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But the reality is, this is the reality. At least mine. He left. So here I am wondering if this is just the way it is. They are not thinking in terms of morals and marital vows. That's clear. Those boundaries are meaningless, so what is meaningful to them? I have no answers. I found these books very difficult to read, and I'm thankful to RCR for talking about them.
RCR, always interested in your take on things. I would love you to review the Robert A. Johnson books He, We, and She... which I found profound.
Best wishes to everyone. This is hard stuff. The hardest.
Here's what I wondered... if other Jungian books present the *theory* and this presents what it might look like *in practice*. It's murky and ugly and hard to look at. But this did shed some light for me on what might be inside my WS's screwed up head. Anyway, food for thought (for me).
Thanks for posting about them. Difficult reads.
"MLCers think that they are following their bliss. They are certainly hearing a call, but they fail to understand and instead misinterpret what they are supposed to do. Their Shadow is calling and they run away and fall in fear, landing in the arms of temptation. Addictive highs may feel like what they think bliss should feel."
"MLCers, in narcissistic Replay, are afraid of their true reflection—the reflection they see when looking in the eyes of others. They instead find an Echo, someone who will spout empty praise and faun over them."
I agree, and I also think that the narcissism of MLC shows itself in their withdrawal, inward focus, inability to show empathy.... at least with my MLCer, I think he was actually unable to consider anyone's feelings but his own. He was/maybe still is totally focused on himself.
Re follow your bliss. My WS and I were interested in Joseph Campbell long before his MLC began. Here's an irony for you. We were actually watching the Power of Myth on video the night before I found out about OW#1 which was the first inkling I had of anything going on. It came out of the blue. We were watching the Power of Myth and I caught him the next morning (literally a few hours after we'd been watching it together!) on a tryst, lying to me about where he'd gone.
He seemed repentant at the time and I remember asking him how on earth he could have just been watching Joseph Campbell and not seen any conflict with what he went out and did the following morning. He didn't see any conflict. I watched the Power of Myth again by myself a few years later... long after all hell had broken loose in our lives and my WS was long gone... and I thought wow, that was another example of my WS really not "getting" something in the right way... or at least what I think is right. He had a twisted take on everything during MLC. I could see how an MLCer or narcissist would take Campbell's words to mean something they weren't intended. And then Campbell himself later said that he wished he'd never come up with that phrase because of how it had been misinterpreted. He might as well have said "follow your blisters." LOL
As far as amoral... I still see it that way. The psyche is amoral. I think that morals are cultural. They are things that human beings create. Right/wrong is a judgement call and open to interpretation and context.
MLCers don't show much in the way of conventional morals, generally speaking. As you put it, "Their Shadow is calling and they run away and fall in fear, landing in the arms of temptation. Addictive highs may feel like what they think bliss should feel."
If an MLC is one path toward individuation, I would call it amoral. Morals are not part of the equation on that road to individuation.
But not everyone has an MLC and I think an MLC is not a requirement on the road to individuation, right? So maybe a person can follow a path toward individuation while maintaining some kind of moral compass... i.e., not breaking marriage vows, not hurting people (including themselves), not falling into the addictions/"fun" replay behaviors we often see with MLCers...
I'm not sure psychoanalysis (with or without an MLC involved) involves much consideration of conventional morals. It seems like a pretty narcissistic (and I don't mean it in the sense of the personality disorder) process... very inward-focused/naval-gazing. I don't have first-hand experience with it, so that's just my impression.
Thanks for putting so much time into these posts, RCR. I'm enjoying the discussion.
I think you make a lot of great points and they are very problematic. I've been reading the Jungian stuff for years now and I do think it describes what happened to my WS. I am still very, very ambivalent about it being "necessary." The individuation process seems to me extremely amoral and narcissistic (including Jung's own behavior in his personal life!). It is problematic, to say the least. Damn the torpedoes! Everyone and everything is left in the dust.
I think I have less issue with someone going through this for their own Self, than with Lesser who uses her knowledge to "help" others go through it, too.
RCR, two more books I would love for you to read/review: The Survival Papers: Anatomy of a Midlife Crisis and Dear Gladys: The Survival Papers Book 2, both by Daryl Sharp. I love these short Jungian books that have so much to say. Warning, these are also very difficult reads for Standers.
FWIW they didn't bother me nearly as much as Lesser's book! They do, however, make it crystal clear to me that the LBS is a bystander in the process. I think that's why it's difficult to read from a Stander's point of view.
I read the book a while ago now, but it was recommended to me by my divorce attorney. She found it very deep and meaningful. She was married with young children, so I don't believe that MLC had touched her personal life, but I'm sure she saw its fallout daily in her work. The book affected me so strongly. I found it... offensive, I guess, that Lesser would create this whole system of basically encouraging people to re-create themselves. In the context of concurrently watching the process as the LBS of an MLCer recreating himself... it made me ill. And then to read about Lesser's own Phoenix moment or whatever she calls it... the shaman lover and coming alive sexually and finding herself and how she used that new energy to create a new "her." Ew. I felt the same about Eat, Pray, Love. The poor husbands.
I don't know. What makes us different than other animals? Our souls, our self-consciousness, our civility. Civility, to me, includes the codes of conduct that are accepted in our culture. Ten commandments, Golden Rule, morals, laws, vows, whatever else.
The uncontrollable "urges"... the inevitable falling into the abyss and coming back up by having sex with inappropriate people.... it's just senseless and I have no other way to view it. I think it must be somehow ingrained in humans, for some evolutionary reason, some crazy mix of hormones and whatever come together to cause this. I don't have that figured out. I just found it a bit... revolting that Lesser would turn this around, make lemonade from her lemons, and decide to "help" others achieve the same wonderful thing with their lives.
I don't see it as heroic and I think it's a bit sick that after it happens, someone uses it as a "defining moment." Of course, you have to move on and accept the reality that you did this. And of course, every experience gets us to where we are today, and if we like where we are today we can be "thankful" that we took the path we took and call it the "right" path or the "inevitable" path... but I still see that as wrong thinking. It's justifying what happened because of the later result.
Granted, we all need to grow and change and we should all try to be authentic and true to ourselves. I just found Lesser to have this weird mish mash/misreading of some writers and thinkers who I admire. It occurs to me that Lesser struck me like my WS did when we were in MC during a false R.... our MC gave us some readings to do together to discuss and his take on them was so bizarre and "off" and different from my take and I felt that he was suffering from "wrong thinking." It was like he would consciously ignore the point the writer was obviously (to me, and to the MC) trying to make, and come up with his own take on it which was MLC/senseless. That is how Lesser's book read to me.
I realized my reaction to that book was odd and I am interested to hear how others read it... not taking it the same as me. I still have strong emotions about this whole experience and for some reason Lesser hit on a sensitive spot for me.
Last thing, and it's kind of off topic, but it's about "urges." For some reason when it comes up in the newspaper I particularly notice that word. The East Coast rapist has recently been in the news and he described his uncontrollable "urges" to rape more women than he can remember. I also read something recently about John Lennon's killer (must have been the anniversary) and the guy talked about his uncontrollable urge to kill Lennon. Serial killers have those uncontrollable urges. Pedophiles. Etc. I don't know where I'm going with this, but I just think that this experience of the shadow urging the person to something horrible is a common theme. Why do some allow it to take them over while others do not? For some the shadow just simply seems to stay buried, the urges don't awaken. For some, the rules of civility, the vows, the commandments, whatever, are enough to stop them. But this, I think now, is just a facade, an illusion. Some give in to the urges, some (many?) suffer because of them, some accept them, some seem to revel in them or compartmentalize fully so they forget them. The human mind/soul/psyche is so strange. Anyway, thank you for giving me some things to think about.
Good luck with your move.
I don’t believe a “Phoenix moment” or crisis is a necessary part of living life as an authentic human being. I don’t believe in destiny. I believe in free will and making choices. I also believe each of us is not the center of the universe and that we have a responsibility toward others (Golden Rule). BTW I am not religious at all.
You hear what you want to hear. I’m guessing Lesser had more folks telling her she was an ass than she had encouraging her to look to new horizons, but she chose to listen to the psychic telling her what she wanted to hear.
To me, Lesser took an experience (her affair) and guides (her shaman lover and a psychic) and decided, while still wearing her MLC shit goggles and probably in the midst of lust-induced dementia (these are terms used by people on the midlife board), that life with H#1 was not worth returning to, because she had bigger and better things ahead… more, better sex, more excitement, more LIFE! Woohoo!
Similar to many of our MLCers? Probably. Admirable? Not to me. The only inevitable path she could have taken to fulfillment in life? I don’t think so. But she did choose it, and she’s found herself content where she ended up, and so she’s interpreted the affair that triggered her to take this path as the golden phoenix moment in her life… a brilliant awakening. That, to me, is justification of the means (the affair).
I looked back to my reading journal to remind myself about the book, which I read a while ago. I felt it was a weird mishmash/misreading of philosophies, psychology, and mysticism and that she tried to pull it all together into something she teaches to others. Odd ideas.
I wrote this in my journal (and please note this was my personal reaction to the book... not meant as an unbiased review or for anyone else's eyes, but I thought I would share it with you here): “I do not believe people that have basic coping skills, morals, and feelings of self-worth need to have a crisis (breaking open) in order to grow as human beings. I believe the crisis is an error… not something to aspire to, but a possibility to be aware of and thoughtfully avoid. The smartest thing I ever read through all of this was Bill Roberts explaining the psychology of MLC and saying that it’s unfortunate when people mistake these things for external realities… the projections, the anima/animus, the shadow, the soulmate… the mistake is thinking these are external. They are not. They are internal. That is the meaning of “soul.” It’s not about external reality. It’s about internal reality. Searching for them externally is an error… acting on these things externally is simply misbehavior. Immoral, amoral, immature, narcissistic misbehavior. I reacted really strongly to this book. It’s total, utter bullshit.”