The Words of the Dey Family

Conscience; Shame, Character and Calling

Derek Dey
September 1, 2011

Conscience: If we say everything is created by God, as I think we should (Satan does not create he merely distorts what is there -- he is not a creator), then what shall we say about conscience? Coming late to the field of psychology, Daniel Goleman introduced the topic of emotions, in his groundbreaking study, of 'Emotional Intelligence,' to which I believe conscience belongs. Other studies such as Hillman's, 'The Souls Code' state clearly human nature is innate – biologically imprinted from the beginning. The field of innate studies is now rapidly expanding. However self and conscience comes into being with the complexification of cellular life. It is there from the seed. If we accept the 'fall of man' it is often, perhaps always, distorted first by genetic tendencies (DNA) then by the emotional life of the parents during the term in the womb. Parental influence in early years then helps to put self on the ground but failures or ignorance in helping, bad teaching and cultural influences disallow the child to integrate and bring emotions into a coherent and mature pattern. Schools where discipline replaces heart and institutions which play the same game introduce dysfunction at a late stage or merely exacerbate what is destructively and already present in the life of the youth.

Conscience like personality is innate. What are the mechanisms we need to understand here? Stored as an imprint in the amygdala area of the brain shame operates in two areas creating boundaries for the self. The English language is woefully inadequate here because many other languages include terms for, discretion which is applied before an action and disgrace felt after an action. It is defined in Latin, French, German, etc. as a two way street, not a single element. The English have only one word for this complexity. Nevertheless we are free of shame when we are being our natural selves and feeling shame when we move to wrong action. In freedom we relate to the broader field of relational consciousness, i.e. others, nature, God, our true selves, friends and so on. In shame we are full of torment, guilt, error, and general dysfunction. With the natural function of conscience broken or distorted we see a history of external law imposed upon us helping to create our thin veneer of civilization, something necessary for our continuation as a species in the light of fallen nature. In these terms we also see various relationships and orientations to the numinous which are also distorted or seem to be full of discipline and judgment.

What is the distortion of original nature? In conscience the mechanisms are tied to feelings of shame. The child naturally develops / evolves this basic structural dynamic during a process of attachment and self-differentiation. Shame first reveals itself visually around the age of 6-8 months and shows as a blush. At this stage the mechanism is mild and often tied to self-consciousness rather than wrongdoing but now the mechanism is very dependent on the chief caretaker or caretakers, the mother in particular who is there to properly mirror the feeling for the infant. The proper development of shame therefore depends on the acceptance of true feelings and gentle guidance based on a good knowledge of what is being presented. Anger for example is not always negative either and may express the limits of tolerance in certain erroneous situations which are the root cause of such an expression. Think of delayed feeding which gives rise to stress, panic, anger and rage even in babies.

If the mother is full of regret, frustration, sorrow, and different forms of anger in these early stages she will not mirror acceptance and be able to guide and the child will be imbued by similar responses at an unconscious level. He or she will live this out over his/her life unless their responses are understood at some point and the behaviors are replaced by healthier strategies. In dysfunctional families shame is often carried first by the mother, however in failing to understand shame and in the misuse of shame to create obedience or expressed in areas of unconscious projection, the damage begins and creates, in the child, a sense of toxic, unnatural, shame. The terrible two's which often garner disfavor towards a seemingly untoward child is actually the tensions of an inner growth period and not as many see it as simple bad behavior – it needs acceptance not judgment.

Continual shamming regarding our needs and wants leads to shame being unnaturally bound to our feelings, needs, and desires. Toxic shame like this leads to addictive, depressed, and angry personalities. Beyond the crucible of the family a culture of shame then implements shame as a pedagogical tool. It appears in societies, groups, communities, and in religion where, even with the best of intentions to create moral and responsible behavior, it generates emptiness, anger, and futility.

Genuine morality however, guided by healthy shame begins at the roots of life in the emotions and responses of empathy. Respect for others, fairness, loyalty for legitimate authority, exalting what is pure, clean, and holy, all start here in the primary relationship where innate biological tendencies begin an evolutionary journey towards selfhood. A supportive and mutually helpful community will always outpace and out-survive a selfish brotherhood. Anthropology reveals this and Darwin for all his foibles suggests this is an element embedded in the survival of the fittest. The empathic group are the strongest -- this is part of an evolutionary process just as our personal development is evolutionary and adaptive to the environment we meet. The true self our unique and creative core will, for example, not reveal itself in any kind of hostility, preferring to lie defensively and repressed until it is befitting to do so in a safe environment – hence late developers or worse, those who tragically die frustrated never exercising and revealing the beauty which lies within them.

As early as the late 1930's and 40' we have a positive regard for ego strength. Erikson, for one, corrected Freud and began to define his eight stages of development of the true self. (Freud saw the ego as an agent of repression of forbidden fantasy in relation to civilization's mores and standards. This is a trash can vision of mankind with the lid held tightly closed on fallen human nature. Jung opened this model up and saw the ego and unconscious as being creative and participating in a broad field of common consciousness supplying us with archetypes and symbols to help us create and build – archetypes are Li in relation to Chi or inner sung sang and hung sang. They are plans and blueprints from which we create. Erikson and others therefore see the ego as a creative force helping to navigate us towards our identity and full personality. Freud's view was the best we could do with fallen nature until it could be processed and resolved) Ego strength, and therefore identity, culminate in morality, creativity, spontaneity, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts, and self-esteem. The failure of such development ends in weak ego structures – a failure of identity, the self, and weak boundaries exhibiting destructiveness, excesses and conflicts. In this situation there would be dysfunctional orientations towards obedience. A weak self would bow to a sadistic-masochistic relationship i.e. a controller and the controlled, a negative form of obedience described as destructive passive submission; a perfect disciple for an imperfect messiah. However the full development of the self along with secure ego boundaries permits authentic obedience where the self perceives this act (usually a temporary orientation) to be helpful and constructive in terms of mutual growth in orientations towards self and others (maintenance of the whole-maintenance of the self).

Character and calling are the great determinants of the human journey. If we know who we are we know what we can do – what gives us the greatest joy and this is the point. The rails upon which that rests is conscience a part of the emotional field residing in us all and shame is the final safety mechanism which tells us we are about to run off the tracks. For the most part it is a gentle persuasive and a natural element implicated into human nature for our benefit and evolves through its own structures and through proper understanding and patient help from caretakers then social circumstances where a healthy dialectic within ourselves whether we are right or wrong and deepens the layers of feeling in this area; deepens our commitment to healthy creative relationships and healthy roles throughout our life. If trained by dysfunctional models we become beasts. Intuition plays a part in conscience because we are not separate bundles of things we are holistic and interactive. Intuition tells us what might be and what should not, thus becoming a help-mate for conscience and making the job easier. The field of intellect, will, experience, education, culture, all become implicated to some extent in the adventure which lies ahead of us all, as do archetypes and symbols.

Someone asked what were the 'evil elements' (words to that effect) which Eve (and Adam) inherited during the process of the fall. Well this is one. Toxic shame and the failure of the true self branches out and flourishes like a tree, a tree of death – toxic shame, toxic schools, toxic cultures, toxic religions, toxic politics. The world of psychopathology is 'the fall' and it is a tool whereby we can identify dysfunctionality clearly and begin to rectify that which lies within us. Other branches such as Neuropsychology create great hope in that area where different neural pathways can be created based upon recognizing the destructive, identify it, imagine a different behavior and practice it until two roads become mapped in the brain; two behaviors which now allow choice as to how we behave.

We are told even if sin is conquered psychopathology and all those habits will take another 7 generations to iron out. Might as well start now, so if something's missing or if the personality is just not there it's time to go shopping boys and girls.

Divine Principle talks of 'a period of preparation-merits of the age' placed before us in a wide array of help and understanding – science and religion combined so there is a lot there to help if we are cautious – and use our intuition intellect and conscience in helping to repair our frayed emotions. Conscience in its healthy mode is part of the royal highway towards the recovery of virtue – virtues which are also innate and as Aristotle puts it, 'an essential requirement for happiness.' 

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