Why don’t many physicians know about sensory motor amnesia if it causes so much pain, disease, and postural distortion? Thomas Hanna explains this in Chapter 1 in his book Somatics. Here in chapter 1 is a case study of one client, (Barney), who had chronic pain in his right side:

“In addition, he would frequently lose his balance and stumble.  When his physician heard his complaint she ordered x-rays but she saw no obvious deformity.  She concluded that 42 years of vigorous wear and tear had caused arthritic deterioration of the hip joint.  She told Barney, who was a tall man, that he had arthritis, typical of the aging process, and that he had to learn to live with it.  She prescribed aspirin and bed rest on days when the pain was extreme.

Not satisfied with this treatment, Barney went to a chiropractor, who told him that the bones of his lower spine were out of alignment and needed adjustment.  He adjusted Barney’s spine, but the hip continued to hurt.  Barney then went to an acupuncturist, who determined which meridians were involved and inserted needles in the appropriate spots.  That relieved Barney’s pain, but four days later it came back.  So, with this history, which is typical, Barney presented himself to me (Hanna).  He had heard that I do something unusual called Somatic education, which no one quite understood but which nonetheless was said to be highly successful.  Having heard his story, I wanted to find where the pain was.  Barney pointed to the back of his right pelvis in the areas between the hip joint and the sacrum.  I felt the area.  The line of pain was in the gluteus medius muscle, which extends across the buttocks from the top of the thigh to the back center of the pelvis.  It is the muscle that we usually contract when standing on one leg.  It braces the leg against the pelvis to maintain stability while we lean over to one side.  Barney’s hip joint was not painful either to the touch or during the movement.  It was the gluteus medius muscle that was painfully sore.  I informed Barney that he did not have arthritis, but had a painfully overworked muscle that was sore from over-contraction.  “Why did my physician tell me I had arthritis, he asked?  I told him I did not know.  I knew that x-rays do not show muscle tissue, painful or not, and I knew that it was common for physicians to tell patients suffering with chronic and medically incurable pain that they had arthritis and there was nothing to do for it.  The ancient myth of aging is firmly embedded in modern medicine.

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 Unique Self Psychology and the New Enlightenment Blog by Dr. Elliott Ingersoll

And you may see me tonight

With an illegal smile

It don’t cost very much

But it lasts a long while

– John Prine

My father always said the best way to get into an argument is to talk politics or religion. In this blog I do both by discussing illegal drugs that are starting to be recognized as having medicinal and psychological benefits. Discussions about illegal drugs evoke passions powered by a zeal approaching religiosity as well as convictions equaling the propaganda of political conventions. Being as I am a psychologist with 20 years of experience studying psychopharmacology, I will focus on the psychological and even social benefits that may come from proper use of MDMA (“Ecstasy”), hallucinogens (LSD and psilocybin) and cannabis (marijuana). For many people the idea of these drugs being useful or even therapeutic is as ridiculous as ice dancers at a pig roast. Others believe the legal use of them would trigger a Grateful Dead apocalypse that would bring down the free world in an orgy of drumming and dancing. My sense is that the proper use of these agents will bring about a more humane society, decrease the prison population, contribute to a psychology of ecstasy and provide harmlessly fun anecdotes beyond the usual “…so we were drinking down at Rays Place…”

Make no mistake; all the drugs on my list are psychoactive substances that affect your brain, your state of mind and your choice of snacks. We do not understand terribly much about how they work but don’t let that bother you; we don’t really understand how any psychiatric medications “work” when they work (aside from stimulants like amphetamines and anti-anxiety drugs like Valium). Now I am not going to go on a conspiracy theory “rant” about our ignorance of the brain, drug companies or psychiatric medications but professionals like me are ethically obliged to tell laypeople at least three things that some of my fellow professionals consider somewhat, well, embarrassing:

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By Mary Ann Gray Voorhies

Clinical somatic education, otherwise known as Hanna Somatic education, makes use of a major “mind/body” discovery. Its use and practice can prevent degeneration, stiffness, aches and pains, certain diseases and age-old health breakdowns in our middle age and older populations. It has the power to dramatically counteract the aging process. But, not only can it counteract the usual affects of aging, it also has the power to REVERSE them. Now, thanks to Thomas Hanna, we have an easy internal way to avoid the decline of bodily function, which is now usually thought of as the curse of getting older.

The fact is that during the course of our lives, our sensory motor systems respond to daily stresses and traumas with SPECIFIC MUSCULAR REFLEXES. These deep stress brain reflexes, when repeatedly triggered, create habitual tightening and shortening muscular contractions, which we cannot voluntarily relax. These muscular habits become so deeply ingrained, habituated, involuntary and unconscious that eventually insidiously we no longer remember how to move about freely. The result is stiffness, soreness, pain and a restricted range of motion. Along with this also in many cases the posture becomes distorted. Furthermore, the habitually shortened tight muscles impinge and pull on our organs, bones, tendons, ligaments and other bodily structures. This habituated state of “forgetfulness” is called SENSORY MOTOR AMNESIA (a state in which the sensory motor cortex has lost control of certain muscles and muscle groups). It is this insidious unconscious process and its secondary effects that we falsely think of as “just growing older.” Actually this “old age” is a STRESS-induced phenomenon that can really happen at any age. With the new knowledge of somatic education, humankind need not become infirm and decrepit.

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The goal of an “integral psychology” is to honor and embrace every legitimate aspect of human consciousness by embracing what is true in each of them. This portal on the Center for Integral Wisdom multi-plex presents an integrative view of consciousness, psychology, and therapy.

The rise of an Integral Psychology is one of the greatest invitations of the century. It draws on pre-modern, modern, and postmodern psychological models to find patterns which are healing, transformational, and integrated in a model that includes mind, soul, and spirit.

The psychological models also include interior and exterior distinctions, levels or structures of consciousness, typologies, and states of consciousness. Integral Psychology is the understanding that we have this great new source of wisdom in the world which emerged.

There has been a huge contribution to thought in the past couple hundred years with Freud but also with our new understanding of the human mind which says that we hold in our conscious selves what we make unconscious, including the early drivers (wounds) that shape our personality and deconstruct the vital eros within us.

Integral Psychology offers maps, each of which offer a set of healings or techniques to return the human being to fuller human existence, a more effective being and becoming.

Each of the 11 or 12 major schools of psychology has a somewhat different map of existence, of the human mind, and distinct suggestions for what the best method is for transformation. What Integral psychology seeks to do is to recognize what is true in each of these seemingly exclusive models. Specifically, it recognizes that each of them is true but partial.

Each school of psychology speaks to and addresses a different level of human existence or consciousness. All of them are healing and need to be integrated into the healing wisdom of humanity.

In trying to evolve a global ethic for a global civilization, we need to integrate them into a seamless psychological model that includes all the elements of mind, soul, and spirit. Likewise all the interior and exterior dimensions must be included.

Finding the best practices of all the schools of psychology is one of the great invitations of this century.

In the Integral Psychology portal you find media, essays, and blogs on Unique Self & Psychology, Unique Shadow, Integral Psychology, and much more. Enjoy!

By Elliott Ingersoll, Ph.D.

“Culture is a gadget; it’s something we inherit. And you can fix it the way you can fix a broken oil burner.” – KURT VONNEGUT

I started this blog after the shootings at Umpqua College in Oregon. I realized that to discuss the “source code” that underlies our delusional gun culture I would first have to offer a Unique Self Psychology “take” on culture in general. As Kurt Vonnegut’s words remind us, the contents of culture are not a destined reflection of human nature. Culture is a gadget that can be fixed by human nature once the ocean of culture we are swimming in becomes an object of awareness.

As I write this I am realizing that the phrase “object of awareness” is drier than a California reservoir. I’ve been using the phrase “object of awareness” for years in my writing about psychology. Time for a change. Making culture (or anything) an object of awareness doesn’t take the fun out of it like the dryness of the phrase implies. In that spirit I have made up the word “psychaflower” to denote making something an object of awareness as in “I psychaflowered my anger in therapy” or “As a culture we are psychaflowering our attitude toward marriage equality.” Isn’t that more fun? It’s sort of like the grammatical difference between a scientific discussion of urgency in mammalian reproduction and watching the neighbor’s dog try to hump the mailman’s leg. And of course what is psychaflowered can be pollinated but more on that later. Now that I’ve invented a wonderful new word (unlikely to show up in peer-reviewed journals anytime soon), back to business (or “busyness” if you prefer).

Unique Self Psychology begins discussion of “mental illness” by outlining what is meant by “mental.” In my last blog I offered a Unique Self Psychology description of “mind” that includes not only self-awareness, but our embodiment (including all the neuroscience bells and whistles), our environment, our interactions with others and of course our culture. “Mental” also includes our field of awareness and the things that arise in our field of awareness – the things we can psychaflower. Psychaflowering offers not just understanding but a toy chest of ways to change what was psychaflowered (again, fun everywhere you look!).

That which a “people” agree to focus on in large part form our various “cultures.” “Culture” is an artifact of what a “people” choose as important from things arising in their field of awareness. They may then psychaflower that which they have said is important or simply go with the flow on psychological autopilot. Mind you the default position in all of us for this process is autopilot. We usually have to practice observing, questioning and ultimately psychaflowering. We only begin to master our awareness some years after we are born and by then we have been bathed in the cacophony of what our “people” considered our “culture.” Occasionally one of our people will be good at teaching us to psychaflower cultural assumptions that have been foisted on us but this is usually pure luck if it happens (though many of us were blessed with a “crazy” Aunt or Uncle or laughed at and questioned everything).

A very funny (funny as in “ha-ha” and as in “strange”) thing about culture is that it is reified in 20th -21st century psychologies. This leads to both irony and suffering. Here is an experiment you can do: go to a psychology conference and sanctimoniously invoke the word “culture.” Within minutes you’ll have a strange collection of graduate students and assistant professors groveling at your feet (really – try this – it is amazing). They can’t explain this reflex of course because they have not psychaflowered their conception of culture – they have merely turned it into a monstrous god who rules their intellect with all the compassion of a rabid groundhog. So in Unique Self Psychology we begin by slaughtering this “Golden Calf” (or “Plastic Groundhog” if you like) of culture. We do it humanely of course, like cruelty-free beef where all cows go to Disneyland before going to the butcher.

From a Unique Self Psychology perspective, culture is an artifact of humanness that can range from a rich, fulfilling context for growth to a dung heap of aggression, repression and cruelty. The only “given” or destiny about culture is that humans will create cultures as surely Republican politicians will pray before first kickoff of the Super Bowl. By psychaflowering our culture we become aware of the source code underlying it. We are then free to pollinate the psychaflowered source code so that it increasingly produces cultural artifacts that guide each person toward their Unique Self. These cultural artifacts are the “blossoms” of a Unique Self source code and become increasingly concerned with the preservation of life rather than the ruthless control of life.

Now having established (I hope) a basic understanding of source code in relation to culture, my next blog will specifically examine what a people have to believe to allow a parade of senseless gun violence and mass killing. And of course I will discuss what the source code would have to be for people to believe that a senseless parade of gun violence is inevitable. I will also discuss how 20th and 21st century psychologies do little to dissuade such atrocities. I will not, however merely “muckrake.” I will then go on to discuss how a Unique Self Psychology can liberate each of us from the bleak vision of mental health forged in the 20th century. In this vision, as Alan Watts wrote, mental health is the state of mind you are in driving to work Monday morning. A Unique Self Psychology vision of mental health is more akin to the afterglow of sexual embrace or the laughter of children playing senseless games. I will discuss how this vision of mental health, and the cultural artifacts that promote it, can be written into the source code of our species and how this can alleviate so much of the senseless suffering related to things like gun violence.

Read More by Elliott Ingersoll on his CIW Unique Self Psychology and the New Enlightenment Blog

By Dr. Marc Gafni

Summary: The four faces of eros, described by Marc Gafni in this excerpt from Mystery of Love (2003), are 1.) being on the inside, 2.) fullness of presence, 3.) desire, and 4.) interconnectivity of being.  As Marc describes, with its mystical role in these four expressions, the face itself is the truest reflection of the erotic.  In the flow of eros, we access the experience of being on the inside of God's face, which Marc explores here through the Temple mystery of the sexually entwined cherubs atop the Ark who are positioned face to face; the Hebrew word “panim,” which means “inside, face, and before;” and the erotic experience of having a true face-to-face conversation. This significant passage from Mystery of Love invites you to embody the erotic””which is modeled but not exhausted by the sexual””more deeply in your own life.

Eros has many expressions. Each expression is hinted at in the temple mysteries.  There are four faces of eros which, when taken together, form the essence of the Shechina experience. In this essay, we will explore the erotic understanding which forms the matrix of the secret of the cherubs and informs every arena of our existence. As we shall see, at the very heart of Hebrew tantra was a very precise and provocative understanding of the relationship between love, sex, and eros. This will open us up to a whole new understanding of our sexuality and will show us the way to erotically reweave the very fabric of our lives in more vivid patterns, sensual textures, and brilliant hues.

The First Face of Eros: On the Inside

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The cherubs in the magical mystery of Temple myth were not stationary fixtures. No, these statues were expressive, emotive. They moved. When integrity and goodness ruled the land, the cherubs were face to face. In these times, the focal point of Shechina energy rested erotically, ecstatically, between the cherubs. When discord and evil held sway in the kingdom, the cherubs turned from each other, appearing back to back instead of face to face.1  Back to back, the world was amiss, alienated, ruptured. Face to face, the world was harmonized, hopeful, embraced. Thus, face to face in biblical myth2 is the most highly desirable state. It is the gem stone state of being, the jeweled summit of all creation.  Face to face, to be fully explicit, is a state of eros.

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Job

By Marc Gafni

This post is continued from Part 13.

We began with three truths. God is good. God is powerful. Good people suffer. These are the three truths of Job. We hold all three. We can live in the deep and painful uncertainty of not always knowing how all three fit together. Those unable to hold the uncertainty emasculate God. This is Harold Kushner’s basic move. God can’t do anything about evil — God is nice but not powerful.

Others, unable to hold the uncertainty, emasculate man. That is pious orthodox thinker Gottlieb’s move. He has theo-logically solved the problem of suffering. He denies the rage, the protest, the unanswered question which defines Jewish text. He cannot live with the uncertainty of the question so he must argue that certainty has been achieved and the question answered.

Secret

Photo Credit: h.koppdelaney

By Marc Gafni

This post is continued from Part 11.

That this is true is mystery and mystery is esoteric -- it is secret. Secret, not because, as it is usually explained, it is forbidden to reveal the mysteries to the uninitiated; rather, secret because it is not possible to reveal the mysteries at all. For if the soul is not ready to receive the mystery then the secret cannot be transmitted. The holy energy of uncertainty is in the realm of mystery. I cannot fully explain. Yet two guidelines for those who would struggle to understand are in order.

The Rebbe of Kutzk teaches about the old man and the young baby. They both ask the same questions. ”˜How, When, What, Where - Ayeh?'

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Hebrew Books

Photo Credit: chany14


By Marc Gafni

This post is continued from Part 10.

The Zohar writes that the Shechina is called "I". This is a particularly dramatic way of expressing the idea that the Shechina speaks through the human voice. This means that whenever a person finds their voice on the deepest level, they are finding the voice of the Shechina. The human cry to God “Please be King” is also God crying out through the same voice, “Please I am trapped -- bound in chains -- free me and let me be King.”

God's voice and our voice are one. The language of God is man.

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God emotions

Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs


By Marc Gafni

This post is continued from Part 9.

To go one step further -- God feels the pain of the sufferer through the agency of human beings who feel the pain of other. God feels, not only but also through, human agency. We are God's emotions.

Based on this understanding a number of mystical writers provide us with the vocabulary to re-think the idea of God's Kingship. It was with this quandry that I introduced the problematics of God-language in a world that suffers. How can we call God King?

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This post is continued from Part 5

By Marc Gafni

R’ Nachman, I would suggest did not originate this understanding of Ayeh — rather it emerges out of a tradition of Biblical ”˜Ayeh’ stories.

In the book of Judges, a messenger of God comes to Gideon at a time in which Israel has suffered greatly at the hand of the Midianite nation. The messenger of God offers certainty to Gideon: “God is with you, hero of valor,” and Gideon rejects this pat offer of security: “You tell me that God is with us? Then why is all this…” He cannot even give it a name. The silent questions ring out in the spaces between the words: ”˜Why has all this suffering, why has all this pain, defined our lives for so many years? Why are men killed? Why are children orphaned?’ And the text goes on: “”˜Ayeh’- where are all of his great wonders of which our Fathers told us, saying God took us out of the land of Egypt. And now, God has abandoned us.”

Gideon the Judge, in the tradition of Abraham, turns to God and says, “Does the Judge of the entire world not do justice?” Gideon the Judge challenges God, challenges the messenger and challenges the message. The divine response seems unclear, enigmatic and troubling; but also powerful, inspiring and deeply directive. God answers Gideon: “Go with this strength of yours and save Israel … behold, I have sent you.” (Judges 6: 12-14)

What “strength” is God referring to? I would suggest, and at least one Midrash implicitly supports my reading, that God meant: ”˜Go forth with the power of your uncertainty.’ God is confirming that if Gideon has the ability to doubt that this is the best of all possible worlds, this means he shares a common moral language with God. The wrestling with God in itself implies messengership on behalf of the divine: “Behold, I have sent you.” God confirms the Chassidic tale that initiated this chapter: to grapple with God is indeed to touch God, and to enter into the wrestling ring is to be a representative of all Israel, to plead redemption for all the world.

Gideon says to God’s messenger: “Where, ayeh, are all of His great wonders?” — echoing Moses’ and Abraham’s uncertainty about God’s dealings in the world.

Photo Credit: dariuszka


This post is continued from Part 4

By Marc Gafni

Said differently, by holding uncertainty and not settling for explanations of suffering that our soul intuitively rejects, we reach a higher certainty — the certainty of rage. It may well be that in a century that has seen one hundred million people brutally killed the only path back to God is the certainty of rage. Those who deny the holiness of our anger deny God.

Babies are part of our core certainty. They remind us of all that is pure. They somehow cut though our posturing and touch something deep inside us. Have you ever seen a baby brought into an office — no matter how serious the office — grown men and women almost immediately revert to baby talk, to goo goo gaga. Babies cry out for our protection. They call us to rise to our highest selves. Perhaps this is what Leah understood for the first time as she looked down at little Judah. Until Judah’s birth Leah had been so intent on using her children to get Jacob that she hadn’t really seen them. Only when she gives up her need for Jacob is she able to see her baby. It is from this place she cries out — “I have found myself before God.”

Babies being ripped apart — my mother’s youthful vision — destroy that core certainty. “Where Is God” writes Weisel, “he is hanging on the gallows”…. In the body of a young boy. Incarnation is reversed in the horror of suffering. God becomes human and dies on the gallows. In the reversal is the death of God about which some post-holocaust theologians wrote with such pathos. The Biblical response is different. Biblical men and women work their way back to God, not through pious imprecations justifying God nor through pathos-filled announcements of God’s demise, but through the certainty of rage.


Dostoyevsky

Photo Credit: Bradley Wind


By Marc Gafni

Note: This post is continued from Part 2.

It is this paradox that Dostoyevsky in Brothers Karamazov does not fully grasp. He does not understand that the rage of Ivan is the rage of ”˜heresy that is faith.' Ivan, responding to Alyosha's certainty of belief, has just described to him the brutal murder of a child torn apart by dogs for sport. Ivan's uncertainty burns with the fiery anger of faith:

Although the passage is longer than what one would usually expect in a quoted text, it is so germane to our theme and so compelling that I did not shorten it. Thus I invite my dear reader to experience the truth and power of Ivan's plea. He needs to be read as a modern echo of Abraham's cry “Will the judge of the entire world not do justice?”

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