The following chapter was initially removed due to my feeling that it fell prey to the very fanciful model-making which the rest of this work has been intent on invalidating and getting free from. I have reincorporated it now as I think there is meritorious material mixed in with the poetic musings, and leave it to the reader to sort out wheat from chaff.
“[Dissociation] is not a passive, benign process whereby different parts of the mind become disconnected and ‘drift apart.’ Instead, dissociation appears to involve a good deal of aggression—apparently it involves an active attack by one part of the psyche on other parts. It is as though the normally integrative tendencies in the psyche must be interrupted by force. Splitting is a violent affair—like the splitting of an atom.”
—Donald Kalsched, The Inner World of Trauma
Does Strieber really believe that belief in aliens will make them real? Does Bainbridge really believe that belief in a possible future will create that future? Do the futurologists really believe in space industrialization, or are they only pretending to believe to convince others to believe? How can we map the area of overlap between the imagined and the real if the one is constantly bringing about the other? As humans struggle to become disembodied “mind at large” and enter into the daimonic realms, is it more than a metaphor to ask if the “aliens” or inorganic beings are trying to become embodied in our world?
Not surprisingly, perhaps, this outré science-fantasy scenario has its equivalent in the considerably more sordid and mundane literature of psychological trauma. Dissociating from the body gives rise to a fragment-self in which awareness hides. Since the whole psyche cannot really “live” without the body—but only exist as a kind of ghostly entity—it is constantly seeking reintegration of that fragmented portion of consciousness in order to “land” in the body. Meanwhile, that fragment, by taking control of the body, becomes the mind-self that governs and directs consciousness, and gets busy doing all it can to stay out of the body, to get as far from it as possible in order to retain its independent existence and avoid re-experiencing the original trauma.
While there can be little doubt how maladaptive these archetypal defenses are in later life, what is less recognized is “the miraculous nature of these defenses—their life-saving sophistication or their archetypal nature and meaning” (The Inner World of Trauma, p. 2).
The antonym of diabolic is “symbolic,” from sym-ballein, meaning “to throw together.” We know that both processes—throwing apart and throwing together—are essential to psychological life and that in their apparently antagonistic activities we have a pair of opposites which, when optimally balanced, characterize the homeostatic processes of the psyche’s self-regulation. Without “throwing apart” we would have no differentiation, and without “throwing together,” there would be no synthetic integration into larger wholes. These regulatory processes are especially active at the transitional interface between the psyche and the outer reality—precisely the threshold at which defense is necessary. We might imagine this self-regulatory activity, then, as the psyche’s self-care system, analogous to the body’s immune system (Kalsched, p. 17).
In both mythology and history there are numerous equivalents for the diabolic/symbolic process of materialization and dematerialization. The most obvious one would be the religious model of creation—the emergence of a world of finite forms from the formless infinite potential of “the Godhead” (“Let there be light”). Then there is the scientific one, the Big Bang. Somewhere in between these two apparent polarities, there are countless quasi-scientific creation myths, or quasi-religious esoteric systems, from Gnosticism’s Demiurge to the Theosophists, from Steiner’s Ahriman and Lucifer to Philip K. Dick’s techno-cosmology and the various ET-taxonomies of Anunakin, Nephilim, and the Nommo (and warring twins) of the Dogon tribe, supposedly related to Sirius A and B. Philip K. Dick’s split in the Godhead is a more elaborate and sophisticated (sci-fi) retelling of the myth of Lucifer, the fallen angel who defied God and was cast out of Heaven to forge his own creation. The common theme is a loss of wholeness due to fragmentation, which sounds like a collective retelling of the primary experience of every human being, splitting off from the mother—first from the womb and then from her psyche—and taking the first, tentative steps towards individuation.
This central organizing agency in the collective psyche is what Jung calls the archetype of the Self, both light and dark. It is characterized by extraordinary numinosity, and an encounter with it can involve either salvation or dismemberment, depending on which side of the Self’s numinosity is experienced by the ego. . . . Until the ego develops, the unified Self cannot actualize—but once constellated, it becomes the “ground” of the ego and its “guide” in the rhythmic unfolding of the individual’s inborn personality potential (Kalsched, p. 18)
Whether we are directed away from the wholeness of the mother (primal oneness) and towards a new, independent wholeness, or back towards the lost Eden, determines whether we experience “the self’s numinosity” as light or dark, soul-transforming or soul-destroying—as Eros or as Thanatos. The psychopath (from Norman Bates to Jimmy Savile) is the mother-bonded male who can only express the “transcendental” urge to wholeness by destroying everything that threatens to bring about separation from the mother (i.e., the internally-generated image of the mother). This would include anything that awakens the life force—i.e., the authentic Self—which is the ultimate threat to that infantile bond. The “spiritual psychopath” is attempting a kind of inverse individuation, projecting outward the images of his (or her) own trauma and, in lieu of integration, slaying them, sometimes literally (sometimes even consuming them), more often sexually controlling them in a misguided attempt at “consummation.”
While mythological, spiritual, and religious (and sci-fi) imagery can be used to deepen our understanding of the psychological journey of human existence, in the end, such imagery takes on a life of its own and creates a virtual reality of symbols in place of things. The only viable corrective to this is to apply psychology to the myths which we have become lost in, to “diabolically” bust them wide open, accessing the vital energy of the psyche that has been trapped inside the images.
To read full essay, order Prisoner of Infinity: UFOs, Social Engineering, and the Psychology of Fragmentation