AT HOME WITH THE INNER SELF

by Jim Burns

4. "MENTAL ILLNESS"

You have to have some form of work. I could say universally that all the long-term patients I knew in mental institutions were there largely because, for some reason or another, they missed the time to plug themselves into the work-a-day world, to find their place. Most were brow-beaten so badly by their surroundings that they never had a chance to get up off the floor. If this goes on long enough, it becomes a habit pattern. They learn to dodge themselves and the things around them by going internally. 'Not in the sense of insight, but in the sense of withdrawal. They go into a state you and I would call "numbness." When something traumatic occurs you can go numb in reaction to it. It is like when a fuse blows. It's too much to handle. You have to back up and take it a piece at a time. If things are too overwhelming, you go numb. If you can't stand the numbness, you go into a rage.

What they do is that their mind recycles on very short patterns, at least in some. They think about very little things in circles. The thing it effectively does is keep their attention span down to zero. If the attention span is kept down, you never have enough clearness to be aware of the pain. The mind does this as a protection mechanism. When somebody is forced into this pattern just after puberty, which is when all hell breaks loose, for any period of time over a year, then there is no changing it during their lifetime. It can't be done. I am lucky to have had the strange set of experiences that permitted me to become insightful instead of "circular." This type of circular thinker is a very small percentage of the population even in institutions.

"Defenses" aren't actually defenses, they're offences. Your defenses are you resisting the idea that you are sick. When you go through the full blown emotional experience of realizing that you are sick, guess what will happen. You will fight the thing right down to a stop, a death, an ego death. When it's over, you will no longer be sick. Sickness is about the emotional response to the realization of sickness. What is unusual about me is that I went through ego death when I was thirteen, and that was why I could study madness. The way out is through the middle, the only way out. I've been crazy, but I know everything there is to know about it. The craziest are those that are running away from it.

Everytime you deal with a deflated ego, you always find that the child part of you is behind it. Roughly speaking, the way it goes is... You may be driving down the road and you're thinking... I assume you accept the fact that you discover what you are thinking and darn near never decide what you're thinking, which is the fix we are all stuck with. You notice you're bent out of shape about something, but can't quite put your finger on what it is. You might be thinking about why you're driving an old junker instead of a new Cavalier, and on, and on.

You have to start by indentifying what is causing the problem in the clearest concepts possible, and let your thoughts run before you can find what is behind them. All of anxiety, shame, guilt and fear are generally wrapped up in the area of self-rejection. When some part of you is pounding at you, it's because it isn't getting something. When you can learn how to give it what it needs, it shuts up, whether it is the "child," the "adult," or the "engineer"-moderator part of you between the two. This is three different people. The key to the whole thing is tied in the hope that if you can find out what the part of you is really after, you can put it to rest.

When you get into childish, blind emotions, you have to go into them and find out what is behind them. When, on the other hand, it is the ego that is agitated, it's because you have not let the process of imagining run far enough ahead. In other words, the ego part of comprehension operates on the basis of images of where you want to go. When your ego starts hammering you, it's because you're not paying attention to what it is trying to give you as input in the process of letting your imagination run far enough to say that "this is what you want." It wants you to reach for this. It's hammering you because its not getting its point across.

The more effective you become at being the "engineer," the more that's the person you become. That's the identity you develop. The engineer becomes the central ego. You're in the process of becoming a person out of the three that would never have been there without the effort. You become an entirely different person. Eventually this third self becomes the only person that remains. The other two selves just become aspects of the central engineer.

The way it starts with everyone is that they stumble into the bad side of internal experience. You never stumble into the good side of internal experience. Nobody does. I never heard of a case. It always starts out with the nightmares getting you, and that forces you to do something about it. After years of sweating blood, you get to the point where you start working your way out of the mire. Then comes the good time, but only later. In the last analysis, some variation of inner sickness is the human condition for the reason that we have not yet learned enough to not have it be so. The paradise mankind is looking for lies in the direction of knowing enough about the psyche to raise children so that they never have to be sick. Children have to be raised to have an inner life.

People will die before they admit that they have an inner problem. So long as any part of you is that strongly denying a problem, you can see why they say schiz-ophrenia - two persons. One part of you knows as well as it knows anything that something is seriously wrong. The other part of you is saying "I am never going to cast myself with the outcastes." It's two egos fighting.

One ego says you're sick, that something is wrong. The other claims it's not true. You can never let go of the ego that knows something is wrong. You can never achieve it. You can let go of the one but you can't let go of the other. If you want to bleed it down, just let the words "I'm a freak, a mental case" play over and over in your mind. All the aberrations come in when the energies of the two egos, the one that says you're OK and the one that says you're not, collide.

All mental illness is the result of loneliness. Freud makes the remark somewhere that mental illness exhibits itself when the person first experiences the depths of loneliness. This is true no matter what the age. That's when it starts. If you are true to yourself, you will be abandoned, and you will do anything to avoid abandoment - which is the whole crux of the internal argument. The reason I got so violently sick when I was young was because I realized how wrong everybody's life was. If I'd have been able to go along with all their BS, I'd have never been sick.

We are gregarious by nature and the minute we start to feel separated, we are in trouble. This is because of the habit built into us of blaming ourselves instead of others. Seeing through this habit was the big difference for me. When I was driven crazy, I knew it was others that did it. I fought with the instinct to blame myself and said to myself that I would not buy it, that they caused the condition and not me, that they were responsible and not me. That was why I was such an oddball among the mentally ill. The mentally ill go around all day smearing feces on their face and the like, and doing everything they can that is self-demeaning. Their behavior is symbolic. In one form or another they are saying to the world "Look what you did to me!", but they do not go through the consciousness of it. Everything they do speaks to the issue of "Look what you've done to me." It is easier for them to blame themselves than to face the abyss of isolation.

When two people have an argument, it is similar to what occurs when two parts of the self are arguing. When two people come to a resolution, how is it possible? There is something in it for both sides. That's the only way resolution is possible. People argue about the fact that they want "theirs" everytime.

In an argument, one side says something and the other comes in and modifies it. This process goes on until the two become clear about what they want. Afterwards they don't know what the argument was about, because if they'd have looked, the answer was there from the beginning. Until the people look across the street and see what they want, the argument will go on.

With psychological problems, the only way that the part of you that says you're sick can win the argument is if it can make it blatantly obvious. The more you resist, the crazier you get is how the pattern works, until you break down and say to yourself "All right! All right! I'm crazy as a loon!" The other side collapses under the load. The part of you that wants to demonstrate how crazy you are is the emotional side, which people instinctively feel is right on the dark edge of the abyss. The part of you that wants to demonstrate that there is really nothing seriously wrong is the mental side. When the emotional side has spent itself through the admission that you really are crazy, then the mental side has calm to deal with.

The inner argument goes on and on and a chipping away, a little at a time, showing you how sick you are. It's saying "Look how sick you are, you idiot! When are you going to get wise!" It's serving a legitamate function. It's making it unavoidably clear that there's something wrong. When its finally made the whole point as an emotional experience, it just goes phhhttt. It's gone. Your mind doesn't set up all that energy for no reason. It's trying to do you a favor, but you will shake the shake of the damned before you can let go. But at the other end is the golden field.

When the emotional part has peaked, when it has driven you in your own experience in consciousness to the point where you realize you are completely bananas, then the ego dies. That's the emotional side's function. Then you say "Ahh, yes..." and the whole thing is over. You are no longer the same person. You no longer live in the same reality. It will take awhile before you realize some of the differences. You no longer strive to be like the people you have been unknowingly striving to be like. You look at people and realize that every one of them is wacky. It's an entirely different reality. The argument is gone. Both sides die and you become a new third person. You are back to spontaneity versus constantly planning. You are back to where you started with the exception of knowing how you got there.

What finally happens is that you realize everyone is messed up, so what the heck. But only after it has driven you through the agony of response and ego death. You say to yourself: "Every ounce of my energy, every second of my consciousness, is caught up in this %$&#$! thing! I just can't stand it anymore!" It'll work you until you drop.

When it occurs to you that you have psychological problems, the first reaction that happens is "What did I do wrong?" That's why your ego fights it for so long, because you paint it on yourself. You blame it on yourself, and you go through a whole round robin until you come to the point where you say, "Wait a minute here Jack. Where is the baby that can change its own diaper? Where's the infant that can form its own mind? Somebody messed me over!" Before you know anything about how they did it, know that they did it.

The question is not really whether you did something wrong, but did you learn something? That's all. The worst parental attitude is the same as that of the Catholic Church, that you are ipso facto wrong, that there is nothing right about you, and that you couldn't do anything right except occasionally by accident. The business of your mind getting going on that "something is wrong" can be a blind alley. I'm not saying it always is.

You cannot do anything, this side of total insanity, that comes to you as being a wrong action that is not some form of hostility. You cannot have a hostile reaction without a cause. The cause is always not being understood when you wanted to be. It is not having the opportunity to talk to someone about what was on your mind, and be understood. When you talk about cause and effect chains, I will make the claim that there can never be anything that comes to guilt that did not start as loneliness. As a result I quit dealing with guilt altogether. I went back to the loneliness and dealt with that, and the guilt just doesn't exist. It evaporates. Guilt is one of those traps. Loneliness is something that always afflicts those with high IQs. They have nobody that takes as obvious the things they take as obvious. They are bound into higher concepts.

If you are into working on consciousness, into seeking to unlock the hidden resources, you aren't going to find much company. Let's hope you find enough company. The average person is so frightened of these things that if he ever gets an insight into them, he will run away and never come back. I really think it takes a conscious effort to stay away from inner study. Instinctively people know that they have the same problems and questions, but a little less of it. They can play the game of "stay away," and they stay away as long as they can, just the same as you or the same as I did. "Why" is because it is more important to get your face fixed than to get your head fixed. There's nothing more difficult that this work, but if you want to know what it is like to feel like a giant, wait until you get to the other side of this mountain.

I never saw anyone that didn't take this inner conflict down to the last agonizing grunt. Until you are prostrate and totally without energy to fight it, you can't let it overcome you. And until you can let it overcome you, you can't be set free. To have any choice about the matter is almost impossible.

If you have the opportunity to let it loose, don't deny yourself the opportunity.

If something is serious enough that it keeps coming to the surface, sooner or later it will come to the point of you using all your energy to try to keep away from it. My doctor used to be the automobile. I drove hundreds of thousands of miles. It gives the outer mind just enough to do that it allows the inner mind to come up for some air. Whatever is trying to get to the surface, don't be startled by its first form. What it really is, is likely an eternity away from what you think it is. I never saw anyone who wasn't brought to a crossroads before they achieved insight. I just wish I knew why it is this way. Until you are total wreckage you can't get saved. That upsets me.

The first thing that comes to your mind when you finally have to let go, is that it is the end of your world. You think your mind is going to run amuck and they're going to find you running down the middle of the street babbling at the moon. The first time it happened to me I only ended laying down face first in my roon for about twenty minutes. It was the rage to live. 'To be alive, to know, to feel, to love, to be.

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