-- John A. Speyrer, Webmeister, The Primal Psychotherapy Page.
The Primal Psychotherapy Page: In One Cosmos under God you propose that much of our behavior has its roots in our early repressed memories as has even our philosophical positions.
On page 114, you write:
". . . (M)any disturbances in mentation can be readily traced to the earliest relationships, and . . . most forms of mental illness, in one degree or another involve difficulty in 'thinking one's thoughts' or 'feeling one's emotions.' Indeed, one way of putting it is that disturbed minds do not generally think their thoughts, but are thought by them; thoughts, emotions and mental states abruptly 'intrude' in an unpredictable, uncontrollable, unassimiliable, and bewildering way, prevent any real continuity in being and identity."
Since feeling one's thoughts is the first step in acting out one's thoughts, do you believe that we possess free will as claimed by mainline religions and judicial systems or does toxic acting out, in reality, point to our robotic behavior and lack of freedom of choice?
Dr. Robert W. Godwin:
As is the case in most ultimate antinomies, the question of free will vs.
determinism is not an either/or issue. Rather, we can possess "more or
less" free will, depending on various circumstances. But by and large, our
free will is squandered and given away. As Dostoyevsky wrote, man has "no
more pressing need than the one to find somebody to whom he can surrender as
quickly as possible that gift of freedom with which he, unfortunate
creature, was born."
One of the circumstances that limits our free will is what I am calling mind
parasites--internalized patterns of traumatic interactions with early
(s)caregivers. Nevertheless, except in extreme cases, we are always
ultimately free to either act out these patterns or to understand and
One of the cultural problems that has arisen since the 1960's is a
persistent misunderstanding of the notion of freedom. For example, if you
ask me if I am free to play the saxophone, the answer is "no," the reason
being that I have not put in the requisite time to study music and practice
the instrument. Of course, I am "free" to pick up a saxophone and randomly
blow into it, but what kind of freedom is that? Only through intense
discipline and long years of practice am I free to produce something
musically satisfying on the instrument, that is, to achieve "aesthetic
All meaningful human freedoms are analogous to that. Freedom is not just
the absence of constraint or the ability to indulge one's whims in an
aimless fashion. Rather, real freedom always involves discipline,
boundaries, and most importantly, a higher goal or standard toward which the
freedom is directed. Otherwise, mere freedom itself is by no means a
morally or spiritually constructive entity. In the absence of higher goals
and standards, people are abandoned either to a passive, rudderless, aimless
existence or to a more impulsive acting out of various psychological
patterns. For example, the crime wave in the United States began in the
1960's, when psychologists and social workers taught that people were not
responsible for their own behavior--in effect, that they were automatons
condemned to act out their anti-social mind parasites. Crime continued to
rise exponentially after the 1960's, during which time prison sentences were
cut across the board. In other words, as standards of behavior were
mitigated, crime increased exponentially. Only when more severe punishments
were reinstated in the 1990's did the crime wave begin to diminish.
So the point is, there is a higher form of freedom and a lower form.
Likewise, there are higher forms of constraint and discipline, as well as
lower ones (such as the Sharia law of the Islamic world). The idea is to
discipline one's "lower" or "natural" freedom by certain boundary conditions
oriented toward the good, the true or the beautiful, through which a
"higher" kind of freedom emerges--the freedom of scientific advance,
economic development, philosophical truth, aesthetic depth, and
psycho-spiritual growth. Real freedom is a task, a discipline and an
acquisition, not a mere "given."
* * *
PPP: On pages 20-21,you write,
'. . .(C)onsciousness is not an accidental intruder that arrives late to the cosmic manifestival, but an interior, subjective landscape that may be followed forward and back, like Ariadne's thread, to reveal the transcendent mystery of our existence, an unconditioned, subjective center that, in light of its indisputable existence, is as 'real' and enduring as physical reality -- only more so."
Why could not this "indisputable existence" of this "subjective landscape" merely be symbolic representations of our early traumatically and parasitically infected brain as believed by Arthur Janov and other clinical psychologists?
Well, that's the question isn't it? What IS the ontological status of human
consciousness? Is it ultimately reducible to matter, chemistry and
environment, or is it a window into another realm, with characteristics all
its own? Obviously my book argues in favor of the latter. I believe that
the experience of "entering" these objectively-subjective realms is as
common as can be, but that we have lost our language for talking about it
because of the philosophical "materialitis" and "reductionosis" described in
my book, so it isn't noticed.
For example, if you truly believe that mind is fully reducible to a symbolic
representation of trauma, then we could know nothing of intangible things
such as love, beauty, justice, compassion, intuition, imagination,
creativity, humor, truth, etc., all of the things that really matter to us
and make life worth living. Even affirming that something is true lifts you
out of the material realm, for where is the truth you are affirming located?
And what is the nature of the being who is able to grasp truth? Surely not
a traumatized piece of matter?
The reason I say that mind is more real than matter is that this comports
with common sense. It is the distorting assumptions of secular
fundamentalism that cause us to think otherwise. The cognitive mind
parasite of materialism is no less a form of authoritarian thought control
than that exercised by the church of old, and becomes a self-fulfilling
prophecy--you merely end up with materialist assumptions dressed up as
I am neither a materialist nor an idealist. External reality is real.
Internal reality is real. Mental evolution takes place in the dialectical,
transitional space between the two, a space that can also become cluttered
with anti-evolutionary mind parasites and dysfunctional ideologies of all
kinds. Meaning is located in this transitional space, and whatever has more
depth of meaning is more real. What is the most tangible has the least
meaning. To affirm that material reality is the most real, is to affirm
that a meaningless substratum is the ultimate reality, so that the
affirmation is meaningless. The only way out of this metaphysical dead end
is to turn the cosmos "upside down," and see that ultimate meaning and
reality are located at the top, not bottom of the cosmos.
* * *
P.P.P. In over 30 years of coming into intimate contact with my personal "mind parasites" in a feelingful regressive way, I still have not been able to convince one person about the realities of their presence by the names you assign to them or by any other names!
In writing about such mind parasites you explain that,
"(i)f you don't understand them, then it is unlikely that any amount of argument will suffice, because you are in blissful denial of the hostile forces that keep you and most everyone else subdued, tyrannized, and in bondage, doing time behind bars as strong as death (but fortunately, weaker than love)."
Is it denial or perhaps the unbelievable reality of the fact that they do indeed exist? After all, some things may not be accepted for purely intellectual resistance and not because of the operation of a defense mechanism. In any event, it was fascinating to read what you, Allan Schore, John Bowley, Pinker, Grotstein, LaBarre, Siegel et. als.. have written. But here I must give credit to the many brilliant works of Arthur Janov, Frank Lake and Stanislav Grof who helped teach me about such matters.
And the question is: How long do you believe it will be before this paradigm will become generally accepted, if not from the general public, then by the professional psychotherapy community of the realities of entities which you rightfully label "mind parasites," "bad objects" "psychotoxins", "literal neurotoxicities", "psychopathogens", "self replicating psychoviruses" and "self-serving entities" - and ". . . which cause one to be "entranced, addicted, hypnotized, compelled and obsessed?"
Obviously very hard to say, but this is something I will be touching on in
my new book, that is, the familial, cultural, economic, political and
spiritual environments that must be in place for the mass of individuals to
achieve their potential and for humanity to flower, after so many thousands
of years of under-achieving. This would represent a transformational
singularity as dramatic as the sudden emergence of art 40,000 years ago, the
scientific revolution 400 years ago, or the emergence of representative
democracy and free market capitalism in the 18th century. Put it this way
how many thousands of years did it take for Homo sapien sapiens to develop
full self consciousness? The question is, how long will it take for the
majority of us to take the next step and become conscious of
self-consciousness? At this point, I think all we can do is defer to
eschatological religious traditions that vaguely speak of a "golden age" to
which humans are being drawn. But as for the day and hour, no one knows.
In the mean time, just be a do-it-yourselfer at the vanguard of cosmic
evolution, blazing a trail for the other monkeys to follow. Some primate
had to be the first to speak, the first to draw, the first to barter. The
cosmos wakes up one monkey at a time.
* * *
P.P.P. Brain surgeon Wilder Penfield believed and psychiatrist Stanislav Grof believes that the mind is an entity apart from the brain. Many others no longer accept this duality and believe that the mind is strictly a creation of the brain and cannot exist apart from it. The others believe that when the brain dies, so does the mind and all memories, feelings and acquired knowledge will be forever lost. I am not certain if I understand your position. Would you explain your belief in regard to this duality?
It is in order to answer questions such as this that one undertakes a
serious spiritual practice. All else is simply opinion or deference to
authority. At this point in my journey I do not want to pretend that I can
provide a full answer. However, I do believe that there is a part of us
that is eternal and that abides "outside" or "above" chronological time.
Likewise, there is no doubt that all that is time-conditioned and contingent
is lost with death. As explained in my book, virtually all spiritual and
religious traditions discuss this, only in sometimes clumsy mythological
language. Whereas science is knowledge without metaphysics, various
religions often involve very sophisticated metaphysics but without clear
knowledge. What I have attempted to do in my book is explain how one might
go about gaining the knowledge implied by religious metaphysics on a first
hand basis. The knowledge is THERE awaiting you, just as is musical
knowledge if only you apply yourself.
* * *
P.P.P. I like the way you describe how the "unconscious" as "a latent structure designed to hold childhood trauma in escrow for later process, so as to not threaten the bond with the parents." That is a powerful indictment of the family, especially the mother which many in the psychotherapy profession fear to make. But, I assume you're not accessing blame, but rather only pointing out the cause.
But, I'll play devil's advocate, nonetheless. Could not the problem be that the mother was caring for her dying mother during the entire pregnancy and for six months after her baby's birth? Could not the problem be that her husband lost his job, became seriously ill, left her for another woman? Do not all of these events and others interfere with normal bonding and attachment?
Oh yes, no question. In no way should the theory of mind parasites be taken
as an unambiguous indictment of mothers or mothering. The whole point about
mind parasites is that they represent a sort of composite of actual behavior
on the part of care takers and considerable subjective fantasy on the part
of infants. Perfectly innocent behavior on the part of the mother may be
transformed by infantile fantasy into a powerful mind parasite, as Melanie
Klein so eloquently wrote of. For example, just a "bad fit" between mother
and infant, combined with a temperamentally angry baby, might produce a
monstrous mind parasite, centering around envy and destruction of the "good
object." This is how I would regard religious notions of "original sin."
Etymologically, "sin" means separation, and we are all born into a
frustrating and dangerous world in which we are suddenly separated from the
source of goodness, nourishment and containment. It's an impossible
situation, for both mother and baby! It's a wonder any of us are sane,
given the circumstances.
* * *
P.P.P. Why is there a difficulty in believing that the appreciation of the arts by early man cannot be an effect of evolution? Could not such an ability for such appreciation be a side effect of some other adaptation, rather than accounting for its existence to a "divine spark" ? What is the relationship between spirituality and art?
There are those who gamely try to reduce art to some effect of natural
selection, but in my opinion the theories are somewhat flimsy at best. I
will speak personally as a music lover. I cannot live without music.
Without it, I'd go crazy, or at least my life would be deeply impoverished
as a result. One of the examples I discuss in the book is the great jazz
musician, John Coltrane. As he developed as a musician, he made the very
conscious effort to "bring down" or convey spiritual reality through his
music. He had access to that realm, and attempted to communicate it through
music. And guess what? Although his music is rather esoteric, thousands of
listeners such as myself feel that he succeeded in being able to communicate
That's just one example, but again, it comports with common experience. The
problem is, most people don't actually like music, they just like the way it
sounds. In other words, they just use it as a sort of audible wall paper,
not as something from which to extract vital truth and meaning about the
cosmos. (An excellent little book that discusses this is "Beethoven His
Spiritual Development," by A.W.N. Sullivan.)
* * *
P.P.P. What is/are the reason(s) for our conscious and unconscious mind's preoccupation with things religious?
As I mentioned above, I believe that religion is simply metaphysics without
clear or unambiguous knowledge. In other words, religions deal with
ultimate reality, the things all of us want to know about, but through
stories, myths and parables. As one develops spiritually, one is able to
"unpack" the knowledge that is crammed into these religious/metaphysical
systems. Simple as that.
People are preoccupied with religion for the very same reason they are
preoccupied with science - the desire to know. Science deals with external
reality, religion with internal reality. Again, it is a metaphysical error
to emphasize one to the exclusion of the other. All attacks on science are
ultimately an attack on freedom, while all attacks on religion are
ultimately an attack on mind.
* * *
P.P.P. It may be true that "religion is not really 'about' spirit, but about group cohesion achieved through collective self-delusion." It so, how does that explain its origin. Comments?
The origin of religion is always in personal experience. It's like asking
"what is the origin of history?" You personally never experienced the Roman
Empire, and yet you are confident that someone did, so you have "faith" that
it really did exist. With the theory of "multiple intelligences," we
realize that some people are more gifted than others in various endeavors,
everything from basketball, to math, to nurturing the young, to seeing into
ultimate reality. Religions begin with some spiritually gifted individual's
experiential encounter with ultimate reality. A good religion teaches you
how to have the same experience, not just to defer to someone else's
experience or to mere authority.
This is not to say that organized religions do not become authoritarian
repositories of mind parasites. Of course they do. But that happens to
nearly all human institutions, and should not be taken as a negative comment
on the reality to which religion points. People habitually confuse religion
with the higher dimensional reality from which it is a declension.
* * *
P.P.P. On page 112 you quote that "Strange as it may sound, immature babies interact with mothers in such a way as to use them as an auxiliary cortex for the purpose of 'downloading programs from her brain into the infant's brain."' Do you believe that Allan Schore is referring to the infant's evolutionary "built in" capacity for reading the mother's facial language or do you believe that this "theory of mind" is more of a psychic event?"
That's a good question. I'm sure he is referring to reading body language,
but I personally would not be surprised if the mother/infant dyad
constituted a nonlocal field in which information is conveyed
instantaneously. My first child is due in April, and I intend to study the
* * *
P.P.P. I must let you know that in One Cosmos Under God you "tell it like it is." But in doing so are you not making your book an unbelievably "hard" sell both for the number of "hard" copies which will be sold and the understanding by the readers of the "hard" truths it contains?
Well, the book was not written in order to streak up the best seller list,
but as a personal quest. True, it is uncompromising, but at the same time,
I made every effort to make it accessible, entertaining, elevating, and even
amusing. For example, the "punning" sections at the beginning and end of
the book are full of broad metaphysical humor. If people don't laugh out
loud when they read it, then I have failed. In short, it is meant to be a
New Testavus for the rest of us scientific mythadventure, jehovial
godsward puzzle, laughty revelation, and absurcular Hedunnit all rolled into
* * *
P.P.P. You write that unless an infant's needs are met ". . . only the hardwired reactions to a psychologically toxic childhood environment--emotional deadness (or uncontrolled emotionality), lack of empathy, regulated shame, absence of curiosity, unreflective acting out of conflicts, and an abundance of envy, guilt, rage, distrust and ingratitude." -- all the result of what you call "mind parasites." I looked in vain to see what form of psychotherapy you suggest. Should I ask . . . what do you recommend?
Well, I think you need to take an integral approach, and tackle things from
many different angles. Humans are trinitarian beings, mind, body and
spirit, and I believe that each has to be addressed. As a psychologist, I
believe that most forms of psychotherapy are useless at best, but that the
good ones are absolutely vital, that is, anything rooted in modern
attachment theory, such as psychoanalytic object relations theory. With
regard to the body--exercise, diet, rest, stable routine, all of these are
critical. And some people truly do have chemical dysregulations that can
benefit tremendously from psychotropic medications. With regard to
spiritual growth, I believe the key here is to tap into the esoteric aspect
of one's own tradition, as explained in my book. For example, many people
in the west reject Christianity out of hand, in favor of Eastern approaches
such as zen and yoga. But Christianity possesses its own profound tradition
of "inner teachings" that rival anything that has come from the East. This
is a discovery I have only made in the last five years or so, and it has been