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Reason, Knowledge & Emotion: le Coeur a ses raison que la raison ne connait pas

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The heart has its reasons, that reason can not know.  When Pascal (1623 – 1662) wrote that comment he could not know the impact that it would have on civilization.  It still reverberates with a ring of truth some nearly 400 years later.  The rest of that line goes like this, “It is the heart which feels God, not reason.”

God is a massively misunderstood idea.  He/She/It is not knowable, not knowable in a brain-oriented scientific manner.  But as human beings we are not perfect left-brain creatures, we are frequently invaded by our personal brand of right-brain creative, out-of-the-box, kind of thinking.  This kind of thinking is wordless.  It attacks us from within, and we experience it as if it comes to us from the outside of us.  This “inside or out side of us” conflict is probably the most reasoned way of understanding how man created God.

The best understanding of God we have is our idea that God is all that we do not know.  God is a mystery.  It is easy for we humans to fill that gap with creative reasoning, inductive thinking.  Wikipedia uses this line to describe reasoning:  “Unlike deductive arguments, inductive reasoning allows for the possibility that the conclusion is false, even if all of the premises are true.[4] Instead of being valid or invalid, inductive arguments are either strong or weak, which describes how probable it is that the conclusion is true.”[5]

Left brain politics of humanism and human dynamics.

The most significant findings that I have accumulated in the past forty-five years of counseling and psychoanalysis is the inevitability of man’s inhumanity to man.  And the source of this ‘un-godly’ disaster is found in the modern psychoanalytic theory of narcissism and aggression.  Attempting to shed light on narcissism is initially difficult because the populace version of the definition of narcissism sounds like a grocery list of deplorable behaviors.  But narcissism, when approached from a psychoanalytic perspective, is not a list of behaviors but an early, pre-verbal stage of infant development.  Narcissism as a defense against early childhood emotions includes the infant’s developmental sensations prior to language.

The individual that suffers from narcissism suffers from a wound that can not be understood by linguistic reasoning.  It is roughly the ages of four months to approximately two years when the infant begins to acquire distinctive sounds and connects those sounds in the mind-field with objects it is identifying in its little world.  In this phase of development, only sensations are registered in a slowly acquiring memory and categorizing skill  Most people when asked to recall earliest childhood memories can go back to about three or four years old–some, can not remember past ten or twelve years of age.

When we,  practitioners of the mental health and sanity refer to narcissism we are talking about strong, overwhelming, emotions that invaded the brain with unpleasant and unwanted frustrated feelings before that child knew how to identify the source of the feeling.  It appears in the over-tired child that he/she is struggling against the parent that is attempting to calm the infant.  But the infant like a drowning person clings on to anything that floats and brings that down with it.  The over-tired child reacts to the narcissistic wound (the experience of negative sensation) by combating its immediate world.  You can witness, wiggling, squirming, screaming, pushing away, and punching ‘The Other’  who is attempting to soothe the out of control child.  The inconsolable, colic-y like behavior of the frustrated child is causing its template to be formed based on emotional not rational, not reasoning.

Injuries and memories formed during these pre-verbal years of development become remembered states.  These remembered states are the “locations” in the brain-body matrix that the narcissism-suffering adult regresses to when overwhelmed by frustration, fatigue, or other sensations arising out of loneliness and isolation are experienced in the present moment.

All regression is in service of the ego, I write, “In the return of the repressed, every thing that ever made up loss and pain and abuse and suffering comes back to the surface to both overwhelm the organism and also to flood it with pain to remind it that unless the condition is not fully addressed the old circuitous route will remain in operation.

Consciousness and insight alone are not sufficient to bring about a cure.  What is needed is a complete belief that I am doing this to myself instead of doing what I need to be doing.  Once the pain route is activated by feelings, overwhelmed, fear, contrition, sorrow, grief, the pain will remain at the mercy of the emotional condition.

In the early 20th century when Hysteria was first confronted, the rate of hysterical conversion was astronomical compared to what it is today.  What cured the planet of hysteria was a common belief that it did not exist as a condition of the body but existed as a creation of the mind. Such is true for the conversion of psychosomatic& narcissistic pain to a return to homeostasis.*

Narcissistic conditioning can not be reasoned away by the ego and the linguistic mind.  It is only heartfelt emotions, understood by the self and by another, and often occurring in the confines of a very intimate setting, that we will begin to see a reduction of reliance on the narcissistic defense.  Heart-Felt intimacy is a modern psychoanalytic theory and technique that is named “emotional communication.”  At a conference in New York City in December of 1998, Dr. Phyllis Meadow delivered a paper titled. “Through the Heart or Through the Mind.” From an abstract created of this conference Donald L. Carveth, Ph.D. writes:

 As is suggested by her title, “Through the Heart or Through the Mind,” it was clear that Dr. Meadow thinks Modern Analysis seeks to reach the “preverbal” patient through the heart–i.e., through emotional communication–while classical analysis seeks to work through the mind, through verbal interpretation, with the result that classical analysis cannot work effectively or at all with the “preverbal” patient.  Dr. Meadow gave examples of emotional communication with “preverbal” patients and she indicated that she views their transferences, enactments, and symptoms as repetitions of “preverbal” trauma and of “preverbal” drive tendencies toward life, connection and involvement on the one hand, and toward death, disconnection and withdrawal on the other. (see Eros and Thanatos for further discussion)

Narcissism and Aggression are chronic companions in the way that hunger and fear are companions of neurosis.  The Narcissistic adult lives in an isolated bubble where the inside of the mind is in such conflict that it looks more like attempting to cook a metal fork in a microwave than it looks like a mind aggressing with progressive communications.  Locked in by an insatiable hunger for love and belonging and acceptance, the narcissistic adult fears the world and combats against it as if each disappointment and inconvenience is a mind shattering event.

The heartfelt solution of letting-go is available only when the material from the instincts (the body) erupts to the surface and in an attempt to make sense out of the trauma, the patient gives in to sober, softer, more meaningful aspects of life’s goals and dreams and desires.  Frequently, the patient must finally give up on the original template that calls for reasoning and instead draw from a pool of knowledge that knows instinctively what feels good and what feels like pain (not-good).

This is a process that the patient must give himself/herself to completely. When the shift from projective identification to self-analysis becomes the driving force, the narcissistic organism is finally beginning to allow in some new progressive thoughts that were previously not permitted by the ego.  These defenses form the character of narcissism.

Pushing the ego aside sufficiently so that the shadow of the ego does not block out the greening shoots of the instincts is the necessary first and deliberate step in the resolution of the most recalcitrant defenses of the ego.





Author: aldussault

I am an artist, photographer, watercolorist, and primarily a modern psychoanalyst. I blog about politics and consciousness as well as create digital fine art photos of my pen & inks and my water colorings. My hobby is studying piano.

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