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Chapter 9: Inner Peace

Precedes World Peace

Thus far in this book, it has been pointed out numerous times that only individual human beings exist. Consequently, the only way cultures, nations, or even the global community can hope to find peace is if the individuals composing them find peace first.

Plato is credited with the dictum: "know thyself." While this prescription seems simple enough, it doesn't offer many clues about how to achieve this ideal. Like the dictum, "go to Cairo," one needs a guide, or at least a map. This chapter does not presume to offer final answers for all times, but it does promise to offer a few clues.

First, we will look at the characteristics of the human psyche which lead to conflict in human relations. Most of our problems stem from not understanding ourselves--more specifically, from our not understanding the relationship between our physical, emotional and intellectual selves. These problems are further compounded by a lack of awareness of our "unquestioned belief systems."

Some of the ideas which will be explored in this chapter have already been considered in previous chapters. Hopefully, that will help make this chapter more understandable. I do not claim allegiance to any particular school of psychology, so my ideas might seem strange at first. However, some people have already reported to me that their lives have improved dramatically after studying, practicing, and applying some of the concepts that will be explored in this chapter.

In the first section, we will focus on our relationship with self. The second section will look at relationships among people and the process of communication itself. By the end of the second section, it should become clear that much talked about problems like "codependent relationships" and "dysfunctional families" are not the result of mysterious forces--rather, they have their origin in easily understandable causes.

My Personal Journey

Because psychology was my first love, I figure that this is a good place to tell my story. It has been said that, "Spiritual realization can be attained in one moment in rare cases, but generally a considerable time of preparation is needed."1 In my case, it took a great deal of preparation, requiring both a continual input of new ideas, and testing those ideas in situations that would demonstrate whether or not they worked. (Even so, I do not offer myself as a sterling model of spiritual ascendancy. Instead, consider me as someone who is content with his current level of unenlightenment.)

In my earlier youth, I spent much time being unhappy. My childhood didn't unfold quite the way I would have wished it, and to make matters worse, it didn't look like my adulthood was going to be much better. Of course, it was easy to blame my disappointing childhood on my parents. However, in order to blame my unhappy adulthood on my parents, I was going to have to enlist the aid of such luminaries as Monsignor Freud.

My journey began in 1970 soon after I joined the Army. One day, while moping around aimlessly, someone suggested I visit the Education Center. I ended up taking a couple of psychology classes because I thought they might give me some of the answers I was searching for. On balance, those classes were good for me--not so much because of the content, but because I discovered that subjects like psychology were easier than I had expected them to be. (I graduated from high school in the half of the class that made the top half possible, and my self-esteem reflected that fact.)

While those classes were good confidence boosters, they didn't relate to any world I was familiar with. My emotional response was, "so rats get better at going down mazes with practice and dogs can salivate at the sound of a bell, what's that got to do with me and the chronic state of unhappiness that plagues me?" Sitting in the classroom and listening to an instructor drone-on seemed like the ultimate waste of time, so I forged ahead through the books, challenged the tests, and went on to pursue answers on my own.

In the early phase of my self-study program I read many pop psychology books. (I didn't call it a "program" back then. It was more like a desperate search.) Each new book was exciting, and each time I thought I had found the answer. That was, of course, until deeper study revealed more questions. As I read more and more books, they started to fit into a pattern, forming an ever larger picture.

One of my first impressions was that psychology rigorously avoided addressing the issue of religion. Because many of my issues came from unresolved childhood struggles with religion, I concluded that psychology, as a study of human nature, was incomplete. (It was only much later that I realized that psychology, by avoiding the issue of religion, would become one.2)

After I got out of the Army, I spent a dreary six months working dead-end jobs. It was as if my military experience had never happened. Once again I was a seventeen-year-old high school graduate with no skills or training. After thinking about it, I concluded that the reason for my unhappy state of affairs was that I failed to get a degree while I was in the Army. And because the only way I knew how to get an education was to go back into the military, I joined the Air Force (which had impressed me as being a more civilized branch of the military).

In 1973, at the ripe old age of 22, I was stationed at Tyndall AFB, Florida, which is close to Panama City, Florida. When I wasn't playing helicopter mechanic, I was doing volunteer hotline counseling, and studying like a fiend, still trying to overcome my own chronic unhappiness. Life was going on as usual, and then one day, I was given a new roommate nicknamed "Barney" who was destined to change the direction of my studies. (This Barney was not purple. Turning purple was my job.)

He was an almost fanatical student of Eastern philosophy, and because I was his roommate, I was automatically enlisted as his student. In truth, I was a very resistant student because his extremely zealous and forceful approach was not flattering to my vanity. He declared that I could not "do," or "think," and did not possess a "will." Furthermore, he proclaimed that I was not one person, but a multiplicity of different people, all of whom were totally at the mercy of the environment. I didn't like his message, but he did get my attention.

Although I avoided interacting with him personally any more than I had to, I read his books behind his back. These books had titles like In Search of the Miraculous by Ouspensky, Think on These Things by Krishnamurti, several books about the Sufis by Indries Shah, and other books along the same lines. His books were nothing like the volumes of pop psychology I had been reading up until that time. They were intriguing, challenging, and most of all, they spoke more directly to my own experience.

Barney's own story was quite interesting. He had neglected to attend Air Force Reserve meetings, and was called into active duty. However, rather than being bitter either toward the authorities or toward himself, he merely started working from where he was at. His great aspiration was to be a writer, and while he was spending time in the base stockade, he made the guards lives enjoyable. They, in turn, allowed him to spend many productive hours banging away on his typewriter.

From Tyndall Air Force Base, I was transferred to Nakhon Phanom Air Base in northern Thailand (by the Mekhong River and Tahket, Laos). By that time I had read various books relating to Eastern religion and philosophy, had concluded that it was far superior to anything the West had to offer, and was expecting to see a land of contented Buddha's. Much to my surprise, the good folks in Thailand were just like us misguided souls in America. The differences were to be found only in scale--not essence. Instead of flaunting a prettier car, they would flaunt a prettier rice bowl. (While my fellow G.I.'s were shocked by the cultural differences, I was shocked by the fact that people were so much the same. I could look into Thai people's eyes and anticipate their responses in almost the exact same way I could with Americans.)

While in Thailand I had a child-like faith that I was somehow protected, and was therefore free to go where I wanted even though the base warned us of "20,000 communist sympathizers" who liked doing bad things to "imperialists" such as myself. In a sense, I was protected because I showed a sincere interest in their language and I honored their culture, so I became just another one of their children. (In fact, I would frequently say to them, "Pohm poot Thai same dake noi sahm pbee." Translation: "I speak Thai the same as a three-year-old child.")

In 1975, I came back to the good old U. S. of A. and was stationed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. I knew I was going to be stationed there long enough to start pursuing a degree in earnest, and I still wanted to become a psychologist. However, as soon as I arrived, I immediately gravitated to some places in Bethesda, Maryland, where many personal growth activities were happening. Much to my surprise, I discovered a cadre of psychologists and therapists who were more unhappy than most of the folks I worked with on the base. This made me think twice about becoming a psychologist because I figured that if they were the product of our system of higher education, I did not want to risk the same fate. My psychological-development goal was simply to be happy--not to be justified in being unhappy. Consequently, I continued my psychological studies on my own. (Ultimately, I ended up getting a business degree.)

In 1979, I started to study the Gurdjieff system under Hugh Ripman, who was a student under Ouspensky. When I first met him I was struck with awe. He seemed so centered and at peace with himself that I felt like an artificial flower that had somehow wandered into a rose garden. In spite of my feeling of intimidation, I enrolled in his introductory class. His class was a very powerful experience for me not only because of his words, but also because of his example.

My biggest challenge in Mr. Ripman's class was my feeling transparent under his gaze. This caused me much discomfort until the day I had a realization: typically, those who are judging are not able to see clearly, and those who see clearly are not judging. With this realization, I was able to let go of my fear of his judgment and I started identifying with the compassion that would more likely be his response to my "low level of being." While his words were profound, and I quote them frequently to this day, this one realization alone was more than worth the price of admission.

When Mr. Ripman died in April of 1980, I decided to stop studying at his school. None of his advance students affected me in the way Mr. Ripman did, and from my vantage point as the class secretary, I noticed that many of my fellow students were making a religion out of Gurdjieff's teaching. Earlier I had announced to a few of my fellow classmates that I was going to do a systematic, one-hundred book study on male-female relationships "ranging from the Bible to The Satanic Bible ; from Christian marriage manuals to how-to-seduce-em manuals; from Eastern mystic philosophy to salesmanship and business management." They responded with great concern that I might read the wrong book, stray from "the work," and be lost in oblivion forever. As I had long before declared that I would not be cowed by people's vivid descriptions of distempered Gods, there was no way a simple threat of "eternal non-being" was going to deflect me from my path.

In the following August, I charted my course to Boulder, Colorado. I had just finished ten-and-a-half years in the military, had a fresh business degree in my hot little hand, and was ready to show the world how it was really done. (While in the military I learned that I had a knack for motivating people and figured that if I knew people, and if the people I managed knew the job, I could offer a valuable service in any production environment.)

As it turned out, the civilian world did not share my high estimation of myself. When I made a resume that highlighted my military experience, the response was, "sorry son, we don't need any babies killed today." Next, I developed a new resume that swept my military experience under the rug and highlighted my new degree. The response then became, "gee, that shiny new degree is pretty, but you should be 22 or 23, not an old man of 29." Ultimately, I ended up working as a records clerk for an oil company, and my youthful vanity was deeply wounded.

My next personal growth involvement was with the Church of Religious Science. I enjoyed the happy, upbeat attitude that prevailed and also enjoyed meeting many new friends (many of whom I am close to even today). They spoke of the power of positive thinking, and how with the right process of thought, the universe could become putty in our hands. This was quite an attractive philosophy, but as time went on I noticed some dissonance between the philosophy and the lives I and many of the "believers" were living. (The only people I saw being really successful were the people who conducted the seminars.)

One of the big proclamations that issued frequently from the pulpit was, "the economy is not out there--it is all inside your head." Many people I knew were definitely running into an economy out there , and later, when the church tried to build what I called a "Crystal Cathedral of the North" it also discovered an economy out there .

Blaming the victim was another popular game, and some of the predators in our midst became so sophisticated that they would actually say, "how did you create the experience of me taking advantage of you? Apparently, you need to work on your consciousness." After watching a number of such shenanigans, I concluded that for every manipulation technique found in ordinary life, there is a metaphysical equivalent.

By 1986, when I decided that the philosophy of the church was no longer my path, I was already finding new leads for further research. A couple of years earlier I had started studying economics in earnest and was learning about laws of economics that can be as unforgiving as the laws of physics.

In 1984, while meditating on my lack of money and status, and my lack of qualifications for having a wife, a house, and 2.3 children, I decided that if I wanted money, I should at least know what it is. (I thought that by defining the object of my desire I would "magnetize" my consciousness to attract it.) In college I had taken eight semester hours in economics, so I figured that with a little thought on the matter, I would be able to clearly define the nature and function of money. Much to my chagrin, my contemplation yielded nothing. Hence, a new line of study began.

The function of money has already been explored in Chapter 4 , but it is worth repeating that the integrity of money effects everyone, no matter what fantasies they might carry in their heads about reality. Think all the wishful thoughts you want, a flexible medium of exchange "engages all the hidden forces of economic law on the side of destruction, and does it in a manner which one man in a million is able to diagnose."3

This reinforced my suspicion that while our thoughts do affect the quality of our lives, technical mastery needs to be a part of those thoughts if we are to enjoy true mastery. The minister who stands at the pulpit and declares, "don't bother me with the details--I'm into consciousness," might fill his collection plate because that is what the wishful thinking masses want to hear, but should the masses really take his message seriously, they will soon have nothing to fill the collection plate with. Furthermore, when that same minister takes his car to a mechanic, he had better hope that the mechanic took some time out from developing "consciousness" in order to attain "technical mastery." (I do most of my own mechanical work because it appears that a large percentage of mechanics are into consciousness and, like the minister, are hoping that technical mastery will take care of itself.)

These issues indicated to me that our challenge as a specie is to find a balance. Some issues require that we work on ourselves, and other issues require that we work on the world around us. In the immortal words that hang on the walls of millions of homes: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Thus far, I have concluded that there exists a world that insists on being what it is regardless of our opinion about it, and that our minds impact the world within a range of probability. I agree with the positive thinking people who say we can change our lives by changing our thoughts, but I do not believe the process is simply a black art that rests its only hope for success on faith.

There are definite connections between the assumptions we hold in our minds about reality and the behavior that is motivated by those assumptions. Those actions, in turn, create the consequences that our future actions will have to attend to. In short, behavior has consequences . "To the soul who is wide awake, the Judgment Day does not come after death. For that soul every day is Judgment Day."4

This journey has been a real adventure for me, and it is not over (thankfully). For a long time I labored merely to reach the break even point. During those years life was "a sentence to be served." By the time I succeeded in breaking my habit of unhappiness, replacing it with a habit of contentment, new vistas had presented themselves to me. Consequently, my study continued even though I no longer had urgent burning issues, the process of study itself became its own reward.

My most recent growth has come from accepting the fact that I am only one person with limited resources and abilities. I could not have done my study and have had a family and a successful career. Had I succeeded in having a family and a career, I most likely would have passed my programming onto the next generation. In breaking my programming, the window of opportunity for career and family has passed. On balance, I am sure that I made the right choice for me.

In acknowledging my personal limitations, I am also acknowledging that the ideas in this book will also be limited by the fact that I have not had the full breadth of experience that is theoretically possible for a human being to have. Nevertheless, thanks to the principle of "division of labor," my contribution can speed the growth of others more capable than I. Hopefully, these ideas can offer a good starting place for bringing human potential even closer to realization.

Chapter Preview

Throughout this book many psychological concepts have already been explored. Chapter 1 addressed the issue of intelligence and suggested that there is more to intelligence than simply memorizing and regurgitating random bits of data. Chapter 3 addressed ethical issues and offered a Behavioral Analysis approach to ethics that offers a system for classifying relationship dynamics according to their nature--whether they be voluntary or coercive. Chapters 7 and 8 explored the issues of faith and fanaticism and their impact on the quality of life.

This chapter will explore psychological issues more directly. To begin, we will look at the history of psychology as a discipline, and why psychology exists as a science. The remainder of this chapter will be divided into three parts: The Relationship With Self , Relationships With Others , and The Individual and Society .

Part One will explore common problems (with uncommon names) such as Center-of-the-Universe Disease , the Slide-Rule-of-Sanity , and Socially-Acceptable-Schizophrenia . Apart from organic maladies, two primary sources of psychological difficulty are unrealistic expectations and disconnected psychological processes. Finally, a possible connection between the severity of oppression in relationships and the extent of "psychological splitting" will be explored.

Once we have considered the above ideas in terms of how they relate to our inner-world, we will shift our attention to our outer-world. In Part Two we will explore how daily relationship dynamics impact on the functioning of the human psyche and visa-versa. Today there is much talk about codependent relationships and dysfunctional families . These are ominous-sounding terms, but what do they really mean? Very often, prescriptions for avoiding these maladies call for spiritual detachment. This sounds profound initially, but after a little thought, we realize that there is a lot of confusion around what constitutes spirituality. Luckily, these problems can be addressed more directly from the vantage point of ethics, thereby leaving less to chance.

Healing psychological problems requires a two-pronged approach. We must each work on ourselves in order to strengthen our will and integrate our psyche. On the other hand, we need to reduce the amount of oppression in our personal, social and political relationships, thereby lessening the external obstacles to individual psychological healing.

Finally, the relationship between the individual and the larger society will be addressed in Part Three . Once again, "society" is simply a mental construct we use to help us conceptualize essential characteristics humans in a group have in common. Ultimately, a society cannot be any healthier than the individuals that make up that group.

Each social grouping has leaders who, while they may have great influence, are beholden to the most pervasive attitudes that are shared by the group. Nevertheless, leaders can nudge society toward growth or toward decay. This is done through either promoting philosophical ideals that motivate action, or by behavior modification (force) which obliges people to rationalize why they are behaving in ways they would not ordinarily agree to.

The world within affects the world around us, and the world around us affects the world within. As we better understand how one affects the other, our options will expand. On the other hand, if we do what we have always done, we will get what we have always gotten.

Thoughts on the History and the
Current State of Psychology

Psychology is both a young science and an old science. It is a young science because it was given the name "psychology" in the 1800s. It is an old science because philosophy has been concerned with human happiness and felicity for thousands of years.

Philosophers have long speculated on how to be happy. In 100 A.D., Epictetus proclaimed, "Men are not disturbed by things, but by the view they take of things." Epictetus was a slave, so his philosophy of resignation was very appropriate for the times. In freer times, philosophers have promoted a life of adventure and accomplishment as the key to happiness.

Modern psychology is credited with having two fathers. Most textbooks on psychology credit Sigmund Freud, while other sources give William James that honor. In reality, it is probably impossible to determine who deserves the credit. Nevertheless, it is useful to consider these men and their philosophies.

Sigmund Freud's main claim to fame was the discovery of the subconscious mind (or the unconscious mind). His psychological approach betrayed a metaphysical assumption of determinism, suggesting that people were the pawns of unseen and most likely malevolent forces. His primary goal was to "transform hysterical misery into common unhappiness."5 Because original traumas were assumed to be locked deep in the subconscious mind, years of expensive therapy was needed to lessen the pain.

William James, the other father of psychology, came from a metaphysical transcendentalist perspective. One of his most famous quotes (roughly paraphrased) says, "Perhaps the greatest discovery of this generation is that our lives can be changed by a change of attitude." This view presupposes that people have will and the power of choice.

William James' brand of psychology had more impact on the education community than it had on the therapeutic community. Parts of his philosophy were also embraced by the positive thinking movement, including metaphysical transcendentalism, which promoted personal achievement. On balance, the optimism of the above quote was blended with the philosophy of pragmatism, which is a form of moral agnosticism. "'The true,' to put it briefly, is only the expedient in the way of our thinking, just as 'the right' is only the expedient in the way of our behaving."6

With truth or falsehood being but a matter of opinion, and feelings only the result of actions, the way was paved for the acceptance of behaviorism. At first it may seem strange that an optimistic theory of human possibility could merge with behaviorist theories like those of B.F. Skinner, who tried to teach us how to go "Beyond Freedom and Dignity ."7 Behaviorist theory and modern educational theory proved to be allies in pursuit of the best of all worlds: determinism for the masses, and will and choice for the leaders.

Behaviorism as a popular theory dates back to Pavlov's experiments with dogs salivating at the sound of a bell, and the S ---> R (stimulus-response) theory that was developed based on those experiments. Ultimately, the methodology of his experiments have since been questioned quite effectively by people like Erwin Straus. "Pavlov gained world fame not as a biologist but as a metaphysician. . . Indeed, the recognition of Pavlov's theory and official endorsement by the Russian government is due to its philosophical materialism and not to any hypothesis concerning ganglion cells or nerve tracts and their connections."8 Bolshevik Russia was already using massive amounts of coercion to force the masses to conform to their vision of utopia. Any scientific theory that would lend legitimacy to their quest was gratefully received.

The promise of the Bolshevik Revolution was to improve the condition of humanity--by force, if needed. Educational theory in America made the same promise, only they were more subtle in their herding strategies. They limited their coercion to taxation and compulsory education laws. Nevertheless, the underlying assumption remained the same: the masses are bound by the mechanical laws of stimulus-response, but intellectuals can somehow step outside of that S ---> R cycle and guide humanity toward a new future.

"The positivist longs for the day when he will be able to predict and direct human behavior like a billiard player the billiard balls. He dreams that he might one day, with unfailing mastery, assume the role of the player in a far more grandiose game. He must reserve for himself an exceptional position in this future world puppet show. He is the director, all the other players are the controlled and directed puppets."9 This assumed capacity of the intellectual as compared to the rabble supposedly gives them the right to impose their vision on everyone else. "Thus mankind is to be saved by conditioned reflexes."10 (To be fair, B.F. Skinner did note the reciprocal influences that the experimenter and the experimented-upon have on one another, but that did little to dampen his enthusiasm for social planning.)

Next, "Humanistic psychology, which emphasizes the human attributes of thoughts and feelings, emerged as a reaction to the reductionist and mechanistic views of behaviorism."11 Psychologists such as Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow announced that it is possible for individual humans to rise above common misery to live truly happy and productive lives. Maslow, using his concept of the Hierarchy of Needs , called attention to the fact that some people do lead fulfilling and exemplary lives. From that observation, he suggested that more time needs to be spent studying healthy and happy people in order to understand what it means to be sane. (Previously, most studies had been made of sick people.)

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs diagram has been a helpful and optimistic map for people seeking to live a more fulfilled, self-actualized life. However, one important consideration was overlooked. In life, we are faced with trade-offs. "By not considering cost, Maslow appears to assume either that there is no cost to need gratification or that (in spite of an implicit assumption concerning diminishing marginal utility) the demand curve for any need is vertical (or perfectly inelastic). This means that the quantity of the need fulfilled is unaffected by the cost. An implied assumption of the vertical demand curve is that the basic needs are independent of one another. They are not substitutes; for example, a unit of an esteem need fulfilled does not appear in the Maslow system to be able to take the place of even a small fraction of a unit of physiological need."12 In fact, it is possible for people to forego satisfying lower-level needs in favor of pursuing self-actualization more directly.

Another aspect of humanistic psychology was the idea that emotions are primary. "I think, therefore I am" was replaced with "I feel, therefore I am." Given that some pretty stodgy characters had claimed a monopoly on reason, it is understandable why they had such a strong revulsion. However, claiming that we are thinking does not automatically mean we are actually thinking. William James addressed this illusion when he said, "A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices."13

With emotional release, peace and happiness were supposed to become possible. The promise was even extended to the children. "Educational implications of the humanistic perspective include providing children with a warm, accepting environment and giving them frequent opportunities to direct their own learning."14 Some surprising results have manifested instead. In my own experience with these encounter groups, many people actually became unhappier. When they decided that happiness was their due, they started acting as though other people were duty-bound to cooperate with their demands. And when the other people withheld their sacrifices, these poor souls became doubly indignant.

At present, America is investing more in social and psychological services than ever, and unhappiness and conflict is as rampant as ever, or more so. Expectations placed on life and on our fellow humans are ever-increasing. Furthermore, unless the ideologies of "political correctness" and "victimology" are revealed for the sophisticated guilt-trips that they are, we can expect that the most easily offended and chronically unhappy people will be the ones controlling both our personal relationships and our political relationships.

At the same time that Americans are demanding even more from life, the effects of America's sixty-year-long "seed corn festival"15 are becoming apparent, and the means required to fulfill these heightened expectations are dwindling. Of course, if demands increase at the same time the means to fulfill those demands are shrinking, stress and general unhappiness can only intensify.

Reason Psychology Exists as a Discipline

Psychology aims at accomplishing two specific ends. The first is to enable individuals to learn how to live happy lives, or to at least bring hysterical suffering down to the level of common unhappiness. The second is to develop a better understanding of why people act the way they do in order to better defend against the actions of others, or to manipulate them more effectively (for good or ill).16 Anyone who studies psychology hopes to enjoy at least one of these benefits.

Psychology, like philosophy, attempts to provide a conceptual map of our mental processes, and when successful, it expands our range of choices. This chapter will offer yet another such conceptual map in the hope that it will create an awareness of new possibilities for both ourselves and for the larger world in which we live.

Most people pursue psychological knowledge in an attempt to overcome emotional pain. People who are content with their lives are usually too busy doing what they enjoy to be concerned with psychological issues. (Of course, there is a great deal of research effort going on in preparation for psychological warfare,17 but that is not the purpose of this chapter.)

Part I: The Relationship With Self

Sometimes it is not any easier to live with ourselves than it is to live with others. Although the story of the man who wouldn't join a club who would have him for a member is told as a joke, for many people, this is no laughing matter. (When I was younger, I actually felt as if the lump of clay that made up my body was somehow inferior to the clay that made up everyone else's bodies.)

In our earlier years, it is common for us to assume that all of our pain and disappointments are imposed on us from without. As time progresses, many of us start to mellow out and develop more of a live and let live attitude. Others, however, react to the passage of time by becoming more rigid, and, of course, their pain and disappointment increases accordingly. Consequently, we can conclude that our expectations play an important role in determining how much emotional pain we will suffer.

Some philosophers tell us that all emotional pain is caused internally by the judgments we place on ourselves and by the unmet expectations we place on others. This is true. If we successfully eliminated all expectations to the degree that even life and death were viewed as having equal value, we would not have to worry about any emotional pain. (Except, possibly, becoming attached to detachment and fearing its loss.)

As usual, we need to consider a more balanced perspective. On one hand, if we are too sensitive, we will start fights and in general cause problems that don't exist. On the other hand, if we are not sensitive enough, we will fail to protect ourselves from real dangers.

This section will address the effects of internal oppression first, and then it will address the psychological impact of external oppression. Hopefully, the reciprocal nature of both forms of oppression will become apparent as this chapter concludes.

Unrealistic Expectations

It was suggested in Chapter 1 that emotional pain comes from unmet expectations. When I studied under Mr. Ripman in Washington, D.C., he went so far as to declare that "all negative emotions are the result of unrealistic expectations." I would temper this by saying that while there are indeed rational and realistic expectations that can be placed on people, it is unrealistic to believe that everyone will live up to those expectations. Of course, what may be most difficult of all, is figuring which demands are realistic and which demands are not.

Unquestioned Belief Systems

Very often we have expectations that we are not even aware of. While we might get angry or depressed when something goes against our wishes, if we are asked to define precisely what we were expecting, we will often find ourselves unable to do so.

Unless one knows of the existence of such a thing as "unquestioned belief systems," one is not likely to look for them. Lacking this awareness, millions of people go from cradle to grave without even once considering the possibility that suffering is optional. (This applies especially to those of us on the planet who are living above the level of subsistence.)

Of course, ferreting out unquestioned belief systems can be tricky. It is very difficult to see things that are all-pervasive. Let us now consider a couple of examples of unquestioned belief systems.


When Mr. Ripman introduced the concept of unrealistic expectations, he offered common examples of people becoming extremely upset due to events such as slow traffic. He described such people as believing that they are the center of the universe . If one is the center of the universe, it is rational to expect that everything and everyone else should arrange themselves according to one's convenience. In the example of slow traffic, if people refuse to pull over to let us through, or if the police fail to manipulate the lights in our favor, we are justified in yelling, screaming and slamming our steering wheels.

In real life, unless we are either the supreme agent of coercion in the land, or a cadaver on our way to burial, such demands are very unrealistic. Each one of us is simply one person among five-billion-plus other people just like us, each trying to make their journey from the cradle to the grave as pleasant as possible. We can be sure that everyone else is in the same situation. Therefore, is it rational to get upset about that which is simply life? Of course, these demands are not rational. Consequently, I have come to call this malady center-of-the-universe disease .

Another example is the assumption that other people should be able to read our minds. Failing to do mind-reading is often interpreted as gross negligence, if not outright malice. This belief system justifies many people's chronic unhappiness.

Our only chance for escaping the suffering caused by center-of-the-universe disease is to learn on an emotional level that we must share this planet with other people. At first, this might seem like a sacrifice, but once we realize that, on balance, life goes better when we decide to share the planet, we will not be so incensed. (Who in their right minds would want to have to be an expert on everything?)

Instead of getting upset in slow traffic, we could benefit more by thinking about other routes, planning to travel at less popular times, and so forth. After all, the benefits of society do not come free. To get rid of all the costs is to get rid of all the benefits as well. Therefore, it is more useful to use our reason to reduce costs--not our emotions in a vain attempt to eliminate costs.

Using the Slide-Rule of Sanity

Another unquestioned belief system is the one that says we are alone in the universe and everyone and everything else is out to get us. This is not to say that everything is peaceful and wonderful, but it is not useful to exaggerate threats either.

A common symptom of mental disorder is a strong sense of alienation and separation from everyone else. On the other hand, people tend to improve in proportion to their ability to establish a connection with the larger world.

Because of the relationship between alienation and insanity, and visa versa, I decided to label this concept as The Slide-Rule of Sanity . Belief in alienation isn't the only variable, but it is certainly one of the more important variables.

It is very scary to believe that everyone is out to harm us, and if we make the slightest misstep, even the universe will foreclose on us. Of course, this fear isn't totally unfounded. There's a popular saying that suggests we "do unto others before they do unto us." This is usually said as a joke, but jokes often have a sharp edge on them.

We need to ask ourselves, which came first, distrusting attitudes or hostile and exploitative situations? This question can't be answered within the context of our own generation for we've been born into a world of fear and conflict. But at some time in our ancestral past, a decision was made to start believing in a hostile universe.

Historically, people have assumed that one person's survival could only be had at the expense of others. However, it is worth noting that communities have prospered in proportion to the degree that they denied that assumption. As Chapter 2 pointed out, human life is improved by voluntary trades, and if people make trades they do not want to make, some form of coercion is present. Throughout history, prosperous communities have acknowledged that life is improved by building houses--not by bombing them. (This may seem surprising, but I receive many blank stares when I suggest to audiences that war is not good for the economy.)

I once saw a movie about Japanese warlords from an earlier century. The main character of the movie was an old warlord who had wreaked havoc all his life, and was now witnessing the destruction of his own empire. In the end, he and his most loyal son died together. At that point, the family nursemaid started crying, "God, is this your idea of a joke? Does it make you laugh to see us poor humans suffer and die the way we do?" One of the warriors then replied to her, "Do not blaspheme the gods! They are not the cause of all this. If anything, they are weeping for us, for it is we who choose suffering instead of joy. It is we who choose war instead of peace!!"

The idea that we are inter-connected is not really so far-fetched. If we study any discipline of knowledge in depth, it becomes apparent that we are related and interdependent. Chemistry and biology outline organic relationships, economics reveals exchange relationships, and psychology indicates that humans share much common experience. In short, we are not alone in this universe.

As we become more sane, we focus on creating value instead of confiscating values created by others. As we become more sane we encourage people instead of putting them down. As we become more sane we recognize that we're a part of something larger in which we participate. Sanity means recognizing that we're not alone, and that life is a gift to be enjoyed--not a sentence to be served.

Final thoughts on Unquestioned Belief Systems

The unquestioned belief systems explored thus far are but examples. While they are important examples, they do not by any means exhaust our potential for self-delusion. Any time we feel anxious, or disappointed, we need to ask ourselves, "what am I expecting from this situation?"

Ultimately, expectations may or may not be rational. However, in either case, becoming conscious of the nature of our expectations can only help. If they prove to be irrational, we can let them go. If they prove to be rational, we can be more effective in pursuing their realization.

Disconnected Psychological Processes

Another challenge we face is the disconnected nature of our psychological processes. For most of us, it is very difficult to think about any one subject for very long, or to maintain steady waking consciousness without lapsing in and out of reverie.

Disconnected psychological processes range from simple contradictory notions about the nature of life and our place in it, to unpredictability caused by mood swings (socially-acceptable-schizophrenia ), to the extremes of Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD)--a problem which is now being recognized more frequently by the psychiatric profession.

The coming sections will explore the range of psychological splitting, from cognitive dissonance to socially-acceptable-schizophrenia , to Multiple Personality Disorder .

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance is the discomfort we feel when our values and beliefs are at odds with either our behavior or with the evidence of our senses. Leon Festinger, the author of Cognitive Dissonance , suggests that the dissonance caused by a contradiction between our stated beliefs and our actions is enough to inspire action. "Cognitive dissonance can be seen as an antecedent condition which leads to activity oriented toward dissonance reduction just as hunger leads toward activity oriented toward hunger reduction. It is a very different motivation from what psychologists are use to dealing with, but, still very powerful."18

It is hard to say whether conflicts in our value systems lead to psychological splitting, or the other way around, or if it even matters. Like most of our challenges in life, our task is to shift our awareness so we can start working on the positive side of emergent probability .

True self-awareness means being aware of our contradictory ideas as well as our contradictory feelings. Gurdjieff, in his usual unorthodox manner, suggested that a moment of consciousness means seeing our contradictory thoughts simultaneously, and a moment of conscience consists of comprehending our contradictory feelings all at one time.19 By these definitions, a moment of conscience happens when we are aware that one part of us despises the same person that another part of us admires. A moment of consciousness, would be a moment when we become aware of contradictory opinions we hold about one and the same person or subject.


In my tape series entitled Your Power to Create Love , I explored a phenomenon I called Socially-Acceptable Schizophrenia . I must confess that the term "Socially-Acceptable Schizophrenia" is now technically inaccurate.

Today, schizophrenia has become a catchall category for a number of psychotic disorders such as delusions, hallucinations, severe regressive behaviors, wildly inappropriate moods, and incoherent speech.
Multiple personality disorder may seem to fit into this category, but it doesn't. A person with multiple personality disorder is in touch with reality. There is not thought disorder. Still, most of the practitioners seemed content to sweep it under the schizophrenic rug.20

The term schizophrenia is taken from Greek meaning "split-mind disorder."21 However, there still seems to be some disagreement about the difference between psychological splitting for a schizophrenic and splitting associated with Multiple Personality Disorder (from here on referred to as MPD). On one side, it is declared that "the splitting involved in the psychosis of schizophrenia is far more extreme than that observed in the hysterical neurosis of multiple personality."22 "A recent writer has employed the metaphor of a tree to delineate the depth of 'splitting' in schizophrenia and multiple personality--a metaphor that could be expanded to include doubling. In schizophrenia, the rent in the self is 'like the crumbling and breaking of a tree that has deteriorated generally, at least in some important course of the trunk, down toward or to the roots.' In multiple personality, that rent is specific and limited, 'as in an essentially sound tree that does not split very far down.'"23

One the other hand, some suggest that MPD is a more severe affliction, or at least that it requires more abuse to set it off. "According to a retrospective history taken in adulthood, children who will develop MPD differ highly from those who will go on to develop schizophrenia, panic disorder, or an eating disorder. Those who will develop MPD sleepwalk, have imaginary companions, and are subjected to physical and sexual abuse more often."24

Since 1980, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders , known in the profession as DSMIII , has given the extreme version of this problem the name Multiple Personality Disorder , or MPD for short. The term "schizophrenia" as it is now used, could also be described as a "part time psychosis." In other words, someone who mistakes fantasy for reality only as a part time enterprise.

By now my argument for sticking with the term socially-acceptable-schizophrenia is looking quite tenuous. However, DSMIII also offers this definition of schizophrenia. "There may be poverty of content of speech, in which speech is adequate in amount but conveys little information because it is vague, overly abstract, or overly concrete, repetitive, or stereotyped. The listener can recognize this disturbance by noting that little if any information has been conveyed although the person has spoken at some length."26 Every election, the national media gives lots of attention to literally hundreds of candidates whose speech fits the above description very closely. In fact, the above personality traits may well be a prerequisite for successfully gaining political office. Now if that isn't socially acceptable schizophrenia, I don't know what is.

Even if schizophrenia is not the most apt term, I still like the way "socially-acceptable schizophrenia," rolls off my tongue. At the risk of violating everything else this book stands for, I shall now invoke artistic license , and then proceed on my merry way.

In order to understand the concept of socially-acceptable-schizophrenia we need to consider a new map of the human psyche. The most commonly accepted map shows a circle that is sub-divided into two sections:

The top part represents the conscious mind, and the lower part represents the unconscious, or the subconscious mind. Implied in this diagram is the notion that the two parts are stable and consistent. (The exception being when therapy helps make information locked in the subconscious mind available to the conscious mind.)

At first, this diagram seems to make sense. However, when we examine our experience in the light of a "mobile consciousness" framework, the limitations of the popular static model of consciousness becomes apparent. (There are just too many things people do with the sincerest of intentions that are contradictory.)

Gurdjieff, in his own book, makes reference to, "what you call the subconscious, which ought to be in my opinion the real human consciousness."27 This subtle clue opens up a whole new approach to exploring the human psyche. Like Freud, Gurdjieff taught that in order to function more effectively, we need to unearth the aspects of ourselves that have gone into hiding. However, Gurdjieff's theory differs in two important respects. First, he promoted an ideal of inner-peace that went beyond simply advancing from hysterical suffering to common unhappiness. Also, he offered the concept of the mobile psyche where unconscious data surfaces every now and then, and is therefore available for observation once we have learned how to observe ourselves.

Instead of dividing the diagram of the mind into two parts, let's divide it into a number of parts.

Many people I have talked with have noticed that it is hard to remember a sad experience while in a happy mood, and to remember a happy experience while in a sad mood. Furthermore, it is even possible for factual bits of data to get trapped in these, what I like to call, "mood memory banks." P.D. Ouspensky explained it this way: "There is nothing permanently subconscious in us because there is nothing permanently conscious . . ."28

Using this model, we find that when one mood is in control of our body, that mood represents our conscious mind while the rest of the circle represents our unconscious mind. Later, when that mood is no longer in control, it submerges into the subconscious mind, and the new mood emerges to become the conscious mind--for as long as it can remain awake, that is. On and on the cycle goes--the rapidity of change being determined by our relative level of psychological integration, and/or the level of stress in the environment.

While this new dynamic model of consciousness may be unsettling because it portrays the true difficulty of change, the bad news is offset by the good news that says we have possibilities that are not commonly known. Sufi teachers have long proclaimed that while we are not as evolved as our vanity would have us believe, our possibilities are much greater than we can imagine.

Recognizing lapses of consciousness is probably the biggest challenge we face. It is definitely the first challenge we face. Usually, the more fragmented our psyche, the less we are aware of any contradictions in our lives. Each part swears that it represents the Whole. Generally, we are aware of our different moods. However, we often do not pay close attention to them, or to the consequences of inconsistent behavior.

There are two major reasons why we don't work at eliminating our inner-contradictions. First, it can be painful and disillusioning to become aware of them. Second, society offers a host of ready-made alibis to explain away our contradictions.

Because the different mood/personalities do not keep a close watch on each other, we can easily find ourselves in the predicament represented by the figure below. When we are happy, the happy mood represents our consciousness. When we are sad, the sad mood becomes our conscious mind. To illustrate this concept of the mobile psyche , consider this diagram:

At this point I shall defer to the authorities. With the aid of Gurdjieff, Assagioli, Eric Berne and experts on Multiple Personality Disorder, we will hopefully clarify this little-known quirk of the human psyche.

Gurjieff's Teaching

In his book, In Search of the Miraculous , P. D. Ouspensky related experiences he had while studying under Gurdjieff. During these meetings, Gurdjieff spoke about how shifting moods affect the quality of our lives.

They all call themselves 'I.' That is, they consider themselves masters and none wants to recognize another. Each of them is Caliph for an hour, does what he likes regardless of everything, and, later on, the others have to pay for it. And there is no order among them whatsoever. Whoever gets the upper hand is master. He whips everyone on all sides and takes heed of nothing. But the next moment, another seizes the whip and beats him. And so it goes on all one's life. Imagine a country where everyone can be king for five minutes and do during these five minutes just what he likes with the whole kingdom. That is our life.29

This passage really spoke to me. I realized that the consequences of my moodiness couldn't have been much worse had a totally different person stepped into my body and taken over. Also, I noticed that many people's lives were little more than a string of broken promises and shattered dreams--one mood would make a promise, and when it came time to fulfill that promise, another would have either forgotten, or decided that it couldn't care less.

At another place in the book, Gurdjieff said,

Man has no individuality. He has no single, big 'I'. Man is divided into a multiplicity of small I's. And each small I is able to call itself by the Whole, to act in the name of the Whole, to agree or disagree, to give promises, to make decisions, with which another I or the Whole will have to deal. This explains why people so often make decisions and so seldom carry them out. . . A small accidental 'I' may promise something, not to itself, but to someone else at a certain moment simply out of vanity or for amusement. Then it disappears, but the man, that is the whole combination of other 'I's' who are quite innocent of this, will have to pay for it all of his life. It is the tragedy of the human being that any small 'I' has the right to sign checks and promissory notes and the man, that is, the Whole, has to meet them. People's whole lives often consist in paying off the promissory notes of small accidental 'I's.'30

This brings to mind the story of Mr. Amorous and Mr. Guilty--two different 'I's' that took turns running the body of a man everyone knew as Mr. George Brown.

Mr. Guilty was very dedicated to his wife, and he took his vow to forsake all others very seriously. Unfortunately for Mr. Guilty, Mr. Amorous didn't share the same desire to honor those marital vows.

Every now and then, a woman who believed that Married Men Make the Best Lovers would decide to seduce the body known as Mr. Brown.31 If Mr. Guilty was awake at the time, he would be so horrified that he would just faint. Mr. Amorous would then wake up and take full advantage of the situation. Once Mr. Amorous had spent all of his passion, he would go back to sleep, leaving Mr. Guilty with the aftermath to contend with.

When Mr. Guilty woke up he was horrified. He asked himself, "why did I do this terrible thing?" Of course, he didn't know about the existence of Mr. Amorous, so he did what most people do when they are not aware of the other selves that they share a body with. He started paying for his sin in "bad feelings currency."--the belief that wrongs can be somehow undone provided sufficient suffering is expressed. After suffering long enough to feel like he had made his payment in full, Mr. Guilty relaxed and went back to sleep.

Once again, life seemed to be going smoothly, until another buxom beauty decided to offer her honor, whereupon, Mr. Amorous woke up and honored her offer. As before, once his passion had been spent, Mr. Amorous went back to sleep, leaving Mr. Guilty with Ms. Buxom lying next to him. Mr. Guilty was, of course, horrified. "How could I do this? I swore that I would never do that again!!"

What Mr. Guilty needed to realize was that he wasn't the one who transgressed against his marital vows. He was sleeping soundly while Mr. Amorous was having a good time. Until Mr. Guilty becomes aware of the existence of Mr. Amorous, each time this kind of thing happens, he will decide that he should suffer a little longer and a little harder than he did the previous time, hoping that at some point the pattern would stop.

Unfortunately, this business of trying to make payment in "bad-feelings currency" will only perpetuate the problem indefinitely. These payments in "bad-feelings currency" only pave the way for a sound sleep later on, leaving one open for a repeat performance. According to Gurdjieff, we do not need to indulge in remorse. What we need is vigilance, and our primary challenge is to figure out how to "stay awake" long enough to effect real change.

Roberto Assagioli's Observations

There is little writing in Western psychological literature calling attention to the split mind (until recently). However, there is one notable exception. In Italy, Dr. Roberto Assagioli developed a psychological system he called "Psychosynthesis." In his book, Psychosynthesis , he tells us:

The first scientist to contribute original discoveries in this field was Pierre Janet. Starting with the phenomenon of "psychological automatism" he found that there are many mental activities taking place independently of the patient's consciousness, and even real "secondary personalities" living behind, or alternating with, the everyday personality.32

Later in the book, he continues:

The organization of the sub-personalities is very revealing and sometimes surprising, baffling or even frightening. One discovers how very different and often quite antagonistic traits are displayed in the different roles. The difference of traits which are organized around a role justify, in our opinion, the use of the word "sub-personality." Ordinary people shift from one to the other without clear awareness, and only a thin thread of memory connects them; but for all practical purposes they are different beings--they act differently, they show very different traits.33

Part of Assagioli's therapeutic process involved discovering the different sub-personalities in order to observe them. In addition, he placed a lot of emphasis on developing the observer self --"[d]uring and after this assessment of the sub-personalities one realizes that the observing self is none of them, but something or somebody different from each."34

Transactional Analysis

Transactional Analysis , also known as TA , was very popular in the 1970s. The dictionary describes it as, "A system of psychotherapy that seeks to analyze intrapsychic conflict and interpersonal interactions in order to afford insight and facilitate constructive communication."35 (Luckily, there is an author in the house, so we still have another chance.) As the name implies, it is a system for analyzing transactions among people in terms of the roles they play.

Generally, people who teach Transactional Analysis theory start by introducing three ego states: parent, child, and adult. Then they introduce two more ego states later. This is very confusing because there are two parent ego states and two child ego states. In order to understand the five ego states, one must unlearn some of the original assumptions that come from focusing on the original three. Therefore, in this book we will start with five:

In Transactional Analysis, five clearly differentiated ego states are recognized. These states are: the natural child , the adaptive child , the adult , the critical parent , and the nurturing parent . For those who are not familiar with Transactional Analysis, let's take a moment to further explore these five ego states. The natural child is that part of us that likes to be creative and have fun. The adaptive child is the part who is defensive and servile, sometimes in a rebellious way, when confronted by an authority figure. The adult is the part that is rational and objective--at least in comparison to the other ego states. The critical parent likes to judge others and uses the power of intimidation whenever possible. Finally, the nurturing parent is the caretaker ego state that is helpful and compassionate.

The most popular exponent of Transactional Analysis was probably Eric Berne, who wrote Games People36 Play and What Do You Say After You Say Hello? 37 Eric Berne made an observation similar to Gurdjieff's: "The feeling of 'Self' is a mobile one. It can reside in any of the three ego states at any given moment, and can jump from one to the other as occasion arises. That is, the feeling of Self is independent of all other properties of ego states and of what the ego state is doing or experiencing. . . .Whenever one of the ego states is full-active, that ego state is experienced at that moment as the real Self."38 Also, he observed that, for the most part, the ego state that is in control of our body is usually determined by whoever is in our presence or what the situation might be at a given moment.

To illustrate the effect that the mobile Self has in everyday life, let us take the homely example of a nagging wife. Ordinarily Zoe is good-natured, sociable, and adaptable, but at certain times she becomes very critical of her husband. This is her nagging Parent. Later, she brings out again her fun-loving, sociable, adapted Child, and forgets what she has said to him in her Parent ego state. But he does not forget, and remains wary and detached. If this sequence is repeated again and again, his wariness and detachment become permanent, which she fails to understand. "We have so much fun together," says her charming Child. "Why is it that you withdraw from me?" When her Child is her real Self, she forgets or overlooks what she said while her Parent was her real Self. Thus one ego state does not keep a very good record of what the other ego states have done. Her Parent overlooks all the fun they have had, and her Child forgets all the criticism she has offered. But Jeder's Child (and Adult as well) remembers what her Parent said.39

Now we are ready to consider the extremes of psychological splitting.

Multiple Personality Disorder

There is an ever-growing population of Psychiatrists and Psychologists who are acknowledging the existence of the split psyche because they have observed people who suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). MPD is the term used to describe people whose different ego-states spontaneously give themselves different names. (Some people have been reported to have over one-hundred different personalities.) Each personality has its own mannerisms, memories, and can even be of different ages, races and sexes. When the different personalities take turns operating the same body, their vastly different self-images lead to extreme changes in behavior during short periods of time.

While the focus of this book is on everyday people, it is useful to understand how the extremes of the problem develop in the first place. People who suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder usually have warning signs like "lost time", (lapses of memory), and an extremely chaotic life to let them know they have a problem.40 The typical MPD patient is in therapy for an average of 6.7 years, and has seen as many as five different therapists before a correct diagnosis have been made.41, 42

MPD was recognized throughout the 1800s until it was discredited by Sigmund Freud, who eschewed hypnosis in favor of free association.43 Milton Erickson, a famous hypnotist, went so far as to declare that Freud set the profession back 75 years.44

Since the 1970s, the diagnosis of Multiple Personality Disorder has increased dramatically. By 1990, some skeptical psychiatrists started suggesting that MPD might be a "fad diagnosis." Given that people have successfully avoided or lessened punishments for their crimes by demonstrating symptoms of MPD, one can expect more people to attempt to qualify for the diagnosis of MPD. (That which we reward, we get more of.)

Dr. Michael Weissberg, after examining the case of Ross Carlson, suggested that it was an example of iatrogenic mental illness --hospital or physician induced illness.45 It has long been known that physical illnesses have been acquired in hospitals, but his thesis suggesting that the same can happen for maladies of the psyche was quite novel, and worth considering.

Of course, just because this reward system encourages what might be considered "sophisticated malingering," that does not automatically invalidate the existence of the phenomenon. Like one humorist observed, "Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you."

A good place to start looking for the cause of personality splitting is in the life histories of those suffering from Multiple Personality Disorder. It has been estimated that 85-90% of people who have been diagnosed as being a "multiple personality" endured prolonged periods of physical and sexual abuse during childhood.46 One exception was a case reported in the 1800s. A woman who was described as being "pathologically religious"--even by the standards of her time--split in response to a prank pulled by a man she idealized and worshipped from afar. One evening, he came by the hospital where she worked and noticed that some workmen had left a ladder leaning up against the building. He decided to climb the ladder, and ended up surprising her by looking in at her through the second story window.47 Apparently, that was all it took to upset her fragile world-view.

People react to trauma differently. While the woman in the 1800s split due to a minor provocation, many people have suffered far worse without splitting. A particularly interesting case was that of two sisters who were subjected to the same abusive treatment during childhood. One sister "split" while the other sister didn't. When the sister who didn't "split" was asked why her sister did, she replied that she fought her parents every step of the way, whereas her sister was much more compliant, always trying to please.48

Oppression and Disconnected Psychological Processes

One common denominator found in all stories about MPD is oppression. For the most part, it starts as the oppression of one person against another, and once the split has been made, it becomes the oppression of oneself against oneself. There are three forms of oppression people use against others: force, fraud and guilt. Once the oppressed person has identified with the oppressor, she will then use force, fraud and guilt against herself.

To illustrate this point, I will recount an example given to me by a psychiatric counselor who works with people suffering from MPD. He gave the hypothetical example of a rabbit's experience when it is being chased by a fox. Just before the fox closes in for the kill, the rabbit disassociates in order to escape the pain associated with death. (Disassociating means going unconscious, or blanking out.) Typically, the rabbit does not survive the attack of the fox. However, were the rabbit to somehow survive repeated experiences of disassociating under stress and then coming back, its psyche would split as a result of the stress, and a new personality would be formed that would identify with the fox.

While not everyone who is oppressed splits their psyche in order to cope, most people who develop clinical MPD are severely oppressed. Multiple Personality Disorder is only the most obvious expression of splitting on a continuum of psychological integration, or the lack thereof.

The human equivalent of this is not as uncommon as one might think. Now that Multiple Personality Disorder is once again being recognized, more cases are being discovered. Some estimates suggest that at least one percent of the population suffers from MPD.49 On the everyday level, the critical parent in peoples' heads frequently takes over their lives where the parent from childhood left off.
Earlier, Eric Hoffer was quoted, "It is startling to see how the oppressed almost invariably shape themselves in the image of their hated oppressors."50 When we consider that effect oppression has on the human psyche, maybe it is not so startling after all. The cycle continues because "those who have reason to hate the evil most shape themselves after it and thus perpetuate it."51

Thus far, we have looked at the accidental creation of the split psyche. Now we can consider its intentional creation.

Brain Washing

The first systematic inducement of psychological splitting that captured the imaginations of many was the brain-washing strategies used by the North Koreans during the Korean War. It seemed inconceivable that so many captured GIs would betray their homeland.

Brain-washing is nothing new. It can be traced back to religious conversions dating back centuries. Brain-washing techniques generally rely on pain and discomfort in order to break a person down. Although brain-washing manuals and books about brain-washing do not specifically state as much, the goal is to induce a disassociated state, followed by the development of new identities in the person being brain-washed.

When people are subjected to pain and discomfort, deprived of sleep, and then subjected to marathon rounds of political indoctrination, they are likely to cross over. "It is not always true that 'He who complies against his will is of his own opinion still.' Islam imposed its faith by force, yet the coerced Muslims displayed a devotion to the new faith more ardent than that of the first Arabs engaged in the movement."52 If people switch sides under duress, it only means they want to live. Those who cannot comfortably become "rice Christians" must convince themselves that they changed their convictions in accordance with their integrity.

Oppression in Human Relationships and Psychological Splitting

Before going any further, I would be wise to anticipate objections people might have when I suggest that most of us suffer from milder forms of a serious malady. "There is a great deal of resistance to the idea that extremes of craziness are no different in quality than any other personal problem. We want to relegate extremes of human misconduct and personal misery into another universe. Instead of labeling this universe mystical, mysterious, or religious, as in days of old, we now label it medical and scientific. . . . We want to believe that the worst spiritual or psychological states are separate from us and that they can only be understood with reference beyond our everyday experience of ourselves."53

While it may be tempting to flatter ourselves by thinking we could never suffer the distress of those we see around us, or the distress of those who have been placed in institutions, this belief is neither accurate nor is it particularly useful. When we deny our potential for doing worse, we are also unwittingly deny our potential for doing even better.

Presently, the effects of disconnected mental processes are only noticed when they reach clinical proportions. One might illustrate such a view like this.

Instead, it might be more useful to consider a sliding scale of psychological integration such as the one on the next page.

This continuum offers us a better understanding of why people are so unpredictable and self-contradicting. Hopefully, it also offers a clue regarding what may be possible in human development.

Before I go any further, I need to make a disclaimer. I am not a licensed practitioner of any of the healing arts, nor am I a teacher of Gurdjieff's system. I am simply a person who was motivated to reduce my cognitive dissonance and to overcome my habit of unhappiness. While I have succeeded better than I had hoped, I am nowhere close to being a master.

Even if I did walk on water, or if I had a license to use government power to make taxpayers pay me eighty-dollars an hour for my listening ear, it is still best to subject these ideas to your own judgment--do these ideas speak to you? Rather than accepting these ideas uncritically, I encourage you to test them against your own experience and logic. In the end--if you are to benefit from these concepts, you will have to do the work that it is required anyway. (A teacher can only offer clues.)

The Myth of Mental Illness

One provocative thesis suggests that much of what we call "mental illness" are simply attempts to cope with oppression in the social environment. John Lobell makes the observation that "depression on the part of a wife trapped in an oppressive marriage is abnormal and therefore mental illness and treatable with antidepressant drugs if you assume that oppression is a normal part of marriage. If you do not assume that oppression is a normal part of marriage, then the depression is normal and the marriage should be 'treated.'"54 Many psychological problems are simply the result of freedom-loving spirits trying to express themselves in oppressive environments without "getting their heads bashed in."55

Much of present psychological theory focuses on "adjustment." People are supposed to adapt happily to whatever world they find themselves in. "With respect to paired human relations, Freud believed that they always are, and should be, based on the domination of one partner and the submission of the other. His political beliefs were essentially Platonic, favoring an intellectual and moral elite dictatorially governing the masses."56

According to this theory, mental illness is not a medical problem. It is a behavioral and relationship problem. "Evidently, in the modern world many people prefer to believe in various kinds of mental illnesses, such as hysteria, hypochondriases, and schizophrenia--rather than admit that those so diagnosed resemble plaintiffs in courts more than they do patients in clinics, and are engaged in making various communications of an unpleasant sort, as might be expected of plaintiffs."57

The diagnosis of mental illness also offers an escape from personal responsibility. Neurosis is a popular malady that places "within the illness category . . . millions of people whose chief deficiency is their inadequate approach to problems and the unrealistic expectations of what life should give them."58 In short, maybe we should just "lighten up" and stop oppressing one another.

Part II: Relationships With Others

Now that we have looked at our relationship with ourselves, we are ready to explore our personal relationships with others. Chapter 3 has already explored our available relationship strategies. In this section, we will look at how relationships become even more difficult when two sets of "inner-families" try to relate to one another. Next, we will challenge the popular notion that suggests that people are the property of other people. The final part of this chapter would have been Responsible Speaking and Effective Listening Techniques if time had not run out for making the manuscript edition of this book. (This topic is the title of Side Two of a cassette tape I made in 1988 entitled Decrease Your Conflict--Increase Your Standard of Living .)

The Merging of Two Inner Families

Relationships can be very complicated. For the sake of simplicity, if we only used the five ego states in Transactional Analysis theory and not the legion of personalities in Gurdjieff theory or many personalities of Multiple Personality Disorder theory, we will still find that relationships are still complicated, and to a large extent unpredictable. To further simplify our scenario, let's consider a relationship between only two people.

If each person has five dominant ego states that can run the body with little regard for the desires and preferences of the other ego states, that means twenty-five possible combinations at any given time. In other words, just between two people, twenty-five different relationships are possible. Is it any wonder that the subject of relationships is so complicated? Furthermore, the less self-aware the parties involved are, the more unpredictable relationships will be from moment to moment.

People As Property

Two people becoming one makes for great romance and poetry. In application, however, the outcome is often not so pretty. Because so many people strive toward this ideal, it has been observed that "very few relationships are large enough for one whole person, let alone two." We need to remember that the prison guard is also in prison. As we allow others to breathe free, we extend the same courtesy to ourselves.

Codependent Relationships and Dysfunctional Families

In recent years we have been hearing more about codependent relationships and dysfunctional families . For the most part, they are popular buzz-words that are hard to pin down with any precise meaning. Consequently, in spite of all the talk about these problems, they do not seem to be going away.

What I believe to be the essential key to understanding these maladies is understanding the types of relationship strategies being employed by the participants. If we will look at the problem with our ethical lenses on, we will notice that invariably, someone is trying to use force, fraud or guilt to control others.

Very often, spiritual detachment is offered as the cure to codependency. It does make sense that two whole and complete human beings would have better success at creating a healthy relationship. Also, spiritually detached people do enjoy a higher probability of lessening the amount of coercion in their relationships. (If we know we can survive without the relationship, we will not be so fearful and rash in our attempts to keep it.)

However, what's to be done with us poor souls who are not quite ready for ascension? Wouldn't it be better to offer behavioral prescriptions so ordinary people do not have to wait for spiritual realization before they can start to enjoy better relationships.? An ideal of non-coercion could go a long way toward making relationships a more positive experience. Besides, what's wrong with developing a positive addiction ? When we lose, we will only suffer for awhile, and most likely it won't kill us (unless it does).

Analyzing dysfunctional families is more difficult than analyzing codependent relationships. Among adults there is no reason to use coercion, except in self-defense. If they cannot agree, they do not have to do business together. On the other hand, children's need for sustenance, guidance and protection means that the relationship is unequal. Children must be pushed out of the way of oncoming trains,59 and it would be a good idea for them to learn that aggression begets consequences.

Nevertheless, there is still a useful guide available. Earlier chapters have mentioned the difference between metaphysical slavery and manmade slavery. The home universe needs to reflect the demands of nature if it is to be a training ground for autonomous adulthood. Nature is quick, consistent, and doesn't judge our intrinsic value as human beings while administering to us the consequences of our choices. (Were gravity to turn on and off without warning, we would be nervous wrecks--even more than we already are.)
A dysfunctional family is indicated when manmade slavery reigns supreme in the family. Kahlil Gibran offers this perspective: "They come through you but not from you, And though they are with you yet they belong not to you."60 In short, treating people as property is not a good policy, and that includes people in small bodies.

Part III: The Individual and Society

This issue has already been addressed in various chapters throughout this book. Ultimately, psychological, economic and social health depends on our willingness to stop thinking short-term and to start thinking long-term. Instead of ripping people off, and teaching them that we can't be trusted, we would do better to limit ourselves to voluntary association. That way we can spend more time in production and less time looking for new suckers to replace the ones who become wise to us. In other words: STOP FIGHTING--START WORKING--LIVE BETTER!

Footnotes for Chapter 9:


Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Complete Sayings of Hazrat Inayat Khan (New Lebanon: Sufi Order Publications, 1978), p. 201.


"While Freud criticized revealed religion . . ., he ignored the social characteristics of closed societies and the psychological characteristics of their loyal supporters. He thus failed to see the religious character of the movement he himself was creating." Thomas S. Szasz, M.D., The Myth of Mental Illness (New York: Harper & Row, Inc., 1974), p. 7.


John Maynard Keynes quoted in Susan Love Brown, et. al., The Incredible Bread Machine (San Diego, CA: World Research, Inc., 1974). pp. 64&endash;65.


Hazrat Inayat Khan, Op. Cit., p.183.


Garth Wood, The Myth of Neurosis (New York: Harper & Row, Inc., 1983), p. 91.


Michael C. Thomsett, A Treasury of Business Quotations (New York: Ballantine Books, 1990), p.143.


B.F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1971).


Erwin Straus, M.D., translated by Jacob Needleman, The Primary World of the Senses (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, A Division of Macmillan Company, 1963), p. 38.


Ibid., p. 123.


Ibid., p. 40.


Patricia Teage Ashton, "Educational psychology," The Academic American Encyclopedia, (New York: Grolier Electronic Publishing, Inc., 1993).


Richard B. McKenzie and Gordon Tullock, The Best of the New World of Economics (Homewood, Ill. : Irwin ,1989), pp. 46&endash;47.


Michael C. Thomsett, Op. Cit., p. 137.


Patricia Teage Ashton, "Educational psychology," Op. Cit.


"Seed corn festival" is an expression denoting the consumption of one's capital resources. This is generally followed by a period of time known either as "hard times" for an individual, or as a "Dark Age" for a nation or a continent.


"As Tolman has it, 'The ultimate interest of psychology is solely the prediction and control of behavior.'" Erwin Straus, M.D., translated by Jacob Needleman, Op. Cit., p. 117.


"I counted 146 separate institutes of one sort or another, the overwhelming majority (130) being in the United States. Only eighty are actually located within the armed forces, however, the remainder being divided between universities, a couple of specialist hospitals and private research institutes and 'think-tanks'." Peter Watson, War on the Mind (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1978), p. 16.


Leon Festinger, A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1957), p. 3.


P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1949), 155.


Dr. Robert Mayer, Through Divided Minds (New York: Doubleday, 1988), p. 39.


Colin A Ross, M.D., "Twelve Cognitive Errors about Multiple Personality Disorder," American Journal of Psychotherapy, July 1990, p. 349.


Louis Baldwin, Ourselves: Multiple Personalities, 1811-1981 (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1984), pp. ix&endash;x.


Robert Jay Lifton, The Nazi Doctors (New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1986), p. 423.


Colin A. Ross, M.D., F.R.C.P.C., Sharon Heber, R.N., G. Ron Norton, Ph.D. and Geri Anderson, R.P.N., "Differences between Multiple Personality Disorder and Other Diagnostic Groups on Structured Interview," Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Vol. 177, No. 8, August 1989, p. 489.


American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association, 1987), p. 187.


Ibid., p. 188.


G.I. Gurdjieff, Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, Vol. 1 (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1950), p. 24.


P.D. Ouspensky, The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution (New York: Random House, 1950), p. 33.


G.I. Gurdjieff quoted in P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miraculous (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1949), pp. 43&endash;44.


Ibid., p. 60.


Ruth Dickson, Married Men Make the Best Lovers (New York: Coronet Publications, Inc., 1967).


Roberto Assagioli, Psychosynthesis (New York, Viking Press, 1976), p. 12.


Ibid., p. 75.


Ibid., p. 76.


American Heritage Electronic Dictionary (Sausalito CA: Writing Tools Group, Inc., 1991).


Eric Berne, Games People Play (New York: Random House, Inc., 1964).


Eric Berne, What Do You Say After You Say Hello ( New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1972).


Ibid., pp. 248&endash;249.


Ibid., p. 249.


American Psychiatric Association, Op. Cit., p. 270.


Colin A. Ross, M.D., FRCPC, Ron Norton, Ph.D. and Kay Wozney, B.A., "Multiple Personality Disorder: An Analysis of 236 Cases," Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, June 1989, p. 413.


Dr. Robert Mayer, Through Divided Minds (New York: Doubleday, 1988), p. 104.


Ibid., p. 38.


Ibid., p. 46.


Michael Weissberg, M.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Director, Psychiatric Acute Care, CAN PSYCHOTHERAPISTS CREATE ILLNESS IN THEIR PATIENTS?: Multiple Personality Disorders in Anna O., and Ross Michael Carlson, Presentation made at University Hospital, Denver, October 14, 1993 at 7 P.M.


Colin A. Ross, M.D., FRCPC, Ron Norton, Ph.D. and Kay Wozney, B.A., "Multiple Personality Disorder: An Analysis of 236 Cases," Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, June 1989, p. 413.


Louis Baldwin, Op. Cit., pp. 58&endash;59.


This story was told in a television documentary, but I failed to get the footnote for it.


Colin A Ross, Scott D. Miller, Pamela Reagor, Lynda Bjornson, George Fraser, and Geri Anderson, "Schneiderian Symptoms in Multiple Personality Disorder and Schizophrenia," Comprehensive Psychiatry, Vol. 31. No. 2 (March/April), 1990, p. 116.


Eric Hoffer, The True Believer (New York: Harper and Row, 1951), p. 90.




Ibid, p. 100.


Peter R. Breggin, The Psychology of Freedom (Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1980), p. 83.


John Lobell, The Little Green Book : A Guide to Self-Reliant Living in the 80's (Boulder CO: Shambhala, 1981), p. 100.


"'Honesty is the best policy' is a familiar English saying. In Hungarian, an equally familiar saying is 'Tell the truth and get your head bashed in.'" Thomas S. Szasz, M.D., Op. Cit., p. 145.


Ibid., p. 227.


Ibid., p. 119.


Garth Wood, Op. Cit., , p. 2.


In our current legal system, a smushed kid is probably preferable to a kid with a broken arm. But no one said that law and logic have to be synonymous.


Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1986, 115th printing, published 1923), p. 17.

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