Holotropic Spontaneity and Carl Rogers VI

The extremely common estrangement of the human being from her directional organismic processes is not a necessary part of our nature. It is instead something learned, and learned to an especially high degree in our Western culture… The satisfaction or fulfillment of the actualizing tendency has become bifurcated into incompatible behavioral systems…

Carl Rogers on Personal Power (1977)

Both Maslow and Jung confirm these societal obstacles in the way of actualisation/individuation, which indeed are pretty self-evident. “Estrangement” (a cousin to “alienation” without the Marxist baggage) simply means being too occupied with the aforementioned social masks to be in contact with meaningful layers of oneself. This phenomenon was also noted by Wilhelm Reich.

Selves appear to be multifurcated and in fact shattered sometimes, in our current Western culture, rather than merely bifurcated. A great deal of psychology focuses on knitting together shattered selves into a new wholeness which is a definite achievement, existing in harmony with the underlying deeper consciousness. This process is described in subpersonality psychologies like Psychosynthesis, and also in the work of Grof. Via Rogerian processes it happens spontaneously, is noticed happening by itself, simply as a result of gentle congruous attention.

Since it also appears in shamanism, and in mythology in the stories of Osiris, Zagreus and Lemminkäinen for example, there must be a sense in which this shatteredness is age-old, probably a legacy of developments in human nervous system and culture. It may possibly be more widespread now that at previous times.

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2 responses to “Holotropic Spontaneity and Carl Rogers VI

  • martingifford

    I would say shatteredness is inevitable. We are intelligent beings thrown into this life with no instruction manuals or explanations for what the hell happened! This is like the old existential angst idea.

    BTW, one problem I have with Rogers’ approach is that the terms of the interaction are often not clear. I went to people who were using the “listening” approach, and all they did was listen, reflectively or otherwise. What I needed was practical tips to make progress careerwise. A Rogers person should make it clear that it’s about listening to integration and inform you about how long it will take and provide evidence that it works, etc.

    Of course, at the other extreme are the therapeutic types who say, “Oh, notice how your father was unsatisfied with his career too, so perhaps that explains your problem.” Then you are supposed to go into a big navel gazing exercise to see how you subconsciously block yourself careerwise or get into some cathartic nonsense, when all you need is someone to say, “Go to uni, and get some qualifications and broaden your knowledge.”

  • Jason Wingate

    I would say shatteredness is inevitable. We are intelligent beings thrown into this life with no instruction manuals or explanations for what the hell happened!

    There’s a lot of truth in that — especially considering Grof’s perinatal stuff. I agree with Rogers though that we are also talking about a learned (and therefore patterned) shatteredness.

    Kundalini noticably unwinds many of the social/linguistic reference systems – people go through periods of spelling skill loss, or the TV behaves randomly etc., especially if the energy is uncontrolled. Deculturation.

    Existentialism was actually a major influence on Rogers, especially Kierkegaard, and on Humanistic Psych more widely. However I don’t think the angst itself is necessary and I’ll come at it from a more directly spiritual angle of course. I’ll get into the Taoist viewpoint later in this series.

    I agree that the terms should be made clear in any therapy! If practical tips are needed, an encounter with an observing empathising witness won’t help — but then again, the one doesn’t preclude the other. I’m building up here to the idea of using a Rogerian way without a therapist of course, so it becomes a following of one’s own process and a way to spontaneously harmonise and remain aware of personhood even as one goes beyond it. Since I like this as a preparation for encountering the Divine, it necessarily goes places that career advice may not. :)

    I wouldn’t be against “cathartic nonsense” if deep emotions are triggered, and they often are — at the beginning even for some who’ve had tough lives, and certainly going forward. Kundalini risings can be intensely emotional. As that Glenn quote pointed out in Part IV, there may be a lot under the surface that will eventually have to be transformed and seen beyond, in terms of becoming who one really is rather than the masks.

    But different things at different times for different people is the rule. That’s precisely why I like Rogers — you can give way to the sense you have of what matters here and now, what needs to be said and done, and repeatedly over time that always amounts to following a path laid out by something within us that knows the Ariadne’s thread. This turns out to settle one better than any conscious plan, especially when combined with other methods.

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