We Fear the full Intensity of Life

We Fear the full Intensity of Life

Humans seek to be more than animals. We seek to be gods or at least propagate that level above animal and below God.

That which promotes life is good that which promotes death is evil. “Evil lies not in the hearts of men but in the social arrangements that men take for granted.”

Wo/man lives a debased life under tyranny and self delusion because s/he does not comprehend the conditions of natural freedom. Sapiens need hope and belief in themselves; thus illusion is necessary if it is creative for life, but is evil if it promotes death.

A psychodynamic analysis of history displays saga of death, destruction, and coercion from the outside while inside we see self-delusion and self enslavement. We seek mystification. We seek transference; we seek hypnotists as our chosen leaders.

We seek the power to ward off big evil by reflexively embracing small terrors and small fascinations in the place of overwhelming ones.

Courage is the fundamental qualifying quality for being a hero. So, why are we all so naturally cowardly? Our goal is to be a hero and we lack the courage to be so.

We constantly struggle for a life that has meaning. All meaning for us is associated with that which comes to us from the outside. Our sense of self is derived by looking at others for determining who and what we are. “Our whole world of right and wrong, good and bad, our name, precisely who we are, is grafted into us; and we never feel we have authority to offer things on our own…we feel ourselves in many ways guilty and beholden to others…indebted to them for our very birth.”

Abraham Maslow spoke of our being fearful of standing alone. We fear actualizing our potential. We have the urge to ‘be all we can be’ but we fear to attempt the fulfillment of this urge. “We fear our highest possibility…we even thrill to the godlike possibilities we see in our self…yet we simultaneously shiver with weakness.” Maslow coined the phrase ‘Jonah Syndrome’ to mean the evasion of the full intensity of life.

The Jonah Syndrome is a justified fear of losing control and being torn apart—to even being killed by the experience of being all we can be. Otto Rank spoke of our natural feeling of inferiority in the face of the transcendence of life and creation.

Quotes from “The Denial of Death” by Ernest Becker

I know many people that live life at full pelt, and go off the rails more often than not - remember, there is nothing to fear but fear itself…

Human behavior is perplexing; especially so when it relates to human behavior when in a group.

I think that we are all ideologues who are often tremendously influenced by group psychology. It appears to me that our political affiliation is just one of the groups that tend to affect our behavior. We all are members of many ideological groups but there is one group which is dominant and we trim our other group allegiances to that dominate ideology.

I might be a Catholic, American, capitalist, gay rights, pro-choice, and Republican. All of these group affiliations must somehow exist under some dominant ideology. I think that seldom is our political affiliation the dominant ideology.

The animals in the swarm follow simple instinctual algorithms. There exists no management in the swarm and it is this fact that is the reason swarms are so effective.

It appears that group behavior is dominated by suggestibility and transference. Transference is what makes hypnotism possible.

Wo/man worships and fears power; we enthusiastically give our loyalty to our leader. Sapiens are at heart slavish. Therein lay the rub, as Shakespeare might say.

Freud was the first to focus upon the phenomenon of a patient’s inclination to transfer the feelings s/he had toward her parents as a child to the physician. The patient distorts the perception of the physician; s/he enlarges the figure up far out of reason and becomes dependent upon him. In this transference of feeling, which the patient had for his parents, to the physician the grown person displays all the characteristics of the child at heart, a child who distorts reality in order to relieve his helplessness and fears.

Freud saw these transference phenomena as the form of human suggestibility that makes the control over another, as displayed by hypnosis, as being possible. Hypnosis seems mysterious and mystifying to us only because we hide our slavish need for authority from our self. We live the big lie, which lay within this need to submit our self slavishly to another, because we want to think of our self as self-determined and independent in judgment and choice.

The predisposition to hypnosis is identical to that which gives rise to transference and it is characteristic of all sapiens. We could not function as adults if we retained this submissive attitude to our parents, however, this attitude of submissiveness, as noted by Ferenczi, is “The need to be subject to someone remains; only the part of the father is transferred to teachers, superiors, impressive personalities; the submissive loyalty to rulers that is so widespread is also a transference of this sort.”

Freud saw immediately that when caught up in groups wo/man became dependent children once again. They abandoned their individual egos for that of the leader; they identified with their leader and proceeded to function with him as their ideal. Freud identified man, not as a herd animal but as a horde (teeming crowd) animal that is led by a chief. Wo/man has an insatiable need for authority.

People have an insatiable need to be hypnotized by authority; they seek a magical protection as when they were infants protected by their mother. This is the force that acts to hold groups together, intertwined within a mutually constructed but often mindless interdependence. This mindless group think also builds a feeling of potency. The members feel a sense of unity within the grasp of their leadership.

‘Why are groups so blind and stupid?’ Freud asked; and he replied that mankind lived by self delusion. They “constantly give what is unreal precedence over what is real.” The real world is too frightening to behold; delusion changes this by making sapiens seem important. This explains the terrible sadism we see in group activity.

Ideologies are layered upon us as we grow from childhood on. We must become critically self-conscious in order to become conscious (focused) of them and then with that consciousness as a base we can begin a slow process of habit change to come to knowledge and understanding and thereby modify these forces. Of course all the while the present plutocratic forces are constantly ingraining other ideologies. We are faced with a constant effort and that is why we need a firm foundation in CT (Critical Thinking).

I think that we can look at this matter from two points of view. The individual finds comfort and security in belonging to a group. It is like the football fan that now lives in a city with a football team. The fan embraces that team and every thing it does is OK with the fan especially as long as it is winning. Then look at the matter from the view of the individual who recognizes this behavior and uses the group as a tool for his own interests.

Religion might be a useful example. Religion can be a great tool for those who know how to use it and religion can be a great comfort for the believer.

There is a fundamental difference between egocentric and sociocentric in that the ego is an apriori essence whereas the socio centric center is an idea created by another human. The group is a human construct with human purpose behind the construct.

Tradition Western thought holds the dichotomy of mind/body. Body is material substance whereas mind is a spiritual non material essence. Ideas are the result of that which is transcendent of material. The world is dominated by ideas especially theoretical thinking. Intellectual, moral, and artistic endeavors are spiritual in nature. And is the essence of humanity (according to Western tradition). These ideas can be analyzed without regard for the material existence of humanity.

Given this view the ideologue reifies (makes objects of these abstractions) ideas, which are the only legitimate objects of investigation. These abstract ideas which are now accepted as objects can be defined and manipulated by the source so as to cause the members to do whatever the source wishes.

The source (those who understand and manipulate the ideas) can construct a complex matrix of ideas that will then become the ‘bible’ for the members. A good example is how the Republican Party has learned how to manipulate ‘values’ to accomplish their political goals. I am not wanting to become partisan with this example I use Republicans because they are so good at it and the Democrats are so lousy at ‘framing’ these abstract ideas to accomplish a political goal.

I don’t fear the full intensity of life. I think without it I wouldn’t want to live. Boredom is a disease.


I read The Denial of Death quite a while ago. It was one of the most interesting books I have ever read in my life. It was also responsible for a lot of the growing up that I did – if I can consider myself “grown up” :laughing: :laughing: and a lot of “weed pulling” in my life. Perhaps I should read it again. Wonderful book.

Sometimes becoming a “hero” is simply a case of being in the right place at the right time. Many “heroes” will tell you that they didn’t even think of what they did – they simply did it. They said that had they taken the time to actually think about it beforehand, they could never have done it. Had nothing to do with courage albeit much heroism takes courage.

Also, just a thought here. If a hero is someone who has 'courage" – then where is the heroism.

A true hero is someone who does something, not with courage, but despite feeling fear within. Or are my thoughts faulty here? I suppose doing something despite being afraid is what courage is.

Someone who performs an heroic act, on the other hand, simply because of an adrenaline rush or because they don’t value their life, perhaps they are a thrill seeker, than that person to me isn’t a hero, just a thrill seeker.

Sometimes. But it can be useful too, especially when we don’t want either alienation or numbness to take control of our lives.

I was born in 1934 during the Great Depression. Dad drove a city bus in Amarillo Texas. My family moved to a very small town in Oklahoma before my first birthday; I had four siblings at the time we moved from Texas to Oklahoma to manage a small café and hotel that was then being managed by my uncle who wished to return to farming.

During the next 15 years my family managed that café and hotel. The building and the business was owned by an absentee landlord, Mr. Ruttzel. The operation was a 24/7 job that took the total energies of all members of the family as each of us became old enough to work.

This operation allowed my parents to raise a large family in reasonably comfortable conditions throughout the depression and war years of World War II.

What is the meaning of ‘hero’? I have taken one definition from the dictionary and have modified it to represent my comprehension of this concept of ‘heroic’. Heroic is a concept meaning a “determined effort [directed to achieve good or deter evil] in the face of difficulty”. In this definition I define ‘good’ as being that which promotes human life and ‘evil’ as that which promotes human death.

I think that there are degrees of heroic action. Some heroes are greater than others depending upon the circumstances of their action. To be a hero often requires courage and often causes personal hardship.

On a scale of one to ten I would classify the following people as heroes in most people’s judgment:
Mother Theresa (10)
Police and firemen entering the burning buildings in 9/11 attack (8 to 10)
My mom and dad (7)
Men and women fighting in Iraq: our side (5 to 10) their side (?)
Youngster really trying to make good grades in school (7)

The psychologist Alfred Adler said: “The supreme law [of life] is this: the sense of worth of the self shall not be allowed to be diminished.”

Heroic actions are our means for maintaining our self esteem. Without heroic action we cannot maintain our own self-esteem. Self-esteem is self-respect. We judge our self as to the degree of worthiness for respect. We rely partially upon the judgment of others but that respect from others is filtered by our own judgments to how heroic our actions are.

[b]It appears that we must feel self-esteem or we suffer mental illness of one degree or another. I gain self-esteem by reading lots of stuff, writing about that stuff, and posting that stuff on this forum, i.e. I am a self-actualizing self-learner (6).

Yeah and spiders

…the black widow? or…

…the tarantula?