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Transforming the Mind ~ by Peter Shepherd


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The Pride System

The central inner conflict at the core of one's experience in this lifetime is caused by a feeling of inferiority: the learned helplessness (reinforced by pain, fear and anxiety) experienced as an infant, conflicting with one's fundamental and inherited (archetypal) and spiritual sense of Self. As a solution to this conflict, the ego develops and is strengthened and organized against anxiety by the use of defense mechanisms, in particular, identifying with an idealized self. This gives a false (egotistical) pride, an unrealistic compensation for one's felt inadequacies; and also results in self-hate for failure to live up to the idealizations.

'False-pride versus self-hate' becomes the new conflict structure, and this results in compulsive strategies to match the internal demands (the parental ideal 'shoulds' that have been accepted and identified with) as well as in-built, instinctual role-models of behavior (further archetypes). Emotions and feelings that do not conform to the new idealized selves (sub-personalities that may themselves be in conflict) are repressed and denied.

“Compulsive strategies are applied unconsciously, inappropriately and rigidly.”
The compulsive strategies, if they work, reinforce the idealized identities. Such strategies involve three major directions:

MOVING TOWARDS OTHERS. Seeking protection and approval; restricting own demands and idealizing the other; be 'loving and submissive'. Real purposes and drives are shut away, to conform to daily repetitive tasks.

MOVING AGAINST OTHERS. Expansive solutions, seeking to dominate; by seeking admiration and being better than others; by arrogant vindictiveness; by aggressive mastery and control; by perfectionist standards. Justify harmful actions against others by rationalization (I'm right and they're wrong'); be blind to the implications of one's actions; if can't be as good then destroy, spoil, invalidate the other's status.

If there is unresolved opposition, aim for a lower ideal that can be managed but think less of oneself - become the underdog, the victim, apologetic, use psycho-somatic illness to get sympathy.

MOVE AWAY FROM OTHERS. Resigned solutions, attempting to immobilise conflicts; withdrawal by aloof self-sufficiency and detachment; over-sensitivity to criticism; refusal to change or contribute; retreat into trivia; control of emotions - never letting go and intellectualising; be elusive, refuse to commit oneself.

Compulsive strategies are applied unconsciously, inappropriately and rigidly. As you find the idealized image doesn't conform with the real world, you try to make the real world conform with you, by manipulating and making demands on others. Further defenses that may be adopted in this conflict-structure are:

PROJECTION. Attribute one's emotions and desires (especially self-hate) to other people, leading to paranoia.

EXTERNALIZATION. Being pre-occupied with changing others, having no inner life: self-hate turned outwards.

LYING. Withholding truth from self and others. Turning compulsive needs into assets - appeasement to goodness, dependency to love, inconsistency to freedom.

PSYCHOSIS. When anxiety is especially acute, neurosis turns to psychosis: an almost complete loss of touch with external reality - the breaking apart of the ego is the final defense.

Clearly, it is necessary to restore contact with the repressed feelings involved in this central inner conflict, those of the innocent bewildered baby who could not but have come to the conclusion that he was helpless and dependent, and in need of every possible support and defense. Clearly, the more loving care the baby received, the more likely it was that a sound bio-survival program was established, giving him a sense of security from which to venture further. But even in the most favourable circumstances, the birth and overwhelming sensations of infancy will have installed a reservoir of primal pain, that has somehow to be released in order to rehabilitate the real Self to full functioning, with an ego that is clear of defensive posturing, but rather has learned the tools for living a personally expressive and creative life to the fullest potential.


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