This is one of the mechanisms by which we try, non-consciously,
to strengthen the walls of the Shadow. Its core is our focus on the mental or cognitive layer of our experience: we are actually speaking here about the “intellectualisation” of our experience. The cost of this mechanism is high (never mind that we do not realise this consciously).
In fact, here we are talking about a kind of “burying one’s head in the sand”, as ostriches are reputed to do.
I close myself within my mind and ignore anything that is happening in the other departments of my being.
I resort to mental gymnastics, syllogistic arguments, interpretations, calculations, logical evaluations and questionable justifications, so as to cancel out whatever it is in the Shadow that is struggling to get out.
For instance, in order to cover our fear of risk,
we might say, “Hey, you know, there are so many temptations these days. You go out to the shops on a warm spring day and you don’t know where to look … So many temptations … so many attractive women around. But on the other hand … Look at the violence out there, look how savage things are. Solitude, cruelty, indifference. Of course I can’t pretend that things are perfect at home. Quarrels, misery, complaints, tension all the time. Two strangers, we ended up … well … But at least I’ve got safety! Yes, safety! How could anyone get divorced and dare to go out there, alone?”
However, just what does it mean exactly to say I “intellectualise” my life? Firstly, the issue is not that we must always do whatever crazy wish pops up, just so that we can say that we are not intellectualising our lives. Of course, many things often spring spontaneously and immediately from within us, and nobody says that we should not process these mentally before acting – our mind is a unique invaluable tool in life and an inseparable component of our being. Nobody says that we have to murder our precious cognitive skills. We would be like a bird that wants to get rid of its feathers, a fish its scales, a car its wheels.
Nevertheless, intellectualisation does not consist
of the precious act of thinking in itself – it is what happens when what we do is no more than thinking.
Actually, the issue that may arise with intellectualisation has to do with the fact that we are by definition holistic beings; mind and the body, with our senses and emotions, are tightly bound levels upon which our experience and our personal reality are composed. So, when we speak of intellectualisation, we mean that our mind takes full control and limits the other layers of our experience, neutralising its holistic core.
Besides, these days it is known that our needs are first not experienced mentally but non-consciously and somatically, thus producing an elementary emotional charge (which provides them with their energy); then it is later that our needs take shape in the conscious mind (see section 17).
So when we confine our experience mostly within our mind, in some sense we deprive it of its freshness, of its immediacy; we lose whatever primary non-cognitive elements accompany the birth of our experiential moments bodily and emotionally.
We dry out our experience, we deprive it of its immediacy, of its vividness, of what we feel when we dive straight into the sea of life, instead of just walking by the shore without even wetting our feet.
The core of this mechanism for defence against the Shadow, for which such a high price is paid, I shall call “over-functioning of consciousness”, because consciousness is our highest mental function, something like the high command of our mental activities.
The task of an over-enthusiastic consciousness
is the reduction of risk, of the spontaneity which may result when we participate in the world’s events without much mental control.
Then, an exaggerating consciousness is able to round off the sharper edges of an experience considered threatening; it is able to reduce it to an abstract concept, to enclose it in our mind, isolating it from sensations and emotions.
The over-functioning of consciousness is the continuation of a survival tactic that we develop from our earliest years.
When, let’s say, we did something spontaneous that displeased the people around us and we feared that they might reject us, isolate us, or even attack us; when we concealed various emotions inside us because “good boys and girls don’t cry”; when something we wished for led us to disobey deeply rooted parental instructions.
All such situations mean danger, even from earliest childhood, since they might lead to painful and unbearable conflicts.
However, the pressure from our environment sometimes
crossed our red line; being unable to do anything else, we too started to utter the arguments we were hearing from those around us, again and again, until we made them our own (until we “introject” them – see 22a).
It was necessary for our own survival that we too began to believe, in order to keep our Shadow closed, that “good children don’t do that”, “you must love and care for your little brother or sister”, “that’s good behaviour and that’s bad behaviour”, “eat up your food”, “don’t cry”, “do your homework”.
As the years passed, such arbitrary rules from our environment became powerful introjected systems of values, in order to silence our authentic needs.
At the same time, we learned further to assist the process of blocking our spontaneity, learning to reside only in the tidy apartments of our conscious mind.
Thus, later, in those situations in adult life that have to do with conflicts
and unpleasant emotions, our overgrown cognitive part can now domesticate, refine, edit anything containing uncertainty, ambivalence, fluidity, anything leading to behaviours with potentially disagreeable or threatening consequences.
Let’s say, while I m tormented by my sexual desire for X, I devise mental arguments to neutralise the power of the need emerging from deep within me, by saying “Bah! she’s not for me … she’s unstable and crazy … she’s got all these insane ideas, wants to travel, stay up all night … while I need someone nice and quiet to make a home with”.
However, in this way, when consciousness over-functions, we may secure
for some time the gates of our Shadow but we also constantly activate a lot of “unfinished business” (frozen past experiences affecting present time – see section 2).
It is far from impossible that at some moment the stored energy of our imprisoned needs will cross the red line, causing an explosion that will wreck our well-ordered style of life ; it is not rare to see a very disciplined and ordered man or woman all of a sudden doing something extreme, totally unexpected, and not congruent with that man’s or woman’s habitual image – surrendering to a crazy erotic passion, taking risks when he or she should not, attempting spectacular but reckless changes, and so forth.
The theme of this book of Shadows
is about how some aspects of ourselves seem to escape us and, even if they are non-conscious and non- mentally perceived, they are able to critically affect whatever we are doing or not doing at any moment. It is a visit “down there”, at the sanctuary of our moments and of our selves.
This book is actually a thorough study and at the same time a proposal
about (a) the grandeur (and the drama) of how our experience is composed on both a micro (no-conscious) as well as on a macro (conscious) scale, (b) the architecture of the Shadowed “home” of what is usually called “inner child” – who is not only sad but also very angry…
SHADOW: our silent companion through life’s journey
INFO: [378 pages] [14,2 X 20,2 cm] ISBN 978-618-00-1371-9
1st edition in English: 100 numbered and signed copies.
This edition is published by the author and is to be distributed exclusively
in Greece or delivered in other countries only by order to the author:
A video in first person on the central
ideas of the book and its features
2 short videos (no-words) on the ideas of the
SHADOW and the INNER CHILD