This book is about our biological life force, our energy, and what has happened to it over the past few hundred years. It acknowledges that we are organisms composed of energy and goes on to observe how this life force was formulated and how it grows during the child's process of development. As we develop into adults, we come into contact with the complexities of cultures and its greed components. This contact causes us to change the way our energy naturally matures. It causes us to stratify our energy patterns to accommodate society's demands on us. Very specific issues develop. We either hold our own or we feel always in danger of falling by the wayside. For many good reasons, struggle in our modern world seems to make us stronger, or that same struggle debilitates and weakens us.
From the Preface to
Life Force — Death Force
by Alan J. Schwartz, Ph.D.
The book begins with an invitation to learn a new language, a new way of experiencing self and all of humankind. Whereas it does not reject clinical labels, it holds that humankind ought not to be thought of as sick or well but as a process of movement dealing with forces that run counter to human nourishment and healthy functioning. It states the obvious, that we are all energetically damaged and that we stratify our movement in order to repair that damage. The stratification occurs on the four levels of functioning: the physiological, the emotional, the conceptual, and the newly considered spiritual level. The cumulation of stratified movement on these levels equals personality. So I have written a view of humankind in which tangible biological movement is the background supporting behavior. The reader learns about himself/herself as a movement and lack of movement. The end result of such learning is to be able to adjust movement according to one's wishes for happiness and a healthy life.
The reader must do his/her part and work at learning a new language. We have been stuck for as long as we can remember with labels that create a hierarchy of good and bad. During the past three decades, these labels have been reinforced by forces of commerce. We have only to pick up a newspaper or magazine or view an evening of television programs and the synthetic elements of our personalities are reinforced. The messages are not only about what kind of toilet paper we should use or about what brand of clothing will make us more attractive to the opposite sex. The messages condition us to believe data about moral, political, and social issues which may or may not be true. The point is that we have been conditioned to assimilate such data. One reason is because our energy has been culturally shaped to respond to persuasive messages from media. The same holds true for messages from cultural morality and from education. Indeed, messages like "America, love it or leave it!" or "We're number one!" reduce intelligence to a knee-jerk response.
Perhaps the most anxiety-producing message drifting into both adult and youthful energy systems is the idea that less than total attention to material success will cause a falling behind in life and eventual stagnation. This fear of helplessness and of being left behind in the race for material comfort has its roots in unfulfilled needs of childhood. Abandonment and slow disintegration into a living but deathlike state is a tangible fear of those educated to the point of being able to creatively view the future. The result is a frantic rush for riches. The price is loss of life force, the energy of the soul. The soul manufactures freedom. This book warns of how an energy system greater than the individual, a Greater System, has come into existence and threatens our freedom and the energy of our spirit. This Greater System was created and is nourished by greed. The story of the Greater System is the philosophy of Life Force — Death Force. Awareness of its power and being able to struggle against it is our hope for the future. It's a disease that is amongst us and for which there exists a cure. The cure is in our ability to understand ourselves as beings of movement, energy systems of pulsating life force, and our faith that we can shake loose many of the bonds holding us from strength and stability.
This book is vitally helpful in that it allows us to let go of pejoratively fixed ideas of what we are and how we function. The reader is invited to delight in seeing self in terms of movement (life force). There is instant liberation in accepting that we are not preordained into slots of societal functioning; that we do have choices within, fueled by life force; that we can change; and that the result of such change can be happiness and the ability to humanely contact other human beings. We need not fear the overwhelming cultural conditioning processes that are intent on shaping our entire being with moral, social, and political messages. The reader will find strength in the awareness of self as an energy system in possession of the the tools to move toward freedom. By the use of the word freedom here, I mean the strength to allow integrity to be the anchor from which we contact the world.
My life has been such a struggle toward freedom. In taking the "road less traveled," I have been fortunate to have experienced people and places most unusual. As a young college professor of communication studies during the 1960s, who believed that feeling belonged in the education of college students for leadership, I gravitated to independent study at places like National Training Labs and Esalen Institute. Later, I led groups for both institutions. My study and work in Gestalt therapy and my attempts to find a more substantial relationship between the work of Frederick and Laura Perls and Wilhelm Reich led to more than a decade of teaching in almost every country in Western Europe. This, in addition to fifteen years of teaching at Esalen, enabled me to feel the dynamics of attempts at humane contact with thousands of my fellow human beings of all races and nationalities. This book is part of the result of my learning and my journey.
The work is divided into two parts: The first explains the structure of life force, of energy, as it exists within us. We are, indeed, human energy systems. Part 1 points to the conditioning process, primary and cultural, that shapes the human personality. I discuss greed as an energetic phenomenon. The cultural direction and philosophy of Life Force — Death Force is the substance of the second part of this work. We meet the Greater System, my identifying name for a death force that we have created from the aggregation of greed. It is a force that rules all of us, which actually recreates our personalities. Yet, we are not powerless against the death force. Indeed, struggle to keep our life force nourishing us, as opposed to feeding the Greater System, is the struggle for happiness, for joy, for contact with God.
We meet the artificial family, created by the Greater System, in part 2. We will recognize ourselves. In addition to becoming aware of our dependence on the Greater System, we will learn what is necessary to free ourselves from its lethal grasp. Part 2 delineates our cultural aspirations. The reader will recognize his/her energetic thrusts toward matters political, spiritual, educational, scientific and work.
Life Force — Death Force:
the Structure of Human Energy and the Biology of Greed,
by Alan J. Schwartz, Ph.D.
First edition published in 1988
by Vantage Press, Inc., New York
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