~The Shouldisms of Our Time ~
I am an existentialist. Self-responsibility, freedom, and the courage it takes to face our anxieties are at the core of my belief system. When I learned that this is one of the cornerstones of Gestalt Therapy, along with presence-centered awareness, I felt I was right where I needed to be. Gestalt appears as a doorway, inviting greater awareness even in ordinary moments. It is truly an enigmatic dance, finding the balance between agency and allowing. The times in my life I have felt most in this flow with the river of life, and at the same time wholly engaged and active in its unfolding have been while giving birth and during powerful shamanic - ceremonial states. Integrating these peak experiences has been my life's work, particularly in the past four years.
I am currently a student of psychology. This term we are studying Gestalt. As I dove into the writing of Fritz Perl's, there was more than one occasion I have wondered what he might think of the present-day predicament we find ourselves in regarding injection mandates. I wondered how he would perceive the masses of people accepting media-driven "science" and the thousands of scientists and doctors who oppose the fear-driven message, under heavy social persecution? Respectable, brilliant scientists like Dr. John Loannidis of Stanford University, Evolutionary Biologist Brett Weinstein, Dr, Wolfgang Wodard, Professor of Psychology Matias Desmet of Yent University, Dr. Robert Malone the inventor of MRNA technology, Dr. Zach Bush and Charles Eisenstein to name just a few. In this context, Perl's description of introjection as unexamined "should's" feels very relevant. "They are still foreign bodies even though they may have taken up residence in our minds" (Perls, 1978, p. 33). And in this particular COVID era, it would seem that residence has quite literally found its way into our bodies. "Such undigested attitudes, ways of acting, feeling and evaluating, psychology calls introjects, and the mechanism by which these alien accretions are added to the personality we call introjection." (Perls, 1978, p. 33).
Examining the pandemic reaction and the mechanism which made it possible to be politicized is a result of introjection. Because if millions of people were really thinking for themselves, doing their own research, and digesting the information from a broad spectrum of scientific input, it would not be possible for one party, the liberals, to believe in the media narrative and the mandates. Similarly, without introjection, it shouldn't be possible for the red party to nearly all together oppose and question them. Without introjects, something like an individual's reaction to a pandemic would naturally be as varied as the colors of an artists palette, not just red or blue. The shouldisms of "wear a mask," "stay 6 feet apart," and "get vaccinated" (with a brand new, untested mRNA technology injection) without questioning what the ingredients of the "vaccination" are or researching the possible side effects appears to be a blaring example of introjects. But that's not the only psychological force at play with these wide-sweeping health and social decisions.
The need for belonging is at the forefront of why people make their choices, as our need to belong is rooted in survival instincts. In the EEA (Evolutionary Environmental Adaptedness Era), acceptance by the group was the difference between life and death. Baumeister and Leary elaborate on belonging, "The innate quality presumably has an evolutionary basis. The desire to form and maintain social bonds has both survival and reproductive benefits." (1995) Our sense of belonging is directly linked to the tribalism of the polarized political parties of our time. If all of someone's friends are liberals and they all believe in the shouldisms listed above, then to go against these in-group shouldisms is to face social persecution.
Furthermore, people choose according to their party instead of doing their homework and introspection because of cognitive misery. Cognitive Misery is the shortcuts our brains people non consciously take to save valuable energy. Thus, perhaps we see another root cause of introjection and its link to our survival.
If introjects are undigested shouldism's it makes perfect sense that introjects and cognitive misery were at play in a study cited by Aronson & Aronson, "Liberals preferred the plan they thought came from Democrats and conservatives preferred the plan they thought came from Republicans -- regardless of the actual content they read" (2018, p. 66). The need to belong and cognitive misery are at the core of what drives a human being to introject in the first place. There is an obvious irony here in pointing to some potential root causes of introjection in this reflection paper on the Gestalt Therapy readings. "In the therapeutic situation, the most frequent manifestations of this attitude are the offering of (diagnostic) information, the search for causal explanations, the discussion of philosophical or moral issues, or of the meaning of words." (Naranjo, 1993, p. 53) Gestalt Therapy sees causality as a direct line to rationalization and a lack of responsibility and agency. Direct experience trumps analysis and causality; Aboutisms.
Aronson, E., & Aronson, J. (2018, February 19). The Social Animal Twelfth Edition (Twelfth). Worth Publishers.
Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117(3), 497–529. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.117.3.497
Naranjo, C. (1993, May 31). Gestalt Therapy: The Attitude and Practice of an Atheoretical Experientialism. Gateways/IDHHB Publishing.
Perls, F. (1973). The Gestalt Approach and Eye Witness to Therapy. Bantam Books Publishing.
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