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 his "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.) they occupy themselves (instead, but the degree of commitment varies of course from individual to individual) with "the big questions" about Godlike love and human perfection – which has such clear parallels to adolescen thinking ("adversarial" level – found nothing better at 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 😉
(I) The individual's resources at its core. Level of maturity reached. How the individual tends to function in the face of everyday challenges: work, friends, love, in conflicts, when expectations are not met, etc. (I+) High-level defense, secondary defense. Marked neurotic up to Mature (Transcendent) custody. (I-) Low-level defense, primary defense. Psychotic, delusions up to Marked neurotic. Perhaps weak-talented. Perhaps works at this level after a long, hard life, with crime, drugs, betrayal, raged hopes and relationships. Hardened (where in practice it is difficult to determine what is the individual's actual level of function and what is not). Perhaps due to a high internal "pressure" that can be relieved, for example, with psychotherapy, or increasing age. (II) How the individual functions under the influence of the specific doctrine, or community (religious, political, etc.). This is the individual as we judge her by her appearance, her reasoning, opinions— her attitude toward dissent, etc. Here are two factors that influence: First, the specific doctrine (The Words of Saint Francis on a retreat, versus a demagogic Hitler on the radio during burning wars), and the individual's response to it, her inherent tendencies, and more or less conscious desires. Where the individual ends up on (II) depends on both of these two factors, it is a mix, "a dance". (II-) There are things that break almost anyone and would make us perform below our actual level. And there are things that only attract some, and perhaps only for a period of time, and only to a certain degree. And this can be a regression, a "crush", which can be both problematic and favorable. (II+) Conversely, there are also things that can help the shaky to function higher than she or he tends to do otherwise in the face of everyday challenges. This may be that he or she gets something "to believe in", the influence of people who want him well and keeps them company and moons (a social support that lifts the individual up to his actual level, or perhaps even higher). For example, being able to exchange the drugs and/or a destifying social interaction for a pair of jogging shoes or for "a life with Jesus" can of course have several good effects. Not being as hunted (imagined, as a result of the drug rush, for example, or real, as during periods of abstinence, when moving among ordinary, well-behaved people in the city, or being chased by people you owe money, or by the memory of those you have betrayed, for example) makes it so clear that the individual can begin to function with minor elements of primitive defenses, Regardless of what the "actual" level of the individual is. _ _ _ _ Exploitative (1) Low level of maturity translated into spirituality. Perhaps weak-talented. Or the opposite. Primitive defenses. Strong projection, utilization of other possible Border psychotic, delusional. Destructive sect leaders and sects. The category is reserved for rare grave cases (as well as 4 for Transcending). Ex: Charles Manson? Habilitating (2A). Former criminals, addicts, for example, who find something to live for, to believe in. Perhaps weak-talented. Some positive suggestion possibly from healthy, ideologically strong, people, priest, or new friends. Iterating (2B). Relatively low level of function, perhaps p-disorder or marked neurotic. Attracted to teachings and ideologies with clear rules and principles. A lot of projection, rationalization. Strong defenses. The past continues to play out. Primitivizing (2C). The individual works well below their actual level. Some members of destructive sects, who may later "wake up." "Stockholm Syndrome." Spirituality that not only has similar effect to a drug addiction, but may also be associated with an actual addiction. More primitive defenses are activated to stand out, simply, and to be able to continue with the life one lives. Denial. Consolidating (3A). People who have hit the bottom, and managed to crawl up, possibly with increasing age. "There are no old psychopaths." You can't keep going as before, simply, more experiences and less vitality contribute to "rising up". Reality has caught up with one. Revitalizing (3B). Healthy religious, which are relatively harmonious with themselves and their life. There is something vital about how religious or spiritual engagement is intertwined in everyday life. Dynamic, playful. (Well equivalent to levels 5-6 at Fowler.) But that this is always the "forecourt" of the transcendent is far from certain (as one can get the impression of in the figure, and in Fowler). Perhaps there is a "latency age" of religious development and that these individuals are also sorted in here? That is, a relative stilt and contentment not to be confused with spiritual maturity? Simplifying (3C). Attracted and drawn by "simple solutions", war magic, e.g. Intellectualizing defense. Philosophy and spirituality as "a game". Transcendent (4). The mystics. Corresponds level 7 (6?) at Fowler, and is probably very rare, as he also claims. _ _ _ It is clear that this scheme is good enough to sort out, for example, political engagement, and definitely different kinds of spirituality. One difference from Fowler is that this model focuses on the ADULT individual. Why? Things that characterize the "exploitative" spirituality – projection, egocentrism, immaturity – can also be said to distinguish the little child. And probably the "spirituality" found in young children. But it is not included in this schedule. Why not? Perhaps because it takes shape in a time (2010s) and in a society (the Swedish) where few children grow up in a religious context anymore. I am also more interested in differentiating among adult spirituality. The model has a close connection to psychoanalytic theory, and perhaps it has a clearer "clinical" applicability. Fowler has worked in American society, with the training of priests among others, and has developed his model based on his and the interests and needs of the surroundings, one might think. Benefits? Hopefully, it can better fend off certain weaknesses in Fowler, such as not being tempted to judge certain kinds of "newness" as more mature than there is a basis for. Or to see ecclesiasticality and group activities as an important marker (for lower levels). "Universal" beliefs and ideals, or strong individualism, can appear in this schedule in several places and have quite different character. (Benefits from Fowler? Recognizing a higher "active" stage, which is easily lost — or hard to reconcile — with a newagig-Buddhist view of spiritual development.) This model is more "normative" than Fowler. Working with higher defenses IS better and more desirable than working with lower defenses (although one must understand that the lower can be a progression for the specific individual, e.g. after a long, hard life). It is difficult to imagine the characteristics of the individual's particular type of spirituality not also largely distinguish how this individual is doing in their other lives (although a point in the essay probably becomes that the specific "new age" notions can make the individual perform at a more primitive/simpler level of maturity than would otherwise be the case). Advances in psychotherapy probably have effects and consequences for both areas of the individual's life. With increasing age, a movement normally occurs up towards the upper left corner. This is natural. The development of maturity may also have stalled (?) in early adult years, but can take off when the individual reaches middle age. Why? The basic conditions of life can no longer be turned a blind eye, one grows older, a relative immaturity may have made one more lonely than one would wish. This is not a "stage theory". Why not? If it tried to cover the entire life cycle, it would pretty much resemble Fowler, and be able to show a normal development of defense levels, etc. But since this schedule only covers adult spirituality, it becomes something else. The scheme also has two dimensions that are intended to cover and distinguish problems and pathology.