The Reenchantment of the World, Morris Berman

Modern science is grounded in a sharp distinction between fact and value; it can only tell us how to do something, not what to do or whether we should do it.

Reason is now completely instrumental, zweckrational. One can no longer ask, "Is this good?," but only, "Does this work?," a question that reflects the mentality of the Commercial Revolution and the growing emphasis on production, prediction, and control.

The ego is a persona, a mask created and demanded by everyday social interaction, and, as such, it constitutes the center of our conscious life, our understanding of ourselves through the eyes of others. The Self, on the other hand, is our true center, our awareness, of ourselves without outside interference, and it is developed by bringing the conscious and unconscious parts of our mind into harmony.

If you would have real control over your life, abandon your artificial control, your "identity," the brittle ego that you desperately feel you must have for your survival.

"The map is not the territory."

We search desperately for love and authenticity, but in the context of a world that has taught us to fear these very things. The results are, inevitably, mass neurosis and substitute gratification.

Reich's central argument was that what we call "personality," or "character," was itself a neurosis: "there cannot be a neurotic symptom," he wrote, "without a disturbance of the character as a whole. Symptoms are merely peaks on the mountain ridge which the neurotic character represents."

The "mountain ridge" to which Reich referred is the specific structure of the personality, which has a psychic aspect, the neurosis, and a muscular one, the character armor. Early in life, he contended, the spontaneous nature of the child is subjected to severe repression by its parents, who fear such spontaneity (in particular, the lack of sexual and sensual inhibition) and socialize it out of the child, as it was long ago socialized out of them. By age four or five, the natural instincts have been crushed or surrounded by a psychic defence structure that has a muscular rigidity as its correlate. What is lost is the ability to succumb to involuntary experience, to abandon control and lose oneself in activity; to obtain what Reich called "orgastic gratification." The orgastically ungratified person develops an artificial character and a fear of spontaneity. Whereas the healthy character is in control of his or her armor, the neurotic character is controlled by it. The emotions of the latter, including anger, anxiety, sexual desire, or whatever, are rigidly held down by this muscular tension, and the result is the stiff or collapsed posture and mechanical articulation of the body that is observable almost everywhere in our society. This neurotic character, or "modal personality," encased in character armor, might most appropriately be compared to a crustacean. Its entire character is designed to fulfill the function of defense and protection or, alternatively, acquisition and aggrandizement. It moves from crisis to crisis, driven by a desire for success and proud of its ability to tolerate stress. Its armoring is not merely a defense against the other, but against its own unconscious, its own body. The armor may protect against pain and anger, but it also protects against everything else. These emotions are held down by inverted values, such as compulsive morality and social politeness - the veneer of civilization. The modal personality is thus a mixture of external conformity and internal rebellion. It reproduces, like a sheep, the ideology of the society that molded it in the first place, and thus its ideology is essentially life-negating. In reproducing that ideology, the neurotic character produces its own suppression. Neurosis is not some adventitious accretion, some fly in the ointment. It is, Reich, argued, an icon of personality and culture as a whole.

Learning III is learning about Learning II, about your own "character" and world view. It is a freedom from the bondage of your own personality - an awakening to ecstasy, as William Bateson once defined true education.