Health issues, psychological problems and the shadow are signs of an arrested development
The most obvious way in which gaps in development show up is through physical and psychological health issues. At least this is the term that our society uses to describe symptoms that deviate from what we expect from a healthy body. Personally, I like to see health issues as one manifestation of a much bigger picture. In my opinion, health issues can’t be truly solved from the limiting perspective of health vs. disease. We need to look from the perspective of evolution to do so. Once we do, we will instantaneously solve other problems like the lack of spiritual development of humanity, the fact that most people never live up to their potential and other topics that are commonly not linked to health in a systematic and coherent fashion.
Also, I don’t see any other way for us as humanity to tackle the problem that our knowledge by far exceeds our wisdom. Our current society behaves like children playing with matches almost exclusively, except that those matches are atom bombs, satellites, and genetic research. While we may not bring ourselves to the brink of total extinction, we are certainly doing everything to deteriorate our chances at evolution by destroying the very foundations of what we need to evolve in an integrated way on a scientific, environmental, social and political level at the moment.
In other words: integral evolution is the “red thread” that we desperately need as a foundation to solve literally all our problems by the root. We need to get back to what we really need as human beings –which is dictated by nature – instead of trying to find hacks and workarounds in the guise of human civilization. We have been doing this for centuries and eons even. It hasn’t worked then, and it will not work now. As Einstein said: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” I couldn’t agree more, we are all not just physically sick, but literally insane until we work out our gaps in our own development.
We need to start focusing on the function of the whole evolutionary process and not just work on the functionality of some parts. Otherwise, evolution in the way it has been intended by nature will not be possible. Healthy evolution unfolds in a linear, but inclusory manner. This means that the stages of evolution do not line up like pearls on a string:
In healthy evolution, there is a functional hierarchy, but not a dominator hierarchy of later stages that suppress earlier stages. All knowledge and all abilities of earlier stages need to be preserved for the whole to function at its peak. Evolution is about increasing possibilities, not minimizing them. Every behavior or perspective need to have a place in our lives. Life circumstances will determine which behavior or perspective is more appropriate from the perspective of energy management and the health of the evolutionary process as a whole.
Now that you know how individual development and evolution work and that they can be arrested through obstacles, I will discuss the actual manifestations of an arrested development in humans.
Obstacles will manifest
As I have mentioned before, obstacles to evolution are closely connected to the (fixed) state of survival, which is a reaction to insufficient resources, cellular energy being a very important one. In the following chart you can see more precisely how the State of Survival is fixed and how that manifests:
Loss of function of the whole: function/disfunction of parts
Our medicine, sciences but also society in general is very much focused on function. But a closer look reveals, that first, they are focusing on the function of parts and not the whole, second, they mostly ignore the fact that focusing on function of only parts will necessarily lead to disfunction in other parts.
Physical: Lack of homeostasis and self-regulation
Symptoms of a lack of resources on a physical level
“What do all stressors have in common? Ultimately, they all represent the absence of something the body perceives as necessary for survival-or its impending loss.” – Gabor Maté, physician and stress researcher (Maté, Gabor, When the body says no: How chronic stress makes you sick – and what you can do about it, Unimedica, p.36, German edition)
The adaptation to any stimulus in the environment is what we know as stress. Stress becomes noticeable as disfunction when there is a lack of cellular energy:
“The apparent cause of illness is often infection, poisoning, nervous exhaustion, or simply old age, but in fact a breakdown of the hormonal adaptive mechanism seems to be the most common final cause of death in humans.” – Hans Selye, physician and stress researcher (Selye, D. H. (17. Juni 1950). Stress and the General Adaptation Syndrome. Br Med J, S. 1383–1392)
I will go into the definition of stress and its biochemical effects in much more detail here.
But for now, I would like to stay with the symptoms.
But I think it is important not to associate stress only with individual diseases and symptom patterns. Because if you understand the effects of chronic stress, you hold the key to all diseases in your hand.
The stress response occurs in 3 stages, the alarm stage, the resistance stage, and the exhaustion stage, which I have already introduced here. Disfunction is the defining trait for the resistance stage. While the adrenal glands go through stages of over and underactivity in the course of the General Adaptation Syndrome, it is characterized by a dominance of the adrenal glands in a sense that they take the lead in the stress response and get to “tell” the other hormonal glands (and almost all tissues in the body) what to do in order to make ends meet when energy becomes scarce (more about this here).
Those are the effects of adrenal dominance (Stress):
And here is a more differentiated chart of the disfunction (pathophysiology) in the body when the adrenals take over and the General Adapation Syndrome gets triggered due to a lack of cellular energy:
adrenaline + cortisol high
cortisol low, adrenaline high
|Physique||Easy weight gain||Can’t lose weight, Padding around belly/hips, thyroid hypofunction becomes noticeable||Can’t lose weight, possible overall weight gain, thyroid hypofunction becomes very noticeable||Possibly unwanted weight loss due to high adrenaline|
|Face||Loss of healthy face tone||Podgy face, puffiness, waxy skin, dark eye circles||doughy face, dark eye circles||Haggard, sunken cheeks, dark eye circles, perioral pallor (after meals)|
|Skin||Loss of healthy tone, skin impurities||Flat fingerprint, impaired wound healing, wrinkles, dry skin, impaired pigmentation: brown or white discoloration||Flat fingerprint, impaired wound healing, wrinkles, dry skin, impaired pigmentation: brown or white discoloration, increased aging||Flat fingerprint, impaired wound healing, wrinkles, dry skin, impaired pigmentation: brown or white discoloration, increased aging, loss of body hair (outside eye brows, shins, pubic)|
|Connective tissues||Mild cellulite||Weak connective tissue, stretch marks, scarring, lipodema, cellulite, weak tendons, edema||Weak connective tissue, stretch marks, scarring, lipodema, cellulite, weak tendons, edema, joint pain, cracking joints||Weak connective tissue, stretch marks, scarring, lipodema, cellulite, weak tendons, edema, joint pain, cracking joints, later dried out|
Light, noise, touch, oversensitive, can’t set boundaries
|Possibly hyposensitive||Hyper or hyposensitivity, can’t set boundaries||
Light, noise, touch, oversensitive, can’t set boundaries – raise in sensitivity through adrenaline
|Temperature||Hot flashes, easy sweating||May feel hot, easy sweating, long sweating after activity||Problems with change of weather, heat, cold, possibly little sweat||Severe problems with change of weather, heat, cold, possibly little sweat except for hot flashes|
|Mood||Impatience, „narrow vision“||Bad to connection to self, low stress tolerance, makes mistakes||
Depression, indifference, withdrawal, attacked by moods, very low stress tolerance, anxiety
Depression, indifference, withdrawal, attacked by moods, very low stress tolerance, impatience, „narrow vision“, possibly panic attacks
|Infections||No acute diseases, possibly only on weekends||No acute diseases, possibly only on vacation||Constant colds, flare up of infection before menstruation||Chronic infections (Lyme’s disease, Mono etc.) and colds, flare up of infection before menstruation|
|Allergies/Intolerances||Increase in allergies and intolerances, histamin intolerance||Increase in allergies and intolerances, histamin intolerance|
|Sleep||Needs little sleep, takes a while to fall asleep||Tired in the morning, awake in the evening, possibly “low” at 3 pm||
Tired in the morning, awake in the evening, possibly “low” at 3 pm, can’t fall asleep or sleep through night, may wake up at 3 am
Tired in the morning, awake in the evening, possibly “low” at 3 pm, can’t fall asleep or sleep through night, lies awake with heart palpitations, may wake up at 3 am
|Focus||Possibly heightened||Brain fog, poor focus||Brain fog, poor focus||Brain fog, poor focus, erratic|
|Energy/Strenght||Could move mountains||Dips of performance, possibly after meals, perception of more energy after exercise||Increasing fatigue, exhausted after moderate exercise||Heavy fatigue, exhausted after exercise, possibly for days|
Craves coffee and seems to tolerate it, craves sugar
Needs coffee in the morning to clear head, can’t digest meat properly, needs sugar for energy
Needs coffee to master the day, can’t digest meat properly, needs sugar for energy, but may not tolerate it, craves salt
|Intolerance to coffee, alcohol, drugs, can’t digest meat or sugar properly, craves fat, may not be able to digest it, craves salt|
Please note that the symptoms cannot always be clearly assigned to the stages, since the hormonal conditions differ in the individual and the stages may blur together under certain circumstances. Nevertheless, from a physiological point of view, one can make certain assignments that correspond to the stages of adrenal exhaustion.
The effects of imbalanced thyroid and sex hormones are also noticeable in this symptomatology, because hormones often functions synergistically, i.e. they cannot be clearly separated from each other.
In addition to the direct symptoms of an adrenal problem, intermediate symptoms may also follow. Due to the interrelationships of the organs in the human body, these symptoms arise after a disturbance of the adrenal performance as if by a domino effect:
Under or over temperature
– Constant under temperature
– Cold hands and feet
– Temperature regulation disorders: going to bed at night with a hot water bottle, sweating in the morning
– No temperature increase at the time of ovulation in women
– Long after-sweating after sports
– Hot flashes
– High blood pressure
– High pulse rate
– Angina Pectoris
– Circulatory disorders
– Favouring varicose veins, spider veins etc.
– Hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism
– Adrenal exhaustion
– Estrogen dominance/progesterone deficiency in women
– PMS and menstrual cramps
– Loss of libido, lack of satisfaction
– Blood sugar fluctuations, insulin resistance
– Insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia (reactive hypoglycemia)
– after sports
– long after infections
– nevertheless insomnia
– need for stimulants such as coffee
– Overweight: fat accumulation especially in the abdominal region, resistant to sports and diet
– Underweight despite rich diet
– Brittle fingernails, wavy or discolored fingernails
– Premature aging (wrinkles, gray hair)
– Hair loss
– Spider veins
– Tooth decay
– Intolerance of odors, alcohol, toxins (poor liver detoxification)
Shifts in daily rhythm
– Unslept in the morning
– Long midday slump
– Daytime fatigue
– Productive only in the evening and at night
– Difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep
– Feeling of being overwhelmed
– Depression and anxiety
– Unstable moods
– Moods change due to the ingestion of certain close-up foods such as chocolate
– Autoimmune diseases
– Asthma, neurodermatitis, etc.
– Chronic infections
– Food intolerances
– Weak digestion
– Leaky gut syndrome
– Intolerance of carbohydrates
– Blood sugar fluctuations
Problems of the musculoskeletal system
– Bone problems
– joint problems
– Tension, especially of the back”.
Symptoms of a dysfunctional hierarchical order in the body
Many wholistic practices assume that body, mind and soul are a functional unit. I, however, will say that body, mind and soul should be a functional unit, but most often, they are not. The reason for this is a dysfunctional hierarchical order in the body. While the order of the organ hierarchy was determined according to the importance for survival, this order still needs to be established in each individual person. The proper order itself is codified in our genes or through epigenetic programming, but there are lots of things that can go wrong with the application of that code. It is the same as trying to construct something according to a user manual and not to follow the instructions properly. Again, it is our physical development that determines whether our hierarchical order in the body is established properly. Should there be problems with the first system that needs to evolve (proper wiring of the nervous system), all other systems will not evolve properly like in a domino effect. Any problems in development will hinder the development of subsequent systems down the line. Every organ system that is not properly developed in itself will not properly fit into the overall system because the overall system can only work as intended if all its parts are fully operational in themselves.
Lack of self-regulation in adults is always a sign that one part of the body doesn’t know what another part is doing. Lack of coordination is normal in children, but shouldn’t be present in adults. If you tell a small running child to stop, it will take a few seconds to be able to do so. It can’t stop immediately. Adults, however, should be able to stop immediately (in fact, many accidents occur due to a lagging reaction time in adults). Cancer, for example, can be seen from the perspective of lack of synchronization as well. In cancer, some cells of the body do what they want instead of following the body’s order.
Symptoms of a dysfunctional unifying principle
It is hard to separate the establishment of the proper organ hierarchy in the body from the establishment of the self. It is the self that establishes whether you are in control of your body or vice versa. The self on the other hand is brought about by the first two layers of the organ hierarchy, the nervous system and the psyche. Therefore, the self plays a decisive role in the establishment of the unifying principle as well.
It is my experience that every physical or psychological developmental problem as well as any health problem at least partly originates in a faulty chain of command in organ systems. I have yet to meet a person that doesn’t have gaps in his or her wiring of the nervous system. Testing shows that people have only 30-60% of what it takes to establish neuromotor maturity (which means that their nervous system is fit for a one-year-old, not for older people). Additional developmental trauma boggles down the establishment of the self, leading to a dysfunctional unifying principle.
Symptoms of dysfunctional epigenetic and morphic conditions
One of the symptoms of dysfunctional epigenetic conditions is a lack of reaction to treatment, especially any form of natural treatment. Paradox reactions can be another symptom. An example would be that people treat high blood pressure with some kind of medicine and instead of lowering the blood pressure, it goes up.
Those kinds of problems are a general symptom of a system that feels overwhelmed. The question is why? And one of the answers is that the genes are not being translated into proper bodily functions.
Also, any wanted or unwanted drug reaction that persists even after stopping it should be considered as an epigenetic problem, even if there are other biological functions that can account for these changes as well.
When it comes to dysfunctional morphic conditions, we need to think all inherited patterns. In other words: things that “run in your family” can be an epigenetic problem or also a “resonance” with a morphic field. From a scientific perspective, it isn’t quite clear yet how epigenetics and fields interrelate, but I am quite certain that they do.
Psychological symptoms of a lack of homeostasis and self-regulation Lack of autonomy: The surge of the shadow
While it is hard to keep symptoms of lack of resources, dysfunctions in the hierarchical order, the unifying principle and epigenetic and morphic conditions apart on a physical level, it is even harder to separate them on a psychological level. After all, the psyche stands for the unifying principle. Therefore, I will discuss obstacles to human development with regard to the overall function of the system, rather than for its parts.
Nowadays the word “shadow” of the self or the personality is pretty much established, even in popular culture.
The concept goes back to one of the godfathers of psychology, Carl Gustav Jung, who defined it as such: “The shadow personifies everything that the subject refuses to acknowledge about himself”. (Jung, C.G. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (London 1996)). The problem with the shadow is that it interferes with evolution in a sense that people fall victim to it the more they try to individuate (which is one of the qualities of evolution), in which individuation brings about “the danger of falling victim to the shadow … the black shadow which everybody carries with him, the inferior and therefore hidden aspect of the personality” ( Jung, C. G. 1954. “Psychology of the Transference.” In Practice of Psychotherapy, Collected Works 16. London. p. 219). Falling victim to the shadow means to lose touch with one’s own reality and to lose the capacity to evolve properly: “A man who is possessed by his shadow is always standing in his own light and falling into his own traps…living below his own level” (Jung, C.G. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (London 1996))
While people may know about the existence of the shadow, not much has been achieved in terms of finding proper tools to avoid the emergence of the shadow in conventional psychology. Jung himself saw the surge of the shadow as a “natural” event: “The difference between the “natural” individuation process, which runs its course unconsciously, and the one that is consciously realized is tremendous. In the first case, consciousness nowhere intervenes; the end remains as dark as the beginning. In the second case, so much darkness comes to light that the personality is permeated with light and consciousness necessarily gains in scope and insight. The encounter between conscious and unconscious has to ensure that the light that shines in the darkness is not only comprehended by the darkness, but comprehends it.” (Carl Gustav Jung (1968). “The Collected Works”) I will follow him insofar that the shadow is a built-in mechanism of our psyche, however, it is not a default process in my experience. The shadow surges under specific circumstances and Jung himself hinted at them without fully understanding the meaning of his words, as it seems. “Falling into one’s own traps” can be seen as self-destruction and “living below one’s own level” can be seen as a lack of development. Both are not random events, but an expression of the survival mechanism and its splitting into function and dysfunction when there is a lack of resources, beginning with cellular energy and ending with love.
From Jung’s perspective, the shadow is integrated through consciousness: “But to penetrate the darkness we must summon all the powers of enlightenment that consciousness can offer.”( ). What Jung doesn’t tell us, however, is how to get to this consciousness in the first place. To “know thyself” is precisely the root of the problem. Self-knowledge requires a self, which requires a proper wiring of the nervous system and a healthy emotional development. Therefore, making an effort to integrate the shadow is an important first step once the shadow has been created and needs to be integrated. But it is only part of the equation if there is a lack of sufficient resources, which is likely, otherwise the shadow wouldn’t have surged in the first place.
But the real secret is the ability to embody the subconscious, not just to know about it. Embodiment brings control over the subconscious, which is what we need in order to integrate the shadow, or even, better, avoid it altogether. And the ability to embody require a healthy physical and emotional development.
Just for the record, I would like to differentiate the shadow from darkness itself. Everything in the universe has a polar opposite. Depending on one’s belief system and situation, this opposite could be called darkness, although I personally do not like the expression. Even destruction is not bad per se. Nothing new can arise without prior destruction. Therefore, the shadow doesn’t necessarily contain all our “bad” or destructive traits. What makes the shadow explosive is that it is unconscious and that we can’t control it properly. Splitting of and dissociating parts of our consciousness away is a necessary part of the survival mechanism. That also accounts for destructive and self-destructive patterns. It is when we don’t come out of the survival mechanism after the threat has passed that the shadow is established. Therefore, the shadow is the psychological counterpart of the survival mechanism on the physical level.
It will manifest throughout the stages of development and become ever more destructive because it will grow proportionally to an elevation of consciousness: (Folie)
I see consciousness as an equivalent to cognitive mental activity, which comprises only 5% of our overall mental activity, whereas 95% remain subconscious or unconscious. What this usually amounts to is that most people have no control over their bodies and their lives. In my view, this has mostly to do with a lack of embodiment, which I will discuss later (here).
In my view, the shadow is an umbrella term for everything that has been dissociated permanently through the survival mechanism. Therefore, any psychological development will be affected once the shadow shows up. Since the survival mechanism has distinct stages, we can now give the shadow some more concrete characteristics.
I will classify the symptoms of the shadow on an emotional and mental level according to the three stages of the survival principle, which comes about through a lack of resources. That most often means a lack of cellular energy, but not exclusively. On an emotional level, children need more than “just food” to prosper. They need love and attention as well, which is why they count as resources as well.
The survival principle in the psyche manifests in an analogous way to its physical counterpart: First, there is a weakness of self, then there is dissociation, and finally, self-destruction.
Here are the traits of those psychological stages in detail:
Typical symptoms of a weak self-structure can be:
– Being overwhelmed by one’s own life
– Complex processes cannot be grasped as a whole; instead, one simply shuts down, picks out only one aspect, gives in to fear or represses the issue altogether.
– The whole life revolves around the defense against fear: one does not choose what one actually wants, but what scares one the least.
– One manipulates others to behave in such a way that one’s own fear is soothed.
– The fear can be so large that rational and evidence-based arguments do not matter, because the brain stem (fight or flight) puts the frontal cortex (which could evaluate the validity of rational arguments) is either suppressed or not functional in the first place.
– The desire to be “taken by the hand”
– Expectation that leader figures (therapist, politician, media, Instagram in-fluencer) will make one feel safe, thus conforming behavior to anticipatory obedience
– Fear of change and novelty
– Fear of making decisions
– Need for praise and confirmation
– Fear of trusting the body
– Feeling of being abandoned by the body
– Need for reassurance
– Fear of death when feelings arise
– Fear of fear, non-objectifiable existential fear in the sense of an immediate threat to life (e.g. starving, dying of thirst, freezing to death, being murdered) that isn’t really present
– Needs must be satisfied immediately
– Needs must be satisfied by others
– Search for providers, projection of father or mother role onto intimate and social relationships.
– Feelings of rejection when needs are not met or not met immediately
– Therapist hopping, splitting (but he said something else…)
– Inability to see long-term consequences of one’s actions
– The feeling of being a victim of one’s circumstances
– Inappropriate and exaggerated risk avoidance, losses are perceived much more than gains
– The feeling that there is no safe place anywhere in the world.
– Controlled by sensations (related to oneself: cold, warm, nice, not nice, hunger), which are acted out reflexively, while real feelings (related to others: love, hate, envy), are often perceived little realistically, suppressed or excessively amplified.
I find it important to differentiate between sensations, defensive feelings (that mask deeper feelings and true emotions. The trend towards New Age “heart-centeredness” has unfortunately led to an immature form of feeling which is often being proclaimed as absolute truth and even as a desirable state by those affected, without them being in contact with the deeper (repressed) feelings: “But this doesn’t feel good to me/not coherent/doesn’t resonate with me”. It is not about denying people their perception, but to make be aware that their feelings or perceptions are not always the measure of all things and, moreover, that they are often only a part of one’s own truth. Especially, if parts of the brain are not functional and thus the self-perception is strongly disturbed (by traumas and neuromotor immaturity). Feelings are what they are. However, this does not mean that one may not question them.
The next stage of the survival principle on a psychological level is dissociation, which in its chronic form equals traumatization.
Traumatization always means a fragmentation of parts of the personality as a protection against a collapse of the entire personality and represents a survival principle. This fragmentation gives rise to the ego. I like to equal the ego with a collection of traumatized parts stuck in the past.
Please refer to the chart below for the trauma loop:
What distinguishes the normal inner child from the traumatically induced one is the intensity of splitting off (see description of Ego States). While it is relatively easy to mother and father one’s own inner children, who show themselves by means of ego states as mere intrusions, it is not possible to defend oneself from attacks of dissociative parts. And unfortunately, the proportion of people who are dealing with dissociative inner children are the majority.
This is due to the fact that industrialized nations are unfortunately very dissociated societies and, moreover, have elevated the resulting behavior to a cultural asset. Sentences like: “Get yourself together!”, “You can’t follow your passion if you have a family to take care of”, “Good is not good enough” are only a small example of the institutionalized dissociation of our Western culture. Those attitudes are often seen as a triumph of culture over nature. And while there is nothing wrong with the development of a culture, it should be in the service of nature and not regard it as an antithesis. Under this premise, the concept of love itself also changes. It is often equated with a transmission of cultural goods and the passing on of rules of conduct, rather than with a feeling of attachment and deep goodwill towards another person. The vulnerability that makes real contact between people possible is often still seen as a weakness and trained away as early as possible in a “good” upbringing. Also, the recognition of one’s own needs is not encouraged. But only unconditional love can render an upbringing, where the well-being of the child is really in the foreground and has the purpose of producing independent and happy adults (by no way am I talking about an anti-authoritarian upbringing, but also not about an authoritarian one).
Through dissociation from the environment, children are overburdened too early with demands by their parents that they cannot fulfill. At the same time, adults are then later not able to fulfill demands that are posed on them in an age-appropriate way. The flexibility to react appropriately to the situation is missing in the dissociated individual. A person may be permanently and constantly pulling himself together or not be able to pull himself together, which may be necessary in adult life. Depending on how much of a self there is, one may still be able to recognize coherent behavior. Dissociation, however, often shows itself in a very irrational way and often downright paradoxical. This is an effect of different impulses from different ages opposing each other. People say one thing and do another. The ability to act is canceled out by the internal struggle. Plans and intentions remain virtual without being followed by actions, which is probably rarely perceived by the affected person himself.
However, because our culture of dissociation is so pervasive, it is considered normal. But normal does not equal healthy.
According to Shapiro, there are four stages of fragmentation (Shapiro, Robin; Easy Ego State Interventions, W.W. Norton & Company, New York/London, 2016, S. 36 ff (online Ausgabe)):
Different parts of the personality, which are distinguishable from each other, but in co-awareness (all parts know about each other) make up the psyche of the human being. The presence of ego states alone simply means that we can take on different roles in our daily lives, e.g. protector, professional, breadwinner, mother, etc. These roles can be very different from each other. If these roles appear when their presence is appropriate, we have a well-integrated person in front of us. Psychological problems begin, however, when some of these parts are injured and no longer connect with the other ego states. These split-off ego states then bring an overall imbalance into the personality. Thus, the split-off ego states can play themselves into the foreground in relation to individual situations or events, although the person can present himself, which concern only the integrated parts, as psychologically healthy in other situations. For example, a firefighter may play the role of protector in situations that he sees as dangerous, even if this role is not appropriate, e.g., because his son must finally learn to ride a bicycle alone.
The primary dissociation (post-traumatic stress disorder) goes one step further: There is an integrated personality, but also a few split-off ego parts without co-consciousness of each other. These are imposed by means of intrusion only in certain situations of the otherwise integrated personality, without the person being able to defend himself against them. The difference between primary dissociation and pure ego states is the fact that one is completely at the mercy of one’s behavior. Reasonable thinking or a choice are no longer available, at least in certain situations. For example, a Vietnam veteran may break down in the street in cold sweat when he hears the noise of a helicopter, even though the war was years ago.
184.108.40.206.2 Secondary dissociation (personality disorder):
Here, many split-off parts without co-consciousness dominate an otherwise integrated personality through ego-states permanently. These dissociated ego parts come to the forefront in certain situation and according to recurring patterns. Here, too, the person cannot defend himself against the imposing parts. Split-off parts throw the show in frequent situations that act as a trigger. In thematic contexts they can display behaviors such as narcissism, borderline behavior, co-dependence, schizoid behavior, depression, hysteria, compulsions or anxiety disorders. Depending on the degree of disintegration, this disturbed behavior may affect, for example, only recreational situations or only individuals of one gender. Typically, from the point of view of the integrated personality, there is (partial) amnesia with regard to the feelings of the split-off parts. There is simply a change of track in behavior that can’t be controlled. Certain painful events or even the whole childhood are often hardly remembered. It is also possible to remember mere facts, but not the accompanying emotional circumstances, e.g., the pain of a violent childhood or the pain of a separation or death. Schizoid men, for example, feel oppressed by their wives’ needs for closeness. In business, however, they are known only for cool deliberation and not for distant behavior. They do not need to keep their business partners at bay. On the contrary. They drink beer with them after work. The hysterical women who match these men demand hourly text messages from their husbands in return. While their best friend does not get in touch for months, which is not perceived as disturbing.
220.127.116.11.3 Dissociative Identity Disorder:
In this case, the split-off parts are so numerous that an integrated personality does not exist. Certain parts can develop their own identity and take over individual tasks in life. Typically, when there is a change from one part to the next, there is amnesia. These are the popularly known multiple personalities.
Unfortunately, only very few people deal with mere ego parts. Most people have the more severe form of secondary dissociation.
Some of these patients are highly functional and successful, so that lay people as well as classical psychotherapy consider these people to be psychologically healthy. Highly functional traumatized people have succeeded to integrate precisely those parts that enable them to develop the skills that enable them to be industrious, persistent, punctual, and so on in their “apparently normal person” (technical term from English: Apparently normal person = ANP, where the term is often used only in dissociative identity disorder).
Non-functional traumatized people, on the other hand, have lost precisely those parts that are needed to lead a pseudo-independent life, pay their bills and otherwise fulfill their civic duties.
Highly functional traumatized people are therefore often psychically inconspicuous at first sight. While the non-functional traumatized people are the obvious losers of our society.
Especially the highly functional patients often find it very difficult to believe that they have a serious psychological problem, which may only show itself through somatization (i.e. illness) or dysfunctional relationships. Or just through subtle self-sabotaging behavior. Therefore, dissociation and trauma often don’t show up through memory, but through apparent results and symptoms in the life of an individual. Amnesia is one of the traits of dissociation.
It is also very important to keep in mind that trauma will always lead to a loss of touch with reality. In other words, all traumatized people live in a narrative that doesn’t correspond with the facts. This is true for their own life’s history as well as for the assessment of their relationships and the environment. Psychological projections and introjections, amnesia, delusions, revisionism, confabulation, and things like that are ways for this loss of reality to express itself. It is very hard for traumatized people to assess situations realistically.
It is also true that traumatized people “go into the head”. By definition, dissociation equals disembodiment. While there is a split between parts of the personality, there are also splits between mind, body and emotions. I have yet to meet one traumatized person who doesn’t hate their body. This aversion to the body can be very subtle. But exclamations like “My body is giving me pain” or the idea that “I would love to do such and such, but my body….” are deadpan signs of dissociation from the body. Many people fear their body or try to control it in a way that goes against nature. The differentiation between medicine and psychology itself is a sign of dissociation. People who are afraid of their emotions often fear to lose control and to be incapacitated by overwhelming emotions. That is also a sign of dissociation and lack of embodiment.
I learned not to be fooled by patients who believe to have had a happy childhood but then developed Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, thus attacking and destroying himself through auto-immune disease. Self-destruction can also manifest as outward uncontrolled aggression, depending on the ethical values and level of self-control and self-awareness of the individual. Digestive problems are also a psychosomatic classic for repressed traumas.
The therapist Lisa Schwarz (Courtesy of Lisa Schwarz, course material, Comprehensive Resource Model), compiled a list of red flags when it comes to dissociation:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Domestic violence
- Addiction of parents
- Mental illness of parents
- Growing up with grandparents
- Little or no childhood memories
- Thinking one’s childhood was perfect
- Comorbidity (many physical and psychological diagnoses)
- Eating disorders
- Bipolar disorder
- Borderline disorder
- Sleep problems that do not respond to sleep medications or only respond to strong doses
- Amnesias (memory lapses)
- Environmental issues (immigrant background, war, poverty, persecution)
- Sectarian affiliation
- Successive caregivers; foster care placement; prolonged stays in hospital as a child (separation from parents)
- Chronic pain; unexplained illnesses
- Illnesses that do not respond to conventional medicine
- Teeth grinding
- Crohn’s disease
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Skin diseases that are difficult to treat
- Chronic bronchitis; asthma
- Pseudo-epileptic seizures
- Self-destructive behavior
- Multiple car accidents; accident proneness; frequent bone fractures; violent accidents
- Hair loss
Dissociation is kept alive by trauma, which is why trauma therapy is an incredibly important step in undoing the state of survival (more about the specifics of therapy here).
However, emotional maturity requires the proper wiring of the nervous system in order for neuromotor maturity and sensory integration to be established (more about the specifics of therapy here).
So let’s have a quick look at some of the symptoms of neuromotor immaturity as well:
- Inability of nervous system to come “down” after stress, stress situation still affect hours later
- Overloaded when multitasking
- Difficulty with organizing things in order (counting backwards, following a choreography, following instructions)
- Hyperactivity or attention deficit
- Clumsiness, hitting stuff when walking
- Shaking hands when doing delicate motor work
- Visual disturbances like double pictures, inability to focus (not near or far sightedness)
- Highly sensitive
- Aversion to large crowds
- Sensitive to touch (possibly only on certain regions of body)
- Prone to accidents
- Does actively think where left and right are
- Hard for to read an analogue clock
- Does not instinctively know where North and South are
- Gets lost easily
- Difficulties using mirrors while driving, need to turn your head
- Increased need for sleep
- Writing is/was clumsy (difficulties holding pen, turning paper vertically)
- Doesn’t like to read, shuts down after reading a couple of pages
- Dyslexia, dyscalculia
- Difficulties writing a text in a structured way
- Difficulties answering a question directly, circles around the point
- Difficulties organizing daily life (from file cabinet to shopping routine – anything that requires strategic and systematic thinking and acting)
- Easily makes mistakes when tasked with something, even when concentrating
- Postural problems (hanging shoulders, flat feet etc. before any kind of exercise or manual therapy has been implemented)
- Problems with balance (dizziness, can’t stand with eyes closed, motion sickness, sea sickness, gets sick on swing/carousel)
- Afraid of heights
When it comes to the psychological manifestations of epigenetic and morphic fields, all emotional and mental patterns that run in families need to be considered. Imagine an inferiority complex that is handed down through the generations because every new generations “soaks up” everything that is connected to it, from body language to negative beliefs associated with it. It is well known nowadays that there is such a thing as multigenerational trauma. In my work, I have encountered obstacles in people’s life that can reach as far back as prehistoric history!
But epigenetic and morphic changes can also be acquired in the recent past as well. I have already mentioned the “preserving” effect of medication or drugs. Certain environmental conditions or emotional experiences may trigger an epigenetic change or a change of resonance for the future. Some people, for example, are victims of an assault at some point in their life and from then on, they attract similar incidents into their life establishing a “victim pattern”. Having a “type” when it comes to romantic partners also speaks of resonance. Resonance is not generally a bad thing, but often we do attract things we do not want and repel things we do want. Epigenetic and morphic resonance are important pieces of the puzzle if people want to get more in control of their life.
In the exhaustion stage, catabolism predominates in the body. Catabolism means degradation of tissues. To put it bluntly, the body digests itself in advanced catabolism. Organ damage is the result. This is because in a state of homeostasis, anabolic (build-up of tissue) and catabolic processes (destruction of tissue) normally balance each other out. But when the survival state becomes chronic (through lack of resources and/or its epigenetic fixation), catabolic processes take over.
On a psychological level, self-destruction can manifest as self-sabotage, the inner critic, a tendency to cause accidents and also auto-immune processes (in which the body literally attacks itself) or hyper (silent) inflammation, allergies and intolerances, which are precursors to auto-immunity in many cases.
There is a psychological term for self-destruction called “locus of control shift”. This mechanism is often established in the womb.
If a child does not get the positive feedback from the mother and later also from the father, which it hopes for, or simply gets too little attention to be able to regulate itself emotionally and physically, it must develop a strategy to justify to itself in order to continue to associate with the toxic attachment figures. To do so, the child twists the truth within himself and assumes that the grievances are rooted in himself. The parents can then continue to be seen as “good”, while the child sees itself as insufficient, “bad” and worthless. From then on, he or she looks for the blame in himself or herself and assumes that he or she deserves everything that is bad.
This strategy may seem strange, but it is the only way a helpless child can exercise power to begin with, namely over itself. Hence the name “Locus of Control Shift”.
Every trauma is accompanied by a loss of identity, which leads to fraternization with the perpetrators. In the case of a locus of control shift, however, the perpetrators are the parents, who are primarily responsible for the formation of the child’s identity by nurturing, lovingly connecting with, and mirroring the child in the best case scenario. Due to a lack of parental attention, identity in the sense of a self is only partially formed. In addition, in traumatization, fraternization also leads to identification with the perpetrator, similar to what happens in the “Stockholm Syndrome” in which victims of kidnapping help their kidnappers to escape or in which they fall in love with them. The victim adopts the perpetrator’s ideals to mitigate his powerlessness. It is also common for victims to hope for protection from its tormentors, because they are experienced as stronger and more powerful. The locus of control shift also explains how a population can worship and defend its authoritarian heads of state. Thus, by adopting their perpetrator parents’ ideals, people will not perceive their childhood as traumatic. They simply know nothing else, they lack any point of reference in terms of what is healthy. Another reason for protecting parents, tormentors or authoritarian heads of state, is that their life story, which they have made up for themselves up to this point, turns out to be a lie. When the narrative collapses, another loss of identity follows. The loss of identity will activate the ” weakness of self”, which is synonymous with the unfulfilled childish needs and is at the base of the self-destructive pattern.
The problem is that a once established locus of control shift does not simply dissolve by itself, not even when the child is no longer helplessly at the mercy of his caregivers. The locus of control shift has become such a firm part of the concept of identity at this point that it only works from the subconscious (shadow). Thus, the affected person will unconsciously try to repeatedly prove his deepest conviction to himself from now on – that he deserves everything bad. The locus of control shift has established a morphic field, along with neurological and epigenetic pathways that perpetuate it on many levels.
According to trauma expert Lisa Schwarz, some of the more common negative beliefs associated with the “Locus of Control Shift” are as follows:
- I do not exist
- I will die
- I am a failure
- My parents do not love me
The “Locus of Control Shift” leads to the fact that a person consciously, but often also unconsciously, assumes that he or she deserves everything bad. The consequence of this early imprinting is then often, in the sense of a self-fulfilling prophecy, a working against oneself.
In my experience, the locus of control shift is the greatest psychological obstacle to profound healing. This mechanism not only provides immediate self-destruction in the form of auto-immune disorders and malignancies. It is also the input for negative beliefs, hoarding of emotions and the fixation of traumatic structures. Thus, dissociation becomes a self-perpetuating mechanism, on a personal and collective level. As long as there is tremendous emotional need coupled with self-destructive patterns on an unconscious level, there is little hope for us as individuals and as a society. People try to compensate for their suppressed shadow in many ways, through drugs, work, relationships, food, sex among others, which are more geared towards self-destruction. But projecting their self-destructive patterns on others will lead to the destruction of others. People often say that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Carl Jung puts it this way: “Where love rules, there is no will to power, and where power predominates, love is lacking. The one is the shadow of the other.” ( ) I will only say that this is true for people who have an active locus of control shift, some underlying dissociation and unfulfilled basic needs. Only these people will try to manipulate others, which they take as a bad substitute for self-regulation and the ability to take charge of their own lives without hurting others on the way. There are very few people who know how to deal with power. Power has been a taboo topic for millennia. But from experience, I know that there is a way out. We need to deal with issues of power in a constructive way in order to clean up our own lives and our society.
I have already pointed at the fact that self-destruction is a stage that follows dissociation which in turn follows a lack of resources. This cascade is very tightly connected to the phenomenon called regression. Regression means that people fall back to behaviors that they can normally suppress. This suppressed behavior could be childish or morally unacceptable. On a physical level, regression could lead to a loss of function like being unable to write or speak.
Drunk people often exhibit regressive behavior. As do people with mental illness. But stress can also trigger regressive behavior.
Not many people question regression. Psychologists often assume that it just happens, doctors and scientist observe it and explain it away with brain damage in people with serious diseases.
I find this acceptance regrettable because regression is basically an equivalent to the real developmental level of an individual. No matter how well compensated or functional someone may be. Regression will tell you the unmasked truth.
The chart below will give you an idea of how this could play out:
Even in well-developed individuals, regression could show up in rare occasions. The big difference is that it will only show up under extremely traumatic circumstances, often only for a few seconds and the affected individual will usually be able to detect his or her own regression on their own and self-regulate accordingly. Therefore, regression is rarely acted out and therefore, doesn’t do any damage. Not to be a victim of unconscious regression is in fact one of the key aspects of self-regulation. The overall reasons for regression are gaps in personal development. But more concretely, regression manifests as dissociated child ego parts on a rampage or in form of an overburdened nervous system that can’t deal with the complexity of a situation due to insufficient “wiring”. Very acutely, things like a drop in blood sugar or chronic fatigue, which are signs of a lack of cellular energy, can trigger regressions. Think of the hysterical mother who normally wouldn’t want to yell at her children but does so when she becomes chronically fatigued. Remember that the survival mechanism is triggered by overwhelming stress, which in turn is triggered by a lack of energy. Stress will always reveal a person’s weakest links. Should these be evolutionary in nature, regression will take place.
1.1 Missing the point of evolution
So far, I have talked about the obstacles that will manifest in arrested development. Obstacles are what we see instead of proper evolution. Now I would like to discuss what we should be seeing in proper evolution. I will argue that we are mostly missing the actual point of evolution on an individual and collective level. Simply put, what we assume to be evolution is more of a shadow of the “real thing”. But because most people have no better point of reference, they assume that this shadow of an evolution is “just as things are”, even if they are aware of the problems connected with it, like the shadow or the inability of most people to deal with power. Only very rarely will people connect disease to this incomplete evolution, which is why it is so important to me to bring all these connections to your attention.
I will now discuss how evolution could be and should be, if we want to tackle health problems, social and environmental problems at their root.
1.1.1 More complexity
One of the traits of healthy evolution is the increase in complexity of the evolving individual. This complexity applies to the species and the individual alike. As species are concerned, mammals are on top of the evolutionary tree and humans are at the topmost position. There are several things that become more complex in evolved species, among others:
- They have more specialized cells and often also more cells (a bacterium has only one cell).
- They have a more complex brain structure, and the brain specializes as the nervous system that specializes as “the boss” within the organ hierarchy
- They have sophisticated ways to harvest energy (aerobic pathway)
- They reproduce sexually
In humans, the brain does not stop to evolve after adulthood. Quite the opposite, it evolves much more in terms of complexity after adulthood than before adulthood. Before adulthood, neural evolution is about setting up and to connect all the gross brain parts with each other. After adulthood, brain evolution unfolds through new and more specialized connections of neurons.
The psychologist Robert Kegan explains mental complexity as such:
“Mental complexity and its evolution is not about how smart you are in the ordinary sense of the word. It is not about how high your IQ is. It is not about developing more and more abstract, abstruse apprehensions of the world, as if “most complex” means finally being able to understand a physicist’s blackboard filled with complex equations.” (Kegan, Robert; Kegan, Robert; Lahey, Lisa Laskow; Lahey, Lisa Laskow. Immunity to Change (Leadership for the Common Good) . Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle-Version., p. 395) Also, mental complexity allows for the distinction between an internal subject and object. This would be the difference between you having fear or fear having you:
“The complexity of a mindset is a function of the way it distinguishes the thoughts and feelings we have (i.e., can look at, can take as object) from the thoughts and feelings that “have us” (i.e., we are run by them, are subject to them). Each different level of mindset complexity differently draws the line between what is subject and what is object. Greater complexity means being able to look at more (take more as object). The blind spot (what is subject) becomes smaller and smaller.” (Kegan, Robert; Kegan, Robert; Lahey, Lisa Laskow; Lahey, Lisa Laskow. Immunity to Change (Leadership for the Common Good) . Harvard Business Review Press. Kindle-Version., pos 488)
The innate drive to grow gets distorted when adults fail to recognize how their own mind and other adult minds are in a developmental process and how their ongoing development is an essential facet of their overall well-being. (McNamara, Rob. The Elegant Self: A Radical Approach to Personal Evolution for Greater Influence In Life (Kindle-Positionen353-354). Performance Integral. Kindle-Version., p. 353). This leads to a state in which there “is a substitution of psychological power with social power. As you will see in the next chapter, the development of the mind brings with it greater psychological power. The increasing scope of freedom, choice and thus capacity to exert power internally is something virtually every adult, knowingly or unknowingly, needs and desires. When the adult mind fails to cultivate his or her own internal development, a compensation is often made. This is when the drive for more psychological power over one’s inner life gets subverted into the drive to obtain, possess and retain various forms of social and relational power.” (McNamara, Rob. The Elegant Self: A Radical Approach to Personal Evolution for Greater Influence In Life (Kindle-Positionen366-371). Performance Integral. Kindle-Version.)
With growing mental complexity comes the ability to balance different perspectives. This also leads to the ability to hold paradoxes (like having mixed feelings about someone) and to accept that there is usually both/and instead of an either/or.
Mental complexity gives more adaptive flexibility. Depending on the situation, one can take the appropriate perspective instead of being stuck in one “default mode”.
Multi-tasking is essentially a result of a complex mind. This is why neuromotor maturity and sensory integration are so important for mental development.
Generally speaking, the ability to process information greatly increases. Processing information is not the same as accumulating facts or even knowledge. It is about wisdom. Information needs to be sorted properly and filed away for further use in order to be relevant in a practical and applicable way. In school, just summarizing a text will not result in good grades. It is the transference of knowledge either from the abstract to the concrete or the other way around that makes for a “summa cum laude”.
The ability to recognize relevant patterns and not just to resonate with things in a random fashion is also a result of mental complexity.
The act of creation highly depends on a complex mind. Novelties are a result of a recombination of facts that are put into a new form.
1.1.2 Embodiment not grounding
I have recently heard of someone saying that “embodiment is the new enlightenment” (Topeka whatnot). I couldn’t agree more. Embodiment is the decisive factor in a healthy evolution. And also the most neglected one.
While it is possible to evolve a more complex mind without embodiment, this minds effect on the world will always remain limited. Personally, I will not accept a disembodied evolution as the “real thing”. Embodiment means that we have control over our interior in terms of psychological power and in terms of self-regulation.
According to self-regulation theory, problem solving should look like this:
We live in a very disembodied society. Most people do not walk their talk. Often, they don’t even notice it. Since we live in a physical reality as well, lack of embodiment equals loss of touch with reality. Disembodied people often have great ideas and good intentions, but they can’t put them into actions. I find the saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” quite fitting, when it comes to the effects of disembodiment. It leads to a sort of virtual reality in which the affected person falls prey to phantasies and delusions. I already discussed how closely disembodiment is related to dissociation.
Embodiment may be characterized by
- Applicable vs. abstract knowledge
- Control vs. loss of control
- Conscious vs. unconscious
- Wisdom vs. knowledge
- Acting vs. thinking
- Acting vs. understanding
Embodied people take initiative, they are able to solve problems without external input. They can process sensory information well and use it as a foundation for what they want to achieve. They act in live, they do not just react because their talents are actually at their disposal. Embodied people are usually more alive and vibrant.
Embodied people trust themselves because they know that they can rely on their bodies. Their body is their friend. They treat their bodies well.
They do not need constant grounding because they simply don’t live in their heads to begin with. Embodiment is a permanent state of interconnectivity between body, mind and soul, while grounding means to bring back the attention into the body. Embodiment can’t be reached through grounding. Even under stress, which automatically shuts off certain types of awareness for the body, embodiment is not lost. The embodied awareness will return as soon as the stress is over. Stress releases stress hormones which are meant to shut you off from pain. They will narrow down your sensory perception to things important for survival (tunnel vision, selective hearing). In stress, certain hormones that are important for reproduction, growth and repair are diminished. This includes pregnenolone, for example, that facilitates the perception of the beauty of the world. For disembodied people, stress will add another layer of strain on the system because the state of survival is their default mode.
Embodied people are able to use their instincts to their advantage. They do not set boundaries, they simply have them.
Embodiment brings a form of self-awareness and trust in which people do not want to get higher and higher on the evolutionary ladder at all costs, even if they are not actually prepared to handle increasing complexity. In unembodied people, evolution is often sought to gain a strategic advantage over others, which is something that embodied people rarely are interested in (although they will be cunning if self-defense demands it).
Embodied people know how to say no, that also counts for information. They will not take in information that they know they can’t “digest”. They will finish one step first before going to the next. They are aware that resources are not endless. They choose their battles wisely.
At the same time, they are open for further development when the time is right. They are often at the right place at the right time. They are often able to use many sources of information, including information they obtain by way of a “sixth sense”. They do not choose thoughts over emotions, nor do they dismiss intuition or emotions as irrational.
Embodied people are the factual evidence of integrated function, they are fully functional. This brings along “effortlessness and ease of functioning when one is at one’s best. What takes effort, straining and struggling at other times is now done without any sense of striving, of working or laboring, but “comes of itself.” Allied to this often is the feeling of grace and the look of grace that comes with smooth, easy, effortless fully-functioning, when everything “clicks,”or “is in the groove,”or is “in overdrive.”” (Maslow, Abraham H.. Toward a Psychology of Being (S.100). Start Publishing LLC. Kindle-Version.)
Paradoxically, embodiment is a mental and abstract concept for many people (which kind of proves how disembodied they are and how disembodied society is as a whole). Unfortunately, most people do not know what embodiment actually requires practically. Physically, embodiment requires a healthy sensory integration. Emotionally, it requires freedom from dissociation.
1.1.3 Ability to Co-create intentionally
I have already mentioned that most people intentionally or unintentionally try to work with the “law of attraction” and what they get is the “law of repulsion” respecting the things they want because they resonate with self-destruction. And because their shadow is their biggest adversary.
Also, the inability to exert psychological power and to self-regulate one’s own body limit one’s influence on the environment.
Therefore, all of us co-create things all the time, but with little intention. Once the ability to access a situation realistically is established, it is possible to act with purpose and in unity with all one’s aspects.
Another very important aspect needed for co-creation is the ability to relate in a mutual way, which is only possible after emotional maturity. Children need to be connected to. It will take them about 20 years to be fully able to connect “eye to eye and heart to heart” with another person.
1.1.4 Ability for Self-Actualization
Another benefit of individuation is self-actualization. The psychologist Maslow, one of the people who first used the term self-actualization as a psychological term defined it as such: „Self-actualization is defined in various ways but a solid core of agreement is perceptible. All definitions accept or imply, (a) acceptance and expression of the inner core or self, i.e., actualization of these latent capacities, and potentialities, “full functioning,” availability of the human and personal essence. (b) They all imply minimal presence of ill health, neurosis, psychosis, of loss or diminution of the basic human and personal capacities.” (Maslow, Abraham H.. Toward a Psychology of Being (S.184). Start Publishing LLC. Kindle-Version.) Notice that he pointed out the absence of obstacles as a prerequisite for self-actualization, the idea of “full” function as well as the acceptance of one’s own nature.
Maslow was one of the first psychologists to focus on physiology instead of pathology. He was interested in healthy people, not the sick. As he emphasizes, however, there are very few examples of healthy individuals because most people have not satisfied their basic needs yet: “The clear emergence of these needs rests upon prior satisfaction of the physiological, safety, love and esteem needs. We shall call people who are satisfied in these needs, basically satisfied people, and it is from these that we may expect the fullest (and healthiest) creativeness. Since, in our society, basically satisfied people are the exception, we do not know much about self-actualization, either experimentally or clinically. It remains a challenging problem for research.” (Abraham H. Maslow. A Theory Of Human Motivation (S.19-20). Sanage Publishing House. Kindle-Version.)
We now know how to satisfy basic needs in a coherent fashion that promotes evolution. I hope to have demonstrated that evolution is no rocket science, but that it requires energy, work and dedication of the individual involved.
Only then can actual individual development start. Also, many people connect the term of self-actualization to spiritual evolution. I have come to see the ability to evolve spiritually as a natural continuation of evolution after personal development. When people are grown-ups in an integrated sense, they will automatically turn towards romantic partnerships, make an effort to bring their individual gifts into the world and to reach out into more subtle realms of existence. The question of “who am I?” doesn’t stop at adulthood, if evolution has gone smoothly. It may first be a rather mental process, but it will turn into a spiritual quest at some point.
Unfortunately, many people who want to develop their personality or their spirituality do not have the foundations to live their life from the perspective of a mature and evolved person because they simply lack the foundations to do so. They invest money in self-help or coaching, turn towards religion or become shamans without understanding that they are putting the horse before the cart. All of these things can be helpful once the individual is able to self-regulate. However, they may not be needed anymore. Self-regulation, autonomy and individuation are the practical tools needed for this journey. In a way, evolution automatically facilitates an “esoteric” experience (the path within).
1.1.5 Ability to hold male/female polarity
All relationships are conditional, whereas love is not – at least not if it is real. Very many people fail to hold that paradox in their psyche, which is why human relationships are so difficult. The closer they get, the messier. Only adults who are able to self-regulate physically and emotionally are able to love unconditionally and to channel that love into a relationship that will necessarily need to be built on certain compromises. A healthy relationship is characterized by balanced giving and taking. People in relationships need the ability to negotiate about their needs and at the same time, they need to see other’s needs as well. “Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”
Things get even more complicated with sexual attraction coming into the mix. It is no coincidence that our sexual glands mature last, ideally after the limbic system has matured (which enables healthy mutual relationships) and the frontal cortex is fully operational (which enables us to make balanced choices). There is nothing stronger than creative force. It is very important that this force can be wielded properly. Sexual power is so mighty that it will manifest no matter what (to ensure procreation and the survival of the species), even if evolution hasn’t been going according to nature’s ideal plans.
Very many people want to be with a soul mate for a partner these days. They are looking for compatibility on a soul, mental, emotional and sexual level. While they may find all a person with all of these properties, most often than not, the relationship stays unfulfilled, no matter how great the love may be. Our cultural history has come up with the motive of the “star crossed lovers” and there are scholars who blamed the intense erotic attraction of those lovers for the downfall of the western world (Denis de Rougemont). Most religions will issue a warning against “consuming love” for a partner and would rather have this kind of passion reserved for God. While I most definitely think that these people are throwing out the baby with the water, there is a point to these warnings: soulmates will only have a chance at having a long-lasting relationship if both partners have conquered their shadow. There is nothing better to bring up the shadow than “the one”. Eros will turn (self-) destructive as long as the partners are still stuck in symbiosis or even in their teenage years. The locus of control shift will have a feast with soulmates who are unaware of their shadows. In other cases, people “settle” for the second best in committed relationships. These kinds of may be warm, tender and respectful, but not necessarily juicy, exciting or intense. Depending on the level of awareness, extramarital affairs or other forms of relationships that require no real long-term commitment in the relationship will attest to the psychological lack of integration of the individuals involved.
At the same time, romantic and sexual partnerships will come to the forefront, once the shadow has been integrated: “To the degree in which the shadow is recognized and integrated, the problem of the anima, i.e., of relationship, is constellated”, says Carl Jung. (Jung, C.G. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (London 1996))
Since our universe is polar, advanced levels of evolution will bring up the necessity for better cooperation, in which romantic relationships are meant to become a functional unit in which both partners are connected to each other in autonomy (without merging or setting hard boundaries). They will offer an opportunity for growth as well as fulfillment.
I have already pointed out here how important male/female polarization is for self-actualization.
1.2 The importance of integration
I have mentioned integration a few times before without actually going into it. While most people connect meaning to that word, I find it important to emphasize what it actually means in terms of our development. In a nutshell, integration means that every aspect important for human evolution needs to be in place and functional for evolution to actually work as intended. I have discussed at length why this is generally not the case and that we are missing out on the true benefits of evolution for the most part. In integration, there are no aspects that are less important than others. In evolution, things need to happen in a certain order. In integral evolution many different things need to happen in a certain order. Therefore, another word for evolution is perfect balance of time and space, which is why I took so much time to discuss the concept of balance before (see here). Please see a visual for what I mean in the following chart:
Integration is impossible without a unifying principle. We need to wrap our heads around the fact that this unifying principle is acting and being acted upon at the same time when the nervous system and the psyche evolve. This unifying principle will manifest out of itself in a perfect order as long as resources are available. Maslow pointed that out in his work “Toward a psychology of being” by describing healthy people: “Healthy people are more integrated in another way. In them the conative, the cognitive, the affective and the motor are less separated from each other, and are more synergic, i.e., working collaboratively without conflict to the same ends. The conclusions of rational, careful thinking are apt to come to the same conclusions as those of the blind appetites. What such a person wants and enjoys is apt to be just what is good for him. His spontaneous reactions are as capable, efficient and right as if they had been thought out in advance. His sensory and motor reactions are more closely correlated. His sensory modalities are more connected with each other (physiognomical perception). Furthermore, we have learned the difficulties and dangers of those age-old rationalistic systems in which the capacities were thought to be arranged dichotomously-hierarchically, with rationality at the top, rather than in an integration.” (Maslow, Abraham H.. Toward a Psychology of Being (S.193-194). Start Publishing LLC. Kindle-Version.).
Decades later, we do not only have the knowledge of how integration, health and development should be, we also have a precise map of how to get there.
On a very practical level I have experienced both personally and as a practitioner, how quickly evolution can unfold once resources are not wasted to compensate for obstacles anymore. It is like having gotten wind from the front all your life and then, all of a sudden, the wind turns and comes from the back. I have repeatedly witnessed how lives dramatically change for the better. People overcome chronic disease, their relationships are better, they do jobs that personally fulfill them, they maximize their mental capacities, their attention span grows, they have more resources to master things that go beyond their daily routine and they will not surrender to autocratic authority. If they haven’t been before, they become independent thinkers and they are more courageous to express their opinion. They take up responsibility for their own life and get out of victim mode. Their children are healthier.
This doesn’t mean that all problems seize to exist. But there is finally a way to solve them for good and to move on to the next challenge. Maslow: ”Self-actualization does not mean a transcendence of all human problems. Conflict, anxiety, frustration, sadness, hurt, and guilt can all be found in healthy human beings. In general, the movement, with increasing maturity, is from neurotic pseudo-problems to the real, unavoidable, existential problems, inherent in the nature of man (even at his best) living in a particular kind of world. (Maslow, Abraham H.. Toward a Psychology of Being (S.196). Start Publishing LLC. Kindle-Version.)
None of the information on this website are medical advice. This information is based on my personal experience and opinion and does not always correspond with the official scientific point of view. Therefore, no promises to attain health can be extracted from the contents of this page. Never postpone any medical or psychological treatment because of the contents of this page. Always look for medical or psychological advice if you suffer from any kind of health condition or psychological condition.
Image credits: Wellcome Library, London,
by: HonorÈ Daumierafter: Charles RameletPublished: c. 1833, Wikipedia