Reflektioner_ASI_4 Fielder (Jan 17, 2010)
(Arbkopia June 2013–)
Some reflections on the ASI figure, etc.
Guiding the work on the essay has been a feeling that there is something problematic about the new age. Not for everyone, or always, but that there is something about the doctrine itself that in many cases exerts a special pressure on the individual – and – tempts the individual to function at a lower level than is her "normal." This has been blamed on religion since the days of Freud, and certainly before, but that this would apply to certain parts of the newness to an extraordinary extent. Why would that be the case?
The day before yesterday, it was as if things fell into place. And I have been inspired to redo the 4-fielder a little bit and find/invent suitable concepts to describe the new. For me, it feels like a big jump forward.
Both the I-axis and the II axis are basically the axis of personality organization in psychodynamic theory. I'm not sure how explicit to be in printing this on the I-axis? It's more "accurate" than the character actually holds up to. Perhaps one can be content with writing "high-level" or "low-level defense" (now it says M, N, O, P for mature-neurotic-immature-psychotic). For the II axis, I have invented some new concepts. The central concept is "paradoxical", which basically corresponds to mature/ambivalent, well you know. "Home with the straw", mature middle age, capacity for love and work (Erikson, Fowler… o so v). The individual has gained reasonable distance from his or her previous adolescent/young thinking – black/white analyses, screwed-up egocentrism, idealization, high ideals, "apparent hypocrisy" (Elkind), etc.
What suddenly became so clear to me is that the "new age" is dealing with "absolute greats". Kind of like the young man. There are perfect individuals, and who have become this by their own power, and such can be oneself (and one can become their disciple, read them, listen to them), there is utterly selfless love. "Utopia" is not imagination, but a real vision of the future that particularly open people have been able to get, and a benchmark, etc. Like a 17-year-old! (I think the usual religion has far less of this, and thus less of the "press" and temptations: Christ is admittedly perfect, but also God, so he belongs to a different category. The kingdom of heaven is a Utopia, but at the same time so obvious "elsewhere", a mystery. The New Age, however, wants to embrace such notions with "scientific" spirit.) Note that I do not take a position on whether the performances themselves are stupid or false (because I don't even think they are!) but what impact they can have on the individual, and why.
Whether one should now see this as normal tasks, a la Erikson, or projects or ambitions that the individual himself has chosen, one can describe it as "two development goals that collide". While the individual, with age, approaches/should approach a mature/ambivalent/"paradoxical" (level 6 at Fowler) vantage point (there are no entirely good or evil people, everyone struggles as best they can, etc.) one employs himself (instead, but the degree of commitment varies of course from individual to individual) with the "big questions" of Godlike love and human perfection – which have such clear parallels to adolescen thinking ("adversarial" level – found nothing better at the Swedish).
For a while, I thought you needed to have a higher step on the organizational axis, but not anymore. "Mature" covers most things, where there is to grow in. However, another level of the II axis is needed. This level could be called "Supraparadoxal". It partly corresponds to Fowler's 7th, the "Universal" level (although I think his description has an overly individualistic, "heroic" character – with references to Gandhi and Mother Theresa – probably colored by a long life trapped in various Christian congregations and contexts!) What do I think is special about this level? Why is it needed in a schedule of levels of spirituality? Well, it represents "the return of the Absolute" – that the individual can once again address – what has hitherto been – typical "teenage" themes but now without the risk of now too much being affected by the gravity of this period, or these layers in their psyche. This requires first conquering a "paradoxical" capacity. Here, I understand it, is the focal point itself if you want to describe the potentially problematic with the new age.
But it is unclear whether the supraparadoxal represents an additional level of "maturity"? Why doesn't everyone come here? A normally reasonably favorable personality development lands (I think with Erikson) in "reconciliation" or "peace" etc. But not everyone seems to be making the leap to a "supraparadoxal" level, as do few making the leap from 6 to 7 according to Fowler. (Why not? Depending on coincidences, temperament, interest? But perhaps also because this "mature" crowd actually houses several subgroups, which are at different levels of a different kind of maturity, which are less "life-course" generated, but instead are based on accumulated experience from many lived incarnations. This could be a synthesis of the "new age" doctrine and common developmental psychology 😉