[I have to decided to publish this rough draft while I work on it since it is a companion piece to the Learning For Life Group August 2009 Newsletter. To go directly from here to my extended from the newsletter piece click onto July in the Blog Archive column at the right of this copy. Here I transcribe from Donald Williams's book some quotes which indirectly speak to the charismatic personality disorder, that which is projected upon the charismatic person. Other quotes and transcriptions will be added to amplify, expand and veer one's readings and thinking re: the matter.
The photograph is of a sculpture found in a sculpture garden in Princeton, NJ. Once the artist is identified I'll post all identifying information. Photo by Warren Falcon]
And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my Son, in whom I am well pleased. Then was Jesus lead up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.
-- Gospel of Matthew 3: 17 - 4:1
"Kohut distinguished between messianic and charismatic personalities, but added that mixed cases are likely to be most common. He speculated freely about these constructs and provided several practical distinctions. The messianic personality identifies its self with what Kohut calls the "idealized superego"--in effect, God or one's ultimate concern. Because the superego has "object qualities"--that is, it seems to be an entity of some sort--the messianic leader can envisage and describe, and even enter into a (dissociated) dialogue with, this God. Because of the nature of his early conflicts, he experiences this God as outside and above, and he receives his revelations from this heavenly external source. Thus he is led by his ideas in the manner of Moses or Muhammad. Kohut suggests that a particular fantasy may sustain him--an unconscious belief that "You [the mother, parent, primary caregiver, or deity] are perfect and I am a part of you." Thus there is a fundamental shifting aside of the self, and a subsequent identification and union with God.
The charismatic personality, on the other hand, identifies with what Kohut calls the "grandiose self" in the form of some symbol of omnipotence--God--located within the self. Unlike the idealized superego, the grandiose self is not perceived by the mind as an object. Kohut likens it to the eye, a part of the organism that is involved in perception and hence cannot perceive itself; the grandiose self is the most primitive and essential "organ" of being and cannot apprehend or observe itself. Thus the charismatic prophet senses his God more vaguely; as a peculiar sensation within his being, a pressure coming from below, and he is driven by his ambitions rather than pulled by his ideals. Kohut suggests that the unconscious fantasy sustaining this type is "I am God" (or perhaps, "I and the mother [or father] are one"...In sum, the messianic prophet gazes up in awe at his God, whom he tries to emulate and follow, whereas the charismatic prophet feels God stirring within and tries to express and get recognition for his deity.
In sum, charisma was traditionally seen as a supernatural phenomenon, a gift from God. However, Max Weber argued that while charisma may rest on some attribute of a leader, it needs to be recognized by others in order to be effective. In this study charisma is defined as an attribute of one whom we associate with our ultimate concern or, if we ourselves do not, others do. This definition substitutes the phrase "ultimate concern" for God in the manner suggested by theologian Paul Tillich, but some problems remain. Weber speaks about three social roles--the shaman, the politician, and the prophet--while Kohut speaks of two personality types--the messianic and the charismatic. Both treat the prophet as a prototype for other kinds of charismatic leaders, and agree that psychology alone cannot explain why some people become leaders and others do not." --Len Oakes, Prophetic Charisma, The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities, Syracuse University Press, 1997, pg. 40 & 43
The experience of the unconscious is a personal secret communicable to only a very few, and that with difficulty; hence the isolating effect. -- C.G. Jung, The Portable Jung, "Dream Symbolism in Relation to Alchemy", edited by Joseph Campbell, The Viking Press, 1971, pg. 333
"One cannot be too cautious in these matters, for what with the imitative urge and a positively morbid avidity to possess themselves of outlandish feathers and deck themselves out in this exotic plumage, far too many people are misled into snatching at such "magical" ideas and applying them externally, like an ointment. People will do anything, no matter how absurd to avoid facing their own souls." -- C.G. Jung, Psychology and Alchemy, Collected Works, Vol. 12, par. 126.
As a companion piece to the Learning For Life Group's July newsletter and my extended blogspot essay called Pierced Flight (Click on July 2009 to the right of this essay beneath Blog Archive), I offer the following passages from Donald Williams excellent book, Border Crossings, A Psychological Perspective on Carlos Castaneda's Path of Knowledge (Inner City Press, 1981), a book which details, explores and amplifies from a Jungian psychological perspective Carlos Castaneda's ongoing accounts of apprenticeship with a Yaqui sorcerer/shaman of the southwest U.S. and northern Mexico. These selections speak either directly to or circumscribe the dangers of many kinds involved in such work which can inflate and even the destroy the pursuer of spiritual and other forms of power.
It is now well known that Carlos Castaneda became dangerously inflated and identified with archetypal (meaning, spiritual) power. He eventually surrounded himself with a cultic group of followers and "priestesses" until his death when one of his followers committed suicide to "follow him" while the major four teachers of his system for knowledge and power immediately disappeared after his death and are presumed dead by suicide, as well.
For all of his brilliant creative narrative and presumed hard inner work, whatever it may have been, apparently Castaneda did not delve deeply enough into his personal psychological depths regarding "the ways of power", its subtle and not so subtle shadow aspects and in the end was swallowed up by archetypal powers in his unhealthy identification with them. I do not know if Castaneda ever read William's book--would that he had and then signed up for a long course of Jungian analysis to work his personal shadow and the archetypal dimensions of the shadow--but we can read Castaneda (the first 6 books, at least) along with William's book (and always copious amounts of Carl Jung, Marie Louise von Franz, and other Jungians who have written extensively about the archetypal power devil as shadow and its personal manifestations) to begin to map out some of the terrain of spiritual power, temptations of power and how easy it is to become identified with these developing what I coined humorously with my Learning For Life Group colleagues charismatic personality disorder which is actually not funny at all but a dangerous psychological inflation and identification with the Self or at least one side of the Self, usually the supposedly all good side thus the charismatic personality is all good, too. The quotes from William's book will address this.
This, only my experienced opinion, may be incendiary but Castaneda's fate, crazy inflation regarding the availability of Power and eventual delusional destruction of self and many others, seems to have current intimations and variations in the inflated messianic/charismatic New Age spiritualities spawned just prior to and within the '60's hippie movement. Distortions and neutering of authentic religious traditions from the East as well as those of world indigenous cultures serve to prop up and entertain essentially childish entitled egos via spiritual techniques, costumes, rituals and ideas tailored to white middle class values, cultural expectations and experiences. Now many persons claim spiritual authority and powers used often enough to procure money, fame, and power in a materialistic culture which proclaims having more and more as a sign of spiritual blessing and arrival (this is actually a belief from the Mind Cure movement popular in America in the last 1800's continuing on in variations of similar theme in Religious Science, Science of Mind, Unitarian and other newer evolutions of essentially the same Mind Cure beliefs. To read of this in detail William James's lectures published in Varieties of Religious Experience will inform the interested student of the psychology of religious experience). This is so one-sidedly simplistic and naive it is laughable--and dangerous-- yet one need only peruse New Age, Occult and Pop Psychology sections in bookstores to find hundreds of bestseller and other titles promising MORE stuff to be gained by spiritual efforts and thoughts, what the always salty and brilliantly intuitive, authentically earthy Carolyn Myss calls, "Stuffology".
Channeling, A Contemporary Charismatic Movement
The channeling phenomenon, a kind of crypto-spiritual charismatic movement currently popular in America and Europe, endows charisma often enough to rather plain everymen and everywomen personalities via a charismatic spirit, entity, energy and/or psychological complexes disassociated from the channeler emerging in trance, eyes aflutter, odd accents exotically spouting pretty much the same ideas and promises of material blessings and attendant peace of mind. I have not only sat at the feet of many channels but have channeled myself and must confess my tremendous disappointment--after the initial thrill of discovering that I could access a level of the unconscious (besides dreams and complexes) which the ego has little or no conscious access to and speak from that state of mind--at the sameness and, frankly, boring ,and in not too much time, predictable run-on sentences of "information" regarding past lives, future lives, present states, how one's late Aunt Agatha is faring, etc., and how to get "the right stuff" spiritually and materially from the Magic Bank of Bink and Boink. The guru-like atmosphere in these channeling settings is palpable, the manifestations of the unconscious from the channelings are objectified and made into totems and amulets of power which imbue the hearers of "the Word" from Gods Central with a sense of mystery, power, belonging and specialness. The channeler is most special, the students most special, too, but not quite as special as the Master Channeler who may even be tithed to as a church unto him or her self. Kinds of channeling churches now exist, perhaps have always existed since humans began to explore altered states of consciousness, the spiritualist movement and other similar ones grew in the early 20th century as more American lives were lost in the first World War, but with the '60's and the romanticization of other than Western religious expressions, of "exotic" Eastern religions, of esoteric indigenous cosmologies, spiritualism became hipped up by Jane Roberts to "channeling" with others following suit with all the exotic accents and cultural even astral (star people) inflections and confections multiplying and ensuing.
I have no doubt that the channeler and the hearers are not sincere in their gathering and their need to gather some thing to hang on to in the vicissitudes and vasectomies of more and more complex levels of existence yet one of the most disturbing things I find about the channeler, or most of my contact with many, and the audience/followers is the appalling lack of critical thinking regarding what is said while in trance. The words and ideas are taken as holy writ, witless trance states persisting post-channeling, all excitedly abuzz with the latest (and usually same-est of) revelations personally tailored for the individuals in the crowd. This is fundamentalist shaman-showmanship in Blavatsky drag, in Sethian swagger, symbols often concretized or reduced, treated as literal facts "cuz if MichiGoomi says it, well, then it must be true".
If Carl Jung's words are true, and I have found them to be so for me, that "the experience of the unconscious is a personal secret communicable to only a very few, and that with difficulty," then the accumulative effect--at least on me--of these group channelings was an ultimate profaning of the very archetypal energies subjected to egoic and collective vulgarization that inherently happens in groups of all sizes, a form of self-aggrandisement and spiritual entertainment--wall knocking, spirit rapping, table tipping now dressed up in more current quantum-science-lingo and mystico-schpracht, Far-Easternesque or Indigenous Cultural drag often enough to stroke the egos of the hearers and the channeler's, as well as to soothe their fears, worries, trials and paranoias, a form of whistling in the dark in trance.
The New Gluttony--Spirituality,
And Its Revenant Reverends
The consumerization of sacred traditions and techniques is one of the most insidious effects of market driven societies now turning the sacred into an industry worth millions of dollars and millions of votes. Harvey Cox minces no words when he speaks of the "new gluttony" of spiritual consumerism rampant and revenant from the 1960's to the present day:
"If there is any fault to be allocated, it lies not with the victims [of commercialization of spiritualities] but with the buyer-seller nexus within which the new Oriental religious wave is marketed. Despite what may be good intentions all around, the consumer mentality can rot the fragile fruits of Eastern spirituality as soon as they are unpacked. The process is both ironic and pathetic. What begins in Benares as a protest against possessiveness ends up in Boston as still another possession. Dark Kali, the great and terrible destroyer, whose very glance can melt the flesh of the strongest warrior, whose slightest breath can stop the pulse and paralyze the soul, finds herself dangling from bracelets with all the other charms.
No deity however terrible, no devotion however deep, no ritual however splendid is exempt from the voracious process of trivialization. The smiling Buddha himself and the worldly-wise Krishna can be transformed by the new gluttony into collectors' trinkets. It was bad enough for King Midas that everything he touched turned to gold; the acquisition-accumulation pattern of the new gluttony does even more. Reversing the alchemist's course, it transforms rubies and emeralds into plastic, the sacred into the silly, the holy into the hokey...(a) changing of the gods into consumer software..." -- pg. 134, Turning East, The Promise and Peril of the New Orientalism, Harvey Cox, Simon and Schuster, 1975.
This reduction of the sacred to the profane marketplace turns the archetypal powers into the equivalent image of the proverbial chained and dancing monkey holding out a hat to collect money from the entertained expectorating masses as the organ grinder plays a jingling tune for entertainment was predicted in the disturbing, brilliant and prophetic work of the philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche. I highly recommend serious study of his work to any serious student and practicioner of religion and spirituality in order to understand what he was able to prophetically see regarding religion in the West from his viewpoint of the latter part of the nineteenth century. His apt diagnosis of the death of God (the god of Western religion and philosophy) has turned everyman and woman into demi-, hemi-, semi-, quimi- gods especially if they have the money and mana to prove it all the while chained to the collective bestseller, talk show host andhostess-with-the -mostest-money organ grinder cynically smiling to the naive, desperate, gullible messianic masses.
Temptations of the Power Devil
I have written in my first two blog essays about my study with a Mexican healing woman who is very charismatic, a character for sure, who exemplifies to me the humility, the earthiness and saltiness of self who does not try to guru nor garner disciples and attendant adulation though she is commanding in her clear and devoted sense of her Vocation as a healer and worker with ways of Power. I speak of the temptations of power and how upon the beginning of His ministry, Jesus the Carpenter now fisher of men, retired to a remote desert spot and there was confronted with what Jung calls "the power devil", Satan, who tempts Jesus with personal, political and archetypal power in service of ego under the guise of serving God.
Many in our post-modern and scientific materialistic age languish for spiritual soul food and contact hunting for that which and those who may serve up some of these soul nurturing meals. Many of us have been taken in by some of those who have not kept their shadow consciously close and thus we have had to carry the shadow of the Spiritual Chef doing the Chef-teachers-gurus-priests/ priestesses-ministers-imams, et. al, shadow work projected upon the followers, chelas, students, disciples, apprentices. As von Franz has astutely and helpfully pointed out, where projections are, hooks to catch those projections are. Thus the followers have hooks for the so-called enlightened and empowered one's shadow and ongoing, ensuing personal issues. I once heard a spiritual teacher declare after reaching a certain milestone birthday that his life "was no longer research" implying a kind of arrival and completion in terms of his inner work and studies. All well and good for private individuals perhaps but not from one who functions as a guru of sorts to many who literally sit at his feet to learn as I had done until shadow, his, mine, the group's, began to clearly announce itself in my and others dreams. These dreams heralded and directed my eventual withdrawal of projections of the Self upon him and the painful yet relieving recognition that the teacher's shadow was disowned and projected upon me and others to carry and work. It is much wiser (and psychologically correct) to assume that one's life is search and research to the very end. To rest upon one's self-bestowed laurels reinforced by disciples also projecting them upon the so-called Completed-No-Longer-Researching One is childishly, foolishly innocent and thus tempts the power devils to come calling. And they most certainly do.
To illustrate what I mean by projections of the Self this quote from William's book may help and expand the territory of hunting the "way of Power":
"...The shaman personality fails to see the significance of collective values, and the priest personality fails to see the value of unique inner experience...In The Flight of the Wild Gander (Viking Press, 1969), Joseph Campbell retells an Apache myth that describes the tension between the hunter and the planter, the shaman and the priest. The myth originated during the period when the Jicarilla Apache, "originally a hunting people...entered the area of the maize-growing Pueblos in the fourteenth century A.D. and assimilated the local neolithic ceremonial lore." In the tale of the Hactcin--Apache priests and counterparts of the Masked Gods of the Pueblo--were creators of the first world. In this world there many shamans who began to talk and to quarrel about their powers. One spoke of stopping the sun overhead, another of getting rid of the moon. On the fourth day the sun went through a hole in the sky and the moon followed--the first eclipse.
The Hacticin asked the shamans to use their power to bring back the sun and moon. Their display of power was impressive, but it failed to bring back the sun and moon. The animals were then given a chance, and they produced numerous gifts of nature but no sun, no moon. Then the Hactcin, the priests, began to act and out of their efforts came thunder, clouds, rain and rainbow. The Hactcin proceeded to plant seeds in four mounds of a sand painting. The birds and the animals sang, and the mounds began to grow, eventually coming together to form one mountain. Twelve shamans were selected to become Tsanati, members of the dance society. Six Clowns were created and the Tsanati, Clowns and people joined in a dance to make the mountain grow. As the top of the mountain reached the hole in the sky where the sun and moon disappeared, four ladders were constructed so that everyone could ascend to the next world, our earth. Campbell points out how the shamans were discredited, asserting that "the episode represents the victory of the principle of a socially anointed priesthood over the highly dangerous and unpredictable force of individual endowment."
Such a conflict between individual spirit and collective values is inevitable, but I think we will witness increased conflict and tension as the individual spirit becomes the more highly prized. In America, there is a tension between rugged individualism which capitalism promotes (and with which we Americans are imbued), and the monopoly of collectivism [corporations, sacred and secular] in which we actively live...
Jung labored to articulate a way between the two poles of collective identity and eccentricity, between submergence in social roles and grand isolation. He formulated the problem and the challenge as follows: "Resistance to the organized mass can be effected only by the man who is as well organized in his individuality as the mass itself." Through intense inner experience and reflection the individual, like the hunter we have been following, come to know his or her unique path or myth. It is then incumbent upon the individual to avoid the seduction of "splendid isolation" and to relate to the collective through the uniqueness of that individual myth.
The young hunter who returns from a vision quest receives the new name by which he will be known from his visions. It is through his labor to live his vision faithfully that he finds his relationship to those he left behind when he sough himself in the wilderness. Campbell sees the possibility of our renewal in the archetype of the hunter-shaman:
What is required of us all, spiritually as well as corporeally, is much more the fearless self-sufficiency of our shamanistic inheritance than the timorous piety of the priest-guided Neolithic. Those of us who never dared to be titans but only obedient children, following a loyally as possible the commands of Zeus, of Yahweh, or the State, now find that the commands themselves are in a somewhat fluent condition, changing with time. For the circle has been broken--the mandala of truth. -- The Flight of the Wild Gander, pg. 189
An example of the hunting way of life and its connection to shamanic experience is an Indian culture far removed from the Sonoran southwest-- the Naskapi Indians of Labrador. It is clear from what we know that the Naskapi are hunters for food and hunters for the life of the soul. What the Naskapi hunt is the Mista'peo, the "Great Man" within. The Great Man has been translated as soul or ego; neither are quite satisfactory. It would be more accurate to see the Mista'peo as an archetypal image of the Self, the larger personality within, which is both personal and suprapersonal, human and divine, and which attempts to become actualized through us. The Great Man is located in the region of the heart--recall don Juan's "path of heart"--and is responsible for dreams:
The Great Man reveals itself in dreams. Every individual has one, and in consequence has dreams. Those who respond to their dreams giving them serious attention, by thinking about them, by trying to interpret their meaning, in secret and testing out their truth, can cultivate deeper communication with the Great Man. He then favors such a person with more dreams, and these better in quality. The next obligation is for the individual to follow instructions given him in dreams, and to memorialize them in representations in art. -- Frank Speck, Naskapi, U. of Oklahoma Press, Norman, 1935
This one paragraph about the Great Man summarizes the essential elements of the psychological attitude and experience of the hunter-shaman. The hunter pursues the Great Man; he hunts the unconscious images that reveal to him who he is and what he is meant to be in his totality.
By paying respectful attention to these images, by attempting to understand them and by acting on the basis of our conclusions, we develop a closer relationship to the impersonal and objective center of the personality, the source of wisdom. Our efforts are rewarded by more and better dreams and hence by a deeper revelation of the richness of the psyche. And as we have seen before, we have an ethical responsibility to honor what we learn by living it...the Great Man is an expression of wholeness and completion, that is, of psychic integration." -- Donald Williams, Border Crossings, pages 32-34
From the above reading we can conclude that it is none other than the "Great Man", the Mista'peo, the Self in Jungian parlance that is pulled for by the charismatic personality, is projected upon him/her, and thus begins and ongoingly proceeds the struggle with the power devil which would tempt the charismatic person to identify with the archetypal Great Man/Mista'peo/Self. This dynamic of projection is necessary in all aspects of life. The real danger is in identification/inflation (a puffing up and believing that one is the archetype) with the Self within. The attendent danger is in the projector remaining unaware of that which he/she is projecting, the Self, upon the teacher, guru, sorcerer, etc.
A most helpful quotation and amplification of the dangers of projection remaining unconscious occurs at the beginning of Williams book. The temptations of power, to be powerful spiritually call one onto the beginner's path of a long and arduous inner journey and descent into the personal, collective and archetypal underworld. Williams expounds in the very first paragraph of chapter one:
Carlos, like most of us, approaches the path of knowledge with questionable goals, unexamined assumptions and little self-understanding. Carlos's psychology is worth examining because it dramatically color the atmosphere and progress of his apprenticeship, and because we may find much of ourselves mirrored there: lack of self-esteem, preoccupation with power, fear of intimacy, preference of information over knowledge, inability to trust his own experience, extreme dependence on reason, and finally, ignorance of his own best qualities...The preoccupation with power and control is blatant in the opeing pages of Castaneda's first book...Initially, the focus for Carlos is the acquisition of power, not self-knowledge. The destructive aspects of tthe power drive or complex are that self-knowledge takes second place to self-aggrandizement and that relationships suffer from a lack of development. -- Border Crossings, pages 15-16
After Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist it is reported that Jesus went into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. Jung calls it the Power Devil which is the temptation to egotism. Jungian analyst, Ester Harding, follows up on this:
Here came the temptation to egotism, and again the temptor was the power devil. If Jesus was really the Son of God, he might prove it to himself by leaping down from the pinnacle of the Temple; then all other men would see and recognize him to be the Messiah. If he would worship the power devil, he should receive all the kingdoms of the world and their riches. If he would make power the god he worshipped, he could rule the world, he could be another Alexander, another Caesar. But Jesus of Nazereth recognized what manner of spirit it was that tempted him and refused to be caught by the lure of personal power. -- Ester Harding, Psychic Energy, Its Source and Transformation, Princeton University Press, 1973, pgs, 233-234