June 5, 1984
Since ancient times religion has tried to help man understand the nature of his own subjective reality – but religion has its own dark side, and for this reason religion unfortunately has fostered fear of the spontaneous.
Instead of promoting the idea of man’s inner worth, it has taught people to distrust the inner self and its manifestations. Most churches preach a dogma that stresses concepts of the sinful self, and sees man as a creature contaminated by original sin even before birth.
This distorted picture depicts a species of sinners innately driven by evil, sometimes demonic, forces. In this dogma man needs to apologize for his birth, and the conditions of life are seen as punishment set by God upon his erring creatures. Unfortunately, such concepts are also reflected in psychology, particularly in Freudianism – where, say, slips of the tongue may betray the self’s hidden nefarious true desires.
The unconscious is understood to be a garbage heap of undesirable impulses, long ago discarded by civilization, while again much religious theory projects the image of the hidden self that must be kept in bounds by good work, prayer, and penance.
Amid such a conglomeration of negative suppositions, the idea of a good and innocent inner self seems almost scandalous. To encourage expression of that self appears foolhardy, for it seems only too clear that if the lid of consciousness were opened, so to speak, all kinds of inner demons and enraged impulses would rush forth.
Again, people who have such views of the inner self usually project the same ideas upon nature at large, so that the natural world appears equally mysterious, dangerous, and threatening.
In political terms, such persons also look for strong authoritative groups or governments, stress law and order above justice and equality, and tend to see the poorer, less advantaged members of society as impulse-ridden, dangerous, and always ready for revolution. It is quite frequent for persons with those beliefs to discipline their bodies overmuch, take positions as police guards, or set themselves up in one way or another in control of their fellows.
I am not here stating that all police guards, members of the military, or whatever, fall into that category. Such people will, however, tend toward a strongly disciplined life. Many of their health problems will deal with eruptions – interior ulcers, skin eruptions, or in very definite mental and emotional eruptions, and great outbursts of force and temper all the more noticeable because of the usual disciplined patterns of behavior.
In most such cases, there is a lack of the normal range of emotional expression. Such persons often find it extremely difficult to express love, joy, or gratitude, for example, and this lack of expression is taken for granted by others, who do not see it in its true light, but think instead that the person is simply reticent.
Secondary personalities and schizophrenic episodes are also somewhat characteristic – again appearing as sudden explosive behavior when conflicting beliefs are damned up and held back. And when it is believed that the inner self is indeed a bed of chaotic impulses, then it becomes less and less possible for an individual to express normal ranges of activity. The person then feels lethargic and out of touch with work or family.
Expression is a necessity of life, however. Each person feels that drive. When one set of rigid beliefs threatens to make action appear meaningless, then another set of buried, repressed beliefs may surface, providing new impetus when it is needed – but also forming a secondary personality with characteristics almost opposite to those of the primary self.
We will have more to say on all of these issues – but now I want to discuss spontaneity, or its lack, in relationship to sexuality and health.
All of the negative beliefs just mentioned touch upon sexuality in one way or another. Those with the beliefs just mentioned often think of sexuality as bestial, evil, and even humiliating.
These attitudes are intensified where the female sex is concerned. You have, of course, a strong drive toward sexuality, and if you believe that it is to be shunned at the same time, then you are in a very ambiguous position. Women with such beliefs and conflicts often wind up having hysterectomies, performed incidentally by male doctors, who hold the very same beliefs.
Many men look forward to having sons, while at the same time they revere marriage as a necessary part of respectable family life, and also feel that marriage is somehow degrading – particularly to a male – and that the sex act itself is only justified if it brings him an heir.
Such a male will seek sex with prostitutes, or with women he considers beneath him. In a strange fashion, he may even feel that it is wrong to have sex with his own wife, believing that the sex act so degrades the both of them. In many cases these people will be great sportsmen, follow conventionalized male pursuits, and perhaps express contempt for the arts or any interest considered remotely feminine.