(This idea, from Claudio Naranjo’s Character and Neurosis, has been one of my most powerful tools for helping clients balance their internal processes and find healthy self-awareness.)
Imagine a newborn growing. They begin to suffer the demands of others, love, hostility, joy, loss, etc. Around age six, their internal processes solidify into character, or psychological profile, or maybe psychodynamics. We might perceive someone as having good or bad character, but universally, a gap has formed in wholeness. The nature of this hole becomes the driving force behind our actions and pursuits. The particular way of seeking to be filled becomes one’s character, with the more extreme methods being our passions. Perfectionism, service, artistry, hedonism, sadism, indolence, piety, avarice – both virtues and vices are the mixed results. Pathology is the severity. Ethics is irrelevant.
Character is thus motivated by deficiency.
Sometimes character rejection is forced upon weaker people. Perfectionists and sadists push their views and passions causing others to reject their own natural means of searching for fulfillment. This makes others doubly lost, while the strong become doubly blind.
That’s right, they become doubly lost.
Character cannot save, but if we reject the natural means of searching to be filled, we do ourselves additional violence. Meanwhile, the powerful become doubly blinded by expanding their need to be filled outwards to external machinations, further hiding the workings of their inner life. Perfectionism, action, connection, or power cannot save us. That hole will exist; pouring into our void will not make it overflow, it will only cause us to objectify and exploit other people.
How then, can we be filled?
This is how character deceives us and causes ontic obscuration. That means our desire to be filled prevents us from truly seeing the world. It prevents interacting with others according to their intrinsic value or from observing our own inadequacy without judgment. It hides the differences in arrogance and faith, prevents knowing service without pride, demands hedonism of happiness, and confuses love with narcissism.
So character deceives us, seduces our minds and hearts, and leaves us more lost than before. Our motivation from deficiency, our character, has made us fundamentally crazy and hidden our true good.
Luckily, it’s easier to find something lost.
~ Dave Wallace, MS Psy