EAST IS EAST AND WEST IS WEST AND SOMETIMES THEY MEET
A study in the Psychology of NewNess
The New Age (with its combination of reincarnation, karma, and an idea of the gradual perfection of the soul) exerts pressure on the follower that makes him function at a lower level of development than would otherwise be natural.
New Age ideology exerts an influence on the adherent to function at a lower level of development than would otherwise be natural for him.
How does the New Age supporter experience and reason about the eternal questions?
How does the New Age supporter experience the usual (Christian and materialistic) answers to these questions in relation to his own beliefs?
Coping strategies are "automatic psychological processes that protect the individual from anxiety and from becoming aware of internal or external dangers or stresses" (Mini-D, DSM-4. 2002). These are organized into different levels that correspond with different amounts of restriction of the individual's life experience and functioning. Feelings of the futility of suffering, the brevity of life, one's fundamental abandonment, etc. – which, on a higher level, are formulated as the "eternal questions" – can be assumed to be very anguishing. One assumption is that we all need to deal with these feelings one way or another, they are simply overpowering. Religion as a way to escape or gain some distance from such feelings and questions. Anxiety can be moderated or kept away using different coping strategies. These serve the same purpose, but involve a greater or lesser restriction on the functioning of the individual. Religion has been perceived by many writers (Freud et al.) to be — even, or exclusively this — a framework of such coping strategies. However, religious and spiritual teachings and interpretive traditions are very different from each other. An underlying hypothesis for this study is that different thought systems or frameworks within the religious-spiritual sphere entail different great limitations on the individual's ability to function, in that they actually activate or sanction different coping strategies. One way to investigate this may be to ask followers of different teachings how they experience and answer the eternal questions. However, there is no simple one-to-one relationship that is assumed to exist between the answers given and which coping strategies the individual uses. An underlying hypothesis for this study, however, is that parallels that can be demonstrated (according to the principle of "guilt by association" tell something about a pressure or a tension field that the individual in question has to live under and try to navigate. At the group level, this will also distinguish the followers of different teachings from each other. The hypothesis is further that the pressure exerted by the thought system will be noticeable both in them and before their encounter with the current thought system has a relatively mature and stable psyche – which in this context is that they are able to use preferably higher or more mature coping strategies – as well as in those who before have a more unstable psyche and have to rely on defense mechanisms from lower levels. This will be noticeable at the group level.
That you should have chosen your own parents, and/or that you call difficult life experiences "disguised love" (based on the notion that all experiences aim to develop us towards perfection), has obvious similarities to the reactions you find also in, for example, abused partners and neglected children who want to blame themselves. We are prepared within us to be able to retreat to more basic levels of consciousness, and to be able to activate defense mechanisms (introjection, identification with aggressor, "freeze", etc.) in order to fend off or moderate painful or anguished experiences. Is it likely that an individual can live with a world of imagination, a cognitive material, which in many paragraphs could be a "verbalization" of very primitive defenses, without curtailing the individual's life experience and cognitive ability? Behind the hypothesis of this study lies the assumption that such a distinction is hardly possible to make/maintain.
Magical thinking ("thought is creation"/"everything is illusion"/"You create your own reality")
Omnipotence ("great abilities underway"/"Has been high priest in previous incarnation")
Idealization ("enlightened persons"/gurus)
Introjection/turn towards self/identification with aggressor ("chosen by their parents")
Ideas of reference ("direct speech of life"/all I encounter is direct "speech" from God)
Denial ("There is no evil, only Ocutical"/"All is very good"/"Disguised love")
To explore which coping strategies can be recognized in the reasoning that the individual uses around their own experiences and which are sanctioned or encouraged, explicitly or implicitly, by the doctrine. The hypothesis is that immature defense mechanisms are relatively common, which can then be extrapolated to be associated with corresponding problems and limitations as for other groups of individuals who rely on such coping strategies. Link to borderline or narcissism, for example. Examples of light distortion of reality and denial are more prevalent than higher-level coping strata, i.e. inhibition level or high adaptive level (DSM mini, 2002). Higher or mature defense mechanisms.
High adaptive: Antecipation, sublimation, humor.
Takeaway level: Intellectualization, affect isolation, reaction formation, displacement, cancellation
Easy workl.distortion: Devaluation, idealization, omnipotence
Level of denial: Denial, projection, rationalization
Pronounced verkl.distortion: Autistic fantasies, projective identification, splitting of obj- och sj.repr
Based on psychoanalytic theory, we can be said under pressure tend to function at a lower level than is normal for us. Each individual also has their "breaking point". One's normal level can be said to be the functioning one can maintain during normal life circumstances.
In order to determine what is delusions, etc., one must take into account the cultural context of the individual.
Immature defense mechanisms distort or re-make the world more bearable to live in. "An immature defense is a way of denying reality as it stands and instead redoing it to make it easier to live in. In this way, you actively make sure to avoid feelings of unease and strong internal stress. Common to the immature defenses is that the wearer does not feel that they have any problems. On the contrary, it is the environment that is considered to have it. In this group there is little, if any, self-awareness and it is difficult to see one's own need for help."
"The difference between the immature defenses and the neurotic ones is that the latter take into account not only their own needs, but also include those of others. Which in turn means that people with neurotic defenses find it easier to function in social contexts. The problem with these defenses is that while they keep pain and stress in check, the price I pay is subdued emotions and a subdued life."
Coping strategies at Borderline (PDM, p25) "immature" or "primitive"
Primitive devaluation (of itself and others)