(This paper will be revised and submitted for publication in a journal of existentialism.)
GOOD PSYCHOTHERAPY LEADS TO HAVING NO SEPARATED SELF AND PEACEFUL MIND
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
The term psychotherapy has two parts to it, psycho and therapy. The psycho part denotes mind or self; the therapy part denotes change; in effect, psychotherapy means changing the self or changing the mind.
The self or mind is not a concrete thing; self and mind is not tangible but is a process associated with each individual's habitual pattern of thinking and behaving. You are your habitual pattern of thinking and behaving but not a specific thing.
In this light, psychotherapy means changing the individual's habitual pattern of thinking and behaving. To change yourself or change your mind means changing how you think and behave.
WESTERN SECULAR PSYCHOTHERAPIES
In the twentieth century the Western world produced a spate of secular psychotherapies. Beginning with Sigmund Freud, the West posited many psychotherapeutic methodologies, including Freud's psychoanalysis, Alfred Adler's Individual psychology, Carl Jung's analytical psychoanalysis, Karen Horney's Psychoanalysis, Erich Fromm's psychoanalysis and others.
There were other forms of psychotherapies, such as R.D. Laing's existential therapy, Albert Ellis Rational Emotive Therapy, Aaron Beck's Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Behavioral psychologists Behavior Modification Therapy, and Medication Therapies aimed at using medications to change the minds of the mentally ill.
These western psychotherapies claim to be scientific; that is, they assume that all there is to people is an accidentally formed self and its patterns of thinking; they assume that mind, that is, thinking pattern, can be sick and they aim at changing that mind.
ASIAN RELIGIOUS PSYCHOTHERAPIES
Asian psychotherapies assume that human beings are spiritual beings and that to change them they have to understand their spiritual state and change their minds in relation to their spiritual state.
Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism and Zen are psychotherapies that assume that there is more to human beings than their earthly selves and minds. They aim at getting the individual to change his self and mind and make them in alignment with the supposed higher spiritual self.
Hinduism, Buddhism and Zen aim at getting the individual to give up his ego separated self. Since the ego or self means mind and mind means thinking and behavior pattern it follows that what Hinduism and Buddhism really want to accomplish is to get the individual to change his pattern of thinking and behaving.
In meditation both Hinduism and Buddhism ask the individual to let go of his ego self. He is told to accept that all his thinking is ego based and that all ego based thinking is based on insufficient information and therefore regardless of how sophisticated ones ego based thinking is it is not capable of telling one the truth.
In Hindu meditation, one of the Upanishads asks one to say: Neti, Neti: not this, not that; nothing that one can think with ones ego based mind is capable of yielding the truth.
All ego based thinking produces false images of one, other people and the world. If one's thinking produce false perspective on one, people and the world then what is the correct perspective on one and the world?
To find out what the truth is, the individual is told to remain silent and stop thinking through his habitual ego patterns, to give up all ego thinking categories and remain silent. This is called extinguishing the ego; make your mind a blank slate.
Buddhism says: extinguish your ego and accept egolessness; make your mind a void, emptied of all egos based thinking; accept no thinking in your mind and simply empty your mind of all thinking and remain silent.
Gautama Buddha, 2500 years ago, is supposed to have accomplished this feat of having no ego thinking in his mind. In the blank mind that ensued he supposedly experienced his true self and true reality, Nirvana. Nirvana is said to be beyond our ego based understanding.
Our earthly thinking is predicated on separated things, on you and not you, seer and seen, subject and object; in Nirvana, on the other hand, all things as unified as one thing, all things are one; there is no need for perception; Nirvana supposedly gives one unified consciousness as opposed to our current separated consciousness. In Nirvana one is supposed to experience a feeling of eternity, permanence and changelessness, the opposites of our mortal world where things are always changing.
In Hinduism it is similarly claimed that if one can empty one's mind of ego based thinking for one hour, be silent that one would break through moksha and attain Samadhi, the world of unified self and unified mind. In the supposed nondual world of Brahman and Atman a type of thinking takes place; that type of thinking is said to be beyond the comprehension of the ego separated mind.
Hinduism says that our true nature is the union of Brahman and Atman. It says that there is one self, Brahman; that one self extends his self to infinite selves, Atman. Each of us is the Atman. The Atman is not separated from the Brahman; they are literally one self and one mind.
(It is said that at the spiritual level that God and his infinite selves engage in creative thinking and literally ask that a new universe emerge and it emerges; that is, unified mind can bring into existence whatever it wants; clearly, at our present separated mind level we do not have the ability to conjure new things into existence.)
In our current mental states we are not aware that we are unified with all minds and with God. Each of us feels like he has a separated self and separated mind. The separated mind, in Hinduism called ego or Ahankara, is said to be false.
Hinduism aims at enabling each of us to give up his belief that he has a separated self and mind and accept that he has a self and mind that is unified with God, Brahman.
The awareness of the unified self is attained in Samadhi, in meditation when the individual lets go of his ego thinking and accept his unified thinking.
People who have transcended their separated selves and experienced unified self are said to be enlightened to their Real Self and are illuminated to their Real Mind; they have broken through the illusions of Maya (separation), they are now God Self Realized.
After Self-realization such persons become the teachers of God; they represent God on earth (in the illusion of separated selves) and what they say is what God says. They are now Gurus and people flock to them to learn about God, about their real self.
In self-realization one is said to know that there is one universal self with its one universal mind and that that self and mind is one and simultaneously infinite in numbers (one God and all of us). In that state one supposedly knows that all the infinite selves in the universe are joined to one and indeed share one self and one mind with one; there is no separation between one and other selves; there is no space between God and his infinite selves; where God ends and his other selves begin is nowhere; God is in his infinite selves and they are in him and in each other.
In the unified state and unified mind, a non-material self, a self of light (God is the wave of light and each of us is a photon of light in that wave of light; wave of light and particle of light are one), one supposedly knows that one is eternal, immortal, permanent and changeless; in it one supposedly experiences peace and joy, bliss.
Those who have experienced this state of union are henceforth said to be enlightened (are in the light) and illuminated (Brahman's light now shines in their earthly minds); they are henceforth characterized by peace (Ananda) and are now the teachers of God (gurus).
Not many of us have had the experience of nirvana, Samadhi and Satori and therefore can attest to its veracity. I suppose that some people can accept its reality on faith. I am not interested in accepting anything on faith. I have no use for religion and its beliefs, for they have misguided mankind, led people to believe in all sorts of nonsense. An idea is either self-evidently true and all of us can verify it or it is not true and must be discarded.
PSYCHOTHERAPY, EAST AND WEST WANTS TO CHANGE THE INDIVIDUAL'S THINKING PATTERNS
The point that I have made so far is that psychotherapy, East and West, aims at changing the individual's self and mind and that since the self and mind is not tangible but denote thinking, Psychotherapy means changing the individual's pattern of thinking and behaving.
The goal of most religions is the same as the goal of secular psychotherapy: to change people's pattern of thinking and behaving.
Consider the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Those three posit what they call a monotheistic God. That God is made a powerful self. The individual human being, who is perceived to be puny relative to God, is told that he is to worship and serve that all powerful self, God. He is supposed to accept that God knows more than he does.
In all situations the individual is told to ask God to tell him what to do. In effect, his self, his mind, his thinking is not enough to know what is good for him and he is to ask a superior self-called God that knows what is good for him to tell him what to think and do.
If the individual rejects his own ego based thinking and does what the supposed superior self and mind told him to do what has he done? He has changed his thinking in that particular situation.
Christians are told that their regular thinking is incapable of knowing the truth and told to pray to their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, an intercessor and intermediary between them and God, to tell them what to think and or do. They are also told to ask the Holy Spirit to tell them what to think and do.
In Christian categories there is God, the son of God and the Holy Spirit; all three selves and minds are said to share one self and one mind; this is called the Holy Trinity.
The Christian can ask God or his Son (supposedly Jesus Christ) or the Holy Spirit to tell him what to think or do.
The assumption is that by one's self one cannot think the right thoughts and needs the son of God or the Holy Spirit or God to think for one and to tell one what to do. If one did so one, in effect, has stopped thinking from ones separated ego mind and allowed God, Holy Spirit and son of God (unified self) to think for one.
The aim of the Abrahamic religions is to get one to reject ones ego based thinking and, instead, think through unified self and unified mind, aka God.
In other words, Jews, Christians and Muslims are attempting to do what Hindus and Buddhists do; they want to not think through their separated ego minds but, instead, think through their unified mind which they call God. Their assumption is that the unified mind, aka God, his son and Holy Spirit know what is best for them.
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are, in effect, a form of psychotherapy that aims at helping people to change their patterns of thinking, from ego based thinking to God/unified thinking and behaving.
All the Abrahamic religions are psychotherapies aimed at enabling the individual to give up thinking from the ego separated self to thinking from the God unified self.
According to these religions, ego separated self is deemed self-centered whereas God is deemed social centered; thus, these religions aim at getting people to go from self-centered thinking and behaving to social centered (God) thinking and behaving.
AFRICAN AND OTHER RELIGIONS ARE ALSO PSYCHOTHERAPIES
African religions and other indigenous religions all over the world aim at the same goal of helping the individual to stop thinking from his ego separated self and instead think from God, aka social centered perspective. These religions, too, assume that the individual ego separated thinking does not yield good results for the individual and for society and want the individual to think from what they call God centered thinking; they want to replace separated with unified thinking and in so doing obtain better results for the individual and for all people.
Thus, all religions, in as much as they want to change individuals' patterns of thinking and behaving are forms of psychotherapy.
Secular psychotherapies, ala Western psychology and Psychiatry, merely exchanged what traditional people do through their supposed primitive religions with so-called secular therapy.
Religion and psychology wants to change people's patterns of thinking and behaving.
What traditional people used to call high priests and shamans are now called psychotherapists (psychologists and psychiatrists). The more things change the more they remain the same! As the writer of Ecclesiastics in the Christian Bible noted: there is nothing new under the sun!
Today's psychotherapist was yesterday's shaman; both deal with the human mind, an unknown aspect of us hence both are really not scientific; both deal with voodoo science, psychobabble!
THEISM, ATHEISM AND AGNOSTICISM
I have explored the various religions of mankind; I believe that I understand what they are teaching. However, I am not a religionist in that my mind cannot accept a self apart from me that I am supposed to bow to. This does not make me an atheist who rejects the existence of God. I simply do not know enough to say that there is God or no God. I am agnostic.
An agnostic is a person who says that given the incomplete level of information available to mankind at this time that it would be spurious to say that there is God or no God.
Atheists say that there is no God and Theists say that there is God; both atheist and theist do not have more information than the agnostic; therefore, their conclusions are based on partial information and on faith.
Atheism and theism are religions; both are based on faith in the unknown. A rational person does not predicate his life on faith but on what he knows for sure.
WESTERN MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONS ARE SCRATCHING THE BOTTOM OF THE HUMAN MIND
I have explored Western psychology and psychiatry and have extraordinary understanding of them. However, I am not a Westerner and do not see myself as a westerner sees himself. I cannot call myself a Western psychologist or psychiatrist for to do so is to abuse me. I am not a Westerner and cannot define myself with Western knowledge categories.
I am me, not a westerner. I am still to figure out what me means but certainly will not do so with borrowed Western and Eastern knowledge categories!
However, if there is something good in the West or East I will take it, just as I take whatever is good in other epistemologies.
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF HAVING NO SEPARATED SELF
I believe, in fact, I know, that man's basic problem is his belief that he has a separated self that he defends. Whatever helps me eradicate the separated self is useful.
The ego separated self is the greatest source of our pain and suffering; to reduce and even eliminate our existential suffering we must either eradicate our sense of separated self or reduce it.
I take from all over the world to posit how we can go about eradicating or reducing our separated selves and attain peace and joy in our lives. I call my approach to people the psychology of having no separated self.
THE SELF-CONCEPT AND PERSONALITY
Upon conception in the womb the human fetus experiences his body and the mother's womb environment. Upon birth the child continues to experience his body and society. From the moment of conception to about age six the human child experienced his body and his society and gradually develops a self-concept, an idea of who he thinks that he is.
The self-concept is the same as the human personality. The self-concept is developed from how the child experienced his environment, especially his body.
The child, during the first six years of his life, develops a habitual pattern of thinking and behaving. That habitual pattern of thinking and behaving is his personality; what he thinks of his self is his self-concept.
From about age six onwards the child's self-concept and personality is set. Thereafter, he sees his world from the lenses of his self-concept and behaves in all situations in accordance with his self-concept and personality.
If the child inherited a healthy body his self-concept and personality tends to be normal; that is, is, more or less, like other people's thinking and behaving patterns.
In the final analysis, however, every child is unique in his self-concept and personality, for each child inherited a different body; no two children and people are ever alike in body and behavior patterns.
Some people inherited problematic bodies and form problematic self-concepts, thinking and behaving patterns.
Whether personality is normal or abnormal the child after age six responds to all subsequent situations he enters with it. Another way of putting it is that when the self-concept is set the individual thinks and behaves in accordance with it.
I reached the above generalizations from self-observation. I am not interested in making useless abstract statements about people but ones that I observed by myself.
I was born with certain genetic disorders, specifically, Cytochrome C Oxidase Deficiency, spondylolysis of the fifth lumber vertebra and a thoracic vertebra and mitral valve prolapse of the heart. I will not try to explain these medical disorders; that would take technical understanding of physiology for the reader to understand them. (The average medical doctor actually does not understand deficiencies in the electron/oxygen transport system in cells, so why burden the non-medical person with such complex explanation!).
What is salient is that beginning from birth my body was on fire; my body felt burning sensations. Please do not try to speculate on what I am talking about for unless you have felt your body on fire you do not have the capacity to understand what I am talking about.
Because my body is on fire my thinking, right from the get go of my life, sought ways to reduce the distress I was in. I was in perpetual physical trauma and sought escape from it.
No one can escape from his body. Thus, right from when I became self-conscious, for our present purpose, the year that I began elementary school, age six, my thinking was geared towards seeking escape from my problematic body.
The cumulative effect is that I rejected my problematic body and used my mind to posit an idealized body, a body that is not in flames.
I developed a personality that perpetually anticipated what could cause it pain and avoided it; I developed a self-concept that rejected my body and self and used mentation, cognition and thinking to invent an idealized body and self.
For as long as I have known myself to be me I have always been idealistic. I am always wishing to be ideal and perfect.
I want to become different from the way I am. I generalized that approach to me and want other people to be better than they are; I want animals, trees, social institutions and the entire universe to be better than they are.
Show me something and I immediately see what is wrong with it and wish for an alternative to it. This includes what people call the best works of art.
I recall when I visited Paris and went to Louis XIV Versailles palace. Inside it my mind visualized an alternative to it. I have been to many of the grand palaces of Europe, from the Vatican to all the grandiose building of the French kings and Aristocrats to the English practical palaces and mansions; in each of them instead of been impressed with their grandeur I saw what is imperfect in it and used my mind to visualize how to improve it.
Americans are very proud of their President's White House but inside it I felt that it is a shack!
I remember walking through the Louvre, the London Museum and the Smithsonian in Washington DC and using my mind to visualize how to improve the great works of art I was looking at.
Simply put, my mind wants to improve me, improve people and improve the entire world. I am an idealistic person in the mode of Plato (I understand Aristotle's realism, English logical positivism, empiricism).
The relevant point is that my self-concept has the wish to be perfect and ideal; my habitual behavior pattern is to try to be perfect.
Because I pursue perfection, I cannot understand how a human being can be anti-social; I am yet to understand how a person can steal from another person, talk more killing another person. It is simply inconceivable for me to think of injuring another person; instead, I want to help people become perfect.
This wish to be better than I am drove me to throw myself into schooling and obtained the doctorate degree at a very young age and began teaching. I, of course, immediately saw through the professorial profession and quit; and went searching for an ideal vocation for me (which does not exist in the real world).
Each human child has a self-concept and a pattern of thinking and behaving; that self-concept and pattern of thinking and behaving is largely the product of his inherited body.
I would say that 99% percent of the individual's personality is due to his inherited body; the same goes for intelligence; I am sorry to say it but the fact is that if you are smart you are born so and if you are dull you are born so, and there is nothing that you can do about it. You are not going to have IQ of over 140 by toying with your environment; you are either born a genius or you are not; biology is fate!
This is, however, not as pessimistic as it seems, for we can understand our bodies and fate and use pure reason to redirect the trajectories of our lives.
If you understand that you are idealistic, that you are motivated to change your body and self, change other people's bodies and selves and change social institutions and change the world then you ask yourself whether it is doable or is mere wish of the wisp?
Clearly, the world is not changed by merely wishing to change it but by understanding it. The little change we have been able to make in the world is done when we understand it and devise technology to change it. To change anything in this world we first have to study it (physics, chemistry, biology, geology, astrophysics).
Do you want to fly? Then understand the laws of aerodynamics, how things do fly; you cannot just wish to fly and grow wings and fly; you fly by understanding how birds fly.
Wishful thinking is useful, in fact, is inevitable if you have a situation that makes wishful thinking necessary, if you inherited a crummy body, you must wish for a better body.
Fantasy is a necessary ego defense mechanism. If you are hungry it keeps you alive to fantasize food at the end of your hunger tunnel.
Most ego defense mechanisms (repression, suppression, denial, displacement, projection, rationalization, excusing, minimizing, sublimation, reaction-formation, avoidance, pride, shame, guilt, fear and so on) are useful up to a point; like everything else in this world good things can become exaggerated in some persons and thus become problematic; if you over use the ego defense mechanisms you become stuck! You have to be flexible and not rigid in whatever you do to succeed at it.
As long as the person understands that wishes do not change the world but are useful first beginning he is doing fine. If you wish to change your body you study human anatomy and physiology and understand them and develop medical technology to change what is changeable in your body.
There is no doubt that with improved understanding of genetics, genetic-engineering and medical technology in general we shall be able to design the type of bodies we want for our children; we shall engineer out all sorts of genetic disorders.
The point is that idealism is a useful first step; what then must follow is science and technology to accomplish whatever goal we can accomplish at any point in time in our journey through planet earth.
The individual, in the final analysis, must learn to accept to live with what he cannot change. This is called realism.
A realistic person understands things as they are, understands what is changeable and what is not changeable and works to change what he can change and live with what he cannot change.
Maturity is the ability to accept imperfect reality as it is without hankering after changing the self and world into an impossible Eldorado.
Wisdom is the ability to know what is changeable and what is not and choose to change what is changeable and live with what is not changeable and know the difference.
The idealist had reason for being idealistic but he can transform his idealism to realism. I now consider myself an idealistic realist.
However, one must be very careful in stating what is real because we really do not know what reality is. What is reality?
Even what we call physical reality, say, mountains, if properly understood is a bunch of elements, atoms, particles and quarks and photons and can be changed; with the right amount of heat energy we can actually remove mountains, melt them down.
With the right science and technology we shall make our present deserts bloom with plants and vegetation. The point is that our wishes should not be cavalry dismissed as neurotic and forgotten.
Alfred Adler talked about his understanding of neurosis. He said that the neurotic, as a result of inherited biological disorders, felt inferior and wishes to feel superior to his environment, including feel superior to other people. He believed that this desire for superiority is bad. He then tried to teach his neurotic patients to stop desiring superiority and accept being normal. He did not succeed, for whatever made the neurotic desire superiority is still there and must be understood; it can be changed with medical technology and until it is changed he cannot pretend that all is well with his body.
If your body makes you feel inadequate and inferior then study it and through medical science understand why and through medical technology improve it and not just accept that you are neurotic.
Normalcy is the state of unimaginative persons. With good imagination we can transform this world into what ancients called heaven.
I still want to see beautiful and perfect looking things around me; I want to see magnificent buildings; it is not enough for me to understand that I am wishing to see the Versailles improved; I really want to see it changed into a better building. I want to hear lovely music; right now as I am typing this material I am listening to Handel's Zadok the Priest and The King Shall Rejoice and they make me feel like I am in heaven (Handel, Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner, Bach and a few other classical musicians give me so much joy that I often forget the painful realities of this world, such as death). I simply love beauty. I do not see how human beings can tolerate life without art!
There is no reason why we cannot build better buildings instead of merely dismiss our wishes for beautiful buildings as grandiose. I want to see a beautiful world and do not like the ugliness of American cities. I want well-designed and well-built buildings, built to last however long that buildings can last.
The pyramids have lasted five thousand years so let us build buildings that can last ten thousand years, not the temporary shacks that Americans call buildings in their cities.
American cities are ugly and depressing; they actually contribute to the madness we see in many Americans; Americans feel transient and temporary and irrelevant; considering each other as insignificant they kill each other like they are flies.
If you are in a magnificent building built to last thousands of years you feel beautiful and permanent.
What our ancestors called heaven is a projection of their imaginations of beauty, the alternative to the ugliness of our world.
We must transform our world into a beautiful place. Idealism is an awareness that beauty and perfection is possible and desire to bring it about.
The idealist wants to bring heaven; that is perfection, to earth, beauty to ugliness. No wonder that in the past priests and shamans used to be idealists, they were trying to bring the beauty of permanent heaven to transient earth.
Idealists are priestly, spiritual people. If I had lived in our ancestors primitive past I would have been a high priest or mystic (and projected my idealistic wishes to their imaginary gods).
THE INDIVIDUAL CAN BE STUDIED AND UNDERSTOOD
The good part of it all is that we can study the individual's patterns of thinking and behaving, study his personality, study and understand his self-concept; we can help each human being to understand his self-structure and if he wants to change it show him how to go about doing so; only the individual can change his self.
Good psychotherapy should aim at helping the individual to understand his body, thinking and behaving patterns and where they are problematic change them.
Yes, each of us can change aspects of his self-concept, self-image and his personality, his thinking and behaving patterns; but only he can do it; other people cannot do it for him. Your psychotherapist cannot change you, only you can do so.
The individual can consciously jettison his thinking pattern and give up his self-concept and in all situations he finds his self-decide not to see it or think about it with his usual thinking patterns; he can remain quiet instead of thinking and behaving in accordance with his past patterns of thinking and behaving.
If instead of behaving in a habitual pattern, the individual remains quiet he can respond differently to any situation he finds his self in.
A changed self is a self that no longer responds as ones earlier self-concept disposed one to respond; a changed self chooses to be calm and peaceful in all situations until it learns what is the appropriate way to deal with them before it responds to them.
I am not indulging in abstract writing; I am talking about what I do in real life. In every situation I find myself in, instead of looking at it with my habitual pattern of wishing for ideals, I simply remain quiet and say nothing. In saying and doing nothing I tend to come up with more appropriate responses to new situations instead of my earlier knee jerk idealistic pattern of responding with how the situations ought to be better and thus criticizing what they currently are.
What I do is not Western secular psychotherapy or Oriental religion based psychotherapy or African religions based thinking and behaving patterns; I am simply doing what pure reason disposes me to do.
I borrowed from the West, East and Africa; my approach is eclectic; call it whatever you like, the fact is that it works.
My approach to psychotherapy insists that we study the individual's body and how that body made him to behave; that we delineate the individual's personality. Thereafter, we show him how to think and behave differently given the realities of his body and the physical and social world.
If he does so he lives more peacefully and happily. He accepts reality as it is.
Our universe is essentially meaningless and pointless. Why is it pointless? It is because it exists and will die. My approach to the universe is existential (philosophy). I have no illusions that there is meaning and purpose in our lives; there are none.
We are like other animals; we are born with a desire to live and struggle to survive and do whatever we have to do to live.
Perhaps, we live to be a hundred years before we die. Our bodies, like animals' bodies and trees rot and decay back to the 64 or so elements they are made of. The elements in our bodies decay to electrons, protons and neutrons. Protons and neutrons decay to quarks those decay to photons.
We are part of the light that came out of the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago. Where that light came from we do not know.
Some say that that physical light came from spiritual light, aka God. The concept of God takes us to the unknown. I would rather stay with what science knows for certain.
I am not interested in escaping into religion. I am rooted in pure reason and science; those show me a meaningless and purposeless universe; therefore, existential philosophy that accepts the utter meaninglessness of our being makes sense to me.
I know that we would rather that there is meaning and purpose to our lives; we would rather feel like we are special and have worth.
The observable fact is that we are just part of nature. Yes, it makes us feel existentially depressed to see ourselves as nothing, as not special and important. But one does not have to be depressed by reality; one can accept it and make the most of it.
One should discover a line of work that one has aptitude in and like doing, study it and do it twenty four seven; if one commits totally to a line of work one tends to obtain whatever joy there is in our lives.
Besides, when one is lost in doing what one likes doing one forgets space, time and matter; one feels immortal. I derive joy from trying to understand phenomena (both at the physical and psychological levels).
Upon discovering that our lives are pointless and meaningless, some people try to give themselves imaginary significance; such persons posit imaginary worth and see themselves as worthwhile.
In extreme cases, such persons become paranoid and deluded. What is delusion disorder but man's attempt to give his self-false worth?
The deluded person knows that he is worthless, as all of us are, but instead of accepting that reality he uses his mind to posit a sense of false grandeur and believe that he is it.
He presents a false, imaginary sense of grandeur to other people and wants them to collude with him and accept it as who he is. If they accept his false significance he gets along with them but if they don't he feels demeaned and angry at them.
The paranoid person is always looking at peoples behaviors to see if they belittled him or not. If he senses belittlement he feels annoyed and fights with people.
He is always accusing people of demeaning him and quarrelling with them. He can heal his psychopathology by doing this simple thing: stop all desire to seem important, for he is not important.
No human being who lives in body that will die, decay and smell worse than feces has worth. The postulation of a self that survives death, a spiritual self, is laughable.
If God created people and made them important why would he place them in bodies that would die and smell like shit?
It is either we do not live in bodies that would die hence have worth or live in bodies that would die and have no worth.
To solve this dilemma, Helen Schucman, in her Gnostic gospel, A course in miracles, says that we do not live in bodies and that bodies are dream figures that exist in dreams of separation.
She says that despite seeing ourselves in bodies that we are not born in bodies that would die. Birth and death, she says, takes place in a dream and what takes place in a dream has not taken place.
She says that we are always part of God spirit hence do not live in body and do not die and decay. She says that if one accepts her view that one would see one disappear from the phenomenal universe and see the phenomenal world disappear and one therefore does not have to die.
She says that that was what Jesus did and that his body did not die; that the man changed his view of his nature and realized that he is part of God's eternal spirit and disappeared from our dream of death.
Professor Schucman's view is heuristic. However, until one proves its truth one is left only with belief in it.
I am not interested in belief; I can only accept what I have experienced as the truth. I have experienced myself as body. If there is more than body I will, sooner or later, find that out. For now, I am body and I accept the fate of body, death. I do not escape to suiting theologies that may turn out false.
Like the members of the French enlightenment (Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau etc.), I firmly believe that with pure reason we can make our lives, meaningless as they are in the here and now, pleasant.
THE CURE FOR PERSONALITY AND MENTAL DISORDERS IS TO STOP SEEKING AND DEFENDING SEPARATED SELVES AND HAVE NO SEPARATED SELF
If you have been around the Western Mental Health Field (psychiatry, psychology) for a while you probably have recognized that apart from describing the various mental and personality disorders that the field, so far, has failed in healing those it considers mentally ill.
These days the mentally ill (schizophrenics, maniacs, depressed, deluded, anxious persons) are given psychotropic medications. These medications merely mask their symptoms but do not really heal them.
Those with what used to be called neurosis but now called personality and anxiety disordered are treated with talk psychotherapies. The various psychotherapies, to the best of my knowledge, do not heal any one although Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck's Cognitive Behavior Therapy are useful; they teach people to change their thinking and behaving patterns; all therapy is changing the individual's thinking and behaving patterns, for the self is nothing more than a pattern of thinking and behaving.
Can personality and mental disorders be healed? They can be understood and those who want to change them in their selves can do so but external persons cannot do so for them.
The individual can be helped to understand his pattern of thinking and behaving and shown how to think differently; it is up to him to decide to think and behave differently or not; the therapist cannot do so for him. In this sense, the psychotherapist is a teacher but not a changer of people.
THE DESIRE FOR A SEPARAED SELF IS THE ROOT CAUSE OF ALL MENTAL AND PERSONALITY DISORDERS
What is at the root of all mental and personality disorders? The root cause of all psychological disorders is the desire to have a separated self, belief that one has a separated self and efforts to defend that false self.
The self-concept, the ego separated self does not, in fact, exist; the self is an imaginary mental construct that each individual constructs in childhood and believe that he is it and since it is not real it must be defended to seem real in one's mind to seem real.
All selves, normal, abnormal, neurotic and psychotic are false selves. Therefore, to be healthy one must have no separated self-concept.
That is correct; to be healthy you must jettison whatever self-concept you have in your head and simply accept the truth that you do not have a self, normal or abnormal.
The self-concept is imaginary, it is a wished for self; it does not exist; a creative part of us invented it in our childhood and bid us to believe that it is who we are and defend it; to the extent that we defend it we believe that it is real.
Indeed, we enslave ourselves to doing meaningless work to obtain food, medications, clothes and shelters for the survival of what we call ourselves.
Then we die and those selves cease existing; they simply disappear from the universe. Your body decays into the elements that composed it and those elements, in time, decay to particles (electrons, protons and neutrons) and the particles in time decay to quarks and ultimately to photons. Therefore, where you see your body there is really nothing but primordial light (everything in the universe is disguised light).
It is difficult for people to accept that their much valued selves, their egos in bodies do not exist, is mere chimeras, fantasies that they feel is real but are not real.
Asian religions of Hinduism and Buddhism recognized that if you try you can tune out your sense of self and have no self. Yes, where you had believed was yourself there is no self. The self is a puff of smoke, it does not exist.
What exists is a universal creative force that operates through us and constructs our senses of selves and defends them. That universal intelligent force acts in different aspect of phenomena differently; it is responsible for animal's bodies and behaviors, trees, mountains, planets, stars, and the entire universe. It is an impersonal force that does everything but in people take on the false idea of individuality and bid people to defend their imaginary sense of individuality.
MENTAL HEALTH LIES IN HAVING NO SEPARATED SELF
If you are willing to give up your sense of having individuality you will heal your mental and personality disorders. Let us briefly consider the personality disorders and how you can heal them by letting go of your wish for a separated self.
Paranoid personality disorder exists where the individual has a sense of important self and defends that false, grandiose self. If you give up belief that you have a self, grandiose or humble, what would you be defending, what would make you angry if other people did not recognize its supposed grandeur; what would feel persecuted by other selves; what would feel jealous of spouses not being faithful to it; what would desire that other people to be in love with it (erotomania) and what would feel imaginary sickness to make it seem real (somatic form). Do this: convince yourself that you have no self, big or small, and your paranoia disappears. Accept that you are nothing; you do not have worth or worthlessness; you are nothing; you are no particular thing but is part of everything in the universe.
The schizoid personality withdraws from people to retain a sense of false self. He has no self. Just let whatever senses of self you have go and accept no self in you and live in peace.
The schizotypal personality has eccentric and odd beliefs about her and believes in the existence of gods, ancestors, guides and other such imaginary entities and sees herself as having psychic powers. Now, the individual must accept that she has no self and all the allied beliefs in spirits would disappear.
The narcissistic personality posits an imaginary important self, a self he thinks is so good that other people admire it; he does not hesitate in exploiting people, using and discarding them, if in so doing he gratifies the needs of his big self. The fact is that he has no such self, for nobody has a self. Narcissism is a futile attempt to convince one's self that one has an important self. We do not have selves, important or not important.
The histrionic woman does what the narcissistic man does; she fancies that other people are admiring her and that she is the center of social attention; she is the drama queen and does all sorts of things to draw attention to herself. Now, she must accept that she does not have a self and live with no self and live in peace.
The antisocial personality has no moral conscience, no sense of right and wrong; he steals and commits crimes to obtain what maintains the false important self. If he accepts no self he would not engage in the criminal activities he engages in.
The borderline personality is using all the ego maneuvers she engages in to getting people to pay attention to her; she is trying to convince herself that she has a separated self. She has no separated self and must accept that truth and thereafter stop all her silly behaviors.
The avoidant person believes that as he is he is not good enough and that if other people come close to him that they would see that he is not good enough and reject him; he avoids other people to retain his imaginary important self, a self that must not be rejected or else he feels fear and anxiety. Now, if he accepts that he has no self what self would be rejected by other selves; if other selves do not exist who is to reject his nonexistent self? Avoidance is an attempt to convince one's self that one has a separated self.
The obsessive compulsive person thinks and behaves obsessively and compulsively to convince his self that he has a perfect separated self. If he gives up the wish for a separated self, who behaves obsessively and compulsively? No one does so.
The dependent person pleases other people to get them to recognize his self but he has no self and there are no other selves to recognize and help his nonexistent self.
The passive aggressive self is trying to not have other selves reject it by being their door mat and being unassertive. His pleasing behavior is motivated by desire to have a separated self. If he accepts that he has no self what self is pleasing other nonexistent selves?
PSYCHOSES ARE HEALED WHEN THE DESIRE FOR SEPARATED SELF IS GIVEN UP
What is schizophrenia but a mental trick to convince one's self that one has a separated self? The schizophrenic splits his imaginary self into many parts and has some talk to others and thus hears voices (or sees what is not there). If he has no self what self is talking to what self?
The manic person is struggling very hard to seem to have a very important self; he wants to convince his self and other people that he is this or that great personage. He is trying to have a separated self. If he has no self, what self is important or not important?
The depressed person believes that he has a self that has failed in the world but if he has no self what self-failed or feel guilty?
The deluded person feels that he is a grandiose self but if he has no self what self is falsely important?
All mental disorders are caused by desire to have a false, separated self. Psychoses occurs when the individual recognizes that he has no separated self, feels ego decompensation and panics, feels intense anxiety from non being and uses his thinking to invent a false grand self and try to become it.
Psychotherapy or cure for all mentally ill people's means for the individual to accept the truth that he or she has no separated self and accept that there is a creative force that operates in all things and that he is part of it. That force is impersonal and operates differently in different things and he defends what it calls his self in him.
The ancients called the intelligent force in the universe God. I simply call it an unknown impersonal creative force.
In the here and now, if the individual gives up his ego separated self and lives from no self he tends to be peaceful and happy (he has no self that he is defending; he is not rigid and inflexible in defending a self that does not exist).
How to actually accomplish giving up the self is accomplished differently in different people; I do not wish to get into that here in a paper planned to be under fifteen pages.
The idea of having no self is in Western categories seen as a negative philosophy. The Western man desperately wants to convince his self that he has a separated self; that false self feels threatened by any idea that tells it that it is not real.
Western science and philosophy dubs Oriental religions negative religions; they see Oriental ideas as negating the existence of their selves, bodies and our phenomenal world; they accuse the East of trying to escape from our painful world and escape into imaginary worlds.
It is true that the East negates the self, body and this world. The real question is not merely to say the obvious but to find out if it is also true. Is there a self apart from our conception of it?
Does the self-exist apart from our wish to have a self? Do matter and our bodies really exist except as temporary things?
We can study these things and see if they exist or not. Matter can be reduced to energy (light). Therefore, to urge individuals to see their selves as nonexistent is stating the truth.
Moreover, if the individual stops believing that he has a self and stops defending his imaginary self he tends to live in peace and happiness.
The pursuit of self and defense of self is the cause of much of human suffering. Gautama Buddha noted this fact 2500 years ago; one merely validates what the sage said and what are so obvious that folks in the West do not see it is astonishing.
The self is a problem; it would be nice if we did not have it; throwing it away is considered similar to throwing the baby away with the bath water. Just because the self-causes us too much problems does not mean that we have to reject it, Westerners say.
Then have a self but know that it is imaginary and stop defending it too much (the self must be defended with food, medications, clothes, shelter and ego defense mechanisms to exist).
That which must be defended to seem to exist is negative and does not exist! It is in this realization and jettisoning of the self that real living begin, but as long as one believes that one has a self and defends it one is in psychological chains.
Mental slavery is the belief that one has a self and defense of that self; emancipation is the awareness that one has no self and cessation of defense of the self.
Have no self, defend no self and live freely, live like the birds and then drop dead when you are old. Perhaps there is a spiritual self, a unified spirit self? That, we do not know for sure! But if belief in it makes you feel fine by all means do so but if you can live without that crutch that is even better.
If you eliminated all ego dances for importance the people will exist like zombie; life without ego dramas will be boring! Hindus try to eliminate their egos; the result is their poor art, music, sports and all the egoistic things that make Europe and America exciting.
If you made the ego bland you would stifle the drive to live and civilization, which is a drive to make the ego real, would end; the people would exist like animals for a while and then stop doing what they have to do to exist and cease existing.
Therefore, let the ego exist and have its absurd dances for significance but the people dancing ego dances should know that they are meaningless dances and not have illusions of the meaning of life.
But if people knew that life is pointless would they still live it? If people knew that they are nothing would they want to live?
People are already egos and do what egos do, have drama; so the show is already going on. All that happens is that some people discover the pointlessness of the ego and decide to stop dancing its meaningless dances but they already began life in body with that dance.
Gradually, it dawned on me that man's basic problem is his belief that he has a separated self. That belief is the root cause of most of his problems. He defends that self and feels threatened when that self is not affirmed by other people or when he feels that it would die. Yet, if you ask: where is that self, it is nowhere to be seen.
At best, the separated self is equated with the body but even die-hard materialists do not equate the self with body only.
The self is the thinking and behaving that characterizes each individual; it is not tangible and cannot be seen.
The separated self is unreal and, as such, must be defended to make it seem real. We defend it with food, medications, clothes, shelter and the various ego defense mechanisms.
Whatever it is, if it is not desired and not defended it disappears and where it had seemed to exist nothing exists.
One's mind can be literally emptied of the sense of self. When that is done something remains, what we might call life.
Life lives through one, animals and trees. Some say that that life is spirit and is eternal. I cannot testify to spirit's existence although I do not dismiss its possibility.
In this paper I pointed out that if the individual lets go of his sense of separated self and accepts that he has no separated self he lives in peace and is happy.
All mental distress and disorders are rooted in belief that one has a separated self and defense of that false self.
This paper points out that mental health lies in reversing the cause of mental disorders by accepting that one has no separated self and living as part of life.
You must have a separated self to feel fear, or anticipate harmful things happening to you hence have anxiety; to feel anger, depression, paranoia, shame, guilt and other mental upsets you must believe that you have a separated self. If you have no separated self you would not feel any of those affects.
Alas, you already believe that you have a separated self and therefore must feel emotional and mental upsets.
This universe is designed for people to have false separated selves. Everything in the universe is meant to make a person feel like he has a separated self. He has body that is designed to feel vulnerable, to feel pain, fear and sickness and those make the individual to defend his body and self.
The universe wants you to have the delusion of having a separated self. To be a human being is to already have the delusion that one has a separated self.
As long as we have the delusion that we have separated selves we must feel existential pain (anxiety, fear, anger etc.).
Since having separated self is a delusion, the belief in what does not exist to exist, it follows that the universe is designed to produce deluded people; the universe itself is a deluded place for it seems to exist but does not exist (except as a dream).
The universe is an insane place and makes those in it insane. The goal of the universe is for people to come and be insane and later discover ways to heal their insanity.
To heal their insanity people have to let go of their sense of separated self and accept that they are always part of the universe.
When a person accepts that he is a part of the universe, is part of the whole and does not defend a separated self he lives in peace and joy, and is emancipated from insanity and is now mentally healthy.
We begin life in the universe mentally ill, by having separated selves and defending them, and end it being mentally healthy by letting go of separated self, having no separated self and living in peace.
Finally, clearly, religion as it is currently organized, does not appeal to rational persons educated in the scientific method. Therefore, I can understand why atheists want to abolish religion from human society. However, religion was primitive society's efforts to shrink down human egos to manageable proportions. If you eliminate religion how are you going to reduce human egoism?
If people are allowed to exercise the full range of their egoism they are not better than predatory animals; they are self-centered and would look out only for each individual's interests and the result would be Thomas Hobbes state of nature where all are at war with all and life is nasty brutish and short.
If we eliminate religion from society we must replace it with secular psychotherapy that on an ongoing manner reduce people's egos.
I suggest that people, in groups, meet once a week to seek ways to shrink their egos. They could meet, as religious people meet on Sundays, and have lectures on the nature of the ego and how to shrink it down and read books on the subject.
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Ozodi Thomas Osuji
September 5, 2016
Dr. Osuji teaches at the University of Alaska. He can be reached at (907) 310-8176