On the evolutionary, contemporary and universal dimensions of culture and identifying the main research areas in cultural psychology
The term culture would mean the entire gamut of activities, beliefs, lifestyle, habits, rituals, arts, ethics and behavioral patterns of a society. Yet despite the wide definition of culture, the elements of culture being too varied and divergent, it is not easy to provide a relationship between culture and psychology. There are two common ways by which the relationship between psychology and culture is studied, through intra-cultural psychology or behavioral patterns within a particular society and intercultural psychology or behavior and psychological characteristics between societies.
Intra-cultural psychology seeks to understand the cultural basis of behavior by studying the peculiarities of a society, its rules and norms and shows how traditions shape or influence the collective psyche of the people within the society. However in psychology this is simply considered as ‘cultural psychology’ a straightforward term denoting the study of cultural traditions and their effects on the psychology of people. This sort of categorization may be misleading as it tends to see cultures as fundamentally different units and highlights differences rather than similarities. Cross-cultural psychology focuses on finding universal patterns of behavior or beliefs that are common among people of all cultures and this is what has been described here as ‘inter-cultural’ psychology. The terms ‘intra-cultural’ and ‘inter-cultural’ psychology would be more conducive to finding a psychology that shows convergent patterns of cultural behavior among people across societies.
The psychology of culture requires further development in the areas of defining culture and in finding cultural roots that would highlight collective psyche or universal patterns of behavior. Humans are finally united by common emotions and psyche and this broader cultural psychology has been promoted by Carl Gustav Jung who focused his studies on the importance of deriving or understanding the collective unconscious with those elements or archetypes that are carried from one generation to another.
Culture has been defined as the accumulated experiences of a society as a whole that has been socially transmitted so the collective unconscious in Jungian terms would serve as a repository of cultural imprints that shape human behavior right from childhood. The three predominant schools of cultural psychology have been identified as having activity, symbolic or individualistic approach (Carl Ratner explains this well). The activity approach highlights social activities of a group, the symbolic approach defines culture as shared meanings and concepts or symbols. The individualistic approach highlights the interaction of the individual with society and through this, individuals construct their personal culture. But I would downplay the personal aspect of culture and suggest culture as mainly a group phenomenon akin to individual conformity in society so apart from activity and symbolism, culture should be defined by its beliefs, values and ethics. Culture is finally about shared activities, shared symbolisms and shared belief systems.
The story of the birth of human culture would be closely related to the story of human evolution as with the formation of tribes, humans learned and adapted to group behavior. Man was born alone but became a social animal primarily due to survival needs and the development of culture is thus rooted in man’s own needs for security, safety and survival. Humans follow rules, norms, traditions of a society simply ‘to live’ and culture is about conformity. So the psychology of culture is also the psychology of conformity and even the non conformist in a way conforms to certain basic social and cultural rules and traditions.
As ‘culture’ represents a broad spectrum of human activity, cultural psychology should involve the study of:
- Evolutionary and historical patterns of human behavior, closely related to anthropology
- Contemporary social trends (for example: celebrity culture, workplace culture, globalization) closely related to sociology, and
- The intra-cultural and inter-cultural patterns of behavior to recognize the universal elements in human cognition, emotion and perception
Thus there seems to be three dimensions to the study of culture in psychology – the evolutionary, the contemporary and the universal. The evolutionary and historical dimension of cultural psychology would have to be largely explained in terms of Jungian psychology whereas social psychology becomes an integral part of the contemporary dimension. The universal dimension for the study of cultural psychology uses behavioral patterns or cognitive psychology to gauge at how people are programmed to behave in certain situations and whether these behavioral patterns are common across cultures and if not, whether there are only culture specific behaviors.
Psychologists have claimed that there are certain culture specific behaviors and certain universal behavioral patterns among humans and it is important to understand whether it is possible to delineate behaviors that are culture specific or intra-cultural and those that are universal or inter-cultural. If such an attempt is made, then it is possible to say that ethics and values, legal structures, lifestyle, activities, rituals and beliefs can widely vary between cultures and these elements represent intra cultural similarities and inter cultural differences. Yet certain attitudes and worldviews or opinions, emotions and perception, as also basic human traits of say intelligence or imagination are not culture specific and may have intra-cultural differences and inter-cultural similarities. For example emotions and emotional expressions are common across all cultures so we all cry when we are sad and laugh when we are happy. We also have common attitudes and opinions such as supportive views towards honesty and we universally detest crime. This is however the universal behavior found across cultures although there may still be variations. The strong intra-cultural beliefs and attitudes that are not universal are usually related to customs rather than emotions, for example attitudes towards marriage and courtship, vary widely between cultures or even dining table manners differ between cultures.
Thus human emotions and expressions and behavior motivated by such emotions tend to be universal or inter-cultural and customs/traditions and human behavior motivated by customs tend to be intra-cultural or culture specific. Cultures in today’s world are largely shaped by religious belief systems, political and social or economic systems and that is why culture seems to be almost inflexible in it roots as seen in rigid religious structures of society, although the changing cultural patterns are manifested in political and economic systems. If we provide an agenda for cultural psychology, the future research areas in the psychology of culture should involve
- Definition of culture – describing and identifying the concepts and structures of culture and answering what exactly constitutes culture
- Identifying different dimensions of culture as they relate to cultural psychology – and studying the evolutionary, contemporary and universal aspects of culture
- Expanding research in the current schools of cultural psychology on activity, symbolism and belief systems as well as considering individual or personal approaches in cultural psychology
- Establishing the relationships between culture and anthropology, sociology, psychoanalysis and human cognition and emotions.
- Recognizing similarities in human emotions and expressions that are the basis of universal cultural elements and identifying differences in customs and practices
The psychology of culture is still a developing field and should try to answer basic questions on how behavioral patterns developed within cultures and why behaviors are similar or vary between cultures. The five areas of study listed above suggest the main problems and future directions in the study of culture within psychology and psychology within culture.
Reflections in Psychology – Part I – by Saberi Roy (2009)
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The field of psychology encompasses many aspects that must be dealt with on a daily basis. Psychologists and others working in the field are often faced with moral dilemmas that may cause them to question the place of morals and spirituality in psychology. Those who practice some form of religion may use their specific values and morals when it comes to finding resolutions in these situations. There still lies the question of whether religion has a place in the day-to-day practice of psychology and if so, where to draw the line.
In part, psychology is considered a science. Though it is not exact in all situations, it does carry with it various similarities to science where theories and decision making are concerned. Ethics play a big role in psychology for both the roles of the psychologist or psychological professional conducting evaluations and providing treatment and the client or patient receiving the services or treatment. The code of ethics was put into place to protect both parties involved. Ethics is based on right and wrong and, can therefore be closely related to morality in many instances. Because of this, it can be argued that religion plays a role in the ethical decisions that are made everyday. Though the code of ethics does not specifically site religion as a part of what is contained there in, various aspects of morality and common values are found.
Spirituality as a whole has become even more prevalent in the field of psychology over the past several years as evidenced by the number of Christian counseling centers that have opened around the country. The professionals working in these settings offer what some say is the perfect combination of treatment, psychology based on Christian values and beliefs. Here the psychological principles and ethics are used with various aspects of religious values and beliefs interwoven into the treatment plans. Patients are often counseled on how spirituality can help them through their difficult situations. In these settings, professionals strive to find a balance between psychology and religion, a challenging task at times. Psychology is based on various principles, theories and ethics while religion is based mostly on faith. Psychological issues are proven in a scientific way while a good part of religion is based on belief in the unseen. While many people don’t question their faith, it can be difficult to intermingle what can be physically seen with what cannot. This causes many people to question the place of spirituality in psychology.
Because faith is often questioned, it has become necessary to receive proof. This proof often comes in the form of answers that are a direct result of the testing of ideas (Myers). When ideas are tested and found to be correct, faith is easier to maintain; however, then they do not survive the test, faith can become a very shaky prospect. When this principle is applied to psychology, the outcome can change on a regular basis. Different situations call for different ideas which may or may not prove to work. Also, what works in one situation may prove impossible in another. The key to understanding where spirituality fits in is knowing how to apply it to each individual situation and idea and make determinations and assessments based on the information that is gathered and the particular values that are relevant to the end result.
To better understand where religion fits into the psychological realm, let’s take a closer look at the human attributes that make up each. Where religion is concerned there is the theological wisdom. This deals with the acceptance of divine love in order to enable individuals to accept themselves. Psychological wisdom, however, deals with self-esteem, optimism and personal control (Myers). The ability to use the two together to make important decisions will provide the freedom to use what we know, admit what we don’t and search for the answers. Because we are both the creatures and creators of our own social world, people and situations matter (Myers). While ultimate control lies beyond us, we carry responsibility for making important decisions that have a lasting effect on us as well as others.
Psychologists face these dilemmas everyday. They must make important decisions that will directly effect their patients. Each decision is made on an individual basis and is dependent on each specific situation and its own set of circumstances. Each decision will carry with it a separate set of ethical issues and dilemmas and the solution will remain unique to each. Religion is said to heal people while medicine was designed to do the same. The two often work in different contexts, but it can be argued that medicine was discovered because of ideas and values based on religious beliefs. Because of this, it is believed in many situations the two are used together to come up with treatment plans that will be both effective and long lasting.
In many ways, people who have great faith have found the insights and critical analyses of psychology to be supportive of the understanding they possess of human nature. Their assumption that religion is conducive to happiness and good health is also attributed in great part to psychology. The science of psychology offers principles that can be applied to the construction of messages that will prove both memorable and persuasive. Here the tasks of peacemaking and reconciliation are promoted in a way that offers solutions that will provide the means by which others can achieve happiness by establishing healthy relationships (Myers). While the science may challenge our way of thinking, the same can be said of religion. Faith is often questioned in an effort to find answers. This has proven to be helpful in many situations where the answer wasn’t clearly defined. Here, the science of psychology is used along with the religious beliefs to find solutions to problems that seemingly have no immediate or clear resolution. Still, faith is not always a negative aspect of psychology.
A strong value and belief system can help a psychologist working as a professional in the field deal with situations where the traditional psychological theories aren’t showing a definite answer. Here the process is reversed because religion is used to clarify a particular set of circumstances based on the lack of information that can be gathered at a given time. There are also times where one can support the other. Religious beliefs are often used to support the reasoning behind many ethical situations whereas psychology is often used to prove various religion based ideas. This is where the two can be used in tandem to come up with a truly unique solution that will work.
It has also been argued that faith plays an important role in a psychologist’s ability to use the information found in the code of ethics and psychological practices that are present everyday. This is based on the belief that people who possess strong faith are better able to understand the science of psychology because they can use the two together to come up with answers that are suited to each new set of circumstances. Here psychologists are not heavily relying on either faith or science, but instead are using them both to gain a better understanding of the situation as a whole. Those who believe in the contents of the code of ethics understand its importance and why it must play a role in psychology on a daily basis (Kafka). Those who possess strong religious beliefs usually strive to use them everyday when making ethical decisions and are often working toward an outcome built on both science and faith. Still there is a very important line between when to use the science of psychology and when to rely on the beliefs and values that often assist many in making daily life decisions.
When it comes to the co-mingling of psychology and spirituality, each has its own place. The scientific aspects of psychology are necessary in order to solve a wide range of problems and provide successful treatment to those in need. Still, spirituality can play a very important role in the rehabilitation of patients by making it easier to understand the psychological ramifications and why they exist. Spirituality and science can be used both during and after treatment. During treatment, religious beliefs may guide both the psychologist and patient toward making the right decisions and understanding difficult situations along the way. After treatment, religion can continue to help the patient as he or she moves onward through life while the scientific aspect may still remain present in the form of ongoing counseling or use of medication.
Psychologists can use both in their profession to make difficult decisions and deal with hard to solve problems. Aspects of each can be relied upon to provide the means by which to draw important conclusions that may help throughout the entire treatment process. Evidence has also shown that psychologists who know their profession but also possess strong religious beliefs are able to help their patients throughout treatment by passing on various virtues that promote positive thinking (Myers).
The end results of melding together both science and spirituality have been studied for a number of years. Some argue psychology should remain only a science while others feel the intertwining of science with religion can only serve to improve the overall outcome of treatment situations. The argument is also made that science as a whole has strong ties to religion and the two often give cause for the questioning of each other. Science can often prove what religion cannot and religion was the basis for the need to know, thus people began studying the how and why of scientific matters (Myers).
Some have explained the boundaries between psychology and religion by bringing up a few points that express how one relates to the other. One point is the correlation of scientific ideas presented in everyday human nature to religion and being able to site the information to show how it is all related. Another important point is the link between religion, prejudice, altruism and overall well-being (Myers).
When dealing with various psychological situations, it is just as important to realize the importance of the science as it is the religion. This is often difficult to do because of the differing beliefs and values possessed by each professional working in the field. Because of this, it is necessary for each to make decisions based on the psychological code of ethics along with the specific circumstances of each given situation. For those who are religious, spirituality will most likely play a role in the decision making process in a professional setting because it very likely does in any other. Those who utilize spirituality in day-to-day situations often rely on it to guide them in their professions. Though the psychological code of ethics may not have been created based specifically around the religious beliefs and values directly associated with spirituality, there are many similarities between ethical dilemmas and resolutions and those of a moral nature.
Correlations have also been reported between faith and subjective well-being. One example of this can be found in a National Opinion Research Center survey of 42,00 Americans that was conducted after 1972. Here 26 percent who never attended religious services reported being very happy while 47 percent of those participating in spiritual services on a regular basis, sometimes more than weekly reported also being very happy (Myers). Though this does not sho3w a direct link between religion and well-being, it does indicate that many people seek spirituality in various aspects of their lives. Whether the science of psychology and spirituality should be co-mingled in a professional setting can be a bit subjective as it is dependent upon the differing situations and those directly involved in the treatment processes. While there are correlations between the ethical code used by psychological professionals everywhere and the morality associated with religion, the two remain separate and can be called upon in any given situation where they may be deemed necessary or important. The code of ethics is used every day in the psychological setting, but whether or not spirituality is involved may be up to each professional working in the field.
Code of Ethics: Understanding the Professional Conduct of Psychologists. Taken from http://clinical-psychology.suite101.com/article.cfm/psychologist_as_professional
Myers, David G. Psychological Science Meets the World of Faith. Taken from http://psychologicalscience.org/observer/getArticle.cfm?id=1861.
For more information, please contact Dr. Joseph Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (504) 621-0966 (504) 621-0966
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In order to stress the importance of psychology and its distinctive and intricate attributes, here is an attempt to reveal the essence of the discipline of psychology. In doing this, this essay will answer: How does psychology’s mission add unique elements to the social sciences?
Social science has a number of different factors and is made up of many different disciplines which include geography, anthropology, psychology, political science, economics and sociology. Although some of these disciplines have been researched and developed more thoroughly than others, psychology may be argued as being the most prominent. Psychology’s theories have been evolving for well over a century and are the subject of continuous debate in the academic world and beyond. The key factor that differentiates psychology from the other five social sciences is its individual humanistic focus. The study of psychology is based upon the human condition (who am I? why am I?) whereas the other five disciplines are focused on humans as a group (who are we? why are we?). It is this factor that separates psychology from the other social sciences.
The four main psychological theories to be discussed below are:
o Humanistic Psychology
Little value was giving to the discoveries of early pioneers of this social science until in 1900, when Sigmund Freud developed the first theories of psychology. Freud’s most fascinating theory was psychoanalysis which was based on observations made in his private practice in Venice. David G. Myers of Hope College in Michigan describes psychoanalysis as Freud’s theory of personality that attributes our thoughts and actions to unconscious motives and conflicts. The techniques Freud used to treat patients with psychological disorders were sessions to expose and interpret unconscious tensions. Freud used these sessions to analyze the dreams that his patients had, believing that dreams were the ultimate road to the unconscious. Although only a very small percentage of current psychologists follow Freud’s theories and clinical methods, they continue to resonate in the popular mindset often laying the foundations for more recent theories.
Shortly after publication of Freud’s psychoanalysis theory, Russian biologist Ivan Pavlov began publishing accounts of his experiments on animals involving conditioned response which researched conduct that was motivated by a series of rewards and punishments. Inspired by Pavlov’s experiments, John B. Watson founded the move of behaviorism shortly after World War One. Many believe Watson’s theory was a reaction to Freud’s often controversial psychological theories. In any case, Behaviorism, like most psychological theories in the early years of discovery was thought to be a break-through in social science.
In the 1960s, a third wave of psychological theory came into play. Humanistic psychology has many differing theories yet a majority of humanistic theories conceive of personality developing continuously over time. Psychologists of the humanistic revolution derived much of their inspiration from the humanities. In particular, Eric Erikson, who was influential in the humanistic movement, much of the enthusiasm surrounding humanistic psychology was due to the lack of humanism found in earlier theories such as psychoanalysis and behaviourism. Humanistic theorists believed that past theories had overlooked a meaningful part of human experience: humanity’s need for love, self-esteem, belonging, self-expression, creativity and spirituality.
As technology became increasingly stronger in the 1990s, many psychologists turned their attention back to science. Now they had the ability to thoroughly research why our bodies accounted so much for who we are. This was a very different view from the humanistic psychologists who believed that the experiences people faced in life constantly shaped and molded them. Biology became very sophisticated and research was undertaken to find out just how humans developed the way they did. Bio-psychology revolutionized psychology with biologically based rationales for behavior and new therapies for treating patients.
In conclusion, this article adds weight to the hypothesis that psychology’s mission to further develop the social sciences using the applied knowledge of how the human mind operates. Psychology enhances the study of geography, anthropology, political science, economics and sociology by understanding the unique elements of the mind and applying this knowledge to group behaviors. We are, to a certain extent, the product of our genetic and cultural influences and psychology allows us to explore the unseen recesses of the human mind. There are no real facts, just theories and thoughts about the mental processes that the human mind goes through. The study of psychology offers itself as the ultimate social science for the benefit of our society.
Mathew Simond is a journalist and copywriter. He is also a webmaster of many websites including http://www.psychologycolleges.net and http://www.religiousstudiesonline.org He aims to provide healthy information and advice on academic degrees.
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On the need to differentiate between the structural and functional aspects of the psychology of art…
The psychology of art is a complex topic and this description serves only as an introduction to a ‘developing’ field of study. Psychology forms the basis of many aspects of life and art or expression of art in any form and especially through sculpture and painting is also based on psychological theories and understanding. The relation between psychology and art is almost inevitable; there can be no art without psychology and vice versa. The artist begins with a blank canvas on which he/ she projects his or her own psychological being and art remains as the medium of such projection. Thus art can best be defined as a medium through which an artist or creative individual projects his or her feelings and frustrations and deeper psychological necessities. This way art is intricately linked to psychology. Yet the psychology of art as a formal discipline has not found extensive recognition and has only very recently gained popularity in western universities.
The psychology of art is however a fascinating field of study as it analyzes the core of creativity and provides explanation for the mental processes of the artist in particular and the creative individual in general. Yet interestingly, psychology of art is not just limited to understanding the mental processes of the artist but also the mental processes involved in perceiving the art. Thus a psychology of art provides explanation and understanding of the phenomena of creativity, the mental processes of the artist, as well as the thought processes of the perceiver. It is comprehensive in its approach not only because of its range of explanation but also because art psychology involves explanations from different branches of psychology such as Gestalt psychology of perception, psychology of form and function/order and complexity, Jungian psychoanalysis, the psychology of attention and Experimental psychology as well as Freudian symbolism.
The psychology of art is interdisciplinary, successfully integrating art, architecture, philosophy (metaphysics and phenomenology), aesthetics, study of consciousness, visual perception, and psychoanalysis. From philosopher John Dewey to psychoanalyst Carl Gustav Jung, intellectuals of the 20th century influenced the emergence of a psychology of art that seemed to have moved beyond the mind processes of the artist to include the process of creation and also its perception examining art from biological, social, psychological and philosophical perspectives. Dewey and Jung both influenced the study of art within social and cultural contexts and are largely responsible for the understanding of art in its present form.
Art is obviously a creative process and is thus a deep psychological process as well. Art could well be explained with the theory of perception and as a cognitive process. The Gestalt theory of visual perception would offer one of the foremost explanations on art creation and perception. The Gestalt theorists were the 20th century psychologists who systematically studied perceptual processes in humans and some of the famous Gestaltists were Wolfgang Köhler, Kurt Koffka, Max Wertheimer, and Kurt Lewin. The principles of perception as given in Gestalt psychology focused on proximity or contiguity, similarity, continuity, closure, area/symmetry and figure and ground.
Thus Gestalists described perception as a process that involved not just the object but also the context as perception of objects is affected by what surrounds these objects so to Gestaltists, things are always ‘more than the sum of their parts’. As art is also primarily about perception, our perception of any art object would depend on these Gestalt principles as well and we tend to see continuity or closure or even perceive movement in static objects. Gestalt psychology has been used extensively to describe and understand ‘visual illusions’. For example, objects which are situated closer to each other will be perceived as forming a group. If you’ve seen some of these pictures that explain the principles of Gestalt, you’ll quickly understand that there is more to art than simple brush strokes; art is as much a process of perception (including illusion) as it is a process of creation. If an artist successfully creates a visual illusion, he is almost like a magician. Yet art has several dimensions in its study and explanation and from Gestalt understanding of form and structure that provides a ‘structural’ explanation of the organizational principles of art, we have to understand the ‘functional’ features of art as well. This in turn is provided by psychoanalysis and symbolism.
In the early 20th century Sigmund Freud pioneered the study of art in its psychoanalytic form by considering the artist as essentially a neurotic who deals with his psychic pressures and conflicts through his creative impulses. Freud was interested in the ‘content’ or subject matter of art that reflected the inner conflicts and repressed wishes of the artist and art to Freud as to any psychoanalyst today is considered as essentially a projection of the artist’s mind and thought process. Freud believed that unconscious desires and fantasies of the artist makes way from the internal and manifests as the external on canvas through art. Thus if an artist fantasizes about beautiful virtuous women, he paints angels in heaven as a sort of ‘sublimation’ of his deeper wish. Thus any art work is directly related to the artist’s inner world and his unconscious regions of the mind.
One school of art that was directly influenced by the Freudian theory and directly manifests the unconscious is Surrealism which began in the early 20th century, initially as an offshoot of a cultural movement, Dadaism. Surrealism emphasizes on the integration of art and life and with psychoanalytic influences focuses on the unconscious desires. From the psychology of Jacques Lacan to the philosophy of Hegel, Surrealism was largely shaped by philosophy, psychology and cultural changes and has been one of the most revolutionary movements in the history of art.
Some of its famous proponents were André Breton and more recently Salvador Dali. In fact Dali’s work could be seen as almost a visual representation of Freud’s emphasis on dream analysis, unconscious desires as well as hallucinations and free association. Sexual symbolism, an important part of Freudian analysis has been extensively used by surrealists. Freud and surrealism highlighted a closer link between madness, sexuality and art but this sort of portrayal met with some opposition as well. On the other hand, Carl Jung’s psychoanalysis and emphasis on art as a form of cultural expression was more acceptable to some artists and Jung remains as the most influential psychoanalyst in art history with his optimistic and constructive portrayal of art. According to Jung, art and other forms of creative endeavor could access the ‘collective unconscious’ and provide considerable insights on not just the process of creativity but also the cultural elements in the mind that are carried across generations. In Jungian psychology art as a psychological process would be an assimilation of the cultural experiences of the artist so it is accessible to an wider community.
Thus the psychology of art as it develops to a major discipline and area of study could be considered as having two distinct branches -
o Structural Psychology of Art – that which emphasizes on the ‘structural’ aspects of perceiving art through form, organization as understood with Gestalt principles and general emphasis on structure, also with the principles of physiology and visual perception
o Functional Psychology of Art – that which emphasizes on art as a creative process representing the ‘functional’ aspects or mental dynamics of the artist, the content rather than the form and could be understood with the insights of psychoanalysis and phenomenology.
The structural branch relates mainly to the perceiver and the process of perception of art and the functional branch relates to the artist and the process of creation of art. Both these dimensions would be equally important and complement each other in a comprehensive conceptual psychology of art.
Reflections in Psychology – Part I – by Saberi Roy (2009)
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Baby psychology and parent psychology are interconnected
We have much to learn about baby psychology and positive parenting. What typically goes on subconsciously and psychologically between babies and their parents is extremely influential and often negative and shocking.
Trauma in the Womb
Most babies spend much of their time before birth in parent-related emotional trauma. The trauma is parent-related and parents are consciously unaware of the fact that their negative psychological energies are hurting their unborn babies. Positive parenting and positive parent psychology go hand-in-hand.
Parents, and how they choose to think, feel, and deal with their negative thoughts and feelings greatly affect the quality of how an unborn baby and infant feels and acts on a daily basis. A mother or father’s subconscious state is most basic, real, and, unfortunately, also most negative. Unborn babies and infants primarily relate and strongly react to their parents’ negative subconscious intentions, attitudes, thoughts, and feelings.
Understanding the Subconscious
Every selfish person has unnaturally “split” him or her self psychologically. We function from two levels of awareness, intention, choice, thought, feeling, action, and reaction. We function consciously and subconsciously simultaneously, usually in very different ways. We “split” in order to hide our selfish and unloving intentions, feelings, and actions from others and our own conscious selves.
A person’s subconscious intention and choice override any conscious intention or choice. That is revealed when a person consciously strives to change or accomplish something, yet, continuously relapses into old ways, or fails to achieve conscious objectives. When selfish (as we all are choosing to be to varying degrees) our subconscious is the place from which we make our most negative and destructive choices. The subconscious is also the truest indicator of a person’s intentions, choices, attitudes, thoughts, and feelings.
Parent psychology-baby psychology
The quality of parent psychology has an enormous influence on baby psychology and well-being. Embryos, fetuses, and infants are extremely sensitive, aware, and vulnerable to negative psychological energies. They are constantly being impacted on and pressured by their parents’ negative psychological energies, i.e. the energies of their parents’ selfish intentions, attitudes, choices, thoughts, feelings, and reactions.
Unborn babies are mentally and emotionally aware humans, capable of understanding, reacting, and communicating in primitive and natural ways. By six months in the womb, scientists have confirmed that fetuses are as psychologically sophisticated as one-year old infants.
The most important communications unborn babies and infants have with their parents take place subconsciously–their parents are usually consciously not aware of what is happening while these psychological exchanges are occurring.
Negative agreements – Personal gods
Unborn babies enter into significant and far-reaching negative agreements with their parents who have selfish expectations and make selfish demands on them. Most unborn babies end up negatively agreeing with their parents expectations and demands out of fear or selfish desire. In that way, they turn their parents into “personal gods.” Those selfish deals are wrong, they lead a child to act and react in destructive ways, rather than be as they know is the right way for them to be.
Inwardly and outwardly, babies who acquiesce to selfish parents end up feeling a variety of negative feelings. They become afraid, insecure, angry, frustrated, resentful, rebellious, and guilty. The perils caused by parental negative psychological energies are as serious to the well-being of unborn babies and infants as are physical perils such as a mother’s poor diet, lack of proper exercise, substance abuse, or environmental perils such as chemicals and pollution.
Trauma in the womb
Unborn babies and infants usually become caught up in the selfish power struggles and suppressed conflicts that rage between their selfish parents. Many babies are not wanted from the start, and at least one parent feels resentful and competitive toward them.
Our sensitive, perceptive, and vulnerable babies are frequently experiencing emotional pain. They feel threatened and alone most of the time. They are mentally, emotionally, and physically ravaged by caustic selfish subconscious parental psychological energies.
An extremely selfish parent creates a harsh psychological environment that sets a baby up for distress and selfish reactions. Those reactions become destructive agreements and behavior patterns that will plague them throughout their lives. When babies, themselves, grow to become parents, if not properly dealt with, those destructive selfish behavior patterns and selfish reactions will hurt their own children. Round and round will go the cycles of family abuse and pain. 
Read more free articles about baby psychology, parent psychology, and positive parenting by Neil Mastellone.
Explore insightful, free, fascinating, clairvoyant full-length case study profiles of unborn babies and their parents by Neil’s co-researcher Jean Mastellone
Jean details subconscious exchanges between babies and their parents long before a child acquires verbal communication skills.
Find out about Jean Mastellone and her unusual clairvoyant ability at http://www.babyparentbuzz.com/about-inner-profiles.htm
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The various aspects of social psychology could be examined within the wide concepts of intelligence, gender, advertising, consumer culture, stress and psychological issues that define society. Considering consumer behaviour, social psychology uses convincing theories to explain addictive consumption, the influence of advertising and the phenomenon of purchasing. Advertising is seen as a subtle psychological manipulation as it creates desires and anxiety in the potential consumers (Papers4you.com, 2006).
Advertising can have both psychological and commercial aspects including misattribution, bias, suggestibility, and could be studied from global or local perspectives. Organisational consumption is seen as different from individual consumption although generic psychological theories of human motivation such as that of Maslow and Freud can explain consumer behaviour. However consumer behaviour can also be studied in terms of the notion of quality and its relation to customer satisfaction (Silva et al, 2005).
The objective measures of customer needs, pricing and expectations of the customers may have to be analysed within Service Quality or Expectations models. Hogg and Garrow (2003) highlighted on the psychological aspects of gender and the influence on consumption of advertising. Advertising has been found to be processed and interpreted differently according to gender schemas and perceptions. This would in turn relate to psychological theories of gender such as the theory of biological determinism, Freudian theory of personality development, cognitive-developmental theory, and feminist theories.
Bridging the gap between gender studies and gender differences in consumption could provide us with new insights on social and psychological aspects of consumer behavior. Orth (2005) indicated that consumer behaviour largely depends on consumer personality and susceptibility to interpersonal influence, consumer situational disposition such as risk taking and curiosity, purchasing behaviour and purchasing frequency and demographic variables such as age and gender. Contemporary consumer culture could be studied in relation to an excessive emphasis on beauty and appearance and an obsession with youth, a phenomenon that has seen an increased dependence on cosmetic surgery. The increased importance of the body in the consumer culture could be studied along with the significance of appearance in modern society, the role of marketing and advertising images, and the psychological need for self-expression (Papers4you.com, 2006).
Social psychology is however focused not just on consumption and public attitudes on advertising, but also on group behaviour, general individual and collective attitudes towards various social issues including war, work, violence and quality of life. This would in turn explain how individuals deal with stress, and focus on the psychological consequences of stress. Although psychological disorders may in some cases be a direct result of social stress, deviant behaviour in society could be explained with the help of several theories such as the theory of subcultures by Parker, the structural strain theory by Merton, or the theory of conformity. Social psychology is thus focused on explaining a wide range of issues from advertising and consumer behavior to public attitudes on social issues and antisocial behaviour.
Hogg M.K.; Garrow J. (2003) Gender, identity and the consumption of advertising Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal, Volume 6, Number 3, June, pp. 160-174(15)
Orth, Ulrich R.(2005) Consumer personality and other factors in situational brand choice variation The Journal of Brand Management, Volume 13, Number 2, November, pp. 115-133(19)
Papers For You (2006) “P/M/510. Advertising: means of psychological manipulation”, Available from http://www.coursework4you.co.uk/sprtpsy3.htm [22/06/2006]
Papers For You (2006) “P/M/646. Causes of addictive consumption in modern society”, Available from Papers4you.com [21/06/2006]
Silva Jr, Nelson da; Lírio, Daniel Rodrigues (2005) The postmodern re-codification of perversion: On the production of consumer behavior and its libidinal grammar International Forum of Psychoanalysis, Volume 14, Numbers 3-4, Number 3-4/December, pp. 217-223(7)
Copyright 2006 Verena Veneeva. Professional Writer working for http://www.coursework4you.co.uk
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Child development psychology is the study of why and how children change over time. Researchers who study child development issues are called developmental psychologists. In child development psychology there is an attempt to identify and describe a child’s behavior and explain why a child develops in a particular way.
Child development psychology also uses behavior intervention in an attempt to direct a child’s behavior in a positive way.
One of the important goals of child development psychology is to identify and explain certain behavior patterns of children, as well as describe the most probable way that child is most likely to grow and develop. Child development psychology makes it possible to identify if a child is not meeting his developmental milestones, and then suggest ways to get the child back on the right track.
A major goal in child development psychology is to explain why developmental changes take place in children. Child psychologists use three types of explanations to explain a child’s behavior, which are behavior explanations (a child’s genetic inheritances) psychological explanations (involving a child’s personality, and their wants, needs and motivations) and social explanations (the impact a child’s environment has on his development.)
Once a child development psychologist has described and explained a child’s behavior they compare this with information gathered from descriptions of other children. This allows the professional to determine if a child is growing and developing at a normal rate.
It also allows professionals to recognize and identify developmental delays in a child, and intervene so that a child is supported and given the intervention she needs to support her unique growth and development.
The scientific method that is used to study child development involves five steps. Child development psychologists observe a child’s behavior, and then predict the outcome of that behavior based on past studies. They test their hypothesis through observations, interviews and case studies, and then they draw a conclusion based on the results of their test results. The final step is to publish their findings, so that others can analyze the results.
In an attempt to understand a child’s growth and development there are some ongoing theoretical and philosophical controversies in child development psychology. One of those controversies is the nature/nurture controversy. This is a debate centering on which influence has the most effect on a child’s behavior; nature (their genetics) or nurture (their environment).
Another controversy in child development psychology is the maturation/ learning controversy. This is a debate that questions whether a child’s behavior has changed because he has biologically matured or because he has learned a new skill. A behaviorist is a child development psychologist who believes that learning is the most important influence on a child’s development.
The activity/passivity controversy debates whether a child learns in a passive way, as a result of the environment they are presented with, or because they actively seek out learning experiences.
Research is done in child development psychology for different reasons. Basic research in child development psychology is research done in order to add to our knowledge of child behavior.
Applied research in child development psychology is done in order to solve a particular child development problem. Both of these forms of research are essential so that we can continue to understand how our children grow and develop.
Mary Boakyewaa is publisher and co-owner of http://www.child-development-guide.com — a website for the development of children from birth to teens offering helpful tips and advice for parents, early year’s professionals, and students.
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In recent years psychology has tried to uplift the human spirit with lots of popular psychology terms such as, “Positive Psychology” or the numerous books released to tell the masses how to behave to lead a fulfilled successful life from talking about parachutes, ten steps to something, the mired of “how to” titles and much more. Most are nothing but misguided pop psych or a fad of the moment. Can life be as easy as reading the right book and following some basic concepts and everything is going to be OK for you and me? This paper is different, we shall explore the “Dark” side of the human mind – that part that sees disengagement, destruction, vile acts as part of the everyday human psyche that emerges in us all from time to time – that part that finds excitement, glee and pleasure in the dysfunctional part of our existence. How can society reconcile with its dark side? I use the word insane to refer to those in society who oppose the social norm.
First let’s examine how we can identify the “Dark Side” of psychological thought and behaviour. We need a measure, to know, what is normal and what is considered abnormal behaviour. Our first measure is social norms; this means in any society of what is considered normal everyday behaviour given a set of circumstances that confront our perception. For example in Western culture to strike another person violently is considered a criminal act and one that is repulsive to a peaceful society. However we condone violence when the person is given societal permissions such as a soldier in the act of war, a policeman in the act of apprehension of a dangerous criminal, a citizen defending his family from a serious threat from another person. These double standards can be misinterpreted in many ways. The soldier who commits war crimes such as genocide, the policeman who uses violence to intimidate a witness while interviewing them or the citizen who violates another persons rights in order to further their own position in some way.
The second measure is a moral one? How do we as a society decide what is right and wrong, who has the power to decide these rights, do laws follow moral conviction or do they become protection of the weak against the strong or the rich against the poor? Most societies agree that killing another human being is against a moral code – it is simply wrong to kill and should be punished by an act of equal severity, by the society that supports the moral legal stance imposed on the masses by its law-makers. To most societies this has been a religious code of conduct such as the 10 commandments of the Christian faith and other such codes from Buddhism to the Muslim Koran. Faith in divine reward and punishment are reflected in the legal language and laws seen as the bedrock of any civilized nation of people. Having accepted these rules why then do people readily deviate from these morals, laws and religious guidelines that allow us all to live in a peaceful society governed by agreed principals of behaviours that protect the individual from danger, hurt and abuse?
The third area of behaviour is that not set down in law or religious concepts but those everyday sets of behaviour the English would refer to as, “manners” or being “polite”. The conduct or way of acting that conforms to behaviour accepted as that of a superior member of a society who knows how to conduct themselves in the company of others to a set of standards that are seen as the mark of an advanced civilization. These can sometimes be seen in the etiquette of table manners or a man opening a door for a woman and allowing her to pass first, the recognition of man’s duty to protect and defend women. Today in some cultures women’s rights have cast doubt of manners towards woman as sexist and therefore demeaning to a woman’s independence. Never-the-less manners are seen as the mark of being well-bread and in the upper echelons of a society whether they are traditional Englishness or a Japanese tea ceremony.
Having set out societies differing ways of measuring behaviour either through, law, morals or social acceptable norms humans still manage a wide range of dysfunctional behaviour that often impacts on and influences others to the point where the perpetrators of this behaviour see themselves outside the law, moral codes and etiquette of the rest of society. Sometimes through the feeling of guilt we all recognise when we have transgressed those rules that we see as essential to a well ordered civilization. However there are those other people who feel nothing when faced with dealing out violence, destruction and death against others as merely their right to live without those rules and the freedom to live a life that is determined by nothing more than what they wish to own, possess or destroy.
What posses the man who kicks the dog, when he is frustrated by society that pens his existence. What feelings does he release at that moment when the dog screeches and howls in pain and fright? Why does he smile and wish further harm to the dog and enjoy the sight of an animal in pain? On-lookers feel outraged by his behaviour and sympathy for the defenceless dog for which this man has sought to treat cruelly and without remorse. Who is this man? Why he is all of us from time to time. We all lose our sense of psychological calm and rational thoughts as we grapple with life’s unfairness or lack of opportunity. On the other hand – wait – for this man is wealthy, has all his needs fulfilled, yet still feels great delight in kicking and watching the dog suffer at his hands. A sense of power at his ability to inflict pain and the pleasure at feeling superior to other lesser humans whom he sees as incapable of taking what they want and so end up his employees and servants. This superior positional thinking leads to a lack of sympathy or empathy for others as only fools who accept the dominance of his kind as leaders and law-makers.
The above example is too give an insight into a behaviour that breaks our three measures of social norms, law (hurting a defenceless animal) moral (the taboo on senseless behaviour seen as wrong doing) socially acceptable behaviour, (while everyone might lose their temper and kick their dog, most will feel pangs of guilt and remorse). Here however we meet people who feel no guilt, no remorse and see themselves as exempt from laws they do not agree with. In England fox-hunting was a cruel sport mostly carried out by intelligent, professional, wealthy men and women? Yet these same people claimed a right to hunt and destroy a defenceless animal for nothing more than a good time as seeing their hounds rip apart and devour a fox. Even though the majority of English people voted on numerous occasions to ban this sport it took several years of campaigning to get this put into law. Now fox-hunting is an illegal activity however these same people continue to flout the law and hunt under local by-laws that have yet to catch up with national lawmaking. These people know what they are doing is illegal, immoral and against social norms as defined by majority opinion. Yet they claim they are superior parts of society and therefore above the day to day moral concerns of the ordinary masses. The surprising thing is in England these people are members of parliament, police, judges and others who control aspects of society in England such as estate owners (land given often by Royal consent in the past by robbing the rightful land of the poor). In others words the very people who should set an example to society are the same ones flaunting the law and socially acceptable behaviour.
In another example we have to look at the criminal. Criminals are often seen as the rejects of society as they have come from flawed backgrounds, disadvantaged families and poor parental upbringing. Yet in society the largest harm done to the public is often from corporate crime such as pension fund embezzlement, stocks and shares insider trading and theft of assets and wealth by CEO’s and government officials. This so-called white-collar crime is often undetected and the hardest to bring to justice. Everyday criminals are more visual to the public as their crimes cause localised distress and make the media cry for police action and civil authority action. Therefore most laws are about visual crime that is easy to understand and comprehend. Punishment of visual crime is also straight forward and dealt with everyday in our courts and media. How do we distinguish between the two types of criminal – the so-called victimless crime of white collar criminals who see no direct victim or the murderer who during an armed robbery kills and maims those who oppose his will to steal what he wants from society and the distress they leave behind?
So what does psychology have to say about the deviants who do not see their actions as a problem to themselves and feel others who do not take control of their lives as weak and therefore deserve to be victims of those who are smarter, stronger or more powerful? The media often cries about the passive masses that accept the status quo and in the same paper would condemn the local person who took the law into their own hands perhaps to avenge some wrong-doing against them or their families? The first area that psychology expounds the reasons behind this dark behaviour of others is “developmental” that upbringing is at the route of this behaviour, that the dog kicker was not loved or cared for in the correct manner. That during their formative years they were subject to cruelty, sexual abuse or lack of social education. That the same transgressors were victims of bullying at school and therefore need to act-out their own frustration on those in society that are weaker than themselves. The question we have to pose here is why some victims, in fact most, go onto being law-abiding citizens and it is only the few that turn into the monsters who kill and maim for reasons of developmental mistakes? At this point many scientists like to point to a genetic factor in behaviour. This old chestnut has been around for some time now. There is evidence amongst violent criminals that they often possess an extra Y chromosome (men) that gives them a high amount of testosterone leading to violent outbursts towards frustrating situations in which they use terror and fear as the key to getting what they need. However as a percentage of violent criminals this is statistically minute even though in the general prison population this may be higher. All genetic research so far has lead to speculation about genetic factors but with no firm evidence to back up the claims. The most often sited evidence is that from twin studies where twins separated at birth have high incidences of similar behaviour and outcomes. Again as a percentage of twins born and studied this evidence is weak for genetic determinism and high for developmental environments being similar and twins experiencing environments that are so accord that it is more likely to be a surprise if they did turn out differently from each other. So if we remove developmental outcomes, genetic predispositions then what makes some people flaunt socially acceptable behaviour and some who comply to everything society demands of them? This then is the propositional position that makes psychology hard to always see as a positive view or a deterministic way of the world and that in fact maybe it is in fact that normal behaviour amongst humans is to be cruel, deceitful, violent and tendency towards criminal behaviour under a variety of circumstances. Those morals are a luxury of a settled society where everyone is equal both economically and in caste or class.
The Psychology of the Survivalist:
There are those particularly in the USA that see the end of society as a real possibility whether they advocate nuclear annihilation (today more likely bio-warfare) or the breakdown of capitalism leading to social chaos and civil strife. These people are often referred to as survivalists. They store weapons against the uncontrollable hordes that would roam the country in the event of civil breakdown and food for the possibility of shortages caused by economic meltdown. (Looking at 2009 in the USA many survivalists would argue they in fact have a good case). The survivalists believe the have a basic right to defend themselves and their families in the case of societal breakdown and lack of protective laws. On occasions these groups come into conflict with existing legal statutes that become enforced by federal authorities such as the FBI. Therefore the survivalist’s mentality is while on the one hand in conflict with society and in the other seen as a genuine attempt at controlling ones own fate against future disasters. After all insurance companies survive just on that premise alone – and ironically would be the first not to survive an economic breakdown of capitalism as seen by the failure of many banks in 2008/9 around the world. Today the most popular movies at the box office are disaster films, those where flood, sun-flares, bio-warfare, alien invasion and other catastrophes cause the social breakdown of society. The heroes of these movies are always the resourceful survivalists who through violence protect their kin from all-comers. Why do the public find these people as attractive, as hero’s and yet the real survivalists are vilified as public enemies of the status-quo? Judging by the success of these movies ordinary people recognise that the breakdown of society is something that may happen or is if fact inevitable. So they look to these movies as a type of hope for another future that may come about by the demise of their own everyday world.
Psychology as Evolution:
In human history all people started out as survivalists as hunter gatherers roaming the land looking for easy accessible animals for food and warmth. As time goes by we see these societies settle into agro-cultural settlements that create rules, laws, leaders and a moral code. As they develop and grow these settled societies create art, music and religion to compensate for a limited existence within the constrictions of the very society they have formed. From these beginnings land and property become important. The possession of goods and chattels becomes essential to growth. As time goes by these settlements become villages, towns and cities which eventually form countries with boundaries. Survival becomes now the group and not the individual as was human’s natural instincts from the beginning of time. However eventually all these societies fade and crumble away. Some for unknown reasons such as the Mayan and other South American civilisations. Most fail as they grow into empires who dominate the weak with a version of their own laws and religions. However one thing history teaches us all is that societies do disappear for all sorts of reasons. (Greek, Roman, Egyptian in the ancient world and British, French, German and Japanese empires in the modern world). All of these societies had one thing in common they did not envisage their own demise. In today’s world a European and American could not imagine the fall of the EEC or the USA yet these new modern empires have their own Achilles heal, “Capitalism”. Although Karl Marx saw the evils of capitalism and its eventual failure he could not have seen how it would grip the modern world to such a point that wars over oil and gas would dominate the 21st century. Marx however would probably laugh with glee at the failure in 2009 of the banking system based on greed and debt around the first nations of the planet. Most of the failures can be contributed to mismanagement but in fact it was a loss of confidence in the financial system by ordinary people that caused a rush on funds and inability to service crippling debt through high interest rates and little return on investments. When people panic they go into survival mode – they look after themselves first.
The Dark Side Conclusion:
At this junction it is time to conclude from these observations that social norms, laws and morals are actually “not normal” for human beings and that society often forces group behaviour based on what the powerful want over the powerless. That in fact survivalist mentality is our norm and that what society tries to do in fact is control the wild beast in every human by training them from an early age to obey the laws, rules and morals of the controlling group, usually the rich, who dominate our governments and institutions. Therefore should we condemn those that feel society is not offering them a fair deal – which in fact they should take what they need in order to survive an often hostile environment where privilege depends on your school, family or wealth? Psychology itself needs to come out of the closet and admit that normal human behaviour is to oppose rigid societies and rules? That in fact people resent society but because they are powerless against those who control law-making and morality they feel certain helplessness in trying to live amongst the sheep. Is it any wonder then occasionally a lone individual takes it into their own hands to change society or their own environment in order to live a more free self-controlled existence away from the rigours of societies that as we have seen all eventually breakdown and reinvent themselves as the new rich and powerful take control once again. In the last century we saw China go from a Empire ruled by depots to a military regime controlled by the rich and powerful, to transform itself into a communist stare of the 1950′s where Marxism would determine a fair life for all and eventually to the China of today as a capitalist socialist state based on a ruling party that determines the lives of the powerless populace, that in fact fought for the rulers to lord over them much as the Emperor of old – nothing changed except the rich and powerful.. Will another revolution occur in China in the future – at the moment it looks unlikely despite the unrest in many parts of China by minorities forced to comply with central rule. All empires cannot see their own demise! How will psychology then deal with this question of human behaviour as a basic survivalist mechanism, that in fact humans are naturally violent, cruel and dominating of others who are weaker than themselves? Psychiatry in mental hospitals is often seen as the agents of social control – if you do not agree with society and its rules then you must be insane – therefore you should be committed and controlled for the safety and benefit of all. Psychology on the other hand is seen as the liberating aspect of mental health – where we help those out of synch with society of find their place and fit back into what is considered normal behaviour for that group. Where will the answer be for those who rebel against the society they live in and want another way of existence with out the interference of the powerful and the freedom to live a life they choose as suiting themselves? Or do we wait – for the movies to come true – the disaster that awaits all humans and a return to a dog eat dog existence called survivalism – the real social norm!
End-note: I should as the author point out I am not advocating the American version of survivalists or any counter-revolutionaries in China or elsewhere nor do I condone actions against society that would lead to unhealthy outcomes. I do however recognise that societies change and fall often by what we term terrorists when they oppose our way of life and freedom fighters when they oppose a way of life that controls or restricts our personal freedoms. This as always is a philosophical question rather than a psychological one! I have not used the word evil in reference to human behaviour in this article as the connotation infers a religious outlook which I certainly do not possess.
Dr. Stephen Myler is from Leicester in England, an industrial town in the Midlands of the United Kingdom. He holds a B.Sc (Honours) in Psychology from the UK’s Open University the largest in the UK; he also has an M.Sc and Ph.D in Psychology from Knightsbridge University in Denmark. In addition to this Stephen holds many diplomas and awards in a variety of academic areas including journalism, finance, teaching and advanced therapy for mental health. Stephen has as a Professor of Psychology many years teaching experience in colleges and universities in England and China to post 16 young adults, instructing in psychology, sociology, English, marketing and business. He has been fortunate to travel extensively from Australia to Africa to the United Sates, South America, Borneo, most of Europe and Russia. Stephen’s favourite hobby is the study of primates and likes to play badminton. He believes that students who enjoy classes with humour and enthusiasm from the teacher always come back eager to learn more.
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At birth we are pure spirit in a tiny body. We come so very fresh from the Eternal Embrace of Love that with a gentle smile one can wonder where we left our wings. And we can also wonder what has become of our spiritual identity, why awareness of our eternal spirit has faded into the background of life experiences, and how our environment has shaped our natural spiritual presence.
In the reality known as “the human condition” this world of fearful ignorance begins early to define us, to tell us who we are, what we must think and feel, how we must act. Distracted from our real self, we learn to forget and before too long we begin to imagine who we are. Based on misinformation we unknowingly assume a false identity. We create an image of ourselves and this invention, known as the ego, becomes more and more real to us as ongoing experiences re-enforce its presence. The ego becomes “me”, and this “me” feels like a real person that must be protected. So we find ourselves developing ways to serve our needs.
You can see that building a plan of action based on misinformation will always lead to problematic outcomes, yet it continues to happen. This is where psychology comes into the picture. Our psychology is an internal process of self-concern driven by the defensive needs and postures of the ego. From this core definition, the discipline of Psychology established its exploration of human behavior.
The ego’s structure of interpretation is here to stay. Evolved out of the primitive instinct for self-preservation, it is an updated version of fight or flight, an evolved biological mechanism used for modern survival. Instinct designed for self-protection, once a reflexive, even automatic response mechanism that must have been used by primitive humans, has evolved into complex emotional and mental processes. We now possess a sophisticated structure of interpretation so self-involved that its strategies have morphed us beyond protection into pain and suffering. Finding ourselves trapped in the convincing logic that fear is a necessary attitude, arguing that without fear our imagined self would surely die, we are always concerned about our position in life, and we keep self-serving strategies and plans in motion. What to do?
The most we can hope for is a healthy well balanced ego that can be held in check. Good psychological therapy explores the origins of emotional pain, working to free the individual from his own ignorance, providing tools to change the direction of that particular life. The goal here is to awaken a healthy self-image. There are many degrees of physical and emotional wounding that cause a range of mental and emotional disorders, all are expressions of spiritual suffering. In our troubled part of the world more and more people seek assistance for their mental and emotional pain, however severe pathology often goes untreated or cannot be reversed.
Frequently the spiritually and psychologically unaware person cannot identify his distress, may not even recognize his own defense system, believes that attitudes, prideful adaptations, fears, desires, needs and reactions are the expression of the true identity. “That is who I am” you will hear. No, that is not who you are. It is understandable that one might believe this, but we are not this self-involved, psychological configuration. That façade hides our true, natural being. Self-ignorance deprives us of true happiness, often causes intense mental suffering and detracts the process of spiritual formation.
Saints and mystics and all others who embark on a committed spiritual journey become painfully aware of this psychological reality. Left to its own devices the ego will run our life in order to fulfill its needs and it will compromise our spiritual capacity for growing spiritual awareness. Its influence must be recognized and controlled. All who are dedicated to the inner journey learn how this construct is a hindrance.
But look at the challenge here. Disregarding the pressing issue of survival is difficult — it goes against what we have learned to believe — yet when we look beyond our psychological fears, strength flows out of our spiritual positioning, guiding and informing the path of Wisdom. The process of spiritual formation is one of growing awareness of our true Self, of our inner Wisdom. Our tightly braided relationship between psychology and spirituality must be understood and disciplined since the level of spiritual advancement is dependent upon the degree of psychological insight. Striving to develop our full human potential, we must always remember that the lifelong process of building spiritual insight will be involved with the ego’s self-serving structure of interpretation.
Mary K DeLurgio, MFT
Trusting the emerging process of inner wisdom and its schedule for insight and inspiration was a 25 year project completed now as Our Journey to the Sky – A Guide to the process of Spiritual Formation. During this extended period, Mary K DeLurgio led hundreds of personal journal keeping, self exploration workshops and classes. Observing the life process of these participants as well as her own has led to deep insight into the natural process of spiritual formation at work in the ordinary life of any human being. Currently, using her book as a manual, she is leading an ongoing group as they develop their spiritual awareness using journal writing techniques. She is a practicing psychotherapist living in Southern California with her husband and she is the mother of four sons. Carrying Spirit Forward
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