The biological correlates of neurosis

ACTING AS IF ONE IS A SUPERIOR SELF AROUSES CERTAIN NEUROCHEMICALS IN ONE’S BODY HENCE MAKES ONE TENSE, ANXIOUS, FEARFUL AND ANGRY; TO LIVE HEALTHILY AND LONG, ONE MUST STOP EXCITING THE IDENTIFIED NEUROCHMICALS IN ONE’S BODY BY NO LONGER SEEKING SUPERIORITY

(First Draft)

Ozodi Osuji

      One of the greatest mysteries in psychology was why Sigmund Freud’s gabbled-gook psychoanalysis superseded Alfred Adler’s realistic and rational psychology. We must return to Adler’s individual psychology if we really want to have a better understanding of people and begin to help them live healthy lives.

      Adler authored many books, most of them are applications of his thesis in his primary book, the Neurotic Constitution (1911/1921). Let me briefly summarize Adler’s initial thesis, a thesis based on his own life.

    Adler was born in 1867 in Vienna, Austria; he had loads of stomach problems. Those made him feel as if he has organ inferiority. He responded to that sense of biological inferiority with a desire to seem superior. Thus, from childhood on he worked extremely hard and made mostly A grades at his elementary, secondary and university education (he did his medical schooling at the University of Vienna, Austria). He became a medical doctor and practiced internal medicine.

     Both Adler and Freud studied at the same university, Freud, born in 1856, earlier than Adler. When Adler heard that Freud seeks understanding of the behavior of certain people who came to his medical office for medical treatment in psychological processes and not only in their bodies Adler visited him, and both teamed up to form the Vienna Psychoanalytical Society. Adler became the editor of the Journal of Psychoanalysis that they jointly established.

      Freud wrote his tales about the nature of neuroses (from the interaction of the Id, Ego, and Superego). Adler wrote from his own experience. Both saw the etiology of neurosis differently.

     Adler’s writing (1911) said that neurosis occurs when a child is born with some problematic organs that upon interaction with his social and physical environment the child fails or finds it difficult to succeed. The child, before he even begins schooling at age six, feels inordinately inadequate to the tasks of surviving on planet earth. But the child also realizes that anyone who accepts a sense of inferiority would not do what our impersonal environment demands for our survival, working hard and competing for the survival. Thus, the child uses his mind to create a different self for himself.

     The inferior feeling human child constructs an alternative self that says that he is very adequate, powerful, and superior to the social and physical environment in which he feels inferior and inadequate. Thereafter, the child has an inner obsessive-compulsive push to strive to seem superior and powerful. He struggles to seem superior and powerful in all activities that children engage in, such as play, sports, school and later in life at work.

     Such children act “As If” they are their superior self and deny their real self which they think is inferior. They are over competitive; some of them make it to the top of most human professions whereas a few drop out of social competition. By not competing with other people for social rewards, dropping out of society, some children retain a false sense of superiority but not from winning in society but from not competing and failing in anything.

     Those neurotic children who react with desire to win compete and win but they are filled with fear of failing and anger when they fail; some of them may, at some point, believe that they are superior persons; superiority is no longer the mere wished for self but is now believed to be who they are; such persons are now deluded because they believe that they are selves that no human being are, superior and powerful selves.

      Delusion disorder (also found in schizophrenia and mania and paranoid personality disorder) is belief that one is who one is not, a superior and powerful self. Many so-called successful persons have delusion disorder (Vladmir Putin, the President of Russia is suffering from severe delusion disorder, grandiose type; Donald Trump has a variant of delusion disorder called narcissistic personality disorder).

     The neurotic child (who, in varying degrees, is most children) struggles to live “as if” he or she is a superior self but knows that he is not superior, but because he has not relinquished the desire for superiority his life is full of fear, anxiety, anger, paranoia and other emotional upsets.

FEAR AND ANGER HAS BIOCHEMICAL CORRELATES THAT COMPROMISE THE VICERAL ORGANS OF THE NEUROTIC’S   BODY

     Anxiety, fear and anger are not just psychological phenomena, they are acted out through elicitation of certain excitatory neurochemicals in the body. The anxious neurotic child and adult always has a body awash with the neurochemicals associated with fear and anger, such as adrenalin and noradrenalin. Those neurochemicals floating all over his body make his body feel tense at most times (in fear and anger we tend to have tense muscles). He is not relaxed as he would be if he is not seeking to become an important and superior person (those excitatory neurochemicals would not be released).

     From childhood on, neurotics live “as if” lives; they are always acting as if they are superior and powerful selves, and these tenses up their bodies and traumatize their internal organs and muscles. Later in life, these over aroused neurochemicals wear down their visceral organs; some of those worn-down organs may result in them developing all kinds of medical issues.

     If anxious neurotics find a way to give up their desire for neurotic importance the hitherto elicited neurochemicals in their bodies would return to their receptacles and they feel calm and relaxed. A calm, relaxed body lives peacefully and healthily.

    Neurosis leads to compromises of the human body and to early death. If neurotics or deluded persons give up their wish for superiority and power, they would not live anxious and angry lives; they would no longer destroy their bodies with over aroused neurochemical activities and would live long.

     Human beings can easily live to be one hundred and twenty years but the pressure they put on their bodies through their neurotic thinking and behaving (plus the role of virus, bacteria, Fungai and addictions to overeating food, alcohol, drugs, sex) contribute to lowering how long people live.

     If you hold other factors constant, and the individual gives up his desire for a grandiose and powerful self and lives from his real self, he will live longer than he would if he continued living an ambition driven anxious existence.

     Adler asked his neurotic child and adult patients to redirect their neurotic ambitions and desire to be superior to serving what he called social interests. Adler defined mental health as serving social interests.

     Adler was a socialist and wanted all of us to work for the good of all of us. I suspect that his desire to work for the collective good of humankind is what led the capitalist Western world to reject his amazing insight into human psychology and, instead, embrace the fables of Freud and other psychoanalysts (with an overlay of such simplistic psychologies as behaviorism that emphasizes only learning and ignores what is going on in the human mind).

     We must return to Adlerian psychology if we genuinely want to heal people. Adler worked for me and could work for all people. How did it work for me? Let us see.

MY BIOLOGY AND PSYCHOLOGY

      Alfred Adler’s individual psychology fitted my personal psychology and personality to a T. I was born with loads of medical issues, including cytochrome c oxidase deficiency, mitral valve prolapses, spondylolysis and compartmentation of my leg and arm muscles. I felt irritated and pained most of the time. By the time I began schooling at age six I was already feeling inferior vis a vis healthier boys who easily did what I could not do. I reacted by desiring to be superior to other boys. In Adlerian categories, I rejected my underlying sense of inferiority and compensated with pursuit of false superiority. Whereas I was no good at doing many things I desired to be good at doing them. At school I was not the best kid in my classes but wished to be the best boy in my classes. I struggled to be the best at whatever activity I was engaged in. I was always tense and anxious, never relaxed.

     My body was so tense that it felt hot when you touched it. I struggled on through elementary school, secondary school and university until I had the PhD. I did not know what a relaxed body is like.

      The pursuit of being the best at all things is obviously not realistic because no human being can be the best at all things. In the real world some are good at this and not that activity, but I wanted to be good at all activities. My “all or nothing” personality (I had to be the best or nothing would do) was thus unrealistic.

      I tended to want other people to see me as successful and important and feared them not seeing me as successful. If they saw me as successful and important, I had good relationship with them and if they did not, I avoided them. I was prone to anxiety and anger.

      In childhood I had temper tantrums about every week. If other kids did what made me feel inferior (the inferiority I was trying extremely hard to hide with false, superiority) I threw a giant temper tantrum at them.

     I developed aspects of avoidant, dependent and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders (I am not going to describe personality disorders here, see the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition, 2013).

     I feared rejection by people. I avoided people and kept mostly to myself. By not relating to people, I did not fail in society. In social isolation I retained the illusion that I am good at all things, but a good that is not evaluated and demonstrated as real in competition.

     I wanted to be part of society but avoided society (as opposed to schizoid personalities who did not care whether people liked them or not). I wanted other people to come seek me out. I did not go and seek out the company of other people because I feared them rejecting me. For example, I did not have a girlfriend until I was at the university because I did not want to approach a girl and she rejected me.

     Social rejection made my grandiose ego feel deflated; I had to avoid that occurrence, and its attendant anxiety. Success in life lies in determining what one wants and seeking it out. If you want to succeed on the job, you decide what line of work you desire and go train for it and throwing yourself into doing it to the best of your ability; this means competing with other people. You do not stay on the sidelines and not seek and train for a profession and expect to be successful.

     However, I am very diligent. On the few jobs that I managed to do      it did not take long for folks to realize that I work hard. Thus, I was easily promoted and got to the top of the organizations that I worked at. But if a fellow worker or a boss dared see me as not important, did not treat me as a superior and powerful person, I behaved as I did during my childhood, throw humongous temper tantrums. The jobs that I were fired from were because I flew into rage at somebody who I perceived to have treated me disrespectfully.

     Anger was always a part of my behavior repertoire. In this world people will treat you any which way they want to but if you insist that they love and respect you, well, you are going to be angry at them most of the time.

      In terms of having girlfriends, we all know that society expects boys and men to go seek out girls and women. If you fear rejection and avoid seeking out girls, to retain your false sense of superiority, you are not going to have a girlfriend. If you want a girlfriend, you identify a girl and go ask her out and take her rejection of you as part of the game men and women play.

     Women want to be sought and admired by men so if you desire a woman friend you must seek her out, make her feel admired and loved by you. Women have antennas that easily pick up signals that you do not find them admirable and valuable; if you do not love a woman, she is not going to be interested in you and if you did love her in the past and stop doing so now, she will quickly leave you. Thus, neurotic men live alone.

A DREAM

       Adlerian psychoanalysis, like other forms of psychoanalysis, requires the patient to bring his dreams to the psychoanalyst to be interpreted because by understanding folk’s dreams we help them to understand themselves. Here is a dream that I had this morning.

      In the dream I was driving a car with a girlfriend in it. We got to her house, and she got out of the car and said that she is going inside to get something and that she wants to come to my house for the night. I said OKAY; I will wait in the car for you. I stayed in the car, and she went into her house. I waited and waited for what seemed hours and got frustrated but did not have an urge to go inside her house to ask her if there is something keeping her long and how I could help. I woke up alone in the car.

     The meaning of this dream is that I relate to women without courting them, without admiring them, without doing things that women consider loving. As a result, women do not consider me a good match. The relevant point is that my personality manifested itself in the dream; in the dream I showed my habitual desire for other people to come seek me out for relationships, so that I retain my false sense of importance (I wanted the woman to come to me instead of me going to her); well, if you want to get something you go for it, you seek it and work for it.

     The dependent aspect of my personality manifests itself in me wanting other people to do things for me; I tend to expect people to rescue me whereas in the adult world nobody exists to do anything for one, no one exists to rescue one; there are no heroes on white horses riding towards one to rescue those who feel weak; one must rescue one’s self and work for what one wants if one wants success in this world.

     Doing nothing while nursing a grandiose ego and wanting other people to take the initiative and seek you out, so that you maintain your humongous ego is a recipe for failing in life. If you wait for other people to rescue you, they will not do so, and you will end up feeling anxious and angry at people.

     Eliminate your desire for importance and superiority and do what you desire, and you will get it. More importantly, if you shrink your ego down and become humble, you relax, and have no anxiety, fear, anger, paranoia, and depression; you live peacefully and happily.

     Identify what you like doing and have aptitude for doing, train for it and do it; do it now and you will succeed at it; staying idle while seeking success is recipe for failing and poverty. The world does not owe you a living, but you owe yourself a living.

THE LANGUAGE OF DREAMS IS THE SAME AS THE LANGUAGE OF POEMS AND MYSTICISM; THEY NEED TO BE DISCIPHERED AND INTERPRETED TO KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TELLING US 

      Dreams are usually conducted in the language of symbolism. Dreams do not mean what you think that they mean; you must interpret them because their meanings are cloaked in metaphors. In the above dream you could simply say that I stayed in the car while my girlfriend went to her house to get something and stayed longer than I had expected her to. But that is not what the dream means. The dream is telling me that I stay in my car, or in my house and wait for women, girlfriends or people in general to come from their houses to me; it is saying that I am the one to go to their houses and court them if I want them. It is also telling me that the same applies to all aspects of my life, that I tend to stay idle and want things to come to me. For example, I like money and wealth but do not actively work for it; I want money to come to me (I could play the lottery hoping to win and become rich; however, I know that people do not become rich by winning the lotto but by working for wealth).

     The language of dreams is the language of poetry. For many years I studied Helen Schucman’s book, A course in miracles. It is written in blank verse, that is, poetic form. It is poetry on the nature of God and how we came to live on earth. The story it portrayed is symbolic and obviously is not literally true. To it there is God and that God created us and have us be one with him. We resented that God created us and want to create God and create ourselves. Unable to gratify the desire for self-creation in the world of spirit we created matter, space and time and used them to create bodies for us and now seem to live in bodies; in bodies walking around in space and time we seem separated from God and from each other, hence our wish for self-creation and separation is gratified.

      In the world of separation, we suffer. To stop suffering we must relinquish our desire to create God, create ourselves, and accept that God created us and give up our desire for separation from God and each other and return home, return to the state of union with God and all creation.

     We must do what the biblical, allegorical prodigal son did, stop going away from his father and home (stop departing from his real self, unified self) to go live independently (to go live as an ego separated self) and return to his father, to his home, unified spirit self. Upon returning home his father, God, had a feast for him and clothed him in golden robes, so that he no longer suffered material want; he now lives in material abundance, wealth given to him by his father.

     All these are, of course, metaphors; what they are saying is that  if we see ourselves as one with  the entire universe, love all people and work for all people we regain awareness of our original sense of oneness before separation that began with the Big Bang; when we return to unified spirit state we feel peaceful and happy and the things of this world become easier for us to get them; the whole gives to the part material abundance as long as the part recognize that it is one with the whole and cannot separate from it.

    Helen Schucman is a poet and authored her book in a poetic language; poetic language is the language of dreams; it is not literal but signifies something else; her book, like dreams, must be interpreted and we live according to our interpretation of it.

     There are many interpretations to every poem and dream but whichever interpretation one embraces, the book is telling us that we are joined and connected and, as such, should love all people to love our whole self (holy self), and for us to forgive the evil that other people did to us (and work to correct their evil behavior).

      Alfred Adler’s psychology is existential and phenomenological; it describes the human condition as it is and describes human experiences correctly; we all tend to feel a sense of deficit and work towards gaining a sense of completion and worth and attain it variously; alas, in our old age we return to feeling as weak as we felt in childhood. Life is a bummer and then you die. This is the human condition; it is not pretty.

     People are born in bodies; each body has various levels of health and or illness; those with problematic bodies develop problematic personalities. This is not a moral issue.

    What we need to do is understand our personalities, our individual psychologies and where there are problems work to correct them.

     We cannot correct all aspects of our lives; if one inherited a sickness prone body, one cannot change that body and make it healthy; one cannot totally change one’s personality, either; one must try to improve one’s body and self and then accept to live with what one cannot change in one. This is called maturity.

     Wisdom lies in accepting oneself and other people as they are. Desiring to change one and make one powerful is wish of the wisp, it is not going to happen. Idealism does not change reality, although if we are not a bit idealistic, we are dead.

     As noted earlier, for some reason Adlerian psychology and psychotherapy is not very popular with American psychotherapists although it is used in educational psychology (classroom psychology). I believe that Adlerian psychology with a dash of Karen Horney’s psychoanalysis does well for neurotics.

      Horney changed terms a bit but is the same thing as Adlerian psychology. However, whereas Adler emphasized the biological origin of self-rejection, Horney adopted a social psychological perspective on why we reject ourselves and pursue mentally constructed alternative selves. She said that the child wants to be accepted by those that Harry Stack Sullivan called his significant others, viz parents, siblings, peers, teachers and religious leaders. If for some reason these significant others, especially, the child’s parents do not accept him, as he is, and posit lofty standards that he must reach before they accept him, the child rejects his real self and incorporates the parents’ ideals in his self and tries to live up to them before he accepts his self. In the process of trying to live up to the idea that his significant others would accept before they accept him, he rejects his real self and pursues the ideal self.

     The pursuit of the ideal self becomes all or nothing for the child. This person as an adult wants to be ideal before he accepts himself.

     The ideal self is conceptual and imaginary and not real, and no one can really attain it because it is illusory. Moreover, as you achieve one idea of the ideal self it changes, and you start seeking the attainment of another idea of it; what is ideal’s goal posts is always changing, thus you end up never really attaining the ideal self.

      In the meantime, you experience loads of what Karen Horney called Basic Anxiety, free floating anxiety from fear of not living up to the imaginary ideal self. The goal of psychotherapy here would be to get the person to stop trying to attain the ideal self and instead live from his real self and in Carl Rogers terms, accept the real self in an unconditionally positive manner.

     But what is the real self? Horney did not really tell us if there is such a thing as real self; this is because what is called real self, like what is called ideal self is conceptual and not self-evident.

     Before she died, Horney was moving towards Zen Buddhism. She should have studied and practiced Zen Buddhism. Western psychology needs to incorporate Buddhism into its practices if it wants to help individuals.

      In Buddhism the goal is to let go of all conceptual selves. Something in us conceptualizes the self, real, ideal, or any kind of self. All selves are our mental and social constructs and, as such, artificial, not who we are. Who we are we do not know?

      Zen and Buddhism in general asks us to reject all constructs of the self we have in our minds and have no-self. In mediation they teach us to let go of all ego self-concepts that we may have in our minds. Let go of your self-concept and try to attain no-self and you live in peace.

     The self-concept is the problem. If you have a concept of who you think that you are and try to live up to it, you are blocking the awareness of your true self which goes beyond concepts. Thus, Buddhism teaches no self (that is, self that we as human beings conceptualized, posited). Allow your mind to be empty without any construct of who you are. What would happen is that life just flows through you and you doing what spontaneously enables you to survive on earth, not because you are trying to live up to a premeditated self.

     In meditation, one tries to transcend all ego self-concepts. When all self-concepts, ego separated selves are given up and one has no-self, one is said to be in a position to transcend the world of selves and things and enter what Buddha experienced, Nirvana, what Zen calls Satori and Hinduism calls Samadhi, and Catholicism calls the mystical union of the son and his father as one shared self; a world where all things are formless and are in one state; all things and selves are unified spirit self; in it we find our true self and feel eternal and peaceful. 

     Meditation is useful for attaining inner peace but since one has not experienced Nirvana or Satori or Samadhi it is fruitless for one to pursue that discussion here. From where I stand, I say that I do not know who my real self is and that it is beyond all conceptual categories of the self.

     George Kelly’s idea that personality as a self and social construct is especially useful. In childhood the child takes from his biological and social experience ideas of who he could become and constructs a self, aka personality, and struggles to become that self, that personality.

     It is useful to realize that the self-one thinks that one ought to become is a mere idea, a concept, a word; all words and concepts are made up by us and not true. The truth of who we are we do not really know.

     I personally tell me that I do not know who I am and that I have no self, this is literal for I do not try to live up to any manufactured idea of the self I have in my head. I have no self; I am just a part of life and move with life in a spontaneous, unpremeditated manner. In so believing, I find myself being less ego defensive and simply do what I must do to survive, now, and not worry about the future, the future will take care of itself.

      This manner of living reduced the neurotic anxiety I used to feel when I was young, anxiety from trying to live up to a particular self-concept that I had internalized or constructed when I was a child.

      Cognitive Behavior Therapy, CBT, also helps. In CBT it is said that it is not what happens out there in the real world that makes one anxious, angry, sad, depressed or paranoid but how one interprets it. The same stimulus that occurs in the social and physical field is responded to differently by different people, Epictetus, the Roman philosopher, said. Therefore, use pure reason to determine how you respond to all stimuli coming your way and you end up not responding to them in such a manner that they make you feel anxious, fearful, sad or paranoid.

      Perception depends on interpretation of stimuli; reason can determine how you perceive your world. For example, if a person made a statement that technically puts you down, you do not have to feel angry at him because you can interpret what he said differently; you could say that he is ignorant and does not know who you are and therefore is not talking about you and  thus not allow him to make you feel one way or another.

     One can choose from the whole array of psychotherapies out there in the marketplace of therapies and use them to supplement Adlerian psychotherapy and make them work for one. This eclectic approach to psychotherapy works best for me. I find that using Adlerian psychotherapy, with a dash of other therapies works well for me and indeed is the best form of psychotherapy that I know of.

     Adlerian psychotherapy, supplemented with other therapies, can heal most personality disorders (what psychoanalysts used to call neurosis is now called personality disorders) and delusion disorder, but I doubt that they can heal the psychotic’s hallucinations.

      The psychotic inherited some biological disorder that plays a role in his tendency to hallucinations (auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory, gustatory) and having bizarre delusions. Treatment of psychosis requires medication. I will not go to that subject here. Suffice it to say that when I was an active therapist, I simply referred psychotic clients to psychiatrists who prescribed medications or them. I know about those medications and what they do to balance the presumed unbalanced brain chemistry but choose to keep quiet on them. Until we can figure out a better way of healing psychoses medications help psychotics, at least, in controlling their hallucinations.

     I strive to have no self at all; Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism and Gnosticism teach having no self and I accept that perspective; as I see it the self is always false and limits one from living fully; one must therefore jettison whatever idea one thinks that one is and live without a rigid self-structure and flow with life  flexibly; this manner of living tends to make one live  happily and peacefully.

RELIGIONS IDEA OF THE SELF

     All this talk on changing the self is easier said than done. In the West, that is, in the Christian culture, people are socialized to go from what we might call the egocentric self to the sociocentric self, from natural man to the Christ self. Christians strive to go from the egoistic self to the loving self; they want to transform people from natural man to what they call new man; the new man lives in what they call the New Jerusalem or New Israel where their savior, Jesus Christ is their lord and king. Jesus Christ and his kingdom, Revelation tells them, will reign for one thousand years.

     From that new man, new self-and new world they are raptured into heaven with their lord and savior.

      The new self is said to be a loving and forgiving self. It does what Jesus Christ taught his followers to do, love all people and forgive all those who hurt them. This is easier said than done. How many people forgive those who hurt them? Would you forgive a person who killed your siblings or parents? People tend to be unforgiving and bear grievances and seek vengeance for the wrongs done to them by other persons. People are revenge seeking creatures, so it is better that one did not wrong them to deal with their anger than for one to hurt them and expect them to forgive one.

      The whole apparatus of Western jurisprudence, and other countries’ system of laws, is based on punishment of people who hurt people. The court system and their judges try offenders, find some guilty and send them to jails and prisons. This is not forgiveness of sins, is it? People do not forgive their neighbors sins despite mouthing that stanza.

      A course in miracles tried to make a case for forgiveness by saying that the world is a dream, that all our activities are dream activities; therefore, those who hurt us on earth did so in a dream setting and what is done in dreams have not been done. People’s real selves are said to be innocent, sinless, and guiltless regardless of what they do on earth.

     As we talk, Vladmir Putin, the Russian mass murderer and destroyer of cities, having committed such crimes in Chechnya, Georgia, and Syria is doing the same in Ukraine. The man is mass murdering the Ukrainian people and destroying their cities, all to add a few feet to Russia, a country that is already the largest in the world, with only 140 million people in it.

      People kill and talk about forgiveness. Indeed, members of A course in miracles groups are as unforgiving as other people; they sued the Endeavor Academy for daring to publish ideas from their sacred book without obtaining their permission. These people are as vengeful as other people. Therefore, it is pointless talking about forgiveness; instead, let us talk about what is double; let us learn to love one another and try to correct our antisocial behaviors and send murderers to prisons.

      I am not interested in mere feel-good religious razzmatazz.

HERE IS A QUESTION FOR RELIGIONISTS AND ESPECIALLY CHRISTIANS

      Europe was a Christian continent, right? Europe is the most war prone continent. The history of Europe for the last two thousand years is documentation of wars, of people killing people, of people using violence to grab the Americas and killing the natives and stealing their land, of enslaving Africans, and of reducing the mass of Europeans to serf status whereas the warrior class dominated them.

    As we talk, Vladmir Putin and his Russians are slaughtering Ukrainians. But for nuclear weapons Europe would be at a general war by now!

     My question is this: why does a region associated with Jesus Christ seem the most criminal oriented?

     This suggests that either Jesus Christ’s gospel of love and forgiveness had no effect on the Europeans and did not change their behavior or the religion itself is prone to violence. I do not know the answer to my question. If you can explain this dilemma, please explain it for me.

     If the explanation is that there has been no real Christian in Europe, how long would it take Europeans to become real Christians? In the meantime, if there are no real Christians in Europe, why should anyone listen to them preaching Christianity to him?

    Other continents had their own religions and all of them were also prone to wars and violence, may be not as much as in Europe.

     The logical conclusion is that religion does not mitigate people’s tendency to violence and wars.

      I am agnostic. I cannot imagine myself killing any human being; I would rather nurture people than destroy them.

ABSOLUTE DEFENSELESSNESS LEADS TO NON-EXISTENCE OF PEOPLE ON PLANET EARTH

      Everything we do on earth boils down to the defense of our bodies and ego separated selves. Eating food defends our bodies; taking medications defends our bodies from bacteria, virus, and fungi; wearing clothes defends our bodies from inclement weather; living in shelters defends our bodies from inclement weather. We transport our bodies in vehicles from point A to B, vehicles defend our bodies that are worn down from excessive walking.

      If a person did not defend his body for a week he would die. If people did not defend their bodies for a month all humankind would die out. Our bodies must be defended to exist.

      It is true that that which must be defended to exist is not important, so our bodies are not important. A course in miracles has it right there in saying that our bodies are worthless and have no value and yet we enslave ourselves working to protect them.

     If we did not defend our bodies our bodies would die. If we did not defend our ego separated selves’ other people would either enslave us or destroy us.

     The book, in effect, is teaching people to die off, to not live on earth.

     It teaches that without ego defenses and practicing forgiveness for all that did us wrong we would see ourselves in light forms, what it calls the happy dream world. My question is this: what would people be doing in that light world where they do not have to work to earn food, medications, clothes, and shelter? Would they just sit around doing nothing? Would such an existence not be boring?

     It is best if people skipped life in bodies and life in light forms and returned to the world of formlessness; that is, live as pure consciousness, as part of the consciousness called God (this makes sense to me).

    The shortcoming of Helen Schucman’s A course in miracles is because it is written from her stream of consciousness, as if she is sleeping and dream and authored her book from a dream state and not think through the consequences of what she is writing.

    Her book is a lovely poem but is not doable on earth if people want to live on earth. It is for me, a thinker, a philosopher, to point out what is good in the book and what is not doable, as I have done here. I like the gospel of love it teaches. I try to love all people; but I do not forgive all mistakes for that means teaching anarchy; I work with society to correct our antisocial behaviors.

ONE OF THE REASONS I HAD DIFFICULTY SETTLING ON A PROFESSION IS BECAUSE SOONER OR LATER I SEE THE PROBLEMS WITH EVERY PROFESSION

     Eventually, I see the shortcomings of a thought system and give up on it. For a while, for example, I was enchanted by A course ibn miracles but as the above ideas on its impracticability show, I see how it is not applicable to this world unless we intend to abandon this world and go where I do not know.

     This world is painful, pointless, and meaningless, all right, yet it can be beautiful if one is trying to understand an aspect of the universe and love people.

     I choose to love people and understand this world, understand nothing. Thus, I am not a failure just because I want other people to rescue me, take care of me, and feel angry if they do not; it is more complicated than that; it is also because I have not found a vocation worthy of dedicating one hundred percent of my time to it. For a while A course in miracles seemed a possibility until I discovered that it is a call for the end of this world. This world may be bad, but it has its beauty.

LOVE AND LIGHT

    I find teaching that we are light and love gratifying; light because our bodies are made of physical light. When we decided to separate from God and dream, in the dream, we transmuted aspects of our nature, spiritual light into physical light and used physical light to construct stars, planets, our bodies and everything in the universe. We are love because love means the union of all things as one thing. Thus, love and light are appropriate encapsulation of human beings’ nature; teaching about that nature is a good thing.

CONCLUSION

      I find Alfred Adler’s individual psychology the best way to understand human beings psychological make ups. It helps us to understand neurotic anxiety, that is, anxiety that is not derived from normal fear of actual objects trying to snuff out our lives but anxiety rooted in psychological issues, such as the desire to become a powerful and superior self-and fear of not attaining that magical self and that fear disposing one to avoid situations where one is likely to fail, such as playing with other people, sports, schools and work. 

     Adlerian psychology is phenomenological because it is rooted in people’s actual experience, not on mere extrapolation from mystical Greek Oedipus and children’s efforts to have sex with their parents. Whereas children may be curious about their parents’ sexuality, one doubts that healthy children want to have sex with their patents of opposite gender.

    All children and adults do experience all sorts of fears based on fear of failing in society and fear of death, oblivion, and finitude. Very few persons happily accept their physical death; most people fear what is going to happen to them when they die and fear going to hell and or no longer existing when they die. This is existential fear of dying out and in the meantime not finding living as a separated ego self in body meaningful.

      Life in ego and body is meaningless and pointless and we all know it. We are like Sisyphus; we roll that stone up mountains and know that they will roll right down, and we keep doing the same thing until we die, and all our labors to be alive were in vain. Yet this is who we are; it is our existence, there is nothing that we can do about it.

     Giving up means that one is cowardly and chickens out from a tough situation. The right thing to do is to figure out what one likes doing and do it and in doing it forget about existential issues like death and meaninglessness.

      Some people seek the religious solution to our human problem of meaninglessness. Adler embraced the scientific method and was not interested in escaping into a world where there is no proof of its existence. We have no proof that God exists or that heaven exists or that life exists after we die. All talk about God and the after-death life is speculative and Adler did not speculate on life after death but instead limited his psychology to the here and now world.

     Erich Fromm said that Adler’s psychology is rationalistic and superficial because it ignores the irrational aspects of human existence.

       Whether we like it or not, people do wish that there is God. Where a crying child is pointing a finger ought to be investigated. People are in pain and point to the possibility of help in what they call God and heaven. We ought to investigate God and his heaven but do so with the scientific method rather than merely accepting unproven ideas about God.

     In my view, Adlerian psychology is the most useful psychology there is. If you add dashes of insights from other psychologies, such as behaviorism, cognitive behavior therapy and brain science, Adlerian psychology is the best way to help people with their existential anxiety issues.

REFERENCES

Adler, Alfred (1921). The Neurotic Constitution. New York: Moffat Yard and Company.

Beck, Aaron (1990). Cognitive Therapy of Personality Disorders. New York: Guilford Press.

American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders, 5th Edition (2013). Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association Press.

Ellis (Albert (1975). Rational Emotive Therapy. New York: Springs Press.

Erikson, Erik (1950). Childhood and Society. New York: W.W. Norton.

Freud, Sigmund (1974). The Collected works of Sigmund Freud. London: Hogarth Press.

Fromm, Erich (1947). Escape from Freedom: New York: W.W. Norton.

Horney, Karen (1950). Neurosis and Human Growth. New York: W.W. Norton.

Jung, Carl (1980). Collected works. London: Routledge Kegan Paul.

Kelly, George (1955). The Psychology of personal constructs. New York: W.W. Norton.

Laing, R.D (1961). The Politics of Experience. London: Penguin.

Maslow, Abraham (1954). A Theory of Human motivation. Originally published in Psychological Review, 1943, Vol. 50 #4, pp. 370–396).

Rogers, Carl (1951). Client Centered Therapy. London: Constable.

Skinner, B.F (1972). Beyond Freedom and Dignity. New York: Basic Books.

Sullivan, Harry Stack (1953). The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry.

Ozodi Osuji

May 25, 2022

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