Category Archives: psychiatry

Canned Religion and Conspicuous Piety

“When love begins to sicken and decay
It useth an enforced ceremony.
There are no tricks in plain and simple faith:
But hollow men, like horses hot at hand,
Make gallant show, and promise of their mettle.”

This Shakespearean wisdom from Julius Caesar has gotten a lot of play in my blogs the past year as I witnessed evangelical Christians utilize their canned faith to help elect Donald Trump to the Presidency. But I am such a keen observer of this hypocrisy because I’ve spent most of my life there.  And “canned faith,” steeped in the letter of the law, always thrives on the ego’s demand for “strutting and fretting” like the aforementioned “horses hot at hand.”

Plain and simple faith, huh?  Conspicuous piety always takes a lot of effort genuine human goodness requires simple presence in life, paying attention to this beautiful world and gazing attentively on the flow of life taking place around you.  It is amazing how much life one can miss when he is immersed in the self-imposed illusion of piety.

ADDENDUM–I have diversified this literary effort of mine.  In this blog I plan to focus more on poetry and prose.  Below you will see two other blogs of mine relevant to spirituality and politics which have lain dormant for most of the past five years.  I hope some of you will check them out.  However, the boundaries will not be clear as my focus is very broad and my view of life is very eclectic/inclusive/broad-based.  Yes, at times too much so!

https://wordpress.com/posts/anerrantbaptistpreacher.wordpress.com

https://wordpress.com/posts/theonlytruthinpolitics.wordpress.com

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The Apocalypse Within

Psychiatrist D. W. (Donald) Winnicott once observed regarding his clients, “The breakdown that is feared has already occurred.”  He knew that his clients’ reluctance to forthrightly address their issues was because the pain was too great for their conscious mind to undertake…at least initially.  Many of his clients had been subjected to trauma and had every reason to fear buried memories of the anguish.  Others, though not overtly traumatized, had not been able to successfully adapt to the “thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” and their denial system had compounded the problem to the point that often it approached “trauma.”  (Scott Peck in “The Road Less Traveled” noted that, “Neurosis is a substitute for legitimate suffering.”)

All of us have fears though many of them do not amount to the terror of Winnicott’s clients.  But our reluctance to face these fears can be equally intense and lock us into attitudinal and behavioral patterns that keep us from reaching the point where our life is in full flow.  We are like Hamlet and “cling to those ills that we have rather than flee to others that we know not of.”

Some whose “breakdown” was acute and merit the description “traumatic” will be prone to see catastrophe “out there” in the world rather than to address their own that are within.  Furthermore, some whose pain can only be described as “plain vanilla” still prefer to project it “out there” as their narcissism prevents them from recognizing that they have any faults.  This applies to individuals as well as groups as even groups can have a narcissistic dimension to the ideology that holds them together.

 

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Furthermore, if you will indulge my penchant for the esoteric, I even conjecture that even the healthiest individual has deep-seated memories of the catastrophe which was the birth of the ego, that primal differentiation of the ego from its matrix which in the depths of the unconscious parallels the big bang.  None of us have actual memory of this event and never will and don’t have to worry about the possibility.  We are hard-wired to have no memories of that psychic catastrophe in which the ego was born.  But I do think that sometimes refracted memories of this event filter into the pre-conscious and influence our dreams and conscious thoughts, often providing an explanation to why an individual can see so clearly why the problem is with “them” when to us looking on we muse to ourselves, “Oh, if they could only see.”  But for them to “see,” i.e. “withdraw their projections,” would entail more pain than they can bear.    Shakespeare had this denial in mind when he had Macbeth declaring, “My dull brain is racked by things forgotten.”