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Elements of Reparation

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Damage and reparation are central themes of human existence. Melanie Klein, among other pivotal discoveries, noted our capacity for destructiveness towards others and ourselves. More importantly, she accented the centrality of reparation for mental health. Acceptance of the truth, 'inner' and 'outer', is essential to this process.The author goes on to explain the phenomenon of reparation around the themes of truth (aletheia), faith (pistis) and repentance/transformation (metanoia), especially as they appear in the philosophical works of Martin Heidegger and the psychoanalyst Wilfred Bion.He then continues following the phenomenon of metanoia, tracing it sequentially in the works of Melanie Klein, Wilfred Bion, Martin Heidegger, C.G. Jung and R.D. Laing. These thinkers have a surprisingly high degree of reflection upon and import into common, everyday lived experience.Brent Potter's work concludes with a critique of psychiatry, cognitive-behavioral and manualised approaches to psychological distress. He then presents modalities and programs, utilizing a metanoia perspective, that are rising to replace them.The purpose of this book is to reach back, to seek the meaning and ground of the phenomenon of reparation and to understand the elements uncovered in the light of our present-day ways of knowing and being in the world.

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Chapter One - Damage

ePub

We are our own biggest tyrants,
and our own biggest slaves
.

—Michael Eigen, 2014

Introduction

Damage is a part of life. Spiritual and religious luminaries of bygone eras are purported to have lived without damaging themselves or others. The rest of us, throughout history and into the present, knowingly and unknowingly inflict harm upon ourselves and others, to lesser and greater degrees, as we make our way through this pilgrimage called life. When we hurt ourselves or others, more often than not we feel remorse. At a minimum, a “red flag” goes up in our minds after seeing a person's reaction that we probably just said or did something offensive and/or stupid. At other times, we are blatantly destructive and feel quite justified about it in the heat of the moment. It is only after we calm down that the gut-churning “Oh my God, what did I just say (or do)?” effect kicks in. We then, hopefully, do the right thing by arranging a time to utter those most humbling of words: “I am sorry”. If you can identify with one or more aspects of what is written here, then you are among the majority. It seems that most of us do cause quite a bit of injury, of various sorts, because we apologise quite a bit.

 

Chapter Two - Approaching Truth (Pistis)

ePub

weight lifts, oppression lifts
heaven, hell and purgatory lift
beyond distinction and no distinction
beyond self and God.
great is Your faith
to live in Your faith
.

—Michael Eigen, 2011a, p. 132

Pseudo-faith (pseudo-pistis)

An exhaustive study of more than 230 countries and territories reports that there are 5.8 billion religiously affiliated adults and children around the earth. This represents eighty-four percent of the 2010 world population of 6.9 billion, which means that roughly eighty-four percent of the world's populations are people of faith.

This study, The Global Religious Landscape, based its findings on an analysis of more than 2,500 censuses, surveys and population registers. The outcomes are as follows:

According to these statistics, Christianity is the largest religion. About half of all Christians in the world are Catholic; thirty-seven percent are part of the Protestant tradition; twelve percent are Orthodox Greek or Russian. The largest population of Christians (243 million) is found in the United States, followed by Brazil, Mexico, Russia, the Philippines, Nigeria, and China.

 

Chapter Three - Reparation as Metanoia

ePub

Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for
forgiveness, or else forgiving another
.

—Jean Paul Richter, 1908, p. 181

Melanie Klein

Klein's approaches to reparation are subtle, complex, textured. Reparation is not one thing. Broadly speaking, Klein used the term to refer to the child's attempts and strategies to heal or make whole the parental imago that he or she felt to have injured by aggressive attacks. She began seeing child patients in Berlin in 1921. Klein applied the same analytic technique she used with adults to the children she saw. Child patients were offered the couch, asked to associate, and Klein made interpretations typically along the lines of oedipal conflicts. She was struck by the intense nature of the anxieties the children expressed, often from the very beginning of the treatment. Klein was challenged to understand what was going on and to develop a new analytic approach, one that included play (Frank, 2013). It wasn't until 1929 that Klein used the word reparation. Prior to that she used “restitution” and “restoration” to refer to the phenomena that would later be called reparation. Interestingly, this word, which would become one of her vital contributions to the field, emerged in an almost spontaneous fashion. “It was penned, as if on a sudden impulse, in the short article…where Klein analyzed an opera of which she had only read a review and a series of paintings known to her only through a newspaper article” (ibid.).

 

Chapter Four - Growing Down: Early Greek Thinking

ePub

It helps to regard soul as an active intelligence, forming and plotting each person's fate. Translators use “plot” to render the ancient Greek word mythos in English. The plots that entangle our souls and draw forth our characters are the great myths. That is why we need a sense of myth and knowledge of different myths to gain insight into our epic struggles, our misalliances, and our tragedies. Myths show the imaginative structures inside our messes, and our human characters can locate themselves against the background of the characters of myth.

—Hillman, 1999, p. 11

What is so important about Greek thinking? Why turn to this source rather than another cultural history? There are many reasons. Without question, ancient Greece was the birthplace of Western Civilization. It saw accomplishments the likes of which have yet to be achieved again in any other culture. It is important to note, as does Heidegger, that Greece is the original “place”, meaning and ground, for our civilization in the West.

 

Chapter Five - The Decline of Psychiatry and “STEM” Psychology

ePub

“The door could not be heard slamming;
they had probably left it open,
as is the custom in homes
where a great misfortune has occurred”
.

—Kafka, 1972, p. 13

The DSM

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the so-called “Bible” of psychiatry, has been controversial since its first publication in 1952. Briefly, this is the diagnostic manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association, that is used by any professional diagnosing a mental health condition. It is the book that codes these diagnoses in the fashion that insurance companies accept as billable services. Its colorful and, at times, tragically comic history is outlined well in the aforementioned suggested books. Perhaps more important than its usage as a monetary link between healthcare professionals and insurance companies, it serves as the primary link between psychiatrists and their business partner, the pharmaceutical industry. Rather than look into the history of the inception of the DSM, I will briefly point out some of the concerns raised over the most recent edition, the DSM-5. Prior to the publication of this edition, the Division 32 Committee on DSM-5 sent an open letter to the DSM-5 Task Force. The Division 32 of the American Psychological Association is the Society for Humanistic Psychology. Their letter can be found: www.dsm5-reform.com/the-open-letter-to-dsm-5-task-force/. In it they outline the following concerns:

 

Chapter Six - Pathmarks on the Way to Post-Medical Models

ePub

Find the center
of your center
.

—Michael Eigen, 2014

Contemporary existential-humanistic psychology

Contemporary existential-humanistic psychology represents a variety of different psychological perspectives from, obviously, existential and humanistic, but also psychoanalytic, Jungian, phenomenological, embodied movement, community, multicultural, developmental, etc. The aforementioned Society for Humanistic Psychology (Division 32) of the American Psychological Association is an excellent example of this school of thought and practice. These people tend to have a focus on community and effective (i.e., non-STEM or psychopharmaceutical) approaches to human distress. With the decline of psychiatry and STEM psychology, these individuals tend to find themselves under the existential-humanistic psychology “tent”. They focus on both the positive, growth-oriented aspects of life as well as the challenges and finitude inherent in existence.

I will frame this group on the topic of positivity and happiness for the sake of clarity and relative brevity. But this need not be so; one could choose another construct upon which to describe contemporary existential-humanistic psychology. This school has no single methodology; it is qualitative, multi-modal, and integrative.

 

Chapter Seven - Conclusion

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I am: therefore I question. It is the answer—the “yes, I know”—that
is the disease which kills…The song the sirens sing,
and always have sung, is that the arrival at the inn
—not the journey—is the reward,
the prize, the heaven, the cure
.

—Bion, 1985, p. 52

Acts 17:22–23 (New American Standard Bible): “So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscriptions, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD’”. Why would the Greeks have have a temple in honour of the Agnostos Theos ()? Maybe the Greeks were hedging their bets, as it were, leaving room for a god they may have somehow missed in their accounting of things. Perhaps the Agnostos Theos represented a god par excellence. After all, the Jewish God could not be named. Perhaps this is written as a transition point between Greek polytheism and the monotheism to come. I like to ponder Being/O, Agnostos Theos links.

 

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