A Second Great Divide

In my last post I discussed the persistent divide between disciplines that work with the body and those that work with the mind.

This got me thinking about another divides that make modern life easier to tolerate. Alexander Lowen frequently made reference to a strong difference between the Victorian period, in the tail end of which he was born, and the modern post-sexual revolution era in which his later therapy practice took place.

In Victorian times, behavior was strictly controlled while strong feeling was not only permitted but actually idealized. This at times led to hysteria in the Freudian sense in which feeling forced a different outlet than direct action. But in modern times, Lowen asserted, behavior is much freer but feeling is often removed from it. Coolness, and capacity to act advantageously is idealized. This leads to narcissism. In the present day, hysterical disorders are rare, but narcissistic disorders are commonplace. Perhaps civilization has, via families, a hard time permitting both high feeling and free behavior. But also there is great difficulty for individuals to tolerate both strong feeling and extensive freedom of choice. Achieving that capacity is the goal of Reich and Lowen therapy.

Michael Samsel

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One Response to A Second Great Divide

  1. Jangali says:

    This is well observed.

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