In her piece, "TYRANNY OF CLOTH DIAPERS," one Madeline Holler writes in support of Elisabeth Badinter's "The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women," whose quote I posted a few days ago. 

Not saying I agree with it all, folks, but I'm glad that the "sanctity" of motherhood, just like marriage, is being challenged.


Here's Frances: 

"Love your article. As a woman who chose not to have kids unless I knew myself and my partner had grown up enough and had the appropriate resources for parenting... I couldn't agree more!"

Here's PL: 

Glad to know you're out there, Frances. And thanks for commenting.



"The best parts of aging is thoroughly knowing yourself, truly not caring what others think, and enjoying the confidence and courage that come with decades of practicing life and finding out, remarkably, it mostly turns out okay."
Anna Quindlen, a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist and author of six novels

Well, I would amend Anna's quote above and say that "knowing yourself, truly not caring what others think, and having confidence and courage" can come at almost any age if one has done the work necessary to become self-actualized. Conversely, for many that have evaded the work and self-actualization, the aging process is not much fun.


The baby is the best ally of masculine domination.
Elisabeth Badinter, author of "The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women"

The book is described in the Daily Beast as "a vehement polemic against the over-parenting tactics of a new generation of young mothers, which loudly proclaims that French mothers were at risk of turning into what were essentially Park Slope mommy tyrants, coddling, co-sleeping, obsessing about organic diapers, breast-feeding into the toddler years—and in the process, tethering themselves to the home in a way not seen since the 1950s."

Nicely done, Elizabeth!

[NOTE: The above quote, including the reference to "Park Slope mommy tyrants" was not mine, but straight from the Daily Beast piece.]



Um...not sure why this woman gets a round of applause...She seems to see children as tools of patriarchal oppression...Um & she is weirdly against The La Leche League???...who advocate breast feeding. Um...whats her beef there? Anybody who is a fanatical anti breast feeding activist always appears to have some serious early childhood issues to work out. Of all the issues to march against???? 
Badinter just sounds like somebody who had to make do without getting her early narcissistic and body needs met....TOTALLY repressed them....Blamed her own baby self for having them...Grew up & became an accomplished, schizoid intellectual....and now she thinks all babies should toughen up & not burden their Mommies...Just like she did & just like she was taught. Furthermore I dont see how breast feeding should be lumped in the same pile as some of the other "trendy" Park Slopian Mommy obsessions. Badinter seems from my reading to view motherhood thru her own particularly narcissistic lens: Any CHILD seems far less important than making sure that women have TOTAL freedom from any kind of "domination" which, if you take it to its logical extreme, means never being forced to be there for oh...lets say...A CRYING BABY BOY! After all we can't ever allow any MAN to restrict a woman's rainbow of options and or choices can we? Even if said "man" is a male infant of 3 weeks old she CHOSE to bring into the world?? 
Motherhood AND Fatherhood require a certain level of narcissistic relinquishing dont they? And if someone doesnt want to suffer under the iron fist of such oppression there is a simple easy way to keep children from "holding you down"'T HAVE THEM!!! 

Here's PL:

Well, first of all, Witmaster, I didn't read anywhere in her piece that Elizabeth Badinter is against breast-feeding, but rather, as she put it, against "an obsession with breast-feeding well into toddlerhood." Very different things, and while witnessing a mother breast-feed an infant is a beautiful, natural event, watching a woman breast-feed a toddler is very disturbing, and I am saying that from the perspective of both a parent and an expert in childhood development. Secondly, with the right wing War on Women being waged today, including the movement to stop women from having access to birth control, I would say that we are far from women having the "TOTAL freedom" that you decry. Not all men, but certainly the throw-backs in the Republican Party, want women to be pregnant and powerless as they were politically in pre- 1970's America. Thirdly, the best mothers/parents are - across the board - the ones who put their own self-actualization first. We're not talking about narcissism here, but preparedness. Parenting is one of the most important and difficult jobs in existence, and most women, and men, enter into that critical "profession" without a clue, without being mature enough, wise enough or gratified enough as adults in their love and work-lives to do much more than rely on their children for ego gratification. Finally, where we agree, Witmaster, is that a good solution would be for women to stop having so many children, and for our culture to stop instilling in women the belief that bearing children is an essential role they must play to be women.
Glad we could end up agreeing and thanks for writing in.


There was a good piece on last October in the "Dear Prudence" column entitled: "Surviving Mommie Dearest: My abusive mother haunts my dreams. How can I move on?"

"Prudie" answers a letter from an adult survivor of childhood abuse. It is worth reading, and although I agree with the columnist's statements in response to the letter, I would add the major caveat that one cannot follow such advice unless some serious self-work has been done first to pave the way, not just a "a short-term tune up," as Prudie suggests. Oh, and I would also disagree with you, Prudie, in that I do think that the mother of "Stuck In My Head," for all intents and purposes, was the anti-Christ! (Prudie's response to SIMH is after my post here.)

Here's PL:

I believe it was Alexander Lowen who once proclaimed that "ninety-nine percent of all children are abused" in some way or another by their parents or primary caretakers. (Lowen, of course, was the famed psychiatrist who created Bioenergetics, the life-changing therapy approach that treats the whole person - mind, body and emotions - and coined the term "body language." Others subsequently added the spiritual aspect to Lowen's work and created Core Energetics.)

My three-plus decades of work as a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, along with my expertise at reading what Lowen called the "language of the body," leads me unequivocally to the realization that Lowen was right. So right that I have yet to meet a single individual in my professional or personal life that emerged from childhood unscathed by the emotional-psychological dysfunctions and distortions in their parents' personalities.

That being said, that there is an "abused child" in all of us, I would like to delineate how I see the parental abuse spectrum.

At the lower, less extreme end on this scale are those adults with kids who I would describe as the "Clueless Parents." They had children at a young age very often, before even remotely having the time to become even remotely self-actualized. They may have a lot of energy for their kids, but they lack the needed wisdom and life experience to be true guides for younger beings. While the basic physical needs of their children may be met adequately, their higher, quality of life needs are not. Also in this range are parents who are from, or are recent descendants of parents from, "old world" or Third World countries, where poverty, ignorance about childhood developmental, and the socially acceptable harsh treatment of children is the norm. Children from these kinds of moderately abusive situations tend to have difficulty growing emotionally and psychologically past the levels attained by their parents, even though they may do better professionally and financially than said parents.

Close by, but still more abusive than the Clueless Parents, are the "Park Slope Parents." Educated, professional, maybe even artistically inclined, these people had children, and often too many of them, to fulfill an image of themselves as successful according to their gender-specific identities. Excessively ego-driven, these parents had kids to act out a story line that in their imaginations would enhance their self-worth and value in society, would recreate or redeem their own childhoods, and worst of all, fill the void that only grows over time from not being truly self-actualized in love, Eros and sex, and in their creative lives. These are the narcissistic parents Alice Miller writes about in her landmark book, DRAMA OF THE GIFTED CHILD, and ironically, but predictably, the children raised by these parents end up gutted of a genuine sense of self and riddled by a desperate neediness and an exaggerated sense of entitlement.

Next up on the abuse ladder are the "Borderline Parents." Straddling the line, as the name implies, between everyday neurotic and narcissistic complexes and the netherland of transient psychosis, these apparently stable individuals usually function fairly well in society, though they will sporadically descend into substance abuse, sexual acting out, rageful outbursts and paranoid and labile emotional swings. The children of these parents often become "survivors," individuals with strong compensated personalities whose behavior is overly focused on taking care of the needs of others at their own expense, proving that they can do without over and over again. As adults, the children of borderlines are surprisingly good candidates for a healing psychotherapy experience, even though their parents are absolutely not. Perhaps it is because these children have developed an early capacity for self-reliance, which is exactly what a truly holistic psychotherapy promotes.

Finally, there are the parents we typically label as "abusive," what I will call the "Sociopathic Parents." Without the capacity for empathy, these parents are essentially psychotic. They see their children merely as objects, as players in their own delusional fantasies. To the sociopath, children can and should be systematically and relentlessly manipulated, exploited, imprisoned, brutalized, punished and in some cases, ultimately destroyed. If the children of these parents don't end up psychotic or dead, they will most likely have borderline features at best, or suffer from major depression at worst. It should be noted that those who do survive such abuse and become relatively healed at some point, speak to the existence of a powerful Higher Self at work.

Folks, unless you claim to be among the one-percent of us who indeed had genuinely self-actualized parents, and therefore, you are someone I've never met or even heard about, then there is an abused child lurking inside of you. And that child is interfering with your capacity to enjoy great love, Eros and sex, is blocking you from full creative expression of your personal gifts and talents, is derailing your efforts to maintain a vibrant, healthy body and is preventing you from truly knowing and being yourself. The good news is that regardless of which type of abuse you endured, with enough determination, you can heal, you can have the ultimate "revenge," which is a happy, healthy, wealthy and wise life!

More to come on this subject...

Here's Prudie's response to SIMH

"Dear Stuck,
Your mother is no anti-Christ; she’s just a sad, sick woman who’s hurt her children and made a hash of her life. Sure, she was a scarily overwhelming figure in your childhood, but a good step toward releasing her hold is to recognize how much you inflate this pathetic flyspeck of a person. Accept that she has no power over you anymore and that you can consciously work on diminishing her place in your psyche. When you were a girl, she and her boyfriends made your nights a real misery. But even if she’s still in your dreams, remember she’s no longer lurking down the hall. You emerged from this maelstrom of abuse and became a loving, productive person. Many are shattered by such a start in life, but through hard work, self-insight, and resilience, you made it. Start working at being nicer to yourself. It might help to recognize that some credit, too, must go to your lucky draw in the genetics department. Perhaps you have siblings who were more fragile than you and broke under your mother’s “care.” You were fortunate to be made of tougher stuff, so celebrate those good genes. Then acknowledge that no matter how much you may physically resemble your mother, she doesn’t inhabit you. Those are your hands, that’s your smile. Take steps to reclaim them. Sign up for a pottery or painting class and watch something beautiful emerge from your hands. Buy yourself a ring that gives you pleasure. Go to a department store cosmetics counter and get a makeover. Not to hide your face, but to bring out what’s unique about your own looks. Reconsider therapy, even if only for a short-term tune up. Tell potential therapists you aren’t seeking an open-ended discussion about your childhood, but want to work on practical ways to diminish the thoughts about your mother. After a bad dream comes, when you open your eyes, savor the realization that you’re a grown woman, in your own bed, next to your darling husband, and you’re free.


"Z" wrote in this question on the ORAL CHARACTER STRUCTURE:

"I really am this type...Can I fix it (as a problem) or just live with it?"

Here's PL:

Dear Z - Character structures can be "broken thorough," and ultimately dismantled, though scars may remain, but you really wouldn't want to "fix" one. The reason a character structure doesn't work for an adult is because, like the cocoon of a caterpillar (child), you outgrow it once you've become a butterfly (adult). How to go about the dismantling process begins with intention and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get free. If that is there, then pursuing a full spectrum, mind-body-spirit therapy will work.
Thanks for the question.
All my best,


"It's better to follow your life than to lead your life."


I have always been fascinated by Alexander Lowen's incredibly insightful thoughts on the subject of "terror versus horror," which he writes about in his landmark book: NARCISSISM: DENIAL OF THE TRUE SELF.

This seemed an appropriate follow-up to the matter of the "abused child" that Lowen claimed lives in 99% of us, a claim that I anecdotally agreed with in my recent post. (Not surprising, after I wrote that post, I received a number of disgruntled comments from people who claimed to be in that one-percent who experienced no abuse of any kind at the hands of their - presumably - completely self-actualized parents!)

As Lowen describes it, "terror" is our body's reaction to some kind of assault or direct threat to our personal well-being, and it evokes powerful emotions. "Horror," on the other hand, is our mind's reaction to witnessing something that presents a direct challenge to our perception of reality, something that doesn't compute, an event or series of events that at best cause confusion and at worst cause a mental dissociation in the observer.

As an example, a parent verbally or physically attacking a child will cause terror in that child, who in that moment is fearing for his or her life and limb. Yet, for that same child, witnessing a parent assaulting his or her sibling, or the other parent, or even a pet, will cause horror in the observing child.


Children innately presume that parents are not only all-knowing and all-powerful, but that they are also all-loving, especially to their children and to each other. When a child is being assaulted by a parent, the intenseness and direct terror of the experience engages the body's fight or flight mechanisms, followed by a release of emotions, so the analytic thought process is not immediately engaged. Afterwards, once the terror has subsided, the child, so willing to believe in its own badness as the cause of the parents' fury, feels able to "make sense" of the assault. It was their fault. One of the things I hear several times a day at least from patients is how they don't believe in their own deservedness of good treatment from others.

Sadly, the same child so willing to believe in their own badness, can't conceive of another loved one deserving abusive treatment. I have seen the horror in patients when describing the abuse inflicted on a sibling by a parent, even if it is just verbal. Likewise, when a child witnesses its parents hurling rageful, vitriolic assaults at each other, the reaction is one of utter horror and confusion. That is why so many children will literally attempt to draw the rage of their fighting parents onto themselves, and why they will subsequently blame themselves. Anything is better than witnessing the horror of supposed loved ones hating each other, even momentarily. It destroys the safety of their environment in their dependent state.

I have often mentioned in my writing that I can count on one hand the number of adult patients who report wishing that their divorced parents had stayed together, while I can't even count how many have said they wished their unhappy parents who stayed together had gotten divorced. To a child, witnessing their parents forcing themselves to live in a situation that is not vibrant with love, Eros and sex does not compute. It turns reality upside down. It is saying to the child, who intuitively knows better, that love and happiness are not actually the most important things in life. This causes horror and despair in the child, who is looking to its parents for examples of how to live and how to sustain love and happiness.

So, to all of you supposed "one-percenters" with parents who were self-actualized, in-love and happy, I say congratulations! To the rest of us, who were abused to varying degrees by our less-than-self-actualized parents, I say, keep focused on your healing process. There is light at the end of the tunnel.


A while ago, I posted a quote from an article by "experts" that declared that the G-spot does not exist.

Earlier this week came another "expert" study claiming that the vaginal orgasm doesn't exist.

REALLY?! What gives? I mean, have these "experts" ever actually had sex with a woman?? Or is this yet another salvo in the Republican "War on Women?"

Come on, fellas - do a little field work before you publish a study!


Here's another one you might have missed. Thought it was worth a repost.

Fear. It is perhaps the most crippling of all the so-called "negative" human emotions. Why? Well, first of all, ninety-nine percent of our fears are irrational. Right. That's a lot of crazy time. Nonetheless, it's true that most of our fears are a reaction not to any actual danger in the moment, but to possible dangers in a vague possible future. As a result, our ability to react flexibly to normal life situations in the present is greatly inhibited by irrational fears. They sap our energy levels and create tunnel vision, literally and figuratively. In addition, since the human psyche is always trying to self-correct, cleanse and heal itself of negative emotions caused by negative thoughts, we will end up attracting events that seem to meet the criteria of our worst fears in order to work them through.

Here's the Pathwork Guide, channeled by Eva Broch, saying it quite eloquently:

"As long as you have fear, it is sometimes inevitable that you experience what you fear in order to lose the fear. If fear can be shed by realizing the truth that there is no reason to fear, then it is not necessary to experience it. But you are often incapable of this insight, so you must familiarize yourself with the feared circumstances until they lose their threatening aspect."

Yes. This is one of the driving forces behind the "repetition compulsions" so many suffer from, those patterns of going through the same painful situations or relationships over and over. What the Guide is saying above is that part of the "goal" of the repetitions is to neutralize the fear of the situation being repeated. (That reminds me that in the 1970's, I had to watch "Jaws" about a dozen times before I was finally convinced that Roy Scheider actually killed that damn fish! And then, to top it off, that same summer, I finally got back in the water on an East Hampton beach to test myself in the ocean. True story. Yep. Refreshed and confident from a round of body surfing, I swam ashore to find... a dead shark on the beach!! YOW!!!)

There's more. If your motivations for the good things of life that you desire are covertly or overtly fear-based, you will again be thwarting yourself.

The Guide:

"As long as you want the positive mainly because you fear the negative, your fear barricades the way to the positive. If you want happiness because you fear unhappiness, happiness remains unreachable. If you want happiness for its own sake, and not because you fear its absence, nothing will block its attainment. And this is an enormous difference.

"Every aspect of living follows this principle. If you desire health in a spirit of fearing sickness, you prevent health. If you fear the aging process, you prevent eternal youth. If you fear poverty, you prevent abundance. If you fear loneliness, you prevent real companionship. If you fear companionship, you prevent self-containment. So it goes on and on."

This is why "positive affirmations" and other meditations meant to bring abundance don't work for so many people. (It was also kind of left out of "The Secret" DVD and book that so many millions latched onto. The producers sort of neglected to mention that in order to use the Laws of Attraction positively, you first have to surface and clear out the negative beliefs and intentions hidden below the surface of consciousness.)

The Guide again:

"The great enemy is fear, and the best way to meet and conquer this enemy is first to ascertain, admit, and articulate it."

In other words, folks, don't have fear of your fears. See them, embrace them, then challenge their validity, and finally exhale them out of your life and make room for abundance.

Then, you can jump the shark, too.


"Miracles are the result of nature unimpeded."


Here's L56:

"Well, the fallacy of the review doesn't just apply to Therapy! In my business [theater] it's par for the course. A show gets a bad review, but sells like hotcakes. A show gets a good review and closes in a month. I've been to shows that got amazing reviews and didn't like it and I've also been to shows and thought I was seeing the greatest show to hit New York only to realize the public AND the reviewers all hate it! I guess that's art... which leads me to believe that Therapy is more an art then a science."

Here's PL:

Point well taken, and well, I would agree that therapy might be more of an art, or... that perhaps art itself is a more advanced form of science.

Thanks, L56!


“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
Marianne Williamson


This is an interesting topic regarding psychotherapy that I actually don't think I've written about much lately on FPL, although it is a subject I certainly have talked about and thought about quite a bit.

In an editorial piece in the New York Times called "The Wrong Type of Talk Therapy," a psychologist, named KEELY KOLMES, worries that "consumer review sites like Yelp have the potential to harm both the provider and the patient" when it comes to reviewing psychotherapy.

How, or why, you might ask?

Well, according to Kolmes, because "psychotherapy services are special. If you wait an hour for an appetizer, chances are that other diners will have a similarly bad experience. But unless a therapist regularly falls asleep during sessions, patients’ experiences in psychotherapy are more subjective. A certain treatment might help one person but not another. Something that works for one patient at a particular point in therapy might not work for him later, when his needs change. What makes one patient upset enough to write a bad review might not bother — in fact, might even help — another."

Kolmes raises two good questions, questions that I grappled with a lot in the 1990's when my own private practice as a therapist really expanded into a full-time endeavor:

1. Can a patient objectively evaluate their own experience in therapy?

2. Why do some patients progress significantly in therapy while others do not?

Regarding the first question, I would have to say, ultimately, yes, a person in therapy can reliably evaluate their experience, but... it's complicated.

More people quit therapy than go the distance with it. Meaning a significant number of people jump ship on their healing process before they've gotten down to the core of their issues and really freed themselves up emotionally, psychologically and physically. Resistance is a powerful force, and overcoming it enough on a consistent basis to cross the barrier into self-actualization is a Herculean task at times. Of course, the pay-off is always worth it, but you don't totally know that for sure while you're in the midst of the painful excavating that is true healing.

When people quit therapy before they're "done," true, they often will rationalize: "It was too expensive." "I feel better spending the money on a trainer at the gym." "I just need to change jobs or move to a warmer climate." And yes, sometimes: "My therapist didn't really understand my problems."

But here's the thing - sometimes therapists suck! And not just the ones who fall asleep during sessions. Far too many therapist's egos are so involved in either "saving" their patients and/or feeling superior to those who seek their guidance, that said therapists cannot be the clear, empathic mirrors and guides their patients need (Both of those negative intentions, by the way, are for the purpose of artificially boosting the therapist's own flagging self-esteem)

And patients know the difference between their own rationalizations and the reality of having a problematic therapist... even when said patients are running from their own healing process.

Throughout my years of private practice, I would have to say that 80 to 90 percent of my patients had previously been in psychotherapy, or some other kind of healing process, with another practitioner, some for several years. They were coming to me because either the previous practitioner in question had unworked-on issues that interfered with the therapy. (Yes, patients know when you haven't done your self-work.) Or the patient had gone as far as that therapist was able to take them on their quest for self-actualization. (Yes, sometimes patients have a higher capacity for self-actualization than their therapist.)

Onto the second question: Why do some patients progress significantly in therapy while others do not?

This was a conundrum I pondered a lot back in the 90's. If similarly dedicated patients, with similar histories, working with the same therapist (me) were engaged in treatment for a similar length of time, shouldn't their progress be similar? You'd think so, but it's not so. Some really moved forward at a fast clip, some moved forward at a snail's pace and some didn't move at all.

Just as I was finally arriving to a conclusion that there must be a spiritual/energetic component to a person's personality that was determining the pace of their evolution, I came upon a book, "Upcoming Changes," by Joya Pope, that beautifully illuminated the answer, what she called, through channeled information, to be "Soul Ages." It was a revelation for me. The proverbial light bulb went on.

The descriptions in Pope's paradigm were so clear, and so clearly an answer to my questions about what can make one person so different from another in spite of apparent similarities in circumstances. I highly recommend reading these passages in case you also are wondering why people in your life seem to behave so inexplicably.

Anyway, folks, if your therapist falls asleep on you, and he or she is not employing a paradoxical technique, you might want to get a referral.


French poet Charles Pierre Baudelaire once said: “The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world that he doesn't exist.”

Well, now, the ever-corrupt and anti-therapeutic psychiatric establishment has decided that narcissism doesn't exist! Or more accurately, that it is so pervasive, maybe even "useful," that we should no longer consider it a personality disorder.

I'm not kidding!

The new edition being put together of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM V), the Bible of psychiatric diagnoses used by mainstream therapists who want to get insurance reimbursement, no longer includes "Narcissistic Personality Disorder" as a disorder. Why? Well, if you read the comments of the narcissists putting the manual together, it basically boils down to a schoolyard-level argument that goes something like this: Since so many people have it, it can't be a disorder.

I repeat: I'm not kidding!

Following the questionable logic, I guess, then, since so many people have cancer or are morbidly obese, we should declassify those manifestations of illness as well, no?

Oh, but wait! There's more! One Peter Freed, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, goes even further:

“Narcissism is not a disease,” says Freed. "It’s an evolutionary strategy that can be incredibly successful — when it works.”

When it works?!

When narcissism "works," Professor Freed, it's effect is to gut the afflicted individual of empathy, first of all, which turns all others in their lives into mere objects and sources of supply, and therefore makes having loving, mutually gratifying relationships impossible. Furthermore, narcissism condemns this deeply insecure person to a lifetime of relentless pursuit of validation and proof of value and importance, a fruitless endeavor because as soon as someone does give credence to the worthiness of the narcissist, the person giving the support is devalued. It's the old Groucho Marx joke: "I'd never wanting to belong to a club that would have me as a member." Or as a narcissistic patient of mine once put it: "I want to be the special person of a special person." (Problem is if said "special person" ever chose my patient, their specialness would dissolve.)

Thus is the actual life of a narcissist.

Anyway, I'm disgusted. Anyone who knows me and reads this blog knows that the rampant growth of narcissism has been one of my pet issues over the years. Just do a search for the word here and you'll find any number of posts on the subject. But we are at a dividing time on planet earth, folks. Linear, dualistic, 3rd-dimensional reality and 4th-density vibrational living are moving apart at an accelerated rate, and the fault line of the divide is becoming clearer and clearer. On one side, greed and need, isolation and separation - and narcissism - are solidifying as the human experience; on the other, oneness, conscious creating, self-actualization and harmony are taking root as the nature of reality.

Hey everyone - there's a window of opportunity right now to make the big leap across the divide with some extra support from the collective consciousness. You can always go later, but now would be a good time. I'll meet you over there.


This is a concept I came up with during the second year of my 3-year training program for Full Permission Living. Many people can seem very sure of themselves while they are predominantly living in a state of unreality, and some people may doubt themselves for feeling confused about things, when in fact they are much closer to the truth than the falsely confident are. One cannot skip steps to arrive at genuine clarity, and one cannot get there simply by acting sure of themselves.

One way that I’ve conceptualized the process of personal evolution has been as a kind of three-part movement, that being from false clarity to genuine confusion to genuine clarity.

Initially, when someone first arrives to an holistic therapeutic process, they are in a state that I’ve found myself thinking of as "false clarity." This is a frame of mind in which one’s personal belief systems are so firmly in place and embedded so far down in the subconscious mind that the person feels certain of their validity, rarely questioning them. From this place, people will frequently start sentences out with "I know…"

"I know that I can't only get what I want through the manipulation of myself and others."
"I know that if I am honest and assert myself directly, no one will like me."
"I know that if I acted strictly according to my desires, I’d be out of control."
"I know it’s impossible for Eros and passion to last in a relationship."
"I know that if I want something done right, I have to do it myself, because no one will ever be there for me."
"I know that to truly give to others means to sacrifice something of what I want."

And so on…ad infinitum. There are many, many such axioms or beliefs with variations and derivatives aplenty. (In my class on beliefs, and in each of the character structure classes, I presented a more extensive list of some of the more common beliefs that we run our lives by.)

Since these beliefs are not doubted for the most part, the person initially coming for therapy is seeking ways to better cope with what are accepted as the harsh “realities" of their life. Much energy has been invested in trying to find better and better ways of manipulating the self and other people to "get what I want". To that end, a person will develop what some theorists have referred to as "masks" ("personas", according to Carl Jung), or false selves, constructed to present to the world in order to attain sought after praise, recognition, love or substitutes for those things. Indeed, many come to therapy looking to polish up their masks so they might "work better", and are surprised to find out that a key part of the real self work is, in fact, to expose and "take off" the masks.

One of the first endeavors in a person’s unfolding process, then, is to begin uncovering the embedded beliefs behind the masks, and challenging their validity, thereby confronting the false clarity they offer as a substitute for real knowingness and security. It is not easy. Indeed, if you believe something so thoroughly, you will invite, create or only be able to see that very thing in your life most of the time, so its reality will seem absolute. And, if you have been so invested for so long in a particular method of trying to attain a modicum of happiness, you will not readily forgo it. To face that a strategy that you have been devoting much of your life force to is actually faulty is a heartbreaking proposition.

Let’s consider a common scenario. A person may come to therapy because they have had a series of love relationships in which they’ve found themselves feeling emotionally deprived. In spite of tireless efforts to be agreeable, accommodating and self-sacrificing, they were just "not getting enough" - attention, sex, support, appreciation or affection from their partner. This person feels so defeated and frustrated because while they believe that there really isn’t enough love in the world to go around, they are sure that the way to get what is available is by being…agreeable, accommodating and self-sacrificing! What they are in denial of is the fact that their accommodating, etc., behavior is part of a mask, attempting to hide a very demanding and childish attitude towards their loved one based on a buried belief in deprivation. The partner being bombarded with these masked demands will often withdraw and indeed be less inclined to "give" affection, etc. This then seems to validate the underlying belief that "there is not enough." So therefore, one must manipulate even more, all the while building up a stockpile of resentment. On and on, in a self-fulfilling, vicious cycle that Eva Broch referred to in one of her Pathwork Guide Lectures as a "circular trap." The failure of the manipulations to get more of what is wanted is often what brings the person to therapy, seeking to find out what they’re doing "wrong", why the mask they’re sure is based in reality is not having its designed effect.

This is life in a state of false clarity. Sure you’re right, sure you know how life works, but inexplicably unhappy, which, if the beliefs are seen as clearly right, can only lead the person to the conclusion that they are "failing" - meaning manipulating inadequately.

So, where can one go from there, from this place where the self is so rigidly defined according to firmly held beliefs that only lead to frustration and a sense of inadequacy? When blocked feelings are released through an integrated mind-body-spirit psychotherapy, the embedded beliefs start appearing in higher relief. This is because the beliefs were previously being used to justify keeping emotions trapped in the body. As the emotional channels are opened, the old beliefs become subject to challenge and dismantling. People find themselves at that point without the familiar, stereotypical ways of viewing the world, themselves and others. They feel somewhat lost at first, anxiously free-floating for a while and they will experience a shift in their "I am" completion to the more immediate feeling expressions. "I am…feeling lost now. I don’t know how to act. What can I count on? Where can I find security?" Meaning, without the illusions created by projecting static images into the future, what can they count on for predictability? Again, the reason they are in therapy in the first place is because they realize that their lives have never successfully followed their projections anyway, and the fulfillment promised by the illusions always seemed to remain unattainable or just out of reach. Now, they are starting to realize that they didn’t know what they thought they knew. Now, they are in a state of "genuine confusion!" At this moment, I usually congratulate patients! It is here, at the "I don’t know who I am" place, that true wisdom begins.

What keeps people going at this stage, fortunately, is that despite the confusion, they feel better, and often, in spite of an apparent lack of direction, their outer lives frequently are improving. For one person, it may be physical health that improves, for another financial abundance arrives, or work-life becomes more creative. For still others, they break through a relationship barrier. Yet, for all, it is really the new inner feeling of self-possession and inner connectedness that provides motivation.

At this stage of the process, the person in the above example has uncovered a belief in deprivation and scarcity of love that’s been embedded in the subconscious mind since very early in childhood, based on a less-than-fully-gratifying relationship with a parent. The feelings stored in the body since that time, the hurt and rage, have also now been energized through the therapy and partially released at this stage as well. The origins of the person’s masks are getting uncovered and seen as primitive attempts by the child to "get more" from a parent - with poor results, of course. It is now becoming understood that the world of love has been viewed through this tainted lens for the last two, three, four or more decades, since infancy usually. It is experienced as a revelation to consider that one could be fully gratified in an adult relationship, could give and receive all of the love that one is capable of without having to do anything to "get it". It is also startling to realize that one has discounted or ignored the possibilities for greater love because to see that would have run counter to the "absolutely certain" beliefs that they were holding onto. This is a point at which the resistance to being "wrong" about one’s strategy for living gets confronted. It is painful. One is faced with the fact that all of the feelings of failure and frustration, and of course, self-hate, were not based on reality at all, but on an erroneous conclusion about life which originated in early childhood. Great courage is required by the person to forge on here.

If one does indeed forge ahead, what is the next step on the journey?

When the deep primal feelings have been to a great extent released, and the core negative beliefs very much unveiled, the person comes to a new place of overall inner security and openness that provides both confidence to trust what one knows in the moment, and simultaneously, flexibility to re-evaluate one’s "knowledge" and change when called to do so. This is "genuine clarity."

The person knows how they feel in the moment, and is aware of their immediate inner thought processes as well. Judgmental attitudes about emotions and the contents of one’s mind are not held onto. A person at this stage follows their instincts in major decisions without a lot of second-guessing or rigidly gripping to projections and anticipated outcomes. When one is in a state of genuine clarity, the truth of matters is no longer mainly sought through deductive reasoning, but rather through inner resonance with the truth, and actions are decided upon by trusting "gut feelings." The person at this stage knows that whatever transpires, they will be open and flexible enough to creatively move with the events. Mistakes and temporary obstacles are accepted as information, not measured against images of perfection or rigid beliefs about success or failure. One can experience the "joy of being wrong" in this state, that is the freedom from needing to come up with the "right" strategies, free from worrying about "blowing it" when making decisions, etc.

In our example, the person who once believed in deprivation now knows through experience that life is abundant with opportunities to exchange love and pleasure with another and that the only "efforts" one must make to that end are to keep the emotional channels in oneself clear. Gratifying experiences have begun to come to this person, now in genuine clarity, without manipulation, indeed, without even "wanting" them in the old way at all. "Good things" seem to just arrive as a by-product of being more genuinely oneself. The person understands, too, that we all act like magnets for experiences in life, and that we will attract whatever we are "charged up" with. If it is joy and love that we are energized with, we will attract joy and love. If it is hostility, likewise that is what we will attract. So, unpleasurable events are dealt with by going within to examine one’s inner state. The person is also clear now that one’s attitude towards oneself is one’s attitude toward others. (I believe that a common misunderstanding of "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is corrected intuitively by the person in this place. Most people think this expression means you should love your neighbor as much as you love yourself, as if it were a rule for behavior. In fact, I believe it means that you will love your neighbor to the degree that you love yourself.)

The person who has achieved genuine clarity will also feel it in their body when they are in truth. No other "proof" will be needed to determine the "rightness" for them of courses of action. This person will explain, "I have to do this or that because it just feels right." They will also say about their actions, "To do otherwise would be not being my-self."


"Now you understand already that physical attraction is transitory and standards of beauty seem to change with every decade that passes. But the idealized self, that which you truly are, is eternal and that is the beauty, finally, that you need to be working on in refinement. And we will tell you this: When you are in love with the self that you are, you will call to you love from elsewhere. But it will be a matter of co-resonance and it is very, very different to be in love in that frequency and meet others in that frequency than to approach them from a place of need, or lack. And those are both based in fear."
Paul Selig (from his upcoming channeled book: The Book of Love and Creation)

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