“The Integral Evolution approach has some minimum prerequisites in terms of emotional stability in order to work as intended.

One needs to have a partly developed self-structure that corresponds with a certain degree of emotional autonomy. This partly developed autonomous self will enable the patient or client to use it as an executive persona that takes care of and holds underdeveloped ego parts. These ego parts may show themselves as sabotage programs, overwhelm, blaming, or somatization (creating physical symptoms), among others.

The ability to cope with one’s own life independently is usually described as a good or sufficient ego structure. While some ego structures do indeed enable functionality, they will always be crutches in an underdeveloped and disintegrated body-mind unit. However, these functioning structures can be integrated and used by the partially developed self for growth. In the end, what is weak, however, is the self and not the ego. This is why the term weak self-structure is preferred over the term weak ego-structure here.

Typical symptoms of a weak self-structure can be:

  • Being overwhelmed by one’s own life
  • Difficulty to make decisions
  • Need for “hand-holding”
  • Fear of change
  • Need for praise and affirmation and insecurity, anxiety or anger when one doesn’t get it
  • Fear to trust one’s own body
  • The conviction that the body has betrayed you
  • Excessive need for clarification even with clear instructions, compulsive double-checking
  • Upcoming emotions are often accompanied by a fear of death
  • Fear of fear
  • Need for immediate gratification, can’t wait your turn
  • Needs to be gratified by others
  • Feeling rejected when needs are not gratified or not gratified immediately, fearful or angry when you don’t hear back immediately from people
  • Search for a provider, projection of mother and father on intimate and social relationships
  • Feeling a victim of one’s circumstances
  • Self-pity or the belief “I did everything wrong” as well as “I am a loser” when criticized, withdrawal when criticized
  • Hurt and rejected easily when the image of self is not confirmed by others, especially when the idea of being/meaning “good” is challenged by others
  • Putting people on a pedestal, revering and idealizing them

It is completely normal to catch oneself expressing one or the other trait listed above until emotional autonomy is reached. It is ok to feel and to be aware of these things. After all, you wouldn’t be reaching out to us if you already had a perfect self-structure.

However, the way you cope with upcoming emotions and beliefs is what makes the difference. Can you take responsibility for and contain the results of your weak self-structure or will you project them on others?

Your executive self needs to be mature enough not to complicate the relationship between the therapist and the patient or client as such:

  • The patient or client does not want to go through information obtained by the practice alone and expects the practice team to handhold the patient or client through all information provided (which will be extensive – Integral Evolution is a change of paradigm and context will have to be provided).
  • The patient or client feels rejected or not seen when he or she is asked to comply with the administrative or legal conditions of the treatment.
  • The patient or client feels that his trust is betrayed when requested to sign a patient contract, make appointments and wait for them or to pay his bills in time, demonstrating childish behavior that has no place in commercial transactions. Failing to understand that even the best therapy still is– and needs to be– a commercial transaction.
  • The patient or client constantly checks back for reassurance, although the answers can clearly be obtained from the information that the patient or client already has.
  • The patient or client thinks that the therapist or the practice team need to be at his or her disposal at all times. He or she can not wait for appointments when problems or pain arise; all problems are deemed an emergency.
  • The client or patient may even feel that the practice team has “conspired” against him or her if the only available appointment is a couple of weeks away due to a full schedule or vacation.
  • The client or patient wants to bargain regarding therapeutic measures or be granted permission to deviate from suggestions instead of making his or her own decisions.
  • The client or patient always feels that there is a lack of information, even if it is easily available or has already been provided.
  • Feeling insecure and not cared for when not attended to personally (needing personal appointments, not being ok with video or phone calls).
  • Treating the therapist with reverence and humbling oneself in comparison – mutual respect is great, subservience is not.

Accepting patients or clients with a too weak self-structure always ends up in frustration on both ends; the client or patient will not get what they think they need and the therapist will not be able to implement the therapy appropriately.

Having a weak self-structure is no crime.

But it is an obstacle to evolution and will have to be dealt with if progress is to take place. However, Integral Evolution does not provide the right framework and support for people who need to work towards basic autonomy at this point in their evolution.

Image credit: public domain, Wikipedia