a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
John Z. Amoroso
The Primal Paradox in Stages of Psychological Development
We can relate the Primal Paradox to every stage in the psychological developmental process.
In the Perinatal process, while in utero, we are literally merged with Mother with very little sense of separation. As we come into the physical world, we start with the experience of actually embracing the Paradox of “I” versus “AllElse” during the Perinatal/en Utero process and the birthing process that follows.
The sense of fused union with the cosmos starts to break apart as we emerge through the birth canal. At this point we begin to experience the first tremors of separation from Mother. During the infant years, the “AllElse” is represented primarily by the embracing Mother and Father as well as siblings and others in the family.
This starts to shift around the “terrible twos” when we start to break away from the comfort of Mother and Father and others, on the path to more clearly defining ourselves as an “I.” Hopefully this process happens within the context of being able to return to the comfort of the parents. Venturing away from the parents into the “AllElse” becomes an exercise of further defining the sense of self.
During the next stage of development, from five years old through the preteens, there is an even stronger sense of self emerging, but still with the comfort of a close identification with parents, adults and family members who continue to represent the “AllElse.”
It’s in the teenage years that we firmly break away from parents and family and confirm a stronger sense of self. In this stage we move strongly to relate to our peer groups and continue to expand our sense of the “AllElse.”
In our 20’s we solidify our identity or sense of “I” as we graduate, get our first jobs and start to more seriously act to find a partner and start a family.
It’s in our 30’s and 40’s that we have the opportunity to really solidify that personal identity – and the sense of “I” – as the world around and the “AllElse” expands to new dimensions. Our days are filled now with oscillations between our sense of our own importance and needs and our concern with the needs of others we feel a part of.
In our 40’s or 50’s or later – defined as the mid-life transition — we have another opportunity to broaden and embrace our sense of the Primal Paradox. It is during this mid-life stage that we ponder moving toward what psychologist Abraham Maslow called “self actualization.” In self actualization we seek the “right balance” of the terms of the paradox: our self concern is seen as entangled with a concern and a need to put ourselves in service to others.
In his later years, Maslow even talked about the possibility of moving into a stage of what he called “transcending self actualization” where we can start to identify or sense a merging with the Transpersonal or spiritual stages of consciousness.
Finally, at the point of death, we all move back into that ultimate state of union where the paradox of our lives is erased into One.
John Z. Amoroso has maintained a full time transpersonal psychotherapy practice in the Philadelphia area since 1988 with a focus on past life regression. For more than 20 years he has lectured in private venues and taught at the graduate level in the field of transpersonal studies and creativity.
In 2012, he published Awakening Past Lives: A Guidebook to Self Exploration – currently available on Amazon. Having studied painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for many years, he is now dedicating most of his time to painting and multi-media art representing the transpersonal or psycho-spiritual dimension of reality.