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The Hunger Project Bolen Report
Ohm Society
Psyche Print E-mail
by Ron Kennedy, M.D., Santa Rosa, CA

Dr. Kennedy

  1. Psyche I:The Result of Repression
  2. Psyche II:Personality Types
  3. Psyche III:Intimacy and Health
  4. Psyche IV:Authority and Health

The Psyche I: The Result of Repression

Knowledge of the psyche is of critical importance in the maintenance of perfect health and vitality. The influence of the psyche over the health of the body is not just important, it is complete, absolute and total.

A thorough review of psychoanalytic theory would not only be inordinately long, it also would be confusing and not very useful. Your ideas about the psyche, in order to be effective, need to be incisive, direct, powerful and applicable.

All ideas about the psyche are paradigms; they cannot be proven or disproved, but are looking glasses with which to interpret the events in life. Please read the following comments with this understanding: this is not "The Truth," there is no "The Truth." Nevertheless, these comments reflect my direct experience. Take them for what worth they can be to you.

The Essential Identity

The first and possibly most difficult notion to accept without some direct experience is that there is more to you than just your body. You are an eternal spirit, once unified with God and in possession of all knowledge. With your conception, your consciousness was severed from God, and you came to this physical reality as a lonely individual, unified with matter: incarnated in a body. In that event you lost all memory of your relationship with God and all knowledge disappeared from your awareness. You came into the world to strengthen yourself: to master the ability to love and the ability to experience being loved. You are one spirit. You are not made of parts. You are made of peace, bliss and ecstasy.

When your body ceases to live, you still will be present, probably to your great amazement. This fact is born out in the reported experience of tens of thousands of people who have faced physical death, yet have been revived and lived again. I am one of those people.

The Apparent Identity

Although you are one spirit, you appear to yourself as many parts. This is the inevitable result of occupying a body and identifying with that body. Physical reality presents itself as parts. The central experience which makes this fragmentation possible is fear. The drives of the body inevitably bring you into conflict with the world, for you inhabit an animal among animals. This animal you inhabit demands satisfaction of its needs. It wants to reproduce itself, and it wants to destroy all threats to its survival.

While your essential identity is in harmony with the world, this animal identity is inherently destructive to all that appears to threaten it and, therefore, destructive to itself as well. When this animal appears dangerous to the animals of other people, it places itself in jeopardy. Therefore, you are obligated to control this animal, and to do this, you develop a mechanism commonly called the "ego." It is this ego, this control mechanism, which you think of as yourself. You give this mechanism control over everyday functions, thought processes and the voluntary muscles of your body. The ego is your Apparent Identity, it seems to be who you are.

The Emergency Identity

Despite the size and power of the ego, the animal in you threatens to break through to consciousness from time to time. On the less serious side, the animal would have you eat without utensils, never bathe and never brush your teeth. This is mild fare compared to wild and crazy thoughts about sex and violence which you think only criminals should have. You have them also, and admitting them into consciousness is painful.

As Freud discovered through dream analysis — one hundred years ago — to protect yourself from the painful awareness of these aggressive instincts, you give great power to a branch of the ego to judge and condemn these criminal thoughts as wrong in yourself and in others.

To protect yourself from awareness of your own animal, you repress awareness of the animal in you and project it onto others. You become very concerned about controlling the behavior of other people. In the extreme, you become cynical about human nature and the world at large, and you may align yourself with rigid religious systems to allay your fear and make yourself right. This empowered branch of the ego is called the "superego."

When the animal raises its ugly head, this is considered a grave emergency by the ego and superego. The ego and the superego together repress the thoughts and desires of the animal, or "id," as Freud called it.

The memory of very traumatic events also may be repressed because of the violent, sadistic nature of the thoughts the animal has in response to these events. The purpose of repression is to maintain your identity as a socialized human being in your own eyes. The superego is a right/wrong machine designed to push the animal into unconsciousness in emergency situations. The superego is your Emergency Identity. It functions in the emergence of repressed animal experience into awareness.

These structures of the mind: animal, ego and superego, are created by you, the essential identity or who you are. However, you never think of yourself as that eternal spirit, but rather as the structures it creates. Your unwillingness to include this animal you are into your consciousness causes illness in the body. The animal is never absent, only repressed. Repression does not mean disappearance, it means transmutation into another realm. Repressed experience can go into the interpersonal sphere and make your relationships with others difficult, or it can go into the sphere of the body and alter the normal functioning of the body. When this happens in the realm of the voluntary muscle system, it is experienced as involuntary movements: tics, false seizures, etc.

When repressed experience reappears in the sensory systems of the body, the result is "hysteria": unexplained sensations, loss of sensation, or paralysis in parts of the body. These phenomena have no physical explanation. When repressed experience reappears in the involuntary systems of the body, the results can be conditions such as asthma, ulcers, colitis, arthritis, skin disease and cancer.

The avoidance of these kinds of conditions is achieved by allowing into consciousness all of one's experience. In your animal self, you have all the base thoughts which criminals have. There is no difference between you and a criminal except that you have created mind structures which successfully repress out of awareness all thoughts of wanton sexuality and violence.

You have gone a step too far. You only need to prevent these thoughts from transforming themselves into action, but you have gone further than that: you have repressed them out of your consciousness. You do not accept these thoughts of the animal within your consciousness and because you do not accept them, you project them into your perception of the thoughts of others, into the vital systems of your body, or both. This damages your relationships and your health. Damaged relationships will, in turn, cause damage to your health in the form of increased stress.

The Psyche II: Personality Types

The personality is the ego's way of relating to other people. It is a massive collection of behavioral traits, stimulus/response pairs, the sum total of which is your presentation to the world. While you think you are your ego, the personality is who other people think you are, and the success of your personality determines the degree to which other people will allow you to succeed. Clearly your success in life is, in large measure, derived from how much other people will allow you to succeed.

How well you succeed has a large impact on your health through stress or the lack of it. A person who is succeeding is, all other factors being equal, under less stress than a person who is failing. The purpose of studying the personality is to create the space for more success in your life, thus less stress and greater health and vitality.

Like it or not, your success depends on your relationships with other people. You will be allowed by others to succeed in proportion to how much you are "liked," and whether or not you are liked depends on the flexibility of your personality. Herein lies the problem. To some degree you are inflexible in your response to people and situations. Let us see what that means.

When you were born, you did not have a personality. Newborns are pretty much alike from one to the other. Some are more irritable than others, but that is the only difference one can see. This remains the case for several months, and during this time, as a developing child, you were unconcerned about your future survival, simply because you had not figured yourself out to exist in a body. When your body finally became real to you, and when you identified with and made it your essential identity, it became possible for you to conceive of not surviving. In that moment, you began to devise strategies for survival.

This occurred in relationship to the person who cared for you, who you would later identify as "mother." However, before she was mother, she was simply your only lifeline to survival. You took it as your job to make sure she continued to show up with the food. You thought you had something to do with her decision to feed you. You were unaware that she had made a life decision to take care of your needs.

There were three ways you could change yourself, and you selected one of these three to (you thought) cause your mother to continue returning with food. These changes were first described by neo-Freudian psychoanalyst Karen Horney.

Going Along to Get Along: The Pleaser

You may have decided to become a pleasing baby, to make very little trouble for your mother, and in this way, you thought, persuade her to continue to show up with food. If you made this decision, you became the talk of the Mother's Club — you were the "good" baby, the baby every mother wished her baby would be like.

When you entered school, you made good grades, not because you wanted to but to please your parents. Behaviorally, you either blended in with the wall, so that teacher did not know you were there, or you became teacher's pet. After your school years, you did not continue to develop your intellect.

When adolescence came, you did not rebel but rather identified with your elders, trying to be more like them, and you distanced yourself from rebellious peers. During adolescence, your pleasing ways became compulsive and rigid, your automatic first reaction to stress, and in this condition you entered adult life.

As an adult, you enter relationships meekly, and as long as you feel insecure in relationship, you are super nice. When you begin to feel secure, however, you turn very mean and destructive, much to your partner's surprise. As a compulsive pleaser tremendous pressure builds up inside you, and you take it out on the person closest to you.

Opposition for the Sake of Opposition: The Rebel

If, on the other hand, you made a different decision in the crib on that fateful day, things turned out very differently. You may have been one of those babies who decided that if you raised enough hell, made enough noise and caused enough trouble, mother would stay and take care of you. However, when she disappeared around the corner one day, you concluded that she was gone forever, and you let out a mighty scream. She came running back into the room, and you decided that she must somehow like your screaming. After that, you did a lot of screaming, making sure, so you thought, that mother would stay for all that entertainment provided by your mighty lungs and your big mouth.

When you entered school, you were a model of misbehavior. On many occasions, you had to bring a note home for your parents to sign, detailing your misbehavior. You did not make good grades, but at least you had a chance later in life to develop your intellect, not to please anyone but based on your own interests.

In adolescence, you rebelled like a volcano, and you spent your time with other kids who were rebellious like you. You thought adults were stupid, and you did your best to dissociate yourself from them, beginning with your parents.

As an adult, you enter intimate relationship with your rebel banner flying proudly. You are unlikely to pass up any opportunity to argue or debate a point. You don't let anything slide by. However, when the argument is over, it is done, and you recover quickly. As a compulsive rebel, you release pressure as soon as it builds up.

Withdrawal: The Hermit

There is a third possible choice: withdrawal. On that day when you thought about how to keep your mother coming back to take care of you, you may have come to the conclusion that if you did not respond to stimuli she would become concerned about you and try to persuade you to come out and play. This persuasion was just the attention you liked, so you worked your withdrawal act to an art form.

When you went to school, you made excellent marks, not to please anyone, but simply because you had so few friends, books filled the void where relationship could have been. In your isolation, you desperately hoped someone would come and try to persuade you to come out to play. A few people did, but not many. In a condition of loneliness, you may have decided to yourself that you were better than others.

In adolescence, you participated in withdrawal, not rebellion. You probably went for a higher education and may have become a professional. Many distinguished scientists and scholars are this sort of personality type. In intimate relationship, you are primarily the entertainee, not the entertainer. You hate arguments, although you will participate in them. You consider yourself a better person than the kind of person who would engage in an argument, and when you do argue it damages your self esteem. You are a hermit from participation.

I have described here the three basic personality types in pure culture. In this description, you can probably find yourself described but only approximately, needing additions and deletions. Being a personality type is not a problem. Everyone has one of these personalities at the core, and there are only three. The problem comes when one never outgrows the rigidity of one's personality, so that one reacts in a stereotypical way to each stressful situation. This plainly does not work for other people and, as a result, you will not be likable, and people will not allow you to succeed. This will cause stress and damage your health.

When you find your personality type, the job is to begin to develop other ways of acting and reacting, so you have a choice under stress. A flexible person is a happy person and a person others like to be around and empower to succeed in life. Most important, flexible people are under less stress and therefore live longer, more vital lives.

The Psyche III: Intimacy and Health

"Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord God has commanded you, that your days upon the earth may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you..." The fifth of the Ten Commandments, Deuteronomy 5:16 (emphasis mine).

A clean clear relationship with your mother is vital to your health. It is well-known that stress in interpersonal relationships has a detrimental effect on one's health. Until your relationship with your mother is clean, clear and full of love and the experience of being loved — until that time, your health is at risk. The relationship between health and relationship is not as obvious as the relationship between health and diet, only because it is not in our culture to consider such a possibility. Nevertheless, it is very real.

"Mother" is that person who nurtured you in the earliest years of your life. That may or may not have been your biological mother. It could have been an aunt, a sister, even an uncle or a brother. Around your experience of this person, you created your personality and your relationship with intimacy.

This is the usual, almost inevitable sequence of events:

  1. perfect harmony with Mother, from birth to age two years, six months;
  2. testing Mother to learn about people — particularly people who love you — begins at age two years, six months;
  3. playing the game that Mother failed — for the purpose of learning her reaction (withdrawing your acknowledgment of her love, as a game) — begins at three years of age;
  4. making real the game that Mother failed — happens in early adolescence; at this time, you repress the memory of her loving you right, and the past is transformed into a story proving that she never loved you right;
  5. living in the reality that Mother failed and creating the struggle to change her — early adolescence to the time you leave home, or Mother dies;
  6. parting from Mother with the point of view that she failed, did not love you right and refused to change.

After that, you go into the world with the reality that the person with whom you are closest cannot love you right. This point of view becomes a piece of your identity. Then you search for a cure: someone who will love you and love you right.

You then find such a person, but there is a problem. Your reality dictates that the person with whom you are closest cannot love you right. In contradiction of that paradigm, here is a person loving you and loving you right. Something must change, one of these items must win out over the other.

The reality you stand for is always stronger than the reality in which you live, and it will chisel on that reality until it is resculpted into something you can interpret as consistent with the reality for which you stand. In other words, the pattern you played out with your mother from early childhood will repeat itself. Here is how it looks:

  1. perfect harmony with the partner: romantic love;
  2. testing the partner to make sure he/she loves you;
  3. playing the game that the partner does not love you right and thus has failed you;
  4. making real the game that the partner failed — the honeymoon is now over;
  5. living in the reality that the partner failed, and struggling to change her/him;
  6. leaving the partner with the point of view that the partner failed, did not love you right and refused to change.

"Leaving" the partner can take one of two forms: (1) responsible leaving and (2) irresponsible leaving. In responsible leaving, one packs one's bags and hits the road or drives the other person out. In irresponsible leaving, you become so obnoxious the other person leaves you. Irresponsible leaving is also, usually, unconscious leaving.

The experience you are left with is that you have been unfairly abandoned. Then you practice your abandonment story and sell it as reality to your friends and to yourself. After that, you repeat the process, which by now has become a pattern.

Unless your relationship with your mother is perfect, and by that I mean that your experience of your mother's love for you was and is perfect, you can find your life somewhere within steps one to six above. You are trying to move to the next step while consciously resisting. You probably have noticed that movement backward from the direction of six toward the direction of one is almost impossible.
So how to get out? Focusing on your partner is not the answer, because that is not where the pattern gets its power. The pattern receives its power from your incomplete relationship with your mother. Your relationship with your mother is the origin of the paradigm that the person closest to you cannot love you right.

Of course, about now you are saying, "Okay, Dr. K., all this will change for me when my mother changes." That gives you a life sentence in your prison without possibility of parole, because your mother is not going to change. You may already have figured that out.

What needs to change is your experience of your mother, not your mother! Your experience of her will change back to the stage of perfect harmony when you return yourself to the condition of being a living acknowledgment of her love and not before.

How to do that? This is not some easy process that you just go do and then you are done. For most people, this will be a project requiring years of work. It involves a promise you give about the relationship between your experience and life events. Here is the promise:


That sounds simple, doesn't it? However, you live in the opposite reality: that some expressions (comfortable ones) might be expressions of love and other expressions (uncomfortable ones) definitely are not expressions of love.

Therefore, this involves the intentional recreation of reality. For this to be possible requires that you know reality to be created by you, not to exist as some kind of Truth. This is the one that gives people problems, because one becomes convinced that one's reality is The Truth, and what fool would dare to argue with The Truth?

Because you can have it any way you want it, and because how you really want it is to be loved and be loved right, you can have it that way. Here is what you must give up: trying to change other people. Here is what you can have: all expressions as expressions of love. To the degree that you have this experience, you will live a longer, more vital, healthy, satisfying life.

The most useful place to begin to create this reality is with your mother, because exactly there did you give up your grace and divinity.

The Psyche IV: Authority and Health

Your relationship with authority is critically important to your health. Few events in life can stress your body as much as conflict with authority. People in authority are most appropriately experienced as partners in your life who have seniority over you in certain areas of living.

Your relationship with authority was derived in relationship to your father. Maturation in relationship to authority cannot happen until you can fully experience your father's love for you. "Father" is that person who first presented the ground rules of life to you along with consequences for breaking those ground rules. The nature of these consequences was that you could not tolerate them. Father could conceivably have been an uncle, a brother, or even a female person in your life. Around your experience of this person, you created your relationship with authority, and from this person you derived your ability to discipline yourself and get the job done. Your relationship with this person is your relationship with all authority in the world. There are three possible ways to deal with this person, and each has profound consequences for your relationship with the world. You can become agreeable to this person, you can rebel against this person, or you can withdraw from this person.

The problem is: confrontation, early in life, with someone much bigger than you, who is willing to say, or do, whatever it takes for you to pay attention to the ground rules. The solution to this problem is: a stand you take about who you are, in relationship to authority. It is very likely that you chose a favorite method of dealing with this person. This becomes the method you use for dealing with authority in general, all through life. You become an expert on this method and, under any degree of stress, you revert to this method on which you are an expert.

If you become agreeable with this person, you lose the ability to generate initiative and creativity, and you go through life being a follower looking for a leader. If you rebel against this person, you set yourself up in life to have conflict with people who have real or imagined authority in your life. If you withdraw from this person, you acquire the lone ranger complex and become detached from the world and from your place in it.

Determine now which solution you chose in relationship to father:

  1. agreeableness;
  2. rebellion;
  3. withdrawal.

Regardless of which one you chose, you have painted yourself into a corner. You become an expert on how to survive in relationship to authority, and the price you pay is self-determination and creativity. Your solution to this situation in life becomes a part of your personality, just as it did in relationship to your mother.

The way out is to become a living acknowledgment of your father's love for you. That means that every single time your father sees you or hears from you, he feels acknowledged. This, for many, becomes a life-long project. If you achieve it, you are a new person in relationship to authority, and you are at a new level of effectiveness and ability to contribute in your chosen work.

The information in this article is not meant to be medical advice.�Treatment for a medical condition should come at the recommendation of your personal physician.

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