Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Abuser as the Paradoxical Guru: The Mind to Mind Transmission of Projective Identification



In Tibetan Buddhism and various other spiritual disciplines a highly advanced practitioner may take on the mantle of the ‘guru’ to help develop and ripen the spiritual potential of his or her students. The guru may operate as a figurehead of a hierarchical structure or be a solitary individual who works with students at their own discretion. The role of guru is often misunderstood, particularly in Western culture. The fundamental principle of the guru is that there is a 'weight' to their level of spiritual realization which may be transmitted to students through the various disciplines and dynamics formulated in their working relationship. A transmission, in its simplest terms, is an exchange of spiritual energy from one person to another. The central component underpinning the guru/disciple relationship is the guru’s capacity to create an opening in the mind of the student so that the guru may 'give them back' their divine nature.  The guru may only activate this potentiality on the grounds that they have already stabilized themselves in a sufficient level of realisation which they can then transmit to other beings. The potent dynamic of the guru/disciple relationship can carry many risks and students are generally advised to evaluate a potential guru over several years before committing to the deep and devotional aspects of a direct working alliance. There are a variety of methods used by the guru when guiding the student on the path of awakening. The most famous of these is the 'pointing out instruction' which is arguably the apex point of the relationship. ‘Pointing out’ simply involves having the guru point to the students direct perception in the immediate environment whilst transmitting the authentic nature of the experience to them. Another method used by the guru, particularly in spiritual groups, is the abhisheka. An abhisheka is essentially a ceremony or series of ritualistic acts that transmit the spiritual power of the lineage to the students, directly through the guru.

We can see quite clearly that the authentic guru is doing all they can to elicit the highest potentiality in the student by transferring their energy and fully realised potential into them. The antithesis of this psychological dynamic can present itself through the advanced state of schizophrenia, when the schizophrenic individual has become so removed from their objective state of reality that they inadvertently impart the energetic imprint of their disowned selves on individuals in their immediate environment. In a complete reversal of the guru transmission, the psyche of the schizophrenic creates a paradoxical exchange of deep rooted psychological trauma that is somehow imparted on the other individual. Projective identification is a significant step beyond the Freudian concept of psychological projection. As stated on Wikipedia, it is best described by the psychiatrist Ronald David Laing as “… one person does not use the other merely as a hook to hang projections on. He strives to find in the other, or to induce the other to become, the very embodiment of projection”. The individual receiving the profound and unfiltered capacity of the schizophrenics psyche will be (momentarily at least) required to undertake a significant psychological initiation. Should they remain unprotected and out of awareness through the exchange, their sense of self will have been completely bypassed and any unconscious processes in their own psyche will likely be fully activated in them. For a brief period the individual will run the potential of acting out the very madness that the schizophrenic denies within themselves, and if so, will ironically validate the schizophrenic’s belief  that the problems are ‘outside’ of themselves.  We can see within this dynamic that the schizophrenic also carries the divine power of co-creation in the immediacy of their environment, albeit a perversion and introversion of the legitimate guru’s actions. From this perspective the hereditary passing on of mental illness in certain families could be considered nothing more than spiritual initiation, depending on how specific relational dynamics have played out between the family members. 

The title of this post of course refers to ‘abusers’ which moves us on from the extreme but not intended projective identification of a schizophrenic. In many cases however, high level socio-paths and psychopaths share similar principles with schizophrenics. Both have bypassed a balanced objective sense of self (a splitting if you like, from the authentic self), and both have become thoroughly disconnected to their emotional problems and sense of lack which propels their condition. If we therefore use a high powered but scrupulous CEO as an example we can illuminate how the transmission operates in an objective setting. The sense of ‘lack’ and ‘powerlessness’ in the CEO has not been integrated and realistically not even contemplated. It is however inseparable from the field of awareness that permeates his psyche. In other words, his unconscious is very powerful and inter-penetrating the minds of those in his immediate surroundings (and beyond) to act out the very things that he refuses to see in himself. The CEO is therefore the’ King of Samsara’ (conditioned existence) by virtue of cultivating and breeding anti-spiritual values in the psychic realm, that further bind individuals to the material realm.


The process works in an equally potent but more intimate manner in the socio-paths romantic relationships.  The socio-path seems to become a conduit for the darker forces of the world, activating ruptures in the psyche of their partners. Their controlling behaviour creates an opening and blurring of the personal boundary, generating a greater potential for psychic transmission. Even the pattern of emotional abuse falls into a scheme of behaviour that can be labelled a ‘ritual’, although this is again an introversion to the authentic spiritual design. The depleted victim will continue to be worn down by the constant projections of the socio-path, until they become the very thing that they are being sculpted to be in the mind of their abuser. The abuse and projections of course are moving the victim as far away as possible from their spiritual potential. They are however been given a very deep initiation into the interconnected nature of the psyche and the living world. Should the victim understand the implications of their direct experience with the socio-path, they will be given a formidable arsenal to work with on the spiritual path. The abuse can become the backbone of their resilience and fortitude towards healing themselves and eventually reversing the fortunes of conditioned existence by understanding the direct nature of their experience. 

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