental matrix (Wilber's basic structures). Are there important generic, individual developmental factors? What are they and how do they interact? These questions represent both opportunities for theory building and research to see exactly which features are germane to hindering or helping development. If these features are better understood, perhaps avenues for enhancement or education would be suggested. Dąbrowski's idea of developmental potential adds considerable depth to Wilber's approach and is a timely call to us to flesh out the individual features that work either to hinder or to advance development.

Dąbrowski emphasized that to move from one developmental level to the next, one has to break apart lower psychological structures and this involves considerable inner psychic conflict and stress. The structures of the lower level are integrated and have to be broken -- disintegrated in Dąbrowski's terms. This temporary loosening allows the person to become conscious of their potential to make volitional changes to these structures and to increase autonomy. In Dąbrowski's approach, lower, automatic human instincts need to be resisted and replaced by higher, conscious and volitional behaviour. Initially, instinct is overcome by socialization. As Wilber says, "our parents [help] us move from the first floor of consciousness to the fifth floor by imposing the special conditions of language and egoic self-control" (Wilber, 1983/1996c, p. 117). Socialization and self-control are externally imposed on us and we simply learn to control our impulses and to obey blindly. Imposed socialization, even when it is internalized, is fundamentally at odds with autonomy. Rote, automatic social behaviour must be overcome by an autonomous, consciously feeling, critically thinking and independently choosing individual. Wilber reflects this basic thinking in his descriptions of level six. This is the basis of Dąbrowski's third factor and secondary integration.

Dąbrowski felt that the unilevel view of life and the lower structures geared for automatic responding must be replaced (transformed) by higher, multilevel views and by volitional structures. Much of the disruption and inner conflict of growth results from the tearing apart of these lower structures. Wilber's position on the role of disintegration in growth is not clear. He says that as "we expand to a new and broader identity, we also break an old and narrow one" (Wilber, 1979, p. 131). Wilber later infers that when transcending a level, one breaks the relevant boundary, but keeps the basic character of the lower level (see Wilber, 1979, p. 123). Wilber infers that the bulk of the lower levels are permanent structures that will be incorporated into higher levels. Higher levels (more holistic patterns) "appear later in development because they have to await the emergence of the parts that they will then integrate or unify" (Wilber, 1997, p. 41). In apparent contradiction, Wilber (1983/1996c, p. 232) suggests that "transcendence demands the death of the present structure in the sense that the structure must be released or let-go of in order to make room for the higher unity of the next structure." He goes on to say, "one accepts the death and release of the lower stage" (Wilber, 1983/1996c, p. 232) and that "higher growth is bought only by ego-death" (Wilber, 1983/1996c, p. 236). Further, the self "must accept the ‘death,' negation, or release of the lower level -- it must dis-identify with or detach from an exclusive involvement with that level" (Wilber, 1983/1996c, p. 278). In another discussion, Wilber says "in order to reach that ultimate estate, it must first die to its present, limited, and mortal self-sense, at whatever level" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 324). In summary, Wilber suggests lower levels must die, the ego must die, that basic structures live on and are a critical part of higher levels and that we must dis-identify with lower structures.

Wilber also describes transition structures that are not included in higher levels, they are "negated, dissolved or replaced by subsequent development" (Wilber, Engler & Brown, 1986, p. 75). Wilber cites Kohlberg's moral stages as examples of phase-specific transition structures. The permanent, basic structures are left intact to be incorporated into the higher level. At least for the basic structures, higher transcends but also includes. Just which specific structures are thought of as basic (permanent) and which are considered transitional (temporary) needs to be better understood. We suggest that this topic needs to be reviewed and that the introduction of Dąbrowski's idea of positive disintegration is a timely stimulus for such a review. Mechanisms of disintegration and reintegration (replacement) need to be explored, especially for transitional structures that must be replaced for development to continue. The role of disintegration in development can then be better understood.

Two other theories sympathetic to a developmental (positive) views of crises are promoted by S. Grof and R. Assagioli (Assagioli, 1965/1971, 1973; Grof & Grof, 1989, 1990). In Grof's approach, spiritual crises can act as a stimulus to growth. In Assagioli's theory of psychosynthesis, crises are differentiated into personal crises aimed at personality growth and spiritual crises leading to spiritual development. In an approach similar to Dąbrowski's, Assagioli suggests the proper diagnosis of the crisis is important to know what approach to take.

Views of Socialization and Social Integration

Dąbrowski is perhaps unique in differentiating two levels of integration, a primitive one and a higher one. At times a person's outward behaviour may not distinguish which level is represented, the motives of the behaviour are critical in understanding which developmental level is represented. For example, is the person behaving socially out of blind conformity (Level I) or out of a personally chosen value structure (Level V)? Commonly, other theories take social behaviour at face value and do not differentiate between herd conformity versus individually embraced social values. In most developmental sequences (Wilber's included), individual development and social development are parallel and occur in basically a straight line. In Dąbrowski's model the sequence would be: primitive ego (instinct), primitive social (conformity), disintegration, autonomous self, chosen social values. In Dąbrowski's approach, people who function based upon ego impulses and those who live according to a rote social conformity both represent a primitive level of function because neither involves individual, autonomous decision making. "Mental life at its first, more primitive stage, is determined by and subordinated to biological forces and influences of the social environment" (Dąbrowski, 1970, p. 12). Both instinct and socialization are at Level I and both are surpassed in advanced development. At advanced levels, social behaviour is based on conscious choices not conformity.

Socialization and social conformity do not appear as major developmental issues in Wilber's model. At the lowest levels, individuals display a primitive ego and a primitive social structure. Later, the ego is differentiated into the "real person" and social forms become more complex. Wilber describes the "real person" as having achieved a mature, responsible and stable ego (Wilber, 1981/1996b p. 345). The real person can own property, can "author [his or her] actions," and exist in a "system of exchanges of mutual recognition and esteem with other actors/ authors/ persons" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 289). Wilber endorses Whyte's view that the process of moving into level four "may be regarded as the development of individual personality (Wilber 1981/1996b, p. 205). He then clearly states that at this level the individual fights to protect the ego at all costs and this blocks higher development: to advance, both ego and personality have to be given up (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 301). This contrasts with Dąbrowski's view that an individual personality ideal is the core of the highest developmental level. Dąbrowski withholds the term "personality" to apply to those reaching an autonomous value orientation - the level of secondary integration. Personality only emerges at Dąbrowski's highest levels when individual values ("what ought to be") find their voice and replace the "what is" of life. The focus of personality is a "self-aware, self-chosen, self-affirmed, and self-determined unity of essential individual psychic qualities" (Dąbrowski, 1972, p. 301).

In Wilber's view, our current average social level, level four, reflects the real person stage, however, many people still exist at lower levels. Wilber says that our current goal should be to try to have everyone achieve the real person level, what he calls the "edge of history" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 349). Wilber is not optimistic changes will be rapid, saying that the movement to level five, psychic intuition, will take "at least another century" or more (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 345). Reflecting Wilber's idea that you have to have a strong self before you can transcend it, we need to first achieve universal reason (level 4), then move to the next level characterized by being "beyond reason."

It is not immediately clear how to interpret Wilber's level four, the real person, in comparison to Dąbrowski. On first glance, it may be linked to Dąbrowski's level I (his view of the "average," socialized person). On what basis does Wilber's real person act and decide? Dąbrowski's differentiation of motives appears helpful: one can act on one's primitive ego instincts, one can act in accord with social conventions and expectations or ideally, one can act as the result of a clear and conscious choice of personal values. Wilber says "decisions had now increasingly to be made in accordance with forms internal to himself. Thus, man became self-conscious. The individual became aware of his own thought" (Wilber, 1981/1996b, p. 205). This certainly suggests autonomy, making a case for a comparison to Dąbrowski higher levels.

Spiritual Development

Spiritual development is discussed in more detail in Wilber and his higher stages are focused on Spiritual development. Dąbrowski's level V did not specifically address Spiritual dimensions. In this sense, Wilber's model could be said to go several levels further in the description of advanced development.


Wilber's theory is an example of essentialism, a branch of philosophy that most would describe as metaphysics. Wilber would argue the point saying that several lines of evidence points to this approach as an objective (but little appreciated) description of reality. Wilber suggests that all of the levels of development are infolded (through involution) into the individual at birth (at conception?). Thus, all of the possible levels are in each person waiting to evolve as the person grows. Wilber does not explain any mechanism for this infolding. As for evidence, he cites two major lines of thought. One, the perennial philosophy is extremely consistent in its descriptions of this involution / evolution process and its stages. This weight of agreement points to an objectification of the Great Chain of Being. Second, the process of evolution is open to individual discovery by the injunctive process - if you want to discover this, do this. Thus, individual experience gives the person the data. Comparison with others through a hermeneutic dialogue provides a consensus that again, Wilber sees as an objective description. Interestingly, Dąbrowski used very similar logic in his justification of the objectivity of the hierarchy of values in his theory. Again, for Dąbrowski (and Maslow), that higher values show significant convergence is evidence of their objective description of authentic, higher Human development. The major difference here is that Dąbrowski saw development as a function of genetics. His theory falls under the tradition of biologicalism. Human traits are a function of man's biology. Developmental potentials to advance to the highest levels are a reflection of an individual's genetics. Potentials can be understood in this context. Likewise, pathology and psychopathy can be understood as reflections of man's lower biological instincts. In Dąbrowski's model, advanced development is using higher functions (intelligence and imagination), guided by empathy and emotion to transcend and extinguish lower instincts. Lower "energies" are transformed into the service of higher goals. Bailey (1987) is a similar theory in the biological tradition. It provides a fascinating comparison to Dąbrowski's work.

The Classical Sequence

The classic sequence of development has been extensively described. In the philosophical tradition, Plato and Aristotle described a hierarchy of levels of functions. The Great chain and the perennial philosophy Wilber describe outlines the basic sequence. Wilber himself uses this approach in his description of the levels of development. In the neuropsychological tradition, Pierre Janet and Hughlings Jackson described functional levels in the brain that reflect levels of human development. Jackson had a strong influence on our thinking (and was a key foundation of Dąbrowski's approach). More recently, Paul MacLean has described this approach in his model of the triune brain. He suggests three basic brain divisions, a reptile, a mammalian and a primate level. These three levels work together in the modern human brain. In the biological tradition, the classical sequence is described by people like Spencer, Darwin, Wilson, Mayr and Bailey. These descriptions suggest that higher levels are newer and control lower, older levels. Higher levels are more volitional and less automatic (less reflexive). Human development is seen as the height of all development, involving thinking, language, Spirituality, consciousness and reason. It is reason and cognition that really separate us from our animal lineage and allows us to assume our place at the top of the hierarchy of life. Culture and socialization depend on the cognitive functions being able to control the lower impulses of the lower brains centres that still function within us. Man can overcome his animal nature by thought (the domesticated human as Bailey calls him). In this classical description, emotion is a middle brain function at the mammalian level and is implied in many of man's miseries. Clearly, emotion interferes with reason and behaviour and is to be controlled and overcome. Pure reason totally eclipses emotion. Nervous overexcitability also would reflect a lower level and would be overcome by cognition in the traditional model. Dąbrowski diverted from this by making emotion the single most critical element in advanced development. Man must use cognition with the guidance of emotion to direct him to higher levels. As Bailey (1987) points out, cognition is often used as a tool of the lower impulses and emotions. Dąbrowski saw this but what is more important, he saw that emotion was also the basis of empathy and that cognition had to be directed toward higher ends by empathy. Thus Dąbrowski used and endorses many ideas of the traditional developmental sequence but alters the priorities given to some of its links. At the level of secondary integration, lower impulses and lower emotions (like aggression) are transcended and their energy transformed into positive behaviour and creativity. Higher emotion, especially emotions for others (like love) and empathy are a critical part of our sense of what is right and wrong, of what is higher and lower. Emotions work with cognition and imagination (Dąbrowski's big three), to allow the construction of the hierarchy of values, the very core of the autonomous personality.

Subject Object

Both authors describe the basic levels of SO in similar terms. At the lowest levels, man is basically subject. Other, in fact, the world at large, is a reflection of the self. At the next level, the other is seen and acknowledged as a social role. "You have your job and I have mine." Social interactions are based upon these roles and are characterised by social exchanges. Higher levels of SO involve the appreciation of the other as an autonomous individual and the self as a subject to others. In this recognition, the S can learn to "put himself into the others' shoes and to feel what she feels." The self can also project to see the S as others would see him or her - to see the self as O. This is a very critical feature for the individual as it is the basis of emotional empathy. This is also Dąbrowski's highest description of SO. Wilber goes on to describe at least two higher forms. Next, is a level of SO that blurs their basic properties but both S and O can still be decerned. At the highest levels, S and O disappear into a timeless and spaceless void of ALL. S and O melt into one in a sate of absoluteness.

Stage theory

Both authors can be vague and both use the terms levels and stages interchangeably. Wilber presents his work as a stage theory (Wilber, Engler & Brown, 1986, pp. 4-12). Academically, this puts several restrictions onto Wilber's model. For example, stage theory suggests that one has to start at stage one, that no stages can be skipped, that you can't regress backwards, etc. Dąbrowski is less restrictive and suggests that each of these stage rules may be violated in his model of development.


Wilber and Dąbrowski each describe the experience of looking at life vertically, from a multilevel perspective. As Wilber points out, the view from higher rungs of the ladder is not simply different, the reality of a person's experience of the world changes at higher levels. Vertical comparisons result in conflict over what a person ought to do: when the idea of the higher is grasped, lower level behaviour becomes untenable. These types of conflicts compel an individual to break out of their flatland perceptions and rote choices in favour of higher, more advanced alternatives. Developmental levels show a general sequence or spectrum, arranged vertically (in Dąbrowski's five levels and in Wilber's nine stage holoarchy). Each theory describes how individuals move ahead through the sequence and outlines the potential pathologies that can occur. Dąbrowski presents the idea of individual developmental factors and their role in advanced development. Overexcitability is the most important of these developmental potentials for Dąbrowski. Wilber's theory is strengthened significantly by the addition of this idea. In addition, Dąbrowski presents the idea that growth may require a degree of psychic disintegration and that often, psychoneurotic symptoms may signal a developmental process. The positive role of mental conflict in development is a critical area for further study.


Psychosynthesis a brief description

Psychosynthesis is an approach to human development fostered by Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974) beginning around 1910 and continuing to the present day. It is both a theory and practice where the focus is to achieve a synthesis, a coming together, of the various parts of an individual's personality into a more cohesive self. That person can then function in a way that is more life-affirming and authentic. Another major aspect of psychosynthesis is its affirmation of the spiritual dimension of the person, i.e. the "higher" or "transpersonal" self. The higher self is seen as a source of wisdom, inspiration, unconditional love, and the will to meaning in our lives.

Psychosynthesis is founded on the basic premise that human life has purpose and meaning and that we participate in an orderly universe structured to facilitate the evolution of consciousness. A corollary is that each person's life has purpose and meaning within this broader context and that it is possible for the individual to discover this.

Psychosynthesis has had a profound impact on the human potential movement. For example, the use of guided imagery and the concept of subpersonalities originate in Psychosynthesis.


In its most basic sense, psychosynthesis is simply a name for the process of growth - the integration of previously separate elements into a more comprehensive unification or synthesis. It believes each of us has an innate drive toward the unfolding of ourselves, and that we can choose to consciously support that process. While it is generally known that we have a responsibility to this end, we have not always known how to go about it. To address this, psychosynthesis provides both theory and practice. It offers a framework that enables a more complete understanding of ourselves, our capacities, and our relationships, as well as skills and techniques, to help us deal with these effectively and safely.

The Self

Unlike most forms of psychotherapy, psychosynthesis recognizes a part of us which is difficult to name. It has been referred to as "higher" or "deeper." In any case it is for us the source of inspiration, guidance, comfort, strength, peace, hope. Psychosynthesis calls this part the "self," and goes on to say that integration, synthesis, or unification of the personality, happens around this self. Since this "self" has two aspects - the personal and the transpersonal, synthesis happens in two stages - first the personal, followed by the transpersonal.

The recognition of the self is essential, for without it, the attempt at wholeness is done at the expense of diversity and individuality. A unity that is achieved through uniformity, is by nature fragile, and is threatened by uniqueness and difference. A unity based on the self, on the other hand, is stable, for it is able to balance the interests of the whole with those of each of the parts. Empowering and Gentle

One of the strengths of psychosynthesis is that it provides practical methods to recognize and access the "higher" or "deeper" part of ourselves, so that the process of growth happens according to an "inner wisdom." What this also means, is that in accessing this truly empowering part of ourselves, the person's own inner self is not violated or imposed upon. It is allowed to unfold at its own speed, and according to its own pattern. It honours all parts of our being, enabling the working through of blocks that hinder growth, without creating further blocks in the process.


The goal of psychosynthesis is integration and wholeness, and since it is so adaptable, it can be and is being applied to many areas of activity where this goal is sought. Some examples are counselling and therapy, education, medicine and health care, business and management, diplomacy and international relations, religion, and organizational development. For this reason professionals find psychosynthesis, with its understandings, tools, and techniques, valuable in empowering them in their own profession.

Psychosynthesis began around 1910 with the Italian psychiatrist, Roberto Assagioli (1888-1974), a contemporary of both Freud and Jung, and to the present day it continues to evolve. It has much to offer to the world and its potential seems to be limitless. It is a growing movement with centers around the world, including Argentina & Brazil, Australia & New Zealand, Canada, U.S.A. & Mexico, and most of Europe.


STANISLAV GROF, M.D., PH.D., is a psychiatrist with over forty years experience of research into non-ordinary states of consciousness induced by psychedelic substances and various non-drug techniques such as Holotropic BreathworkTM. He was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he also received his scientific training - an M.D. degree from the Charles University School of Medicine and a Ph.D. from the Czechoslovakian Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Grof's early research in the clinical uses of psychoactive drugs was conducted at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, where he was Principal Investigator of a program systematically exploring the heuristic and therapeutic potential of LSD and other psychedelic substances. In 1967, he was invited as Clinical and Research Fellow to the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. After completion of this two-year fellowship he stayed in the U.S. and continued his research as Chief of Psychiatric Research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Henry Phipps Clinic of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD. In 1973, Dr. Grof was invited to the Esalen Institute, Big Sur, California, where he lived until 1987 as Scholar-in-Residence writing, giving seminars, lecturing and developing Holotropic BreathworkTM with his wife Christina Grof. He also served on the Board of Trustees of the Esalen Institute.

He was the founding president of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA). In this role, he has organized large international conferences in the U.S., the former Czechoslovakia, India, Australia, and Brazil. At present, he lives in Mill Valley, California, conducting training seminars for professionals in Holotropic BreathworkTM and transpersonal psychology and writing books. He also is Professor of Psychology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) and gives lectures and seminars worldwide. He will be retiring on July 1, 2001, after which he will be working only rarely.

He has published over 100 articles in professional journals. His books include: The Holotropic Mind; Cosmic Game; Realms of the Human Unconscious; The Human Encounter with Death (written with Joan Halifax); LSD Psychotherapy; Beyond the Brain; The Adventure of Self-Discovery; The Books of the Dead; Beyond Death; and The Stormy Search for the Self (the last two written with Christina Grof). He also edited the books Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science; Human Survival and Consciousness Evolution; and Spiritual Emergency (the last with Christina Grof). His newest book, Psychology of the Future which culminates 40 years of research, is now available.

Michael Washburn:

After completing the B.A. (1964) and M.A. (1966) in philosophy at the University of California, Riverside, I pursued graduate study in philosophy at the University of California, San Diego, completing the Ph.D. in 1970. My doctoral dissertation, written under the supervision of Herbert Marcuse, dealt with the problem of self-knowledge in the critical epistemology of Immanuel Kant.

I came to Indiana University South Bend in 1970 as assistant professor of philosophy (associate professor, 1976; professor, 1989). Upon arriving at IUSB, I continued my research on Kant, now focusing on Kant's intellectual development during the decade prior to the publication of the Critique of Pure Reason and during the period between 1781 and 1787 when Kant's work in the philosophy of science and ethics forced him to rethink some of the ideas of the Critique and to publish a significantly revised second edition of that work (1787). This study of Kant's intellectual development led to several papers in professional journals.

In the mid '70s my research interests began to shift from Kant and modern philosophy to the philosophy of psychology, and I began to study psychoanalysis, analytical psychology, theories of consciousness, transpersonal psychology, contemplative traditions in Western religion, and Asian philosophy and religion. These investigations eventually led to publications in the area of transpersonal theory and to work as editor of the State University of New York Press's Series in the Philosophy of Psychology.

The transpersonal perspective set forth in my publications is a depth-psychological, interpersonal perspective which sees human development as an unfolding dialectic in two dimensions, a dialectic which, intrapsychically, is played out between the ego and the sources of the deep psyche and which, interpersonally, is played out between the self and others. As I interpret it, human development follows a spiral course as the ego emerges from, loses touch with, and then is reintegrated on a higher level with the intrapsychic and interpersonal bases of its being. This interpretation of human development gives psychological formulation to the spiritual archetype that depicts life as a path, way, pilgrimage, or journey of departure from and return home--where the home to which we return both is the same as the home from which we departed (inasmuch as it has the same deep foundations) and is not the same as the home from which we departed (inasmuch as it is a multi-leveled structure built upon these foundations rather than only the foundations themselves). The transpersonal perspective set forth in my publications has close affinities with the spiritual depth-psychology of Carl Jung. Compared with recent transpersonal perspectives, my perspective is similar in significant respects to the psychoanalytic-holotropic perspective of Stanislav Grof and the phenomenological perspective of David Levin and contrasts sharply with the structural-hierarchical perspective of Ken Wilber. The contrast with Wilber's work is noteworthy, for Wilber ("The Pre/Trans Fallacy," ReVision, vol. 3, 1980, pp. 51-71) has argued that any theory that holds that human development requires a return to origins as part of its normal course is a theory which commits what he calls the pre/trans fallacy and which, in doing so, falls prey to regression in the pursuit of spiritual transcendence. Wilber regards the return phase of the spiral journey as a simple U-turn to origins and, therefore, as a merely regressive return which mistakes prepersonal beginnings for transpersonal possibilities (the pre/trans fallacy). I have defended the spiral view against Wilber's argument (see "The Pre/Trans Fallacy Reconsidered," listed in curriculum vitae) by explaining that the return phase of the spiral journey is not a mere return but is, rather, a reintegrating, transcending return. It is indeed a return and, therefore, a regression in the sense of being a psychic process that deconstructs the ego system and that draws the ego back into contact with psychic potentials and interpersonal intimacies experienced long ago in early childhood. It is not, however, a mere return, because it is a return which, in reconnecting the ego with the deepest sources of its being, leads not to prepersonal infantilism or to psychic disintegration but, rather, to transpersonal, whole-psyche integration. To stress that the return phase of the spiral journey is thus a movement of return on the way to a higher stage of development, I have, modifying a psychoanalytic expression introduced by Ernst Kris, termed this phase regression in the service of transcendence.

I am currently writing a book which presents a formulation of the spiral perspective stressing the embodied and this-worldly nature of mature spirituality. The title of the book is Embodied Spirituality in a Sacred World. In this book, I defend a Nietzschean spirituality according to which the home to which the spiral journey ultimately leads is not a transcendent, otherworldly abode but is, rather, precisely this earth and our sensuous, embodied lives on this earth experienced in the mode of the sacred.


Developing Your Mental, Emotional, And Behavioral Intelligences - Elaine de Beauport, with Aura Sofia Diaz Foreword by Joseph Chilton Pearce.

The question is not how smart you are, it's HOW you are smart! We all know that engineers can often "see" a bridge or building in their mind's eye before it is built and that great actors can communicate a complex mood or feeling with a simple gesture or facial expression. Yet despite the success of books like Daniel Goleman's Emotional Intelligence, many teachers and corporate personnel directors still assume that these skills are not part of intelligence and that

how well we process facts and figures is the best measure of how smart we are. In this ground-breaking book, based on twenty-four years of teaching and research, Dr. Elaine de Beauport shows that our three-part brain has at least ten intelligence's, some mental, some emotional, and some behavioral. With stories and simple exercises, Dr. de Beauport teaches us to access and orchestrate all ten, discovering new skills in the process. Elaine de Beauport, Ed.D., is the founder of the Mead School for Human Development and the Self-Care Training Program, which she has taught to medical professionals and educators in both North and South America. Dr. de Beauport lectures and gives workshops widely and lives in Venezuela and New York City. (Theos Pub)

The official site of the Dalai Lama.

SRI AUROBINDO, 1872 - 1950 By Anodea Judith


Sri Aurobindo was a political activist, Indian Yogi, and spiritual master, who first came to prominence in India's struggle for independence from the British, in an extremist nationalist movement in 1908. He was convinced that any political freedom must be imbued with spiritual elements and thus created a new vision of India, in which her independence was grounded in the necessity of preserving the great teachings of Indian religion, which he predicted would be essential to saving our global humanity at some future point in history. This revolution would occur collectively through a critical mass of enlightened individuals.

His spiritual practice was grounded in yoga and meditation. However, he did not advocate a withdrawal from the affairs of life, but a full political engagement that was based in spiritual understanding and practice. In fact his discovery of yoga as a young adult, after returning from his English education at King's college in Cambridge, was what reconnected him to his Indian roots, and convinced him of India's ultimate value. He was immediately transformed and enthralled by the practice, experiencing electric power around his head, the presence of the Divine within, and the silent Brahmin consciousness, or union with the absolute.

Aurobindo's ultimate belief was in the spiritual nature of all reality, which he described as being, consciousness, and bliss (sat-chit-ananda). To him, the underlying thrust of the entire phenomenal world is a spiritual evolution in consciousness toward a situation in which all material forms will reveal the indwelling spirit. He postulated several states of consciousness, such as the Overmind, Intuitive mind, Higher mind, and Illumined mind. These states he saw as interconnected and revealing different levels of reality and unity. Normal waking consciousness is steeped in individualism, while the higher states reveal an ultimate unity. Psyche or soul was the manifestation of the divine as it occurs within individuals, for the purpose of reuniting with the universal.

Sri Aurobindo was a mystic who achieved his ascending levels of consciousness through yoga and meditation. Yet, in 1926 he had a profound experience of the Overmind descending into him, and stressed that it is not merely transcendence that we are seeking, but an integration of that higher mind with our involvement in the daily world. In this way, he described his spiritual practice as Integral Yoga, for it integrated the many systems of India, with daily practice and political and worldly activity.

"For truth and knowledge are an idle gleam, if knowledge brings not power to change the world."

"Our experience of the descending current is the experience of the transforming Force."

"Virtue is a pretentious impurity. The only sin is to be discouraged."

"There is an evolution of the consciousness behind the evolution of the species and this spiritual evolution must end in a realization, individual and collective, on the earth."

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